In order to continue to thrive as a grassroots club, you continually need to promote what you offer.
With time and budget constraints a significant hurdle, you and your fellow committee members have got to be smart about how to attract and retain members (a key benchmark to delivering growth).
Marketing to your local community is your route to that growth – but it's a tough nut to crack. We are all bombarded with messages every day.
The key is a combination of the message, volume and target audience.
To help you get started, we've put together 17 helpful hints and tips.
If you'd like advice on using more of Pitchero's features, you can book a demo with a Pitchero expert at a time that suits (including evenings) below.
1-8 Get your Ps in order
The fundamentals of marketing revolve around 'The 7Ps.'
Sit down with your club officials and apply the following points to your club – they'll provide you with a constant reference point when planning your avenues of attack when the real marketing begins.
Essentially, this is membership at your club. As a business, you're 'selling' your club to potential new members. Get in the mindset of being in a product-related business that people need to be convinced to buy into.
Your product could also cover other things that your club sells, such as venue hire.
A bit of an obvious one. For the most part that'll be your club grounds, but it could also be at events away from your club where you'll be present and showcasing what you do.
This is the price of your product, be it for an annual membership, a fee to enter the pub quiz or the price to hire your club venue for an evening.
Promotion is how you plan to get in touch with your target audience. What channels will you employ and what tone will you use to get the message across?
These include your current membership (players, coaches, volunteers etc), plus any gaps at your club you want to plug.
This could be in your team (do you need a killer striker), a club-wide issue (are your youth teams running low on numbers) or a coach to take that team forward.
This will be key to deciphering who your marketing efforts will be targeting.
How does anyone currently wanting to join your club go about it? Is purchasing a product with your club an easy process online or offline? Identify flaws in your process and look to act on them.
7. Physical Evidence
This refers to all the places where your audience has a touchpoint with your club. It could be online via the website, or the presence of a volunteer at the clubhouse.
Physical Evidence gives reassurances and knowledge so people can make a decision, for example joining as a new member or hiring a room for a function.
Finally, partners. For community clubs, this likely means your sponsors. They're a vital part of the financial security of your club. Find out how to attract sponsors here.
9-12 Establish some touch points
If you're not out there shouting about your club, no one is going to hear about the great service your club provides. It seems obvious, but there are a number of on-and-offline platforms you need to harness to effectively identify and market your club.
9. Go Direct
We might all operate online, but old fashioned community-driven direct methods are far from dead.
As a club that plays a significant role in the cohesion of your community, you have a great opportunity to appeal to new members from the local area.
We'll cover two briefly here, starting with events. You won't find a better opportunity to attract new members than throwing a one-day extravaganza at your club's playing field or courts.
Invite the whole community, including local businesses and even rival clubs, and use it as the base to bring new members on board.
Club events like these come in many forms. You could throw a summer barbecue, bring-a-buddy night or jump on a national event like bonfire night.
Each one will bring people to your location, where you can then look to sign them up as members for the long-term.
To spread the word of these events and more of the good work your club does in the community, you're going to need one of the oldest and strongest forms of marketing – word of mouth.
It's a tricky method to get right, as it essentially relies on your club members endorsing your club to other people completely of their own accord; but it can be hugely effective.
Encourage parents to spread the word at school, and ask your youth players to bring a friend from the playground to the next training session.
You could even go directly to the school and do an assembly introducing your club or run a sports session.
This can particularly effective if you already have a way in, probably in the form of a teacher who happens to be involved with your club.
You've just spotted a product you like the look of on TV. How do you follow up on that initial interest? You hop online and Google. We all do it. All of the time.
Every sports club needs a modern, attractive website that loads quickly and is easy to find the information you need.
Pitchero's club website and apps can help clubs sign up members, buy memberships, do match fees online and see the latest fixtures, results and league tables.
Without an appealing, constantly updated club website that champions everything good at your club, you're not being found - or just as bad - potentially putting those customers off joining.
You can make a great impression through your website and get started with limited technical expertise required.
Here are Pitchero's Top-ranking websites across a range of sports.
Emails are predominantly concerned with engaging your current membership. Obviously, you can only send an email to people whose email you have. Chance are that's just your existing members, so use it as a means to keep them updated on all the latest news.
Just a couple of quick tips on email. First, don't overdo it.
If you're like most people, your inbox is crammed full of rubbish you don't care for, and spamming members will soon see a reduction in the impact of that channel.
Ensure you're only sending relevant information to relevant people. A first-team member doesn't need to hear about your youth team's training cancellation.
Not everyone sees - let alone reads - their emails but chances of success are boosted by making the subject line clear, writing concisely and sending at the right time.
Top tip: Schedule your emails to go out when you want them to, rather than when you happen to be writing them.
12. Social Media
Facebook has 2.9 billion active users a month. Twitter – 229 million. Instagram hits over 2 billion. They're online platforms that shape our culture and form the basis of our communication, and your club needs to get in the mix.
Marketing is about hanging out where your users like to spend their time online.
That's inevitably social media platforms. Useful for driving traffic back to your club website or posting images/video from your team's latest game, social media can both engage current members and spread your story to a new audience (if that particular story is a shareable one).
There's plenty of choice out there but rather than spread yourself too thinly, pick a couple (probably Facebook, Twitter and perhaps Instagram) and dedicate enough resources to them to do it well.
Social media can hoover up time; both creating the content and then sharing it. Again, schedule it so you're not posting all of your match reports at 2am where they'll be most in members' timelines by the next morning.
With Pitchero, you can auto-post content on Twitter and Facebook at the same time as you publish content to your club website.
New channels will emerge and with them potential opportunities. Social video app platform TikTok reach 1 billion users worldwide in five years.
Its age demographic tends to be younger than Twitter or Facebook but that'll depend on what form of marketing you're doing.
13-17 Spend time considering comms
Planning. Check. Platforms. Check.
Next, communication. Different people require a different approach, so carefully consider your audience in the following ways every time you deliver a club comm.
13. Who are you talking to?
Depending on who you're talking to, the way you communicate a message can vary considerably. Mix your message up (in the ways covered in point 14) depending on who you're talking to.
14. How are you talking to them?
Tone and content of club communications are key to striking the right chord with the recipient. A newsletter round-up will be chattier than a formal announcement about a discipline incident.
15. What's the objective?
Every message you send out as a club should have a call-to-action attached to it. Are you driving traffic back to a club news article from social media? Do you want team members to confirm their attendance at a club event?
To market your club, you need to make it clear what you want the recipient to do, and that the process for doing it is simple.
16. Visuals are key
The internet has long since changed the way we consume content online. Drowning in information, scan reading and reader impatience are common. Online readers respond much better to visuals.
If you've got a club photographer, use an appropriate image wherever possible.
If you can record steady video footage on a phone, DSLR or live streaming device then video has enormous potential and engagement.
17. And so is simplicity
We lead hectic lives and to catch the attention, short and snappy wins the day.
Headlines, whether for a match report or a club email, need to stand out quickly.
Summarise your main point in the headline, and expand on that very slightly in the opening sentences.
And yes, there is irony in the fact this article has 17 points and the last one is simplicity. Sometimes, there's room for detail too!
Marketing needn't be complicated or a challenge. Sure, it takes time but you get the rewards and remember, existing members want to know what's happening at your club.
It's a fantastic opportunity to spread the word about your sports club and all that you do every day.
Hopefully this has given you some ideas to take back and get started on - good luck!