When you have culture, you don’t need what I call ‘Band-aid Marketing’. When you have culture, you don’t need to desperately push for free giveaways and promos.
Sure, the desired end result for each student section I work with is increased attendance and engagement. But ultimately, I’m in the business of transforming culture... ...because sustained attendance and energy only comes from transformed culture.
Big promos or spotlight events can certainly give a shot of energy into the student section, but it's not sustainable.
Think of student section health like a body.
The best way to have energy throughout the day is consistent exercise, diet and sleep.
Starbucks and Red Bull will give you little boosts but are often followed by a big crash.
This is exactly what happens with most student sections.
Everyone is scrambling to give their student sections Starbucks and Red Bull (literally and figuratively)...
Rather than trying to implement consistent exercise, diet and sleep. Why?
Transforming culture is hard.
It takes human capital aka student leadership.
It takes strategic planning. It takes focused effort.
Most importantly, it takes time.
Expecting overnight success for a student section is unrealistic.
Transforming culture can take up to 3-4 years, but I promise it’s worth it. Big giveaways, a few excited students or even a winning record can be dangerous.
They can create ‘false momentum’.
You can test this. What happens to the student section when you remove the giveaways, or when the excited students graduate or the team starts losing?
I’ve heard countless times, momentum is completely lost.
Momentum may be lost, but hope is not!
I’m going to provide some very simple yet effective culture building tools for your student section.
The first step is analyzing current culture. Where is your student section currently at?
We can’t change what we don’t understand.
The easiest way to analyze this is by observing the following:
Where are students spending their:
If you can clearly define these questions, you’ll know what your students truly want.
Then you’ll learn how to market to your students and build culture.
You’ll learn how to replace what they’re currently spending their time, energy and money on with the student section.
The second step is defining your desired culture. Student section culture is broken down into four main pillars:
Attitudes – What your student section is known by, the thoughts and feelings of students about the student section i.e. boring, hype, exclusive, fun.
Values – Who your student section is, what is important to you, what your student section stands for i.e. positive, intimidating, sportsmanship, community.
Goals – Where you are going, what you want to achieve, why students will take ownership i.e. best student section in conference, national exposure, winning record at home.
Practices – What you do, what makes you unique, what actions you take, what people see i.e. traditions, chants, choreography, music, costumes, outfits.
The first step to changing culture is to deeply understand what your students truly want (time/energy/money).
The second step is to define and implement your desired culture (attitudes, values, goals, practices).
The third step is to give students what they truly want (community, belonging, fun, escape) through the student section.
If student leaders continually focus on this process over and over, it is only a matter of time before culture changes on campus.
If your student section needs help transforming culture or you want to accelerate this process...