07776 103 785 john@makesportfun.com

Your marketing isn’t working

Do you struggle to reach your target audience?

You need to increase participation. After all 52% of people are completely inactive, and only 26% of people are active three times or more per week.

But you are probably finding it frustrating trying to engage your hard-to-reach audiences – such as women and girls, over 65s and people from lower socio-economic groups.

You might find that you’re putting on new activity sessions only to have the same people turning up, instead of the inactive people you’re trying to reach. And that people ask for a certain session, but then don’t turn up, even though it’s what they say they want.

So why is this so hard? After all – 52% of people want to be more active. And 48% of inactive people want to be more active (Active People Survey).

The problem is that your marketing isn’t good enough.

Marketing is incredibly powerful when it’s done right. However 99% of the time it’s not used properly in sport and activity. There are three problems with the way it’s normally done:

  • Wrong marketing tactics
  • Wrong marketing messages
  • Wrong people doing marketing
  • Wrong budget

Wrong marketing tactics

Most people in sport and activity use posters and leaflets for their marketing. That’s a dreadful idea. Posters and leaflets are out of date. They aren’t the safe option. They don’t get results. Everyone uses them, but that doesn’t mean they work.

We’ve extensively tested these types of marketing tactics:

  • posters
  • leaflets
  • billboard advertising
  • bus stop advertising
  • door drops
  • radio advertising

I recommend against spending even a penny on those tactics, as they’re not cost effective. There are two marketing tactics which work reliably and are cost effective

  • Facebook Ads
  • Direct mail (for reaching over 65s)

Cost per person registered



Using these tactics will save you a substantial amount of money versus posters and leaflets.

Wrong marketing messages

People normally do marketing for a small amount of activities at one go (e.g. new Sportivate classes).  Research from Sport England shows us that different people want to do different activities. This is obvious of course, everyone likes different things. So we shouldn’t be surprised that not everyone enjoys attending a 12 week circuit class in a gym. Some will want to walk, play badminton, attend exercise classes or go swimming. About half of people don’t want to attend a group activity, but want to get active on their own, so any group activities we put on aren’t appropriate for them.

So we’ve wasted any money we spent getting our marketing message in front of the people who didn’t want to do that activity. Then when you want to put on some new activities you have to run marketing all over again. This is very expensive because you have to keep putting your message out there again and again.

The right message to use – the one that gets better results than anything else we’ve ever tested is that they can get a voucher to try their first session for free.

Wrong people doing the marketing

People in sport and activity don’t have a background in marketing. Somehow marketing responsibility ends up going to the most junior person in the team. You’d like the comms team to help, but they don’t have the capacity to do this.

This makes no sense. Marketing can be used to engage your target audience, but it can’t be entrusted to someone with no experience or qualifications in this field.

Wrong budget

For some reason the way most people figure out the marketing budget for a project is to take the total budget and put 1% into marketing.

The right way to calculate the budget needed is to calculate the number of people you need to get to register and multiply by a reasonable cost per registration (about £5 per person is a reasonable budget, not including staff costs).