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Bad marketing campaigns for sports clubs can come off as noise

A lot of people become sports club managers, but they don’t necessarily understand marketing principle or know what is and isn’t working for them. Essentially, running a sports club is like running a small business. Whilst your primary goal is to provide sports to young athletes, you also want to have a steady flow of income. That’s where marketing comes in – it helps you engage and retain your current members, aswell as attract new ones. To increase the success of your marketing, you need to cut down on the noise and understand how to spend your money strategically to get a higher return on investment

Why does marketing sometimes not work?

Usually it’s because of one of the following reasons:

  • Doesn’t speak to the right people
  • Lists features and not benefits
  • Not tracking return on investment
  • No consistency or repetition
  • Not starting early enough

Best practice – the hybrid model: digital and offline

This image shows what your marketing plan should look like in a nutshell. At the top, you’ve got your new training programme, season, or term followed by digital and offline and then several different activities under those (which are interchangeable).

When you have something to talk about, you want to market both digitally and offline. The key is to hit your marketing from all angles and make sure that it’s diversified. So if something happens and you can’t reach people digitally, you can still speak to them offline. This approach also allows you to make changes when you see something isn’t giving you a return. You can figure out what’s not working and try something else to replace it.

The secret sauce – planning + consistency + time = success

If you don’t have lots of money to spend on marketing, you most certainly can market your sports or health club effectively on your own. That’s why this blog is called DIY digital marketing campaigns for sports clubs.” The key is to plan ahead, be consistent and give it time – at least 90 days and judge your success after a few repetitions of this cycle.

Digital marketing examples


Although people don’t read emails as much as they used to, that doesn’t mean you throw your email strategy away. You need to use it in a different way to how it was used a few years ago. Here are some things to bear in mind:

  • Use lists and tags to organise your current and future member groups – you’re going to speak to them differently
  • Use templates to save time
  • Programme your emails (at least four weeks out) so potential members see your name as many times as possible
  • Stop writing long emails and newsletters
  • Replace text with video where possible

Organic social media (without ads)

People often assume that social media doesn’t get you a return on investment unless you pay for ads. And that couldn’t be more untrue! We’re not saying that ads don’t work, but you don’t always have the cash to spend. There are many different organic strategies you can try:

  • Know where your “lifers” are – where do the people who are going to be your diehard members live – we suggest Facebook for sport club managers
  • Post updates and engage regularly
  • Ramp up content around the start of seasons or terms
  • Partner with ambassadors in your area or industry for giveaways and challenges
  • Use stories (more effective on Instagram than Facebook)
  • Use groups to create relationships and grow your members base (we don’t mean a group for your sports club, but rather a group for people who don’t yet buy from you)

Offline marketing examples

In tandem with your digital marketing, you’re going to be carrying out offline marketing as well. Ideally, you want to envelop people from all angles with your information!

Direct methods

These are more traditional marketing methods that were popular before digital started booming. However, there are still people who don’t spend a lot of time on social media or read emails so it’s important to incorporate things like QR codes, direct mail, and handouts at the end of training – many parents rely on tangible things that are available to them whenever they need it.


Verbal marketing is an overlooked goldmine, but it’s not always the most reliable, so it shouldn’t be the only way you obtain new members. Word of mouth is great when you’re making everyone happy, but when you don’t make everyone happy, it can work against you. Here are a few ideas to help:

  • Systematic list and track – make your coaches accountable and have them track conversations with parents
  • Confidence in conversations e.g. at club social events – have the competence to speak to parents before they leave. Give them a leaflet too but couple it with a conversation to add that personal touch

Hybrid methods

This is almost an evolution of modern-day marketing. It’s not all online like email and social media, but it’s not like traditional offline methods either – it kind of falls in the middle.


A great substitute for your lack of email effectiveness is text. In the past, there has been pushback about using text because it feels invasive on parents time, but there is a huge convenience factor as some parents prefer texts over emails:

  • Opt-in collection – get their permission to text them
  • Send important reminders only
  • Offer links to free content to give them a reason to open your messages
  • Don’t just sell your sports club all the time – observe the 80/20 rule – 80% provides value, 20% is selling

DM campaigns

A DM campaign is through Facebook or Instagram. The purpose is to build a relationship through conversations, not to sell. Think of people as if they are standing in front of you in real life, extend a hand for them to talk to you and be friendly – then if they want to sign their child up to your sports club – you are top of their minds:

  • Non-intimidating – “Thank you for your support. If you have any questions about our sport, please let us know.”
  • Track conversations – find people in your group or those who have liked your page and add them into a spreadsheet to track conversations you have with them
  • Great for first contact e.g. tours
  • WordPress website add-on – replace website chat boxes with Facebook Messenger, so messages come directly to your Facebook

Technology needed to carry out DIY marketing campaigns for sports clubs

  • Google Sheets – share and work on the same files as your coaches – great for tracking data
  • HubSpot/HootSuite – plan out strategic social media posts in advance and build out nice visuals
  • MailChimp/Flo Desk – set up auto-drip emails and group people into lists
  • Canva/Adobe Spark – for graphic design imagery across social media, printed material, email, and worksheets etc

The success of your marketing all comes down to… tracking!

If you don’t track your results, you don’t know what’s working and what to change. If you continue the same marketing activities without seeing results, you’re never getting a return on your money. So, whatever you decide to do, you have to repeat it to get a great data pool to judge. Only then will you know what’s bringing in new members to your sports club. Let us know what marketing activities you’re doing right now, how effective they’ve been and how you’re tracking them on Twitter @LoveToDoMore.

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