Technology revolutionizing all sectors in the digital age
Technology is advancing and society is advancing in the same way. Things that used to work years ago no longer do. On the other hand, there are now solutions that no one would have imagined 10 years ago.
Do you remember when you used to go to a travel agency and they would organize everything for you? Flight, travel, accommodation, per diem, activities?
Nowadays, you can find the flight through a comparator like Skyscanner and rent an apartment on Airbnb. The transfer to the apartment is done in an Uber, you look up what activities to do on Tripadvisor and you let yourself be guided by Google reviews on what is the Italian restaurant in the area with the best value for money.
Times change, and the world of sports, could not be less. As far as the club is concerned, the athlete is no longer satisfied with just belonging to it. Athletes want to feel part of their club.
Why do i need to recruit new members?
In a competitive market where clubs, like businesses, need to generate financial resources to survive, monthly or annual dues revenue is often the most important.
It is clear that clubs need to pamper their members to keep them satisfied and to keep them. Members are the reason your club sustains itself and also the goal for which it must do so. Let's say that clubs are sociocentric. Depending on the characteristics of your club, your club's membership is different. In a sports school, the members are the children, but their fathers and mothers are very influential in making every decision.
In a high competition team, it is necessary that the professionalism of the staff, equipment and facilities is high, while in teams of initiation or leisure, more attention must be paid to have flexible schedules and activities for all levels and tastes.
How have sports clubs traditionally recruited members?
Traditional media advertising has been the order of the day for years. Radio spots, ads in local newspapers and magazines, posters and billboards, and even local television commercials.
All are alternatives that have been successful, but they involve a significant outlay for the club. The downside of these forms of advertising is that you don't know if the return on investment is positive.
In other words, if you invest $500 in a newspaper ad and get 10 new members who each bring in $100 at the end of the year, theoretically you will have earned $1,000 for your $500 investment. However, this statement is not correct.
You will never know for sure if these new members have signed up thanks to the ad you have published or if they have signed up because of some other factor. Making this type of advertisement is, therefore, a "blind alley".
Campaigns in schools and associations
Especially when we talk about sports schools and youth teams, schools have always been an ideal place to look for these young talents excited about becoming the next 'Maradonas' or 'Rafa Nadal-es'.
When there are several teams of adult categories, a very typical possibility is to go to associations of different social purpose to talk about our club and offer them our product. Attending events and activities has also been a very recurrent way of making the club visible
Word of mouth
You can't forget the infallible word of mouth. It has always been said that the best advertising is a satisfied customer (in our case, a club member).
Therefore, word of mouth has always been and will always be a key factor in attracting new members.
Why aren't these techniques enough?
It's not that these techniques don't work. In fact, they are very valid strategies and are sure to attract many members. It's just that traditional strategies are not enough. You can't limit yourself to exploiting 2 or 3 channels when there are so many possibilities.
In the information age, we are all bombarded from all sides, so you better be the one who shoots first. These techniques have certain shortcomings. As a club manager, you have to try to make the best decisions, and doing things the way they were done 30 years ago may not be the best option.
Traditional advertising can increase your expenses, campaigns in schools and associations can be very time consuming, and word of mouth you can't control or measure. What if we explain to you 6 strategies to recruit members for your sports club in a cheaper, faster way and with complete control of the whole process?
6 ways to recruit members for your sports club in the digital age
A few years ago, it was expected that anyone who wanted to play sports would come to your club and be recruited. Today, it's your responsibility to reach out to the community and recruit members for your sports club.
The most practical way to do this is to use the technological resources available to you. The data is overwhelming: Of Spain's 46.4 million inhabitants, 39.4 million are active Internet users. In other words, out of every 10 people you pass on the street, 9 are Internet users. I think you don't have to be a lynx to understand what's going on.
1- Keep your sports club's social profiles active.
Social networks are an indispensable element to promote your club. The social networks most used by clubs are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but there are many more, all of them valid. It all depends on your club's goals, the social networks your club members use, and the ones you think your potential members might use.
For example, if you want to find new junior athletes, a good strategy is to pay more attention to Instagram. Twitter, on the other hand, has an older average age audience and can be used to recruit members in adult categories.
Social networks can be used for two purposes: to teach and share club-related topics or to interact with other users. When you show new activities, sessions and training sessions, post competition results and publish photos and videos, you are showing your club to the public. Whether it's your own club members, followers, or potential new members. When you respond to comments, chat with users or write on posts and profiles of other athletes and clubs, you are interacting.
Both strategies are valid. In fact, the ideal is to have several social profiles on different networks, and perform both types of actions. In this way, you will reach a larger number of target audiences, with different behaviors when using social networks.
It is very important to keep your social profiles updated. This generates a sense of permanent activity in the sports club, something positive in the face of curious users who are interested in your club. It is much more advisable to have one or two updated networks than to have several and not give them the attention they need. Try to create valuable content, so that your followers have an irresistible desire to like, comment and share it. Or, even better, try to make it viral.
Look at how C.D. Leganés did it, with a highly original membership recruitment campaign. In social networks, nothing is written.
2- Use advertising on social networks
Since your target audience is on social networks, you have to take advantage of it to reach as many people as possible. I'm sure there are dozens of people who are looking for what you offer in your club, but haven't had the chance to reach you. Paid advertising is the ideal opportunity to reach them!
For years, the most common paid ads with the best success rate were Google Ads (formerly adwords). However, during the last few years, Facebook Ads and, in the last few months, Instagram Ads are giving very good results.
It is not a matter of using one or the other. You should try to run ads on several sites and see which ones give the best results for your club. What you do have to keep in mind, whatever you choose, is that it is vital (I repeat, vital!) to segment the audience you want to reach.
Let me give you a very illustrative example to make it clear. Imagine that you have a women's youth soccer club in Seville. It would make sense to limit your segmentation to Seville (and if possible, surrounding towns), segment by a female audience and, if you want to target female athletes directly, set an age limit.
To make a more precise segmentation, segment by tastes. For example, "people who like Sevilla F.C or Real Betis Balompié". The more you get the hang of paid ads, the more accurate your targeting will be and the better results you will get.
Tip! Measure everything you do. What you don't measure you can't improve. Use your own ad platforms or Google Analytics to gather valuable information about your marketing actions.
3- Have a website and update it
It seems obvious, but there are more cases than you think, in which a club does not have a website. Fortunately, nowadays, it is really easy to create a website with minimal knowledge. There are thousands of free tools with their respective articles and tutorials. If you dare to do it on your own, we recommend you to start with WordPress or, even better, with Clupik. Web to your liking for your club, with a free app and management tool. If you don't feel confident, contact a professional. The investment is not so big and can be a very important added value for your sports club.
It is just a matter of investing time and learning. Another more than valid option is to outsource the creation and maintenance of the website. And if not, surely there is a member of your club more or less skilled with these things that will give you a hand.
A website is the showcase that a club has to show itself to any internet user. While social networks are important, the web is even more important if you want to attract members for your sports club. Google has almost twice as many users in Spain as Facebook, the most used social network.
In many cases, the first time a person gets to know about your club is through the Google search engine. A search like 'women's soccer club in Seville' could show your website if it is optimally designed (this is a topic that we will cover later). This is your chance to make a great first impression and make that visitor want, with all their heart, to belong to your club.
Of course, just as important as having your social networks up to date is your website. You have to show the information about the schedule and facilities in a clear way. It is also important to take care of the more specific parts where you talk about news, the members of your club or the results obtained during the weekend.
4- Have a registration form on the website
Since you have visitors on your website, take advantage of them! If you look at the websites of big (and not so big) brands, they are designed with a specific goal in mind. When you go to Amazon they are trying to sell you a product, when you go to Twitter they want you to sign up and use the app and when they go to your website you want them to join your club. When you start treating certain aspects of your club like a business would, you'll start to achieve better results.
Make it easy for the user to get from the time they enter your website to the time they request to join your club with a strategy to achieve this goal. First, you should have a form on your website for them to sign up for your club or, at the very least, to submit their contact information. This way, you can write or call them. Your goal in this case, should be that every user interested in joining the club, fills out this form.
Second, you have to have an optimal design for this user to fill in the form. You should take care of both the visual part and the content. A good strategy is to talk about the advantages of your club, why someone should join and then invite them to do so with a form.
Make sure that the form is in an accessible place and that they don't have to navigate through the whole website to find it. Imagine that your website is the sea and the user is a boat. You, as the skipper, have to make sure that the ship reaches port without sinking along the way.
If you think it is unlikely that only with the information provided on your website a user can become a member of your club, perhaps in the form you should simply ask for his phone number or email for more information and thus convince him definitively that your club is the best.
In this post we talk about how to streamline the process of registering a member in your sports club.
5- Run emailing campaigns
To simplify the concept, emailing is about sending information (commercial or non-commercial) to users who have voluntarily given you their email address for this purpose. Emailing campaigns are increasingly used by sports clubs. However, there is a lack of professionalism in this type of action.
It can be said that this strategy is somewhat more advanced than the previous ones, but if your club has already implemented basic online strategies, this is the next step you should take. Whether they are emails collected in a form on your website, a campaign on social networks, or emails collected in another way, the goal is to send information to subscribers with the intention of getting them to take some kind of action (in your case, to recruit them as members).
Nor is it about bombarding them with mass messages convincing them to sign up now. Ideally, try not to be intrusive. That is, don't let them see your club's messages as a purely commercial message without providing any value to them. Try to make the user want, wait and wish to receive your emails because the content is really interesting.
As you get a larger database, have more information about your subscribers and learn more about emailing, you will be able to better shape your strategy. But to give you an idea, the concept is always the same. Try to offer each subscriber a piece of content that brings them value. The ultimate goal is to get them to become a member of your club (not necessarily after the first email).
If you want to start testing it, we recommend that you use Mailchimp, a tool that is free and allows you to have several different lists with a multitude of statistics, user segmentation, personalized promotions and a long list of features.
Recommendation! Do some research on how to create a newsletter and consider creating one for your club. Something not very typical in this sector and that, undoubtedly, will offer a differential value to your sports club.
6- Make online promotions on special dates
Certain businesses and products are seasonal, such as nougat at Christmas and swimsuits during the beach season. Just like them, sports clubs also have their peak season. Mostly, there are two types of new athletes in the club. Those who come from another club or those who did not previously practice the same sport. Let's differentiate between them.
Those coming from another club, generally, will come in right after the season ends and the next season begins. Obviously, there are exceptions, but you have to know that this is the usual period.
Each sport has a different calendar. The soccer season usually starts in August, track and field in November and the open water swimming season in the spring. Depending on the sport(s) played at your club, the timing of when you should be on your toes is different.
New athletes new to the sport will come at more varied times. Most commonly, however, they will want to join after summer, at the beginning of the year, or right at the start of spring with the intention of getting in shape for summer. There is a little bit of everything, but generally those three are the most common times to join a new club.
At this time of year, it doesn't hurt to promote on social media. Knowing that there are people who are looking for a club, we have to take advantage to be the first to attract them and make them stay with us. Another strategy that works is to do just the opposite. Try running promotions during off-peak times, either with discounts, trial days, etc. Online promotions can help you grow your club.
However, there are sports that, once the season has started, are unlikely to add up. This is often the case in competitive team sports. An alternative is for these new members to simply start training with the team without actually competing until the following season.
Ultimately, the more choices, the more likely you are to succeed.
You've seen that the way to recruit members for your sports club has nothing to do with how it was done years ago. The good thing about new technologies is that they are available to everyone. Take advantage of them and make the most of them to attract new members. Remember, "100% of the people you don't reach will never become members of your club.”
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