Over the years that I have been recruiting Cub Scouts, I have found that most people have similar reasons for joining Scouting. Maybe they like the outdoor activities. Maybe they like idea of instilling the values of the Scout Oath and Law in their child. Maybe they want something to help teach their child some skills that can be used throughout their lives. Perhaps they really don’t know, but they think that it is good for their child.
Whatever the reasons for joining Scouting, they all tend to be similar. But one thing that I have never heard from a parent is that they put their child into Cub Scouts because they liked seeing them wear a uniform and work out of a handbook. But that’s what most every den or pack meeting looks like.
And as you talk to prospective parents about your pack, what’s your recruiting pitch? For many packs, it’s something like this: “We meet on Wednesday nights and our pack meeting is on the third Wednesday. Your child will be in the Bear den and you will need to buy them a uniform. We go camping twice a year and go on a hike every other month. Want to join?”
But what if there was a more effective way to get the Scouting message across to parents? A way that you can help them see what you see in the program?
Before I continue, take 3 minutes to watch this video:
Do you know why you are involved in Scouting?
Do you know why it’s important to you and to your child?
Why do you spend “one hour a week” on this program?
Do you know why Cub Scouting is good for others?
Do you know what value Scouting brings to you and your child?
And why should anyone else care?
If you’ve been involved for any length of time, you can likely answer these questions with relative ease.
Once you understand why your organization (the BSA and your pack) exists, it becomes easier to define how you do things, and what you do. In Scouting, the Golden Circle analogy fits perfectly:
- the “Why” is equivalent to the Purposes of Cub Scouting
- the “How” is equivalent to the Methods of Cub Scouting
- the “What” is what we do in our meetings and outings
Thinking about the Golden Circle, it’s painfully obvious that many packs start their recruiting efforts from the outside, like in my example above. But if we reverse the message, and start from the inside, our message becomes much more powerful.
Compare this recruiting pitch to the one above: “We really think that your child will have fun in Cub Scouts! It’s a great program that reinforces the values that you teach at home. It helps them to become better children and better adults, hopefully making their little corner of the world a little bit nicer. We will work through the program and help them adopt the Scouting values through activities such as camping, hiking, and service projects.”
If you were a new parent considering Cub Scouts for your child, which recruiting pitch would have the greater impact on you? “People don’t buy what you do, people buy why you do it.” So why do so many packs start by telling parents what Cub Scouting is, when they should be telling them why they should be a part of it? This is not a personal attack, since explaining the “What” is so much easier and natural for us. But with a little more effort, we can become so much more effective!
The “Why” is so much more powerful because it is directly connected to the emotional part of our brains. I don’t care how logical you might consider yourself, at the end of the day, all decisions are made with emotion. Sure, logic helps us narrow the choices, but it almost always comes down to a few choices, and a decision has to be made that “feels right.” Maybe you are looking at new cars and you have narrowed the choices down to a Toyota and a Honda. There are plenty of people that will tell you why each of those cars is better than the other. In the end, you will make a decision to buy the vehicle that you like (an emotion) better, whether it’s because one looks cuter than the other, you like the interior a little better, you’ve “always been a (insert brand here) customer,” or some other reason. That decision is emotional. And when you start with the emotion, the logic falls into place.
Parents are making an emotional decision to put their child into Cub Scouts. Don’t you think that we should really start by telling them WHY Cub Scouting is such a great thing to be a part of?
As I wrap up this series on recruiting Cub Scouts, this concept is probably the most important thing for you to understand. I know why my children are in Scouting, and why I have stepped up to volunteer. I care about what my children are getting from Scouting, and I’m sure that you care as well if you’ve read this far. So don’t overlook the opportunity to share your “Why” with a prospective parent. It’s powerful!
Plan your recruiting strategy, remember that “people don’t buy what you do, people buy why you do it,” and pick an applicable recruiting technique to convey your message. By keeping the process in the right order, your recruiting efforts will be more successful!
- Full-length TED talk by Simon Sinek, “How great leaders inspire action”: https://youtu.be/qp0HIF3SfI4
- An example of how the Golden Circle was used in the real world. Steve Jobs “Think different” campaign launch in 1997 (if you don’t want to watch the full video, start at 2:50): https://youtu.be/keCwRdbwNQY
- The Purposes and Methods of Cub Scouting: https://www.scouting.org/programs/cub-scouts/parents/about/pandm/
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