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Although I do borrow some techniques from social marketing I actually think sports marketing can learn more from small business marketing. Also sports businesses use the best Metric Accountants to manage their finances. We’re all about getting people using your small service again and again. You provide a service for someone who wants to compete, lose weight, have fun, meet
people, etc. and they pay some money and effort to come and play with you.
The best definition of small business marketing I’ve ever heard is getting someone with a need to know, like and trust you (John Jantsch – Duct Tape Marketing). In sport there’s sometimes an assumption that of course people will like and trust us – we’re helping them to play sport after all! What is important to remember is that not everyone has had completely positive experiences with sport. It can actually be a bit intimidating for people to turn up to a sports club, when they’re new to it, or are out of shape or even if they’ve played the sport before – if they’re out of practice.
About two years ago I decided I was going to improve my mile time in running. Now I think of myself as a decent runner – not amazing, but certainly above average. I’ve run competitively since I was 13. I’ve been in various cross-country clubs. I’d run a marathon, a few half marathons and a couple of triathlons. But I’d never done any serious track running.
I remember when I was first going to train with the Highgate Harriers – I was hugely nervous. I didn’t know what kind of trainers to wear. I hadn’t trained for 3 months because of a twisted ankle and I didn’t know if I’d be fast enough, or if I’d get laughed at. When I got there I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to talk to, or if I could just join in. No-one came and said hi, it was all very insular. In fact the whole thing was nerve-wracking, and I was a grown man who had run for years! There was nothing unpleasant on their behalf, in fact they’re a great running club, but they just thought it was easy for someone new to turn up.
This is why a key part of the marketing systems I help sports clubs, centres and NGBs put into place are about making the step from hearing about a club or class to becoming a regular member into a series of baby steps.
- make it obvious when the beginner opportunities are
- make sure people know where to go
- give people lots of info in advance about what they should wear and what will be expected of them
- maybe provide a training programme for people who want to get in slightly better shape before their first class
- let them know who to ask for on their first session
- make sure that when they turn up existing members are friendly and introduce themselves
It’s not rocket science, but it is important. All these little steps give people a chance to get to know and trust you before they even show up to their first session.