By all accounts social media has permeated most aspects of our lives, on the personal and professional level. In the digital age many people are out creating and developing content to suit their needs while targeting specific groups of people. From a business or athletic organizations position this can open up more options to attract and find new consumers. Over the years Floorball as a sport has caught onto this and used it effectively to expand its brand. As an emerging sport in the world Floorball has a disadvantage because it’s still relatively unknown. However, what the International Floorball Federation and other Floorball organizations have done well is to have a diverse but solid social media presence.
The IFF routinely live stream their tournaments for free across the world. This has allowed fans the opportunity to experience the sport at its highest levels. From the business side they have set the ground work to make the sport more attractive to sponsors. With a live stream channel on you tube IFF tournaments become more attractive to sponsors looking to get their brand in front of a global audience. The more people who see the product opens the door to expand not only viewership, but also help increase awareness and potential interest in participation. Historically it took a large amount of time and money to market and promote a program. The standard was print media, which was very effective but took a lot of resources to get off the ground. That meant time developing, printing, and distributing marketing materials that may or may not be seen. The great news is that you don’t need to have a lot of money or resources in order to get your message out there, but you need to evaluate your area in order to determine what is the best approach. As digital media has increased the assumption is that print is dead. I would argue against that fact for a number of reasons, but a lot of it will depend on what you’re after. If you’re looking to start a league, or a class program you will want to craft a multi pronged attack to marketing. Part of that will be print media.
A few years ago (2014) I conducted a survey through Washington State Parks and Recreation Departments inquiring what methods they were using to effectively market their programs. At the time I was promoting youth soccer classes in partnership with over 60 cities throughout Washington State and Oregon. We relied heavily on print media to engage our customers and it was a very effective strategy. Over time I began to notice a shift in our numbers and did some research to confirm what I was seeing. What I found was that some of my bigger cities had begun to transition from print marketing to solely digital. The assumption was that everyone has a computer or smartphone so they would automatically jump online to find programs. The results were mixed. A lot of it depended on the community. The case study I used for the research project was evaluating Redmond, WA and Enumclaw, WA. Redmond is the home of Microsoft while Enumclaw is a more rural community. Both decided to market completely digital with the assumption that they would save money on printing their city recreation guides. If your city prints a recreation guide you know to look for it. It signals a reminder that there are programs coming up. What do you do if that reminder isn’t there visually? Have you been collecting emails to send out reminders? Redmond didn’t see much of a drop in their program participation as a result, but I would argue much of that had to do with their customers already using technology as their primary source of information. Enumclaw saw a drop in their program participation, and after a year brought back their print media. Only when they resumed print media at the time did their program numbers increase to the pre-digital switch. Things have changed a bit since 2014 and in some ways marketing has become a bit easier, but also a bit harder too.
While the challenges to market and build branding is different for each organization there are a number of things that can be done to increase brand awareness. The great thing about the digital age is that there are a plethora of options out there to help you expand your reach and educate the masses about your organization. However, the struggle comes in finding what strategies work best to reach your customer base. Thinking about who you’re ultimately targeting will help direct you to the platforms that will help you the most. Are you trying to target parents, kids, businesses? Thinking about your customer will help you formulate your marketing strategy. However, make sure to have multiple platforms running because you never know who will see what you’re putting out there. In the age of digital media word of mouth still carries a lot of weight. This rings true especially if you’re providing a service like a class or league. Positive and negative experiences can float around a group of people and their reach can expand exponentially. The problem with some platforms is that they limit your ability to reach your customer though you may not see it. It may look like a good opportunity to reach your target audience, but the ROI may not be worth it. You have to figure out what will work best for you and your budget, but know that you do have to spend money to market in order to do anything.
I have a found that for a marketing strategy to work effectively you have to diversify how you attack the market. While you may think one platform works because a competitor uses it doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you with the same success. Look at what others are doing then try to be different. Get out there and attack it.