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Grow a Tennis Club Membership Now With These Ideas

grow a tennis club membershipYou can be an award-winning tennis coach and build the best tennis program in the country, but if you cannot get players on the court and enough participation, it is all a waste of time and money. One of every tennis coach's goals should be to consistently attract new members and tennis students to your tennis club or tennis academy as well as nurturing the ones that are already part of your programs. But how do you grow a tennis club membership and how do you keep your existing tennis clients coming back?

In this blog post, we will go over few ideas that can help your tennis business become and stay successful.

What is marketing for a tennis club?

I think marketing has a marketing problem. Why? Because, to most people, marketing equals promotion, advertising, or selling. That is a common misconception. Marketing is not a guy on the radio or TV talking fast, encouraging you to buy 2 for the price of 1, it is not about who will close the sale faster. It is about having a deep psychological understanding of your customer needs.

At a fundamental level, marketing is the process of understanding your customers, attracting them to your business, and building and maintaining relationships with them.

And now in human language...

Marketing is similar to two people having a great conversation - a conversation between people who just met. What do you do when you meet someone new? You ask questions:

  • who are they?
  • what do they want?
  • what do they care about?

You do NOT keep talking about yourself unless there is a genuine interest from the other person. The conversation continues until you start understanding each other and learning about what your needs are, get to know each other better, then eventually, start trusting each other and become good friends.

What does that mean for your tennis club or tennis business?

Tennis businesses and brands who continue to get to know their clients and have conversations with them at a deeper level are the ones that will end up succeeding and building loyal customers and promoters. Why? Because when you put your customers ahead of your desire to sell more stuff, you build trust and connection. Only after that, you can do your sales pitch.

What are the types of marketing?

There are several types and sub-types of marketing, digital and offline. You should think about and pursue the ones that work best for you.

Offline marketing involves traditional marketing strategies. For example, TV and radio ads, direct mail, print ads and articles, outdoor (banners, flyers) advertising, exhibiting at trade shows and congresses, promotional gifts (gift cards, branded items), and word-of-mouth.

High-quality traditional marketing frequently looks more credible in the eyes of the customer. For example, being published in a credible tennis magazine or featured on a tennis or local TV channel can make a big difference and build trust faster than being featured on a new blogger's website. Another benefit is that it cannot be ignored - e.g. you cannot switch off an outdoor banner you see every day on the way to work.

There is also digital marketing. Digital marketing involves all marketing efforts that are done online, by using an electronic device - email marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media marketing, video marketing, and blogging are a few examples of digital marketing. Over the last decade, there has been a major shift towards buying products and services online, so having an online presence and doing some type of online marketing is crucial.

Does growing a tennis club membership seem an impossible job?

Most tennis clubs have tennis coaches running their programs. And while I am sure most of them can easily learn how to design a website or run PPC online ads by themselves, it does not mean every one of them wants to spend their time doing that.

If your tennis club or academy needs more members and tennis players and you would like to learn more about how to market to them effectively, please keep reading.

Also, be sure to check out my eBook on Amazon "Tennis Club Marketing 101: Marketing Ideas for Tennis Club Owners, Managers and Coaches."

If you do not wish to spend too much time learning about marketing and prefer to focus on other aspects of the tennis business, do not worry! I have a solution for you - just contact us and I can help design a marketing campaign for you.

How to recruit new members and grow a tennis club business

Marketing to potential new members of your tennis club should be a bit different than marketing to your existing members. So, to attract a new tennis crowd and to grow a tennis program, try one of the following marketing ideas.

1. Member referral program

A members referral program is a great way to grow a tennis club membership. We will go into details on how to implement that in a different blog post. One of the best ways to ask for member referrals is to keep your message simple, clear, and concise. For example, "You can earn $50 off your next membership renewal for every new member that joins the club as a result of your referral".

The best time to ask for a referral is right after someone gives you good feedback on your tennis programs or services. You can also use the time around holidays to ask for referrals when people normally feel especially generous.

2. Get more guests to visit and experience your tennis club

For that you need to put together a guest program - hold guest events (e.g. member-guest tennis tournament), sell guest passes, offer gift cards that can be used by guests of your tennis club. Be sure guests always sign in and provide their contact information so you can send them some follow-up communication with details of your club's tennis membership benefits.

3. Use social media to reach more local crowd

Social media marketing is a no-brainer. It is free to have an online profile on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and to post pictures, videos, and flyers that boost your brand and help you grow a tennis club program participation. Since your tennis audience likely interacts with each other on at least one social media platform, this is a great way to stay connected with them. When they "like" or "share" your social media content, they provide free advertising to you! So, be sure to share interesting and helpful content.

4. Ensure your website is current

Assuming you have an existing website, be sure to keep adding new content - blogs, pictures, videos, etc. If your tennis club does not have a website yet, it is time to create one! When people search for "tennis program in " they need to be able to find you in the search results.

5. Find more partners within your community

Other businesses that are related but not the same as yours can become your partners and help you grow. Cross-promotion is a valuable tool. Think about what options you have within your community - sports stores, restaurants, doctors' offices, schools, etc.

6. Hold an open house

An open house is a great way to get members together and you can encourage them to bring additional guests (your potential new members). Be sure to invite community members, influencers, and partners into your place of business, so they can spread the word about how great your tennis club membership is and what amazing tennis programs you have for kids and adults.

7. Think other events besides tennis - school gatherings, marathons, street fairs, and festivals

Many local community events can be an opportunity for you to grow your tennis club membership. Bring a lot of business cards, brochures, and flyers with you and have them handy when people ask. Giving short talks at those events can be an opportunity to present your tennis program and its benefits.

8. Paid online ads - Facebook, Google, etc.

Paid online ads involve setting up the ads into a platform (such as Google or social media) and running paid ads. On some online advertising platforms, you pay per lead - when someone clicks on the ad you post. On other platforms, you might pay per number of impressions. Well-targeted online ads are a great way to quickly gain visibility online and grow a tennis club membership. Those could be expensive on some platforms, so be sure you set those up properly, so you do not end up wasting your marketing budget.

How to nurture existing members to join your programs

1. Focus on communicating your membership value

Membership value is the benefit that your members receive from you - perceived and actual. You might be surprised to find out that frequently there is a big disconnect between the values your club offers to people (actual membership value) and what they think your club offers to them (perceived membership value). This disconnect can be resolved by providing clear communication of your tennis club's membership benefits. Start by defining what that membership value is and what people receive when they become members of your tennis club. You can communicate that on your website, at your tennis club (e.g. flyers, brochures), by sending membership renewal emails and newsletters, etc.

2. Keep events and lessons easy to sign up for

Is stopping by the tennis office, while someone is there, the only way to sign up for a social event at your tennis club? If the answer is yes, you need to make some improvements to your registration process. Allowing people to easily sign up for events in various ways is crucial to your event's success. So, offer sign-ups at several points at your club, post about and allow sign-ups for your events on your website, and do not forget to share those on social media and via email.

3. Create an online "community" for club members

An online community is a group of people who interact with each other by using an online platform, such as a private Facebook group. Creating an online community (e.g. "tennis fans of Insert County") for your customers gives you new opportunities to learn about them. They can give you new ideas, share feedback about what they love (or what they hate) about your tennis club, and what they never use. It might be scary to hear such feedback (good or bad), but this is a very fast way to learn about your existing customers. Here are a few steps to develop such an online community:

  • Identify the purpose and goal
  • Select a social media platform
  • Build the group profile
  • Include information about the rules and norms of the group (what types of posts are welcome and not)
  • Invite and promote your online community
  • As an admin interact with, post, and remove posts when needed to allow respectful and helpful discussions

4. Build a social calendar, family, and group events

It is important to have an organized events calendar, so you show your tennis club members what is coming and start building upon the excitement! It is best to include both printed and virtual calendars and make sure all your events are laid out in order by date so your customers do not miss sign-up deadlines.

5. Running a new social, tennis ladder, or tennis league

Have you been running the same tennis league or ladder for the past 10 years? Why not change it up a bit and have some fun - for example, themed holiday tournaments and socials, using a new format, "invite a guest" week. Get creative!

6. Free stuff

People love to get freebies. Stringing, for example, is easy and it does not take long, so it is a great way to gain repeat business. So, why not offer free stringing to customers after every 4 or 5 stringings or offer a set of free strings of their choice. Or you could give some free grips for every 1 - 2 new customers they bring to you (a great way to get some new members to your club). I also like branded or other fun giveaways (shirts, hats, balls, etc.) much better than giving discounts because those help much more with promoting a business.

Marketing is not rocket science...

...but it does take time to figure it out. So, spend a little bit of time every week on building those marketing efforts to enjoy the rewards that come with it.

Do you currently run a tennis club? What other ideas do you have to grow a tennis club membership?

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