[Elfsea] Recruitment summary

Faelan Caimbeul faelancaimbeul at gmail.com
Tue Apr 17 06:11:16 PDT 2007

There's been some apparent confusion as to types of demos. Educational demos
are what we do to teach. The focus is not recruitment, but education. People
claim we don't do enough education, since we're and educational organization
supposedly. I say we do. Think about how many people in the Society you've
taught to do something over the years. We're educating all the time, we just
don't do it in a classroom generally and usually only train our own students
once they're "admitted". How's this any different from college? I can't
think of one college that will teach you anything until you are admitted to
the "club", i.e. the student body. The biggest difference is we don't charge
for this knowledge, just the materials needed to learn it, the knowledge
itself is free. Who's system is better? Ours, of course. What we're talking
about here is strictly recruitment demos. There's also no reason we can't
teach at these demos. In fact, we probably should. Read on . . .

Out of all this discussion about demos, here's what I see it all boiling
down to:

Human interaction and advertising.

You get new members by bringing them to events and let the event work it's
magic. There are a number of ways to do this; demos, fliers, internet, radio
and TV, bookstores, game stores, schools, word of mouth, drive bys, etc. It
seems a lot of people got the idea that the demos are the be all and end all
of recruiting, they're not, they're just part of the greater campaign. These
things get us the initial hook.

To set the hook you need the human interaction. You can't get that on the
internet, by flier, or by any other means. You need to spend time with
another human being. Word of mouth is ALWAYS the best advertising, and any
ad exec worth his salt will tell you that. You're far more likely to believe
your friend isn't feeding you line, than you are to believe some weird guy
at a booth.

To real them in, you need to get them to an event. Many people, apparently,
took years to actually get to this most critical step, but that was the last
step. After that we had you hook, line and sinker. Now 5-25 years later,
you're still here. It can't be stressed enough how important it is to get
people to an event as soon as their interest is peaked. To that end, Lady
Lady Constance is planning a newcomers event after our planed upcoming
demos, and any demo for that matter. We don't want people not getting
called, not getting a ride, and not coming to love the SCA because they
never got the chance. This will take the efforts of the entire group, not
just a few people, to make this happen.

To that end I propose this: We get a list of people together for the
Hospitalier that would be willing to "sponsor" a newbie. We did this in the
military, and some SCA groups do it, and it works wonderfully. We keep a
list of people's areas of interest, geographic location, and availability of
transportation. We take a copy of this list to demos. When we find someone
who's interested, we get their contact info, give them a sponsor and their
info, then contact the sponsor (assuming they're not already present) and
let them know. Offering that initial ride to an event, even if you don't
need it, and time spent talking, can make all the difference.

When I first joined the SCA, I was basically sponsored by Master Mark, the
scribe I met at a game convention in Toledo, OH. I'd been going to the con
for years, but this was the first year the SCA had a table there, right by
the door to the main game area. You literally could not miss them, you had
to go by them to get to the door. Mark was working on a scroll and I thought
it looked interesting so I sat down in between games and watched. He
explained basic techniques to me, actually gave me a pen and paper to
practice on and showed me some basics about illumination. It was two weeks
before I knew they hit each other with sticks. I was 15 or 16 and car-less
at that point, so Mark gave me a ride to meetings and my first event. By
then I was hooked. His household basically adopted me and helped me feel
welcome. That made all the difference.

The human element of a sponsor can make or break someone's SCA experience.
It also will motivate people to participate sooner, get hooked, and avoid
the "I wish I'd done this 20 years ago" regrets.

Lets stop poo-pooing the demos and those trying hard to enrich the Baronies
and start helping them, and ourselves. Criticizing them for their efforts
gets us nowhere.

So, who's willing to sponsor newbies?

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