Effective marketing is more than just advertising, gaining publicity or securing sponsorship; its purpose is to ‘make a sale’. Marketing your sporting club or organisation is a process that involves finding a market for your activity (or product), making your product desirable to that market, and exchanging your product for something of value.
Obvious marketing activities that sporting clubs and organisations engage in include open days, events and simple advertising. What most committee members and officials of your club or organisation don’t realise is that they market the club simply by taking on their roles. A committee member who provides relevant information that is easy to understand to an enquiry from the public over the phone contributes to the positive image of your club or organisation. So too does a team in uniform that plays fairly and does not contest an officials ruling.
Marketing of a sporting club or organisation that is implemented effectively has numerous benefits which include:
- Increase in membership
- Enhancing reputation
- Creates opportunities
- Raises awareness
- Is value for money
The best way to ensure your club or organisation receives all of these benefits and more is to develop a well planned, comprehensive and purposeful marketing plan. There are two types of marketing plans which can be developed, strategic and tactical.
Strategic marketing plans usually spans a three to five year period and are closely linked with the club or organisation’s overarching strategic plan. This type of marketing plan is valuable when developing ongoing programs and is vital when seeking sponsorship for large amounts of money.
Tactical marketing plans often stem from the club or organisation’s overarching strategic plan and achieve short-term goals such as an increase in membership for a season.
Both types of marketing plans contain similar components which can include:
- Summary – provides an overview of the plan and states the aims and objectives, often easiest to write last.
- Table of Contents – assists readers in navigating through relevant topics and information.
- Introduction – this section outlines what the club or organisation plans to do.
- Situation Analysis – highlights what the club or organisation’s current situation is, as well as how these factors affect the plan. A SWOT analysis is often beneficial throughout this step.
- Target Market Analysis – defines the current market including information on the demographic such as age, gender, ethnicity, lifestyle, income, etc.
- Problems and Opportunities – this section answers questions such as should the club or organisation stay in the current market? Can the club or organisation compete in the market effectively? Are the current marketing strategies working or should they be altered?
- Objectives – use the SMART method to effectively define your objectives.
- Marketing Mix – a mix of marketing strategies should be used to achieve your objectives, this section outlines which will be used.
- Implementation and Control – describe how the plan is going to achieve each outcome, when it will be done and who will be responsible for each activity. A timetable or schedule format could be used.
It is important to consider the 5 P’s when developing and implementing a marketing plan:
- Product – does the club or organisation has something others require?
- People – have you considered all involved; participants, members, customers?
- Price – is the whole cost (time, money, etc.) comparable?
- Promotion – are potential customers aware of your product?
- Place – is it central or convenient?
A SWOT analysis is used to identify both internal and external factors that impact on a club or organisation. They are used to highlight information that can be used to develop SMART objectives.
Strong senior membership
No Junior members
Develop junior teams
S - is the objective SPECIFIC?
M - is the objective MEASURABLE?
A - is the objective ACHIEVABLE?
R - is the objective REALISTIC?
T - does the objective have a TIMEFRAME?
Smart objectives ensure that the club or organisation are working towards goals that will provide effective and efficient progress.
An example of a SMART objective is "Increase membership by 10% over the next two years by engaging with the local school communities". This objective is specific (increase membership by 10% over the next two years), it is measurable (increase membership by 10%), it is achievable and realistic (by engaging with the local school communities), and lastly, it has a time frame (over the next two years).