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The ‘Summer of Sport’ has officially kicked off – with the Euros well and truly underway. We’re lucky this year to have a fantastic line up of sporting spectacles happening in one summer, with the return of the Olympics and Paralympic Games to name another two major events.

If you run or work in a sports club, you’ll be all too familiar with the peak in interest and enthusiasm that your sport experiences when an international competition or tournament is taking place.

So, given this summer’s line up, how can your club capitalise on these increased interest levels among existing and potential members?

The sporting dates you need to know about

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the biggest dates for your diary, from now until the end of August (the events of interest will, of course, differ depending on your sport)…

11th June-11th July: Football – The Euros

26th June-18th July: Cycling – Tour de France

28th June-11th July: Tennis – Wimbledon

15th-18th July: Golf – Men’s British Open

17th July: Rugby League – Challenge Cup final

23rd July-8th August: Summer Olympic Games

19th-22nd August: Golf – Women’s British Open

24th August-5th September: Summer Paralympic Games

Once you’ve identified the most important events for your sport, start to plan marketing and club activities around those dates.

For a full list of sporting events this summer, scroll to the end of this article.

How your club can capitalise on the Summer of Sport

We all know the drill; TVs will be on all day with Olympics coverage, pub gardens will – hopefully – be full of cheering fans watching live matches. There’s bound to be a lot of excitement among spectators this summer.

So, as people are watching your sport being played – whether that’s for the first time in their lives, or they’re falling back in love with it – now is the perfect time to remind them of your club.

Here are seven things you should do to make the most of the hype and peaked interest, to build engagement with your current membership base, and to attract new members to your club:

1. Live tweet during sporting events

Social media channels are buzzing during sporting events. But none more so than Twitter, which can essentially be a live commentary reel of what’s happening every second of the game or competition.

Join in the conversation by sharing updates live while an event in your sport is taking place. That could include sharing your take on something that’s happening in the moment (an athlete’s performance, or a referee’s decision), or perhaps responding to other people’s tweets to generate discussion.

This is the perfect way to build awareness of your brand and club among a group of people that are already very interested in your sport.

Let’s have a look at an example that you could apply to your club/sport. Remember, the idea here is *live commentary*, so you don’t need to include much context in your post – as long as it’s clear what you’re talking about. A top tip is to include a hashtag in your update that is being used widely across the platform.

Example – Football

An English football club, tweeting live during an England Euros match.

Tweet 1 – Reacting to a goal:

Yesssss, come on England! [musical note emoji] It’s coming home, it’s coming… [musical note emoji] #EURO2020

Tweet 2 – Responding to an unpopular referee decision:

Ref… If you need to learn about the offside rule, just pop into our clubhouse – we’ll get one of our U7s to explain it to you [eyeroll emoji] #EURO2020

Tweet 3 – Celebrating an important England win:

[share a video/image of members watching the game together and jumping in the air to celebrate the win]

2. Plan a social media schedule

Although live tweeting is a great way to build awareness and engagement, it can be exhausting. Therefore, it’s good to plan which events you’ll live post for, but ensure your workload is balanced by scheduling posts for other events too. Of course, you won’t be able to share the reaction-based updates, but you can still create conversation and engagement with people by pre-planning your posts.

For example, you can wish your country’s team or athletes good luck in their upcoming competitions.

Example – Gymnastics

Best of luck to @AliceKinsella16 on beam today, you can do it! #TeamGB #Tokyo2021

Remember to tag the team/athlete in your updates, wishing them luck or celebrating their success – you never know when they might spot your post and reshare it to their thousands of followers.

You should also make use of the different post formats available on the social media platforms – such as running polls on Twitter. If you run a team sports club, you could ask your followers for their take on the team line up ahead of a match.

Example – Rugby

A rugby club before the Challenge Cup Final.

Twitter poll:

Thoughts on today’s team?

– Love it – we’re gonna win!

– I’m unsure

– Bad decisions

People love sharing their opinions on social media, so polls are a great way to generate engagement and conversation.

3. Host mock competitions for your athletes

During the buzz of Tokyo 2021, why not host a mini-Olympics of your own? You can split your athletes into groups representing different countries, and your coaches can be judges or officials. This will be lots of fun for your teams.

Also, don’t forget how powerful word of mouth is. If you host a fun, mock event for your members, and the athletes have a great time, they’ll tell their friends all about it. Just make sure you’re prepared for all of the new members wanting to sign up for your club!

4. Put on displays in the local community

Depending on your sport, you could capitalise on the Summer of Sport excitement by showcasing your club and athletes locally. Events like village or town fairs, for example, are great for sports such as gymnastics. During a fun session, your athletes can choreograph a routine, ready to showcase to their friends, family, and the wider local community.

Imagine a child watching Team GB competing in your sport on TV, and then seeing your team putting on a great performance at a town fair. They’ll be bound to ask their parents if they can join the club.

Keep an eye on announcements in the local press and social media to see which events are going ahead, or have been postponed to later in the year.

5. Host watching parties for big events

If there’s an important final happening within your sport, invite your members and their friends to watch along together at your club. Government guidelines permitting, this could be a great way to build positive experiences and associations with your club – with both existing members and their friends (who may then, in turn, become members too).

6. Run free taster sessions and open days

In addition to inviting non-members to watching parties, you could also run taster sessions – or even open days – for them to get a feel for your club.

This is the perfect way to introduce them to your sport and team. Plus, it’s something to promote on your social media posts while getting involved in discussions around the sporting events.

For example, following a win or successful performance, you could share an update like this:

Wow, what a performance from [athlete/team]. If you enjoyed watching that, you should come along for our open day next week. We’ll even teach you how to master their winning tricks – for free!

7. Create an email marketing plan

If you are planning to host mock competitions, watching parties, or open days, then ensure you create a clear and considered plan for communicating them to your database.

You could send email reminders to your members when an important match or event is coming up within your sport. Plot out what is happening on which dates, what you’d like to communicate to your members, and when.

To help visualise this, we’ve put together an example email marketing plan for a tennis club in the run up to the Wimbledon finals – sending invites and reminders for watching parties and a mini-Wimbledon tournament.

Feel free to use this spreadsheet as a template for your club, tweaking the dates or events listed. You can download your copy by clicking here.

Hopefully you now feel prepared to make the most of this Summer of Sport. Whether you just decide to increase your social media activity, or run an event, you’re bound to generate some new interest in your club. Good luck, and enjoy!

Summer of Sport 2021 – Calendar

11th June-11th July: Football – The Euros

17th-20th June: Golf – US Open

26th June-18th July: Cycling – Tour de France

28th June-11th July: Tennis – Wimbledon

29th June, 1st & 4th July: Cricket – England vs Sri Lanka ODIs

8th, 10th & 13th July: Cricket – England vs Pakistan ODIs

13th July: Athletics – Diamond League

15th-18th July: Golf – British Open

16th, 18th &20th July: Cricket – England vs Pakistan T20s

17th July: Rugby League – Challenge Cup final

18th July: Formula 1 – British Grand Prix

21st July-21st August: Cricket – The Hundred

23rd July-8th August: Summer Olympics Games

24th, 31st July & 7th August: Rugby Union – South Africa vs British and Irish Lions Test series

4th August-14th September: Cricket – England vs India five Test series

19th-22nd August: Golf – Women’s British Open

24th August-5th September: Summer Paralympic Games

30th August-12th September: Tennis – US Open

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