Building a student section is one thing…
Sustaining it is a whole different ball game.
How do you sustain?
Systems, technology and data.
While on the surface they might sound boring for a student section, each of these elements is paramount to sustaining student section growth.
And when a student section continues to grow year after year, it is anything but boring.
These elements often get overlooked by staff and students.
It might not be intentional, it just doesn’t always sound as fun as looking at new game-day music, or posting on Instagram.
But if you’re a marketing administrator or student leader reading this, and you want your legacy to live past the time you transition to a new opportunity or graduate…
You must think about each of these.
I’m going to try and simplify and summarize each element so you can absorb the ideas and implement them right away.
What do I mean by student section system?
I mean a new student leader or staff administrator liaison should be able to walk into the student section and know exactly what to do and how to do it.
They should be able to walk into the student section and understand the culture, expectations and brand of the student section.
They should be able to access all the proper documentation online and be able to follow an SOP (Standard of Process) to hire new leaders, post online or see the game day timeline…
Systems thinking will help you think through each process.
Systems thinking is a way of thinking that looks to continually iterate and optimize a situation or organization.
If you want to learn more about systems thinking, read my previous blog on mindset shift and systems thinking.
Here are a few systems to think about: Communication system: Most conflicts and issues can be prevented and resolved through clear communication.
Set proper communication expectations with staff and students and stick with the system so no information falls through the cracks.
Examples: GroupMe, Slack, WhatsApp, WeChat, Discord.
Documentation system: Recording standards of process, guidelines and expectations will help the next leader execute ideas.
Standard of Process: Clear cut instructions on how to do something i.e. post on social media, post a job description, interview leaders, onboard leaders, setting up game day
Guidelines: These are general principles to help leaders and staff come up with ideas while staying within the brand and culture i.e. social media post guidelines, game day guidelines
Expectations: These are the expectations staff and students have of other leaders and the student section i.e. stand the whole game, attend every primary event, attend office hours
Organization system: A centralized platform to neatly organize all documentation, standards of process, guidelines, expectations.
Label things clearly and don’t get in tech debt (Google this if you don’t know what it means).
Examples: Google Drive, DropBox, OneDrive, Flash Drive (not recommended), Internal Cloud
Leadership system: Perhaps the most important system…
Your leadership system is the well-oiled machine that identifies, recruits, trains, retains and replaces top 1% leaders, year after year…
No matter what.
On top of a recruitment, interview, onboarding and training process...
One of the best ways to build a leadership system is to build out your leadership’s internal values and culture-killers. Here are a couple examples to help:
Ever heard of shiny object syndrome?
It means people get blinded by the latest, greatest, newest, sexiest technology and think it’s going to solve all their problems…
Rather than staying laser focused on leadership, culture, brand, game day.
That being said, technology can be a GREAT tool to connect with students and optimize your time.
I provided the different types of student section technology to think about.
If you need any recommendations on vendors or have any questions, shoot me an email and I can provide you with some referrals.
Remember - technology doesn’t build a robust new-age student section.
Technology enhances and optimizes a student section. If you don’t have a robust culture, technology will be a waste of time and money.
This one is for all my stat fans and number crunchers.
Numbers don’t lie, right?
Well data is the best way to objectively measure student section growth and performance.
Here are a few key metrics to measure throughout the year. I’ve even provided a few screenshots directly from the tools and calculators we have built and provide clients to use.
Attendance - Track how many students showed up to each game.
SAE - Track (estimate) how many students were Standing And Engaged the whole game.
Social Media - Track posts, impressions and follower growth
In-Game Impact - Track stats of opponents when they play at your venue
Revenue - Track dollars generated and memberships/merchandise sold
Retention - Track attendance attrition rates through the year
Building a robust new-age student section is only the beginning.
Sustaining growth is the next step.
Systems, technology and data are the keys to taking your student section to the next level year after year.
If you need help building out systems and want pre-built resources and calculators to help your student section…
Schedule a free strategy session to see if we can help.
PS - If you want to hear a student leader’s experience working with BFC, watch how Alicia transformed her student leadership team and culture during Covid.