In order to continue to thrive as a grassroots club that continues to contribute to the success of your community, you need to deliver one thing – growth.
With time and budgetary 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 that growth).
Marketing amongst your local community is your route to that growth – but it's a tough nut to crack. To help you get started, we've compiled 17 helpful hints and tips.
1-8 Get your Ps in order
The fundamentals of marketing in the modern age revolves 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 doing a spot of marketing.
This is the price of your product, be it for an annual membership, a fee to enter the pub quiz or the price of hiring your club venue for an evening.
We'll go into greater detail on this point in a minute, but 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?
Keeping these under constant consideration will be key to successfully marketing your product.
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? 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 touch point with your club. It could be online via the website, or the presence of a volunteer at the club house.
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
Online may be the primary location for marketing your club in the modern age, 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. Engage the whole community, including local businesses and even rival clubs, and use it 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 nation event like bonfire night. Each one will bring people to your location, where you can then look to hook them in 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 in a tight-knit community, 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 ask them to help. Print out some flyers promoting a club event and ask the school to distribute them amongst the target audience. 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 a billboard in town. When you get home, how do you follow up on that initial interest? If you're like the rest of the world, you head straight online to get more information.
Without a club website, you're depriving your club of the chance to hoover up some new members through this very plausible scenario. And without an appealing, constantly updated club website that screams about everything good at your club, you're potentially putting those customers off joining.
You can make a great impression through your website. And in today's technological enlightenment, you can get one started for next to nothing with technical expertise required.
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 goings on.
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.
Secondly, find a club website provider that comes with the option to send an email. Many club website tools come with ready-built email templates that you can send through the control panel of your website at no extra cost (Pitchero included).
12. Social Media
Facebook has 2.45 billion active users a month. Twitter – 330 million. Instagram hits over 1 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 hang. For almost a decade, the primary place for that has been on social media platforms. Useful for driving traffic back to your club website or posting images 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).
Quick point. There's plenty of choice out there on social media. 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.
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. Different people respond differently to your communications, so 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 cord with the recipient.
If you're talking to parents, they want an authoritative voice that speaks volumes about the responsible and safe nature of your club. Youth members want less admin and more out-and-out fun. Try and apply these to the way you tailor messages.
Another consideration is channel. As we mentioned in social media, marketing comms is about being on hand where your members spend their time. For most of your youth teams, that's social media or via a communication app on their smartphone. For adult members, it might be more traditional technology such as email or text message.
Select the right tone and channel for a truly effective club communication.
15. What's the objective?
Every comm 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 changed the way we consume content online. Drowning in information, scan reading and reader impatience are at an all time high. Online readers respond much better to visuals. If you've got a club photographer, use an appropriate image wherever possible.
17. And so is simplicity
Waffling and unnecessary padding is the biggest no in writing your club comms. With your readers lacking the attention span to read your comms in full, you need to grab their attention in the opening lines.
Headlines and the opening paragraph of a club comm, be it an email about a club event or match report from the weekend, are your only chance to do this. Summarise your main point in the headline, and expand on that very slightly in the opening sentences.
If you can't, then the point you're trying to make is too convoluted.