The Class of 2021 is about to start high school. All Sea Scout Ships are encouraged to plan a “Back to School” Open House. Ideal dates for open houses are in late August and early September. For a complete “how to” guide on planning an open house, download this white paper on SeaScout.org. For more recruiting strategies, check out the Tips on Recruiting white paper.
The key ingredients for a successful open house are boats, water, and planned activities to get prospective new members on the water. Here is a checklist for planning an open house:
- Set Date for Open House ideally four weeks in advance;
2. Prepare short open house announcement that includes one image of Sea Scouts in action. Preferred photos include readily understandable activities, such as sailing, kayaking, or steering a boat.
3. Share your announcement with your Council Marketing team to be included in the Council Newsletter;
4. Have a scout, parent, or mate attend District Roundtable meeting to invite Troops to the open house. If unable to attend the District Roundtable, share the information with your District Executive and Commissioner;
5. Share on Social Media, such as Nextdoor or the Ship’s Facebook Fan Page;
6. Send your announcement to your local paper; and
7. Post a limited number of flyers on Community Boards at Grocery Stores, Starbucks, Library Teen Centers, and similar locations.
The success of strategies will vary based on the community. For example, some neighborhoods might be very active in Nextdoor and others less so. Ships should test all strategies and determine which work best for their community.
Some Ships might want to try a boosted Facebook campaign to increase awareness of their open house. The average time to set up an event and boost is under 5 minutes. The first step is to create an Event on the Ship’s Fan Page. Select a photo with Sea Scouts in action. Use general terms to describe the open house, such as “Join us for Kayaking.”
The Event can be “boosted” to reach Facebook members based on interest and location. The interests selected for your boosted campaign should match your ship activities, such as sailing, kayaking, and other maritime activities. Select your city and determine the distance for your campaign, such as within 10 miles of your city.
The budget for the boost can be determined from the amount of time the boost is active before the event. For example, a campaign could be $30 for the week before the open house. The best strategy to determine what works in your community is to start with a small boost of $10 and experiment. For more on Facebook marketing, please see the Facebook Advertiser Help Center.
Now is the time to plan a Back to School Open House. Let’s all focus on welcoming the Class of 2021 as new Sea Scouts.