It’s almost 2017 and the landscape of youth sport growth, development, and outreach has changed since millennials (most of you reading this) began playing sports. There’s a new businesslike feel surrounding club expansion and outreach that reflects both a boom in youth sports and companies realizing the exposure potential. Understanding the role marketing plays in your organization will help you do more than secure funds; you’ll be able to fully realize the club’s vision and enrich the lives of the most important stakeholder – the kids.
Marketing does not equal fundraising
When organizations throw all of their resources and communications personnel towards strictly fundraising activities it may actually be holding them back. It is, of course, important to secure funds through sponsors, fundraising events, and prompting donors. However, proper marketing communications will reach further than this and includes many more activities that would possibly seem useless if your only goal was to meet fundraising targets.
This is not to say that there is not some overlap in both fundraising and marketing strategies, but when you fully dive into creating a dynamic plan for your club you’ll see why you may not be doing enough right now.
Have a dedicated marketing/business development committee
Your board should be ensuring that there are people (or at least one person) whose sole responsibility is marketing communications. In order to be done effectively, the job is too onerous to be split up between multiple volunteers who are most likely already spread out too thin. After all, most boards are made up of volunteers who have full-time jobs and family commitments, and taking on marketing duties to, say, the vice-president will prove insufficient. The duties of your marketing team will include:
Club “brand” development and awareness
Event and program promotion
Collaboration with companies and other clubs
Digital marketing, website, and social media management
Relationship building with local companies, municipality, etc.
Keeping the organization relevant and constantly involved in the community
Having someone with a background in marketing/promotion/branding is definitely a bonus. Don’t be afraid to ask around and use the club as a network to find the right person!
Benefits of a more involved marketing effort
You will begin to realize your organization’s ultimate goals taking form if you keep a high value on marketing communications. People in the community will begin to think of you as synonymous to the activities performed by your marketing committee. This gives you the power to really position yourself by reflecting your message in these activities. You will be able to create a positive association with your club to the community, business leaders, and local government. At the same time, you’ll be gaining knowledge and developing relationships that will help drive you in a direction that will differentiate you from other clubs who aren’t putting in this effort. Finally, as I mentioned earlier, fundraising is not completely exclusive from these marketing efforts and you’ll notice a natural increase in club funds.
What hasn’t changed – keeping your mission and vision #1
The overshadowing governor in all of this is that you stay true to your vision. This will be the thing that guides all of your marketing and fundraising decisions and you’ll want to keep it in mind every time you plan on moving ahead with a new sponsorship request, event, or collaboration. The best part about this is that if you truly stay consistent and in line with your big picture goals, the community at large will see this in your carefully planned activities and be even more receptive to supporting you.