When you’re considering how to best market your sports facility to your community, the most important thing to do is to plan ahead, whether your business is brand new or has been around for decades.
Sure, things can change at a moment’s notice, and owning a business requires a good deal of flexibility. You don’t have to set all the minutia in stone for what happens a year from now, but having a general plan is essential. As I’ve mentioned before, planning ahead is especially critical to avoid a slow season and the subsequent lull in revenue that can make or break your business.
When establishing an annual marketing plan, break the year down by deciding what to focus on each month. Write down:
- What your clients will want to buy that month. You know your clients better than anyone. Familiarize yourself with local school schedules and sports schedules. Which sports and fitness programs are the most popular in your community, and when? Notes those details on your calendar.
- What programs, classes or events will provide the optimal revenue for your facility. Remember that each area in your facility should have multiple uses throughout the day, and that diversifying your space will maximize your revenue. Keep your clients’ range of ages and interests in mind when planning programming to make sure that there’s something for everyone. Remember, each square foot of space costs you money every day, and each square foot should be generating as much money for your business as possible. Don’t worry about getting too detailed here; the most important thing is to note the start dates, staffing, focus, and tentative pricing. You can finalize all the details as the event gets closer.
- What special events and promotions you can run to reach your goals. As the business owner or manager, it’s up to you to come up with promotions that will entice your customers while still allowing you to meet all your financial obligations and keep your doors open. New businesses, in particular, need to offer discounts to get new customers in the door. Plan promotions with care and update the pricing as your financial needs change.
Once you’ve established your general outline of events, it’s time to pencil in the associated to-do lists on a calendar. At DNA Sports Center, we’ve found that the ideal window for getting the initial word out about a new class, program or promotion is six to eight weeks ahead of time. That doesn’t mean that the classes will fill up that early, although sometimes they do. But it does get people thinking about the event. We typically send out a dedicated emailer at that point. Then, a few weeks later, we remind our Facebook fans about the event or class. Then, at the beginning of the week of the actual class or event, or the registration deadline for the class or event, if that comes first, we send out yet another emailer linking directly to the registration page.
Having these specific to-dos on a calendar that is highly visible to your staff will keep everyone on track. Just make sure that after your detailed month-to-month marketing plan is developed, someone on staff is in charge of enforcing the deadlines associated with it. That includes revisiting the plan every month to make additional changes and add details. Every six months you should be planning ahead for the next six, so that you’re a year ahead at all times.