What follows is an excerpt from my upcoming e-book How to Staff Your Phonathon Super-Fast: The 7 Secrets to Fill the Seats. Subscribe today for a chance to win a copy of this guide to help phonathon managers get off the hamster wheel of caller turnover and begin raising serious money and loving their jobs.
Make your job "The Best Job On Campus"
When a student on your campus tells other students that they work at the call center, what images are conjured in the minds of those other students? Does an image of a telemarketer pop up? Do they liken it to mind-numb drudgery like a drive-thru worker? Are they confused, not understanding exactly what they do at the call center? None of these images bode well for your future recruitment prospects.
What image would you like there to be of your call center on campus? You have an opportunity to create it starting today. The brand I wanted to create at the University of South Carolina was simple. I wanted it to be seen as “The Best Job on Campus”. Nothing less in my mind was enough. To be considered anything less than that made my job ridiculously and unnecessarily difficult. I truly believed, having been a student caller myself, that this was the best opportunity on campus for student employment.
What did it mean to be the best job on campus and practically speaking, how did I market that concept?
Define for yourself what it is about your call center that makes it the best. Here’s some things to consider:
Bonuses and Prizes
Free Food (Sometimes)
Communicating your brand (in words)
The most important way your brand is communication is word of mouth within the student population. Make your call center as awesome as you say it is and you’ll garner the goodwill and support of your current callers as ambassadors. Don’t neglect this step.
Simply listing the benefits is good but it should be as short as possible and not be a long list. Finding clever snappy ways to word the perks is essential. It will require your creativity. You have a ready-made focus group in your current student callers. Write 80-100 taglines and have them pick their 5 favorites.
A shortcut to this is to name your group like it is a student organization. My call center was called Carolina Callers. The name is still in use today. It wasn’t the place that was important it was them, the callers. Being a Carolina Caller was an identity, joining akin to signing up with a student organization. When you name the group and student leaders join the group, you communicate everything you need to about your brand just by saying “Carolina Callers: The Best Job on Campus”.
A good way to collect language to use is to ask your callers “What call center means to me?” or to finish the sentence, “I love being a caller because….”. When you have these quotes, you can use them in tandem with caller photographs to create advertisements that essentially testimonials for being the best place to work on campus.
Communicating your brand (in images)
Follow standard graphic design practices. Make sure you use consistent fonts (and not too many of them) to create your advertisements. Use classic images like simple and sleek black and white clip art or photographs of your current callers. In your images of callers, always have them wear tee-shirts of your institution in the official school colors of your institution.
Don’t crowd your images. And make sure, whatever you go, that your advertisements stand out. Use fluorescent paper for bulletin board flyers. In photos, callers should have headsets on so it doesn’t look like any other job. Or maybe you show them eating pizza or cupcakes in a group to highlight that “perk”.
Lastly, call center is a place where you can be a little bit silly. Find the popular meme of the moment on Facebook and create a similar one about call center. It will serve you well in social media promotions and it will show that the center isn’t too serious.
2/17/2017 09:20:34 am
When I took over the Phonathon at my school, no upperclassman would touch it with a 10-foot pole. A toxic aura surrounded it.
2/17/2017 12:00:00 pm
Thanks for this story, Pete. The validity of phonathon is questioned through our industry today and your story highlights one aspect of the misunderstanding. Of course, many phone program are not profitable for the institution, because many of them are poorly run. Because being a phonathon manager is an entry level position, many institutions hire someone new to the workforce and then put them in charge of a mini-business (phonathon), manager of dozens of young people with little or no training. It baffles me how you think that model could succeed. Institutions should do two things: 1) Set up better support systems for new phone managers, giving them adequate training, management, leadership development and budgetary resources to do their job right and, 2) Invest in the data side to make the project viable. Research, segmentation, wireless append, etc. Your story illustrates phonathon done wrong and then phonathon done right. Thank you for sharing!
Leave a Reply.
Jessica Cloud, CFRE
I've been called the Tasmanian Devil of fundraising and I'm here to talk shop with you.