What is marketing?
Marketing can be defined as a process by which individuals and groups
obtain what they want through creating, offering and exchanging
products of value with others. Importantly, it is an essential part of a
clubs operation and must be planned.
All sport and recreation clubs undertake marketing, although they are
often unaware that they are actually doing so. Creating and maintaining
a clubs website and/or Facebook page; placing information about
membership registrations in the local newspaper; offering a discount on
court hire prices to induce greater use of the courts; or redecorating
the club facilities are all examples of formal marketing activities.
An example of informal marketing involves a person enquiring about
joining a surf life saving club and the secretary being particularly
helpful with providing the membership information over the phone. A
mother of a prospective junior tennis club member watching a coach
conduct a lesson with the children looking bored and not enjoying the
session is a less positive example of informal marketing.
Who does marketing?
The above examples of marketing indicate that different individuals
within your sport and recreation club conduct marketing activities. It
is particularly useful to appoint an individual or small team as
marketing officers to oversee the development and implementation of the
clubs marketing strategies.
Word of mouth is an important marketing tool. Having people in the
community speaking positively and enthusiastically about the clubs
activities is invaluable.
The marketing mix or marketing tools a club can use can be classified into seven categories:
- Product: includes the quality and accessibility
of the services the club or group provides. For example, competitions
and social functions.
- Price: includes the cost of membership fees and discounts offered.
- Place: includes the clubrooms or the facilities where competitions are conducted.
- Promotion: includes the advertising of the
club, a promotion at the local shopping centre, an article in the local
community newspaper or the use of social media.
- People: includes the type of people the club
has as volunteers particularly in the areas of coaches and team managers
and the club committee. These people are the ‘front of house’
representatives of the club. They provide the club services to
potential, new and existing members. They can make or break the
reputation of the club.
- Positioning: includes ensuring the club
understands where it sits in terms of other sports available to the
community. Things like when the club plays it fixtures – on the weekend
or one or two evenings a week need to be thought through as this
flexibility is attractive to many people that have work and family
responsibilities that restrict their ability to participate.
- Packaging: includes the club providing its
services, taking into account its member’s needs which are not
necessarily the same. For example, clubs that want to attract families
to participate can package activities so all family members can
participate at the same time without having to make numerous trips back
and forth from home and spend an excessive amount of time participating
in club activities.
A promotional plan does not need to
be particularly difficult to develop or the strategies costly to
implement. There are many different ways to develop a plan.
A club needs to put a small working group together to develop the
approach and the plan. The work is not difficult and the working group
does not need to spend a lot of time on the task. The group needs to be
made up of three to four club members that come from different age
groups and different areas of the club e.g. a committee person, a player
under 25 and a coach.
A simple plan for a small club would contain some basic elements including:
- Objectives: promotional objectives should be
specific, measurable and achievable. An example would be recruiting an
additional 20 junior members by the start of competition.
- Strategies: These can be developed around the
marketing mix and must be targeted towards the specific target markets.
Target marketing is the practice of designing and directing specific
services at specific individuals or groups of customers.
For example, if your club was trying to attract new junior members
you would need to develop strategies to specifically attract juniors, or
if the club wants more support from its local government it needs to
ensure the council is aware of what they do and how well they do it.
In the development of these strategies the method the club will use
to deliver the message also needs to be documented e.g. use of social
media, personal approaches, open and come and try days.
- Budget: A realistic budget within the club’s capabilities and focusing on low-cost or no-cost strategies is recommended.
Make sure strategies are put in place to see if the club has met its
objectives. Some activities are easy to monitor, such as a membership
drive, others will not be able to be evaluated until after the event.
Collect copies of press clippings or media coverage, records of
attendances at functions or competitions, social media hits and any
feedback your group receives whether it’s positive or negative.
Ways to promote your club
- Electronic; for example electronic newsletters and social media outlets such as a club website and Facebook page.
- Social media platforms such as a web page, Facebook,
Snapchat, and Twitter amongst others are evolving into very powerful
marketing and promotional tools. Clubs need to understand these social
media platforms so they can be utilised to their full potential.
- Online tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook Insights provide assistance in this.
- Google Analytics is a freemium web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic
- Facebook Insights is a pretty powerful tool for those
wanting to track user interaction on their Facebook Page. All
administrators of a page can see Facebook Insights and it can help track
the number of active users to better understand the page performance.
Importantly – many State Sporting Associations (SSAs) have online opportunities to advertise and promote affiliated clubs. Contact your club's SSA and explore these opportunities.
Example marketing plan for a junior club open day
Marketing objective: To recruit 20 junior members by 10 December.
Example marketing plan for a junior club open day
Cost of strategies
Arrange date and time of Free Junior Club Open Day
Arrange activities/games at open day:
- Free coaching
- Information desk (need welcoming volunteer and forms to record names/phone numbers of those attended)
- Sausage sizzle (need volunteer)
- Competition to collect names and contacts to follow up
Sausages $25, buns $12, sauce $5
Develop a flyer advertising open day
Coloured paper $5, photocopying costs $10
Place flyer on local community notice boards including
local shopping centres, library, swimming pooland on the clubs website
and other social media vehicles e.g. Facebook page etc.
Contact principals of local primary schools to place information in the school newsletter
Place information in the club newspaper offering a free prize for those who bring a friend who is not a member to the open day
Write an article and provide a photo for the local
newspaper focusing on a local junior who joined up at an open day and is
now representing the state
Consider signage – banner to be placed on the club signage company fence on main street
Signage company donated banner and $70 for sign writing
Conduct the Free Junior Club Open Day
Follow up those who attended but did not join up on the day
Actual memberships gained:
22 new members each @ $100 recruited = $2,200
Net profit for club $2,200 – $230.00 = $1970.00
Developing a detailed promotional plan
A detailed plan for a larger club or association would need to include further information such as the following:
- Situational analysis – this contains
information on the club, an analysis of the customers, a description of
the services currently being offered, an analysis of the competition and
the external environment.
- Opportunity analysis – this section utilises the information from the situational analysis and identifies opportunities that need to be addressed.
Working with the media to promote your club
Focusing on the marketing tool of promotion, and one aspect that many people lack confidence in, is working with the media.
Develop a relationship with the local media outlets by approaching
them and letting them know who you are how you can bring readers to
In this, many media outlets have online capacity to capture details
of your club’s operations such as results of competitions and use these
details in their publications. The club needs to discuss how they can
access these opportunities with the media outlet.
How to write a media release
Your club can communicate with the media through an invitation
alerting the media to a forthcoming event, such as the opening of new
clubrooms or a media release about an event which is to take place or
has taken place, such as a family day.
When producing a media release:
- Make a point of finding out first names. As a general rule, give
the person’s title first, followed by the name (e.g. the President, Joe
Smith). Otherwise, follow the style of the newspaper or magazine for
which you are writing. Check the spelling. Don’t feel embarrassed about
asking a person to spell his or her name;
- Use simple language;
- Check the media deadlines. It is useless if it arrives late;
- Ensure the release is double spaced, with wide margins. Use only one side of the paper;
- Provide photographs, or present opportunities for photographs;
- Put the name of your club at the top to the release. The wording ‘media release’ should be prominently displayed; and
- Supply the name, address and telephone number of a club person to contact
- For further information. If the contact number is a place of
work, it is common courtesy to inform the company that there could be
calls from the media.
A good media release will answer six questions concerning the event:
Many clubs make the mistake of spending a lot of time and money on
conducting promotions to recruit new members and possibly forget about
retaining current members. Developing promotional strategies to improve
the basic product or services the club/group provides, the attitudes of
volunteers or staff towards members or customers and the standard of
facilities may be less expensive and more effective in the long-term.