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9 Marketing Lessons from a Frat Guy

February 24, 2014

Frat hazingHave you ever wondered how college fraternity members can get away with stupid shit like “butt-chugging” and generally acting like douche bags, but still have success in the world?

Good marketing. Despite themselves, these guys know how to play the game and win.

Don’t get me wrong. Even great marketing, when mixed with binge drinking and other bad decisions, won’t stop a near-fatal alcoholic blackout, a trip to the emergency room, and rectal injuries so severe that doctors will think you’ve been sexual assaulted. And it won’t prevent international ridicule.

But let’s talk about what frat guys are doing right! For example, using the press conference afterward to let the world know you’re not gay and that the integrity of your asshole is still in place.

You can see the entire video of the press conference below. But first…

9 Marketing Lessons from a Frat Guy

1. Look the Part – Fraternities have a certain look about them are rarely do you see members go outside this. This is neither good nor bad — it just is. Most groups of people share a certain look.

If you want respect as a doctor, it helps to look like a doctor. People expect a doctor to look a certain way, so if you want their business, you need to be congruent with that look. Anything else and you might as well look like Charlie Sheen after a three-day cocaine binge.

Look the part.

2. Soft Skills Matter – The stereotypical frat guy isn’t known to be a genius at academics, but when it comes to soft skills, frat guys rule. And what makes you successful in the world? Soft skills.

Friendliness and the ability to get along well with the people you work with will trump specific job-related skills every time. Do frat guys get along well with everybody? Not from what I’ve seen. Put them in a complimentary environment though and there is nobody better.

To be successful in your business, you need to take this one further, by being able to be friendly and get along well with others in varying environments.

3. Know When to Make the Sale – You won’t get a “yes” if you ask for the sale right away. Every guy who’s been around a fraternity house more than a couple of hours knows timing is everything. For example, you’ll have better luck a woman after providing her with free-flowing alcohol and Roofies.

I kid, I kid. No fraternity member would ever do that.

Still, when it comes to making a sale, timing is important. You want your prospect to be warmed up to the idea of working with you.

How can you make that happen?

People won’t buy from you unless they know you, like you, and trust you. A good way to jumpstart this process is through short, frequent marketing touches. An autoresponder, which automatically sends out a pre-written series of email messages will work well for this as will consistently blogging.

4. Insiders Get Preferential Treatment – A guy who shows up at the fraternity house with the official shirt, fraternity letters tattooed on his ankle, or secret handshake is going to be treated better than somebody without these things.

I was born in the South. Culturally, we have a attitude here that “guests” should get great treatment. For example, if a Southern family has a dinner guest, they’ll likely use their nicest dishes and serve better food than they do normally.

This is backward.

If you’ve got people who have liked you enough to do the work necessary to be with you, treat them like it.

How are you treating your best customers? It should always be better than everybody else.

If you need a role model to emulate, look at Las Vegas Casinos.

5. Merch It – If there’s one thing fraternities know, it’s the value of sticking your name and logo on everything people are willing to buy.

Almost all companies can have an additional income stream of merchandising. Many of the musicians I work with make more money from t-shirts and other merchandise than they do on their music and it’s highly likely that you’ll be    able to do something similar.

Visit to get an idea of just how far you can take mechandising.

6. Make People Want It – People want what they can’t easily get and being a member of a fraternity is no exception. Competition to join sororities at Ole Miss is so tight, it’s not uncommon for students to transfer to the school later, after pledging at less competitive schools.

It’s scary to be “exclusive” and it’s definitely a risk in the early stages of a product or service, but if you can pull it off, you’ll be able to charge more money and have better client retention.

How do you become exclusive? Start now. Don’t do business with everybody — turn new client opportunities down.

7. Trial Run – One you get “in” a fraternity, you’re not really in. There is a trial period.

I didn’t attend Ole Miss for college, but used to go to that campus frequently as it was part of my music marketing territory. When I was there, I’d often go through the dorms, handing out new music releases and merch from upcoming bands. I’d hit every floor, starting on the ground level and working my way up via the stairwell.

The first time I was there, I remember being blown away by how bad the stairwells smelled. It was a combination of vomit, trash, and stale beer.

A friend of mine called me one day and told me about a frat guy being found in the stairwell, hogtied and lying in his own vomit. When campus security found him, he said he didn’t know how it happened.

But we all know what happened, don’t we? He was on trial and didn’t want to be kicked out.

If you have something of similar value, you can elicit the same type of dedication from your customers.

Never beg for clients. Instead, make them prove themselves worthy of what you provide.

8. Pay-to-Play“If you want to play, you’ve got to pay.”

That’s what a salesman told me when I was buying a tux. And the same statement applies to fraternities — just ask a former member who was kicked out for not paying the required dues. Not only are members ejected from the fraternity, they’ve also got that many fewer people to call friends.

We’re not talking friendship here though, we’re talking business. Stop doing work for people who don’t respect what you do enough to pay you.

9. Recurring Billing – You make a recurring payment to rent your house and you make a recurring payment to rent your friends. It’s smart business — ask anybody who has ever owned a membership site, gym, or other subscription service.

Most network marketing companies sell “pills, potions, or lotions” for this very reason. You make more money when you sell something consumable or a service for a limited time, because you can sell these things again and again as they are used up.

Can you move your business to this revenue model?

Final Thoughts

If you’re ever in an embarrassing situation that you wish would go away, don’t hold a press conference about it…

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Every Monday, I analyze the good, bad, and ugly about the marketing behind a common business or famous personality. See other posts in this series here and, if you have a request for something (or someone) you’d like me to analyze for this series, contact me via Twitter.

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