Sports clubs membership in 2015 was up in the UK compared to the previous audit in 2013. The bumper crop of medals in Rio, the sustained rise of Paralympics memberships, growing awareness around obesity and physical health, many reasons explain this meta-trend. The recent audit by the “Sports + Recreation Alliance” showed that in 2015 the average club membership rose from 204 to 246 since 2013 survey. You can read the full report online here.
This rise should not hide a less reassuring trend for British sports clubs owners: Gaining new members is becoming harder. 55% of club owners surveyed identified this as a big problem, 18% as a very big problem, a whopping 73% of respondents. The pie is bigger, but more slices are taken out, more often (see the rise of contract-free memberships) So how can you grow yours?
Social sports and pop-up sports events!
The word community gets bandied about liberally these days but the fact remains that building a vibrant, genuine community around your club remains a key driver in members acquisition (and easier recruitment, better word of mouth, longer member retention too: See our related blog here) It is also particularly relevant today because it addresses a colossal societal trend: The need to form genuine human bonds.
Sports used to be more social, a good sweat at the footie followed by a couple of pints at the local. With the clique of friends. Leaving the factory shift together to play a bit of rugby, then watching the big game at one of the guys’.
Something hard to define has happened in our societies, that frayed thin our natural social bonds. Urban flight, teleworking, the rise in secularism and its loosening of religious communities. The rise in celibacy and divorces. Enormous societal trends have eroded these fundamental social bonds. Our society is nebulously aware of this, trying to readdress this. Look only at the explosion of dating sites in the last 10 years. A good, integrated sports management system can also do that by the way. Not be turned into a dating app, but provide a simple place where people who have met through a common hobby can strike a natural, relevant, contextual conversation online. A safe and sincere environment for human bonds to be recreated around an authentic passion, a million miles away from the cliché interactions that dating sites users complain about.
So it is about recreating safe and sincere spaces for authentic human interactions and being more social at large: Being part of something bigger.
OK so how can I tap into that?
Leading club owners leverage the enormous power of community building to easily generate a new members acquisition capability. They do this in a variety of ways, by organising events, by actively engaging their club members on social media, on Facebook and Twitter mainly, Instagram a growing third.
However social media, if interesting, does not typically generate a high level of engagement, for two main reasons:
– Manually posting pictures, links and comments is too time consuming / not sustainable for club owners.
– A majority of members do not engage on social media:
o Because a fair proportion of them are still not on / not active on social media.
o Because a (larger) proportion of them do not feel comfortable sharing content and opinions on say, Facebook.
The platform is too broad ended, people are highly aware that comments made on social media acquire a visibility that goes way beyond that of a natural social network. A term referred to as “context collapse” You can read more here on this.
The solution to this is to implement a proprietary community building tool on your club website, catering only to members, allowing only members to discuss classes, events, incoming competitions, and in general bonding over a common passion, in a safe and controlled environment.
Makesweat provides this capability natively, on top of streamlining club admin, payment and membership tracking / renewals. To learn more on our platform, visit: www.whatismakesweat.com To see the platform in action:: www.makesweat.com
Next week, we will cover: How to acquire new clients by aligning your club membership policy on to the other most obvious growing trend ruling the industry recently: how to capture potential members who do not want to be tied to a committed (monthly / yearly) membership, and how to capture the growing “pop-up” sports events segment.