Marketing your club is more than posting a flyer, designing a new logo, or getting an article in the local paper; marketing for swim clubs is about communicating the benefits of your club to current members, prospective families and potential community supporters.
WHY MARKET YOUR CLUB?
The obvious reason most clubs market is to recruit new members into their program; but thinking about marketing can also help a club to:
- Retain current members
- Secure team or event sponsorship
- Increase support from community stakeholders
THE FIRST STEP: KNOWING WHO YOU ARE
The primary goal of marketing is to let customers know why they would benefit from having some association with your club. But first your club needs to know who it is and what the benefits and values it stands for. Spend some time thinking about the 3 to 4 benefits and values that you want to associate with your club. These might already be listed in your team’s mission or vision statement. Once you have figured this out make sure everyone affiliated with your club knows them as well as you do...word of mouth from your membership is often the best marketing technique.
WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE?
After you know who you are, you need to figure out what makes you different and unique than your competition. Remember, your competition is not just the club down the road; it might be another sport or activity that potential swimmers in your area could participate in. One way to determine what makes you unique is to identify something that you do better than someone else. Some common things for swim clubs include: producing Olympic trial qualifiers, lower team fees, convenient pool locations, coaching staff experience, team travel trips.
WHO IS YOUR CUSTOMER?
Do you know who is making the decision to join your club? Sometimes it might be the athlete, sometimes it might be the parent. Your customer could also be a local businessperson who you are trying to get to sponsor your team or meet. You also need to know what your customer hopes to gain from your club. Do they want to make it on a National Team? Or do they just want some basic fitness? No matter the reason, try as much as you can to customize your message for that particular audience. You want to let them know how your club is uniquely positioned to meet their needs.
WHO IS YOUR COMPETITION?
Knowing who and what you’re against is important while attempting to distinguish yourself from the pack. As we said earlier, your competition is not always the other swim club in town in might be soccer leagues, baseball leagues, the economy and age of your members. Knowledge of your competitors will allow you create customized benefits/materials that will separate you from your competitors.
DEVELOPING THE MARKETING MATERIALS
Once you know the answers to the questions above, developing the materials should be pretty simple. No matter what vehicle you use to communicate your marketing message will be created using the answers above. More than likely there is someone affiliated with your club (assistant coach, parent, etc) that can do some design work for you if you are not particularly skilled to help you best communicate the message. Also, remember you do not always need physical marketing materials, word of mouth is often the most powerful marketing tool you have available.
AVAILABLE MARKETING MATERIALS/PROGRAMS FROM USA SWIMMING
America’s Swim Team Recruiting Materials
Reaching out in your community
SOME OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
How your team “looks” at swim meets says a lot about your program; think about everything from coach apparel to stroke technique. Develop relationships with local business people, real estate professionals, and swim school owners; they can often be your best ambassadors. Internal marketing to your current members is important, constantly remind them and show them why they chose to be a part of your program. Marketing does not happen once or twice a year; it happens all of the time. Everything your program does, says something about your program.