How’s your Marketing Plan?

You’ve come up with the program, event, or league and you’re ready to get things moving. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your work is done. In fact, you’re far from it. The work you do before the event will likely make or break your success. Use these tips to help set yourself up for success.

Don’t procrastinate

If there’s one thing I always try to avoid it is procrastination. When planning an event too often people think things just happen overnight. In fact, to plan a quality event takes weeks, months, or even years to ensure everything is in place. Before you do anything make sure you have the date and venue squared away. Other than figuring out funding for the event these two components are crucial and must be done in advance. Personally, when I program anything I’m ideally planning six months out, but depending on the event three to four weeks will work.

Planning

This is important when marketing because you should have a marketing schedule in place and know when, where, and how you plan to market your venture. Marketing is a balance. If you market too soon people will forget about the event when the time comes. if you market too late, people may have already made other plans and you missed out. Your marketing strategy will vary depending on the program intended.

For classes I teach I begin to promoting and marketing approximately one month before it begins. If I’m working with a third party, such as a parks and rec department, the marketing going out through them will vary as well. One month out and people should begin to see or hear about the program in more than one medium (audio, video, print, digital).

I’m a firm believer that only going digital (social media) is not the answer for everyone. I still use print media because it’s still an effective way of marketing. Three weeks out and I’ve begun to get print and digital media out there. The closer I get to the start date the more frequently I post about it. This is where shares, likes, and engagement is helpful to raise awareness. One thing you’ll learn through this process is that you’ll likely see the brunt of registration happen within the week leading up, but really within a 48hr window to the start of a program. People put things off to the last minute so be aware of that.

Camps

 If I’m running a camp the timeline for my marketing will increase. Instead of a month to start promoting I will begin marketing a camp as early as six months to over a year ahead of time. While six months may seem excessive it’s not. Think about how you plan your summers or holidays breaks. If you have kids, they tend to fill up rather quickly. If you’re looking to put your kids in camps throughout the summer having more information to make informed decisions is important. It could be the difference between someone signing up for your program or going somewhere else. If you’re planning a camp for June-Aug I would highly recommend having your camp information and marketing together and released sometime in January.

No matter how you approach your marketing I encourage you to take the time to sit down and form a plan. Mark down when materials are going out, when they need to be printed and distributed. If you’re able to distribute print materials through schools make sure to go through their approval process, though most schools are going away from print and using digital. If you’re using social media you can target specific areas, which helps, but plan on budgeting money to get the best result.

Get out there. Make a plan. With the right moves your program will be a success.

Camps, Camps, and more Camps

Growing up playing sports or being around sports was what I wanted to do. I played a number of sports throughout the year and, especially in the summer. I can vividly remember going to a handful of sports camps as a kid. At that time the focus was just something to do.

There weren’t elite camps, especially what you see now. For my mom keeping her four kids active and out of the house during the summer. I was fortunate to have those experiences. I’m thankful for those opportunities. They shaped my childhood, and I’m sure many others have had similar experiences themselves.

At the younger ages, a camp is basically daycare and is a great way to increase revenue for the year. Parents are looking for a fun activity for their child to keep them busy and active during the day. I’ve had some people try to argue with me on this fact. They claim that camps are designed to increase a players overall performance and development. At the older ages I agree. I won’t argue that as there are many camps that do just that. However, if you’ve attended one of these camps or worked an all-day one sport specific camp you know how difficult it is to keep a child’s attention on one sport all day for a week. There’s only so much training and development that can be done over 6-8 hours. Equally, there’s only so much attention space kids have. Keep that in mind when planning your camp.  

As the youth sports culture has evolved the economic impact of camps has become big business. A result of this is the market being saturated with just about any camp activity you can think of. When planning a camp create something different. Establish what your goals are and build your camp off of that. Too often we think having a name behind the camp automatically means success. If you can provide value, and many can, you’re on your way to a successful camp.

If you have the skills to teach, or can learn, you can run a camp. There’s more to it on the back end, but it’s doable, and you can run a quality and efficient camp. I would personally recommend avoiding a camp that’s focused solely on drills and scrimmages. I think a key to a development camp at the younger levels should focus on skill building but doing it through play based games. In an effort to focus on training I feel some forget to include or encourage fun into the experience. The hope is that all campers learn and develop, but more importantly that they have fun and enjoy the experience.

Floorball like other sports is a great addition as a camp, for a long time I avoided running an all-day sport specific youth camp. There are a number of reasons for this, most of which have nothing to do with the sport. I’ve found that if it can open up more potential issues as people get tired and bored, especially as the week drags on. I’m speaking specifically to camps with younger kids in particularly. It’s not always the case, but it’s something to take note of.

If you’re thinking about running a camp figure out what your target market is and how you’re going to run and manage it. Do it. Don’t wait. Don’t ask for permission. Figure it out and make it happen. If you think you can provide value through the process make it happen. In the end the ones who will benefit are the kids, and that should be the end game.