Do sports clubs really need a marketing budget? ..... the answer is YES!
Updated: Jun 12, 2018
You have just been elected onto your sports club committee. Great! You are in charge of marketing and recruitment. (Generally, these two roles fit really well with each other as a goal for marketing should be an increase in participation).
The first meeting comes around - you have some great ideas!
Social media advertising, video promotion, on field banners or marquees, or a giant sign to hang on the school fence around the corner..
You ask... "What's the budget?" and it's usually met with, "Present to us what you want to do, and we will see if we can afford it"
After trying to pull together an idea of a budget you can be left wondering. Are the quotes I'm getting are too high? How much should I spend on social media? Should we hire a photographer or videographer for the season - is that too expensive? Do I need to pay for someone to do great graphics for me or can I manage?
This is where you should be looking at breaking down your marketing budget into what is the likely return on each activity, and plan accordingly.
Marketing is often left by the wayside when it comes to sports clubs. Everyone knows they should do it, but lack the time, resources, people and/or experience to do so.
You can spend all the money in the world on traditional advertising (newspapers), social media, fancy new teardrop banners, branded marquees but if you haven't found a way to link what you spend vs what you gain (ROI) you will always be on the back foot and next year the committee may not approve of the budget if you can't provide a result.
Making that link, monitoring and testing ROI can be really overwhelming.
(And if you really wanted to deep dive into it, I will be doing a video on Understanding your Audience for Sports Clubs soon or you can read up on it here)
But as a core measure to start; consider, how much revenue a new member brings into your club. Do they have friends? Family? Do you have merch available? Will they buy a new hoodie or polo each year?
This amount is where you start formulating what each new member is worth.
Minus the club fees, registration, uniform and you have a $$ figure you can decide how much you can spend per person recruiting more people like them..
From there, it is about having a goal in mind for what you are expecting as an increase on membership. Looking back at records of registered members over the last 3-4 years will give you an understanding of baseline growth. (It is hard to predict an accurate 'average' of participation growth due to different codes, geography, economics of your local area)
Forecasting the budget for the year, a calendar of events will help you plan marketing activity well in advance.
Knowing when to start promotions recruiting for the next season, advertising when finals are and recognising your sponsors, are the times you should be spending on marketing.
But where to start?
In a previous blog post about the recent Facebook changes , I explored what the effects the new algorithm changes were for clubs. In a nutshell, content is where it is at.
Social media still remains one of the best places for sports clubs to recruit and promote. This is because like sport, social media is based on having an engaged community. And sports clubs and groups have one of the highest engagement rates when social is done well. And by well I mean considered, planned and engaging not just sponsored posts everywhere I look.
Facebook and Instagram are still the place to be, but you need to be clever about where to spend your money.
If you have an engaged large audience, the more organic and native (not sponsored) content like highlights, videos, player interviews will likely get great results regardless so save your cash and invest in livestreaming or video promotions.
If your pages are struggling, haven't been updated since last season, have old graphics and photos from 2009 you might need to give me a call... But, just because you don't have a large following doesn't mean your audience isn't engaged. I've always said, quality over quantity.
Spending on social media gives you many options to target your audience. I highly recommend filtering to the local area and include 2 or 3 suburbs outside your homefield (or if you have done some research, look at where majority of your members live and target just outside those)
From experience; spending $100 on facebook ads in the lead up to preseason (over 4-6 weeks) isn't unreasonable. If your club values members at $20, you get 5 new members as a result of the ads - job done. It is about testing the waters to see what style, tone, photo or video works best and making sure to 'listen' to your members on social media.
The biggest piece of advice is to plan as far in advance as possible, you don't want to get to the end of the year and because you didn't think you would make the finals - you have no budget to really make the most of it.