Selling Your Club and Retaining Last Year's Athletes


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It is the time of year most Club Directors dislike. You must position your club against other clubs and make a case for why an athlete should choose your club over all the others that are in your area. You may not have a degree in sales, but you're now competing with other clubs in the junior volleyball industry, and therefore you need to speak the sales language.

Not only are you competing with the other volleyball clubs, but other sports and activities that are also attracting your target market.

Have you identified your Target Market? Don't say "everyone" because that is not a target.

You need to determine specific Segments and Sub-Segments of the Population. Depending on the size of your Potential Market, it is usually important to determine what Subsegment of the market you want to appeal to.

These factors can help you determine your Subsegment of the Market:

  • Level of success you have had in the past: If you have focused on being highly competitive, that is fine, but you can't make a leap overnight, unless you have the staff in place.

  • The type of club you want to be: are you highly competitive or do you strive to just provide playerswith  a chance to improve their game and have fun?

  • Physical location. You can't decide to be all things to all people and be in a location that is hard for that population to get to.

  • The year your club was founded: This can be someting that is more important to your coaches, but parents are also going to look at your history to see if you are stable as a business and have a track record of success.

  • Other competing sports. Whether it be high school, middle school, or club sports.

  • Consistent visibility and presence. No, it is not club season all the time. But in this day and age of 24/7 news cycles, attention spans are very short. As such, you must try to stay "On the Radar" on a frequent basis.
    • This is a combination of newsletters and emails, but you need to ensure that you are using social media to stay visible.
    • For parents, this is likely a combination of several Sources: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
    • However, YouTube is becoming 'Table Stake" in Visibility. More and more, wideo is the new medium, so use it to expose your club. Set up a YouTube Channel for your club, and post to it on a regular basis

  • Marketing Costs: It is not that expensive to do marketing. Your marketing budget can be a percentage of your club's revenue. I would start with 3% of revenue as a budget. This can be done in a combination of on-line services, but someone must be maintaining feeds. The worst thing you can do is to have a channel you are using, like Facebook, and then not update it. The expectation is for on-going updates.

Notice I did not use the word "Sell" once. But make no mistake, with each you take or don't take, you are selling or not selling. If you just say: "We are great, come join us," you are likely going to be very unhappy with the results.

Retaining players from last year requires a different approach than selling to the new players. Your club's retention rate should be about 80%. You will never make everyone happy. Some just assume the grass is greener, and will try another club and return to yours the following season. It's important that your club tackle "the issues" that may cause players/parents to consider other clubs to try to avoid this from happening too often.

Retention rates are going to vary by location and density of the volleyball market.  Engaging players from last season through off season youth coaching opportunities, in-house fitness/strength training classes, and honoring their high school achievements on social media or in newsletters will increase the sense of communtiy and connection the players have towards your club.

Make the dialog interactive with parents. Take questions as you go. Have visual aids to support your story and your sell. You've got this.

For related reading for club directors click HERE. For more business education for JVA Club Directors click HERE.

About the Author

Phil Bush is a Sales, Marketing and Stretegic Planning Consultant with MavRen Marketing in Atlanta, Georgia. Phil has been around and active in Sports and Events for over 25 years. Whether as a player Director, Coach, Tournament Director, Producer, or Commentator, Phil has been on all sides of sports for a long time. Bush served a Color Analyst for FSN South, Sun Sports, CSS, ESPNU, and other networks, lending his expertise to volleyball broadcasts of Southeastern Conference (SEC) Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Conference USA Volleyball. He has covered nearly every Top Program in the nation. He also spent many years working for the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) doing International Broadcasts of both Indoor and Beach Volleyball from over 19 countries around the world.

Bush handled Event Production for Volleyball at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. This role was new to the Olympics, and involved coordinating and executing a plan to present the sport in the most positive way possible to the spectators in the live audience. Through the use of announcers, music, lights, effects, matrix boards and coordination of all those involved in the execution of the sport, Sports Production had never been formally done at the Olympics until 1996. Bush was the first Sports Producer hired by the Atlanta Organizing Committee, and helped define the role. The Production work was given rave reviews by the International Volleyball Federation, which declared that the Atlanta Olympics was the best ever in the presentation of the sport.

Phil was one of the Founders of A5, a Volleyball Club catering to young players from age of 8 to 18. The Club grew rapidly in the Atlanta area to become one of the Premier Youth Sports organizations in Club Volleyball anywhere in United States. To contact Phil via email click here.


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