One of the most powerful and cost-effective ways to grow your club is to promote it. This guide tells you why you should promote your club, how to promote it online and offline, and how to stand out from the crowd with creative marketing tips.
What are the benefits of promoting my club?
Promoting your club enables it to grow in a number of ways, helping it to:
- Gain new and a more diverse range of club members
- Engage in fundraising opportunities
- Attract sponsorship deals
- Raise awareness of the club in your community
- Build strong and loyal partnerships with other clubs in your area or league
These key benefits all contribute to increasing the size, stature and reputation of your club, but where do you start?
1. Consider your brand image
Firstly, how does your club convey itself? Is it serious, professional and business-like, or perhaps fun, informal and tongue-in-cheek? Whichever it is, your club promotion efforts (both online and offline) must be consistent and act in the same way, reinforcing your brand image within your club and community.
For example, using the right font can help deliver your club's brand messaging. Sans serif fonts (think Arial, Helvetica, Futura, Tahoma, Verdana) are seen an informal and more modern, whereas serif fonts (Courier New, Garamond, Georgia, Times New Roman) are viewed as more traditional, but with authority.
The type and quality of images you use is also important. Ensure to always use high-quality images, if possible, and consider:
- Are you using photos of club members?
- Is it an action shot, or a social photo?
- What does the image convey about the club?
- Is everyone in club kit?
2. Use Social Media
Social media is a fantastic, and often free way, to boost your club's presence online, increase engagement with your club and communicate news to your club's members, supporters, sponsors and followers.
Utilising a range social media platforms (below) you can share:
- Your club's recent match results
- Latest league standings
- Team announcements
- New players
- Training information
- Photos and video content of match days, e.g. goals, celebrations, etc.
- Upcoming events, e.g. fundraising, new player trials, matches
Building engagement with your supporters and sponsors is a great way to have a two-way relationship with your fans and wider community.
Tip: Have a look at how other clubs in your region are using social media. What can you learn from them?
With so many social media platforms available, it can be quite dauting to know which ones to use, and which will be more beneficial for your club.
Here's a run down of the social media platforms which could work best for you:
Twitter is great free tool for reaching followers of the club in-the-moment, making it great for time sensitive information, such as score updates during a match.
Setting up a profile for your club is really easy: simply sign up, choose a relevant and easy to read handle (e.g, @PayzipPanthers), add your club's logo and brand colours and start posting your content and following relevant profiles within your sport, field and area.
Due to the constantly updating Twitter feed, material created for Twitter is perhaps best considered temporary, with a limited exposure window. It's all about being in the main timeline at the right time.
Here's a great video about how to use Twitter to boost your club's online presence:
As mentioned in the video, the power of Twitter is the ability to retweet, so ensure your tweets contain relevant hashtags that allow them to be discovered, such as your town name, sport, club motto, etc. Hashtags can often be retweeted by regional bots and hyperlocal bloggers, exposing you to an increased online local audience.
Also, by 'mentioning' (using the @ symbol) one or two Twitter accounts, such as your league or influential fan, your tweets' impressions and engagement levels can be boosted.
Need some further Twitter inspiration? Here's a great Tweet of a fantastic header scored by Cardiff City FC Women:
Facebook is perhaps better utilised for those who already know and love your club, and setting up a profile couldn't be easier. Just like Twitter, it's easy to sign up, create your club's profile and start posting your engaging club content.
Tip: Organise who'll be responsible for posting your club's Facebook content. Be sure to give profile access to only those who are responsible for posting.
While you can share posts and content organically and publicly, Facebook can also be used to update your existing fans and supporters on recent news, events and goings on within your club.
Watch this video from Sport England which gives some insightful tips on how to promote your club on Facebook:
Another great benefit using Facebook is that notifications are waiting for users when they log in, so when you post to a group that they might follow, they'll be notified about it and will likely view the content that you have shared.
Facebook is a great platform to share videos, longer news updates, upcoming social events or functions.
When posting your content about Facebook, think about:
- Whether to allow the group to be public or not
- How do new members join? Do they have to be approved?
- What are the rules about posting? Be clear about these from the start, so it's easy to remove any potential troublemakers.
Even though it's perhaps better known for people "living their best life", Instagram is a highly visual and free social media platform that can be used for more than beach holidays, food selfies and cocktails.
For clubs in particular, it's a great way to interact visually with younger club members and supporters through photos and videos from recent matches, social occasions and celebrations.
Tip: Always use high-quality images and videos when posting on Instagram. Think carefully about what you post and how it reflects on the club, but otherwise, go collect those heart likes!
Snapchat can work well as an 'in-the-moment' broadcast mechanism for your club and its supporters, particularly if they're of a younger age (under 25). It's not all funny filters on faces (but it is mostly that).
Snapchat started the "Stories" trend, where people can quickly catch up on recent moments from that account, so it's easy to imagine how this would be powerful for your club's performances or match-winning moments.
After Google itself, YouTube is the internet's second largest search engine! If you're recording videos to promote the club anyway, why not create an archive of this content on YouTube for free?
Make sure you put relevant information in the description so it can be found by your supporters, such as what match it was, who scored the goals etc. It won't hurt to list your active sponsors at the time of the video either.
Tip: Ask around your club if anyone knows a more tech-savvy person to help with video promotion.
The business end of social media, there are only a couple of times you'll want to use LinkedIn; perhaps when talking about your initiatives, charity work, or when trying to attract sponsorship for your club?
Even people who support your club aren't going to share score updates and match information with their professional network, but if you can post updates on any noble work you're doing, that makes you look good, and the sharer good, by association.
LinkedIn can be a good place for potential sponsors to see how well you conduct yourselves professionally, but there's no obligation to use it.
Tip: Set up a LinkedIn page only if your club can post suitable, professional material to it.
Using a social media management solution
Keeping your socials updated can take up quite a lot of work. This is where platforms like Social Sports Manager can help. This tool lets you easily create engaging graphical content to push out to your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
You can also schedule social media posts using a tool such as Buffer, whose free plan lets you manage up to 3 social media accounts, which is ideal for most clubs. Create some scheduled content in advance (maybe every week or two), so that your club always has a guaranteed presence on your chosen platforms, then top this up with on-the-day posts, images and videos.
Tip: If you haven't got time to focus on all social media platforms, choose one or two that might benefit your club the most (most likely Twitter and Facebook. Remember that you don't have to create every piece of content either. Often, sharing or retweeting relevant content in your particular sports, field or local area is just as good for helping to build an online presence.
3. Enhance your Club's Website
Your club's website can act as a shop window for new players, sponsors or other potential funding opportunities.
If your club has a website, it can be a great place to post general updates, club news, upcoming events and key information, such as fixtures, results, league standings, etc. If not, there some advice on setting up a website for your club here.
There are some clubs who use websites like League Republic, which is a half-way between having their own website and publishing score information.
Tip: Ensure your club's website is well-maintained, looks professional, clean, consistent with your brand and values and updated regularly, so that any potential new recruit or sponsor are impressed with your club's image.
Another way your website can help to build your club's standing and reputation is to collect email addresses through contact form or subscriptions for your club's monthly/weekly newsletter, which bring us on nicely to...
4. Send Regular Emails & Newsletters
It's easier than ever nowadays to send an email newsletter to your club and supporters.
Some key benefits of sending emails are that they:
- Are cost effective;
- Can be largely automated;
- Work well on mobile devices;
- Can give you useful insights into what people find useful (through engagement analytics)
MailChimp is a solid choice for clubs to start emailing regular newsletters. Their free plan allows you to email up to 2,000 contacts each month for free, it integrates well with other systems (if you're technically-minded), and provides email signup forms for your website.
Use your email newsletters to send:
- Club updates
- Recent match summaries, or reports
- Perspectives from inside the club, e.g. "Chair's viewpoint" or membership updates
- Fundraising events and announcements
- Calls for volunteers
5. Use Effective Offline Promotion Methods
While it feels like everything is online these days, there's a lot to be said for offline marketing too. It's hard to ignore something tangible in your eye-line, or even better, your hand.
Here's a summary of the offline promotion methods you could use to enhance your club's reputation and standing within your community.
Whether you're recruiting for new club members, advertising an upcoming match or seeking sponsorship/funding, use stand-out, striking, colourful and bold posters to attract people's attention.
The key to creating posters to attract people to your club is to:
- Create A4 and A5 posters with your club's logo and contact information
- Use your chosen font
- Use high-quality imagery
- Keep the message simple and scannable
If you're feeling fancy, you could also add a QR code to the poster, so interested people can quickly get to your website or social media profiles using their phones.
Leaflets tend to be more often used to communicate longer-form content, such as a new club treasurer, an upcoming committee meeting, a campaign for new recruits, or a major club development, but be clear about the overall aim.
You, or another member of your club, may need to spend time distributing leaflets within your local community, in places such as:
- Through letterboxes
- In shop windows
- Town noticeboards
- At the local post office/library/church
- Under car windscreen wipers
- Handed-out at match day events
If you're going the professional route, it's often cheaper to use a local printer as you can collect the posters or leaflets rather than have the cost of them being couriered.
Tip: Maybe one of your club members can print them at home for the club (laser printers are far, far cheaper than inkjet printing)?
If they're going to use an office printer at work, do make sure they have permission to do so, as your club name will be on any copies left lying around (or reprinted on-demand on the enterprise-grade printer/photocopier).
6. Bringing creativity to your marketing
With so much happening on social media, in particular, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. Luckily, there are a few ways you can be creative and get some attention.
For example, to create stand-out, professional-looking assets such as posters, social media images, infographics, banners etc, an online tool such as Canva is great, especially useful for social media posting.
How many social media posts do you look at which are just text?
Canva's free plan gives you access to 250,000 templates and has ready-made examples for social media, letters, presentations and more. You can export your creations to JPG, PNG and GIF, as well as video formats.
What about offline guerrilla techniques?
Why not consider doing something a bit more bold within your community, by organising a surprise flash-mob in the local high-street or investing in a giant poster to display outside the village hall?
Tip: Check out this blog article which might give you some guerrilla marketing inspiration, albeit perhaps on a small scale.
7. Get everyone involved
Marketing is a workload that the club can share, but some people will be naturally more talented than others, so think about the best way to divide-up the work.
Some people have a gift for online commentary and social media posting, so use them there. Others may have more free time for preparatory work, or maybe even distributing posters or leaflets.
Be clear about who you want to do what. If you have a marketing or PR person, let them lead the projects and give them your full support. Or if you have a tech-savvy person, let them enhance your website or video content.
Tip: If your club has the budget for it, you can also get professional help with things like custom goal graphics or club badge design.
8. Take advantage of local press and media
From time-to-time, your club will have significant news that is relevant not just to your club, but to the wider community. For example, the club may have received significant funding to purchase its clubhouse premises.
Whatever your good news, capitalise on the story by getting your local media involved. To do this, research and contact:
- Local journalists and hyperlocal bloggers
- Local newspapers
- Local radio stations
Find out who's who
Gather a list of the relevant email addresses for all of your local news media - it's better if you can find the address for the department or editor related to your club, whether that's sports, the arts etc. Keep the list handy and periodically review it to keep it up-to-date.
When writing your email, paste the addresses of everyone you want to reach in the BCC (not the CC) field in your email program. This will hide the other recipients from one another and make your club look more professional as a result. If your email system requires a "To" recipient, just put your own email address in there.
Please release me
Media organisations will expect your news by email in a press release format, making it easier for them to work with the information. Your club press release should contain:
- Supporting photos - 1 or 2, with a total file size below 10MB, to avoid being rejected by the recipient's mail system
- The names of everyone in a photo
- Include your consent to the photo being used by the media outlet for promotional purposes
- A summary of the news or achievement
- A more in-depth explanation of the news
- Quotes from key personnel, e.g. the Chair of the club, those who have worked on the project, local councillors, funding partners
- A short list of people who would be prepared to be interviewed
- Your contact details - and be ready to speak with any journalists or give them a quote
Tip: Put all of the above information in the body of the email, so the journalist doesn't have to go searching for it or opening Word/PDF attachments. Add the photo(s) as an attachment to the email, so it/they can be easily saved off.
9. Bring all your efforts together
You should now be starting to form your marketing plan, thinking about the methods and platforms you'll use to approach:
- Club awareness and recruitment
- Match day preparation and updates
- Fundraising promotion
- Relationship building with sponsors, other clubs and organisations
Marketing is something that you will need to do for your club to be successful, but by following the advice above, it needn't be too difficult. Good luck!