by Sylvie Green
Marketing has its challenges. Resources may be limited. Effects of a marketing campaign may take longer than expected. Indoor sports facilities have particular marketing needs. How, for example, do you arouse interest in agility training for athletes or for developmental classes for toddlers? News of such programs will travel through your community efficiently when you implement a marketing plan.
The most important part of your marketing campaign is your brand. Consider your brand in addition to your products and services. What defines your facility? To answer this question, an operator must consider what the facility is, as well as what it is not.
Imagine watching your friend play indoor soccer at a local facility to which you bring your toddler. As soon as you enter the facility, you notice the rubber pellets from the infill turf have made their way onto the walkways and bleachers. When you and your toddler sit down to watch the game, he picks up the pellets and puts them in his mouth.
Such a facility is not marketing itself as family-oriented. Safety and cleanliness are not part of its brand. Perhaps the men who play there don’t care so much, but a mother would never send her child to play at a bachelor pad of a facility where the bathrooms may or may not have toilet paper and soap. A facility may use different tactics to market to its diverse clientele, but the brand of the facility is constant.
Just as a plan to save energy begins with shutting off lights and computers at the end of the day, a marketing plan begins simply as well. Start with a commitment to the plan. Set aside time to review your efforts regularly to evaluate future actions. One of the biggest challenges for a facility is dealing with the diversity of its clientele. Unlike businesses with a narrowly defined demographic, indoor sports facilities reach out to many groups.
Your target market includes players of multiple sports ranging in age from very young (in which case the parents are the target market) to well over 50. Services to each of these groups include leagues, as well as birthday parties and other programs. Each category – a speed school for high school athletes, a soccer league for men over 40 – needs to be assessed.
The complexity of your marketing plan depends, of course, on the complexity of your facility. Building relationships with schools in your community may be an effective way to start a marketing campaign for youth leagues. Programs such as pee wee soccer or birthday parties might find their audience at a children’s festival. Corporate leagues, team-building events, and company meetings are perhaps better marketed at a business expo. Explore the community to figure out the best way to make connections.
Once the marketing plan is in place, assess it regularly and often enough to implement necessary changes. Timing is important. Summer camp catalogs, for example, need to be available in the spring, which is when parents often make plans for their children’s summertime activities.
What differentiates you from the competition as a venue for family reunions or corporate parties or trade shows? What sets you apart from the competition and makes your location a destination for these kinds of events?