How to Advertise and Market Your Organization
By Melissa Wickes
May 24, 2022
Building an amazing culture at your youth sports organization and working toward operational excellence will only get you so far in youth sports management if people don’t know about your organization. The next dimension of youth sports management (COACH) is A for Advertising and Marketing. You have to market your organization, both to compete and to grow your programs. And, unless you have a marketing background, it can be intimidating to try to figure out all that goes into it, especially today when it seems like there is something new every day that the experts say you should pay attention to.
There are social media and Google AdWords and social media ads and review sites and email and your website and more. It’s no wonder it can be overwhelming, at best. But, because of technology and all of the free sites available, marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. Sometimes all it costs is a little extra time.
The Benefits of Marketing Your Youth Sports Organization
When done well, your advertising and marketing will:
- Attract new parents, players, and coaches
- Retain parents, players, and coaches
- Build your brand
- Communicate why someone should play sports with you
- Help you fundraise should you need the extra support
Building an Advertising and Marketing Plan
When considering how you’re going to advertise and market your youth sports organization, map out your ideal customer, figure out which channels will be the most effective in reaching them, and then craft the materials that will attract, engage, and delight them. This work should be done annually as you grow and your programs develop and change.
And, because word-of-mouth is one of the most effective tools in giving more kids the opportunity to play, reward your most loyal parents, players, and coaches—those who tell everyone about your programs.
The best way to land customers is to lead them down a path that starts as soon as they notice your program and, and not only keeps them coming back for more but convinces them to get others involved. The path looks like this:
- Awareness—the moment of discovery. It might come through word-of-mouth, social media, an article or a video
- Interest—Once someone knows about you and your program, they show interest by looking you up on Google, asking around for third-party validation, and maybe even stopping by your facility.
- Purchase—Congratulations, you have a new customer! But your work is only halfway done. Now you need to keep them.
- Retention—Keeping your customers happy is critical, and requires constant communication, great customer service, constantly asking for feedback, and more.
- Advocacy—Loyal customers can become your best marketing channel by referring others to your program, leaving positive reviews online, and promoting you on social.
Once you’ve mapped out your ideal customer journey, you can create a digital marketing game plan that is tailored to your organization and customer needs.
Follow these steps to create the digital marketing plan that will take your prospects through every step of the above journey and turn them into paying customers.
- Create great content. Content is a crucial lure and branding tool, but it is not a one-type-fits-all solution. Different assets serve different purposes. A video highlighting your coaches might help convince a parent who has questions about your training curriculum. Testimonials might convince someone who’s comparing two local programs. A lot of this material is already at your disposal. Record a quick how-to video or a post-game interview, and make them centerpieces of simple blog posts. Offer game and season recaps that fit easy-to-reproduce templates. Survey existing customers about what they want to read or see so you’re not wasting your time on stuff that won’t leave an impression. Pro tip: Do you know a sibling or parent who is willing to create content? Hire them to help out.
- Show it where they’ll see it. Even the coolest content can get lost in the shuffle if it doesn’t appear where your intended audience is looking. Current customers can help you with this too. Ask parents and players which social media platforms they frequent most.
- Build a budget. Typically, an organization will spend about 3% of its total revenue on marketing. It’s not a hard and fast number, but it gives you a place to start. You can move up or down from there, depending on the things that you want to accomplish in any given year.
- Spruce up your digital look. Until they get to know you and your organization personally, you are what people see. So you’ll want to elevate your online presence. Here’s how you can do that.
For more information, read Marketing Your Youth Sports Organization: A Digital Playbook.