Ever wondered why elite sports clubs work so hard to attract members? It is because 100% of the membership funds can be used by the club. It is because they understand that if they engage with their members, members will join year after year with little prompting. Elite clubs understand if they can attract and retain members then they more easily are able to:
- Attract spectators
- Attract and sell sponsorship
- Sell merchandise
- Attract people to their social occasions and club events
Membership is absolutely critical for the ongoing sustainability of any sporting club. For most clubs it is a main source of revenue and it provides an opportunity for people in the community to really feel like they belong to that club. This sense of belonging will ensure that these people will continue to support the club by attending on the day of competition, as well as attending the different fundraising functions and events the club holds.
Does your club focus on selling memberships?
Does your club promote its memberships or simply just sell them to players, officials and maybe a few family members?
You may make sure all your players and coaches are members but there are normally many more groups of potential members in your community that your club can create memberships to attract.
Selling memberships is still the most simple and effective way of generating revenue at your club.
Membership as a strategic objective
The strategic plan of most successful elite sporting clubs in Australia will have at least one membership related goal listed in the key objectives.
For example, Richmond Football Club clearly states their target of 75,000 members by the end of 2014 in their strategic plan. An effective strategic plan will have a membership related objective listed along with a list of several strategies or initiatives that will help increase the likelihood of reaching that particular objective.
Who is responsible selling your membership
The key to increasing your membership sales is to allocate responsibility to a club member and set both short and long term membership targets. This person should regularly report to the committee on club membership sales.
The second step is to communicate the membership target to everybody in your club and engage them in the sales process. The reality is that every existing members’ (particularly participants or players) has the potential to sell at least 5 – 10 memberships so actively engage them in your membership sales strategies.
Create different membership types
One membership strategy that all local clubs should utilise in order to help boost their membership numbers is to create several different types of membership at different prices available to the community.
This practice is heavily used by professional sporting clubs. However, it is a great concept for local grassroots clubs to adopt and use to potentially attract supports and the wider community to become members.
For example, the Melbourne Storm offers over 20 different types of membership packages all targeting a different group of supporter and creating an opportunity to feel a part of the club.
There are all kinds of possible membership deals that could be made available to people in your community to join your club, attracting those who otherwise wouldn’t become involved.
It is important to create an option which encourages the families to join your club so it is highly recommended that all clubs offer family memberships.
Reduced game membership
There are many in the community who would like to watch only a few games throughout the year. A standard membership which allows them free entry to every home game or competition for the year may not be suitable or cost effective but if they had an option of something like a 3-game membership then they are more likely to join your club.
Past player memberships
Keeping past players involved in your club is a very easy way to increase the number of memberships sold. Past players often already have a strong emotional link with your club so this type of membership creates the link between the past player and the club.
You could offer a discounted membership for those who have previously participated as an athlete for your club. It could allow them entry to a few games a year. This would encourage them to stay in touch with the club where they otherwise may have lost touch. On top of this, many local clubs hold a “Past Players Day” at some stage during the season, so this membership could also provide privileges for that day.
Non attending member
There may be people in the community who love to support your club but simply cannot make it to watch any competition. For these potential members you could provide a membership category which is much cheaper than a full membership, but still provides them with some value as a token of appreciation of their support, e.g. a club polo shirt, hat etc.
Having various different types of membership deals with ranging prices and benefits provides your club with the potential to reach new membership audiences. Instead of attracting just your players, coaches and their families, you can reach out to the wider community and encourage them to support your club.
Professional sport clubs devote copious amounts of time and money to promoting their memberships.
Promoting membership to your club in the local community is something that you previously may not have given much thought to. Or you may have tried unsuccessfully in the past and not considered it since. Instead of just advertising your club in general and your competition days, specifically advertising membership to your club can be hugely effective. This is something that all clubs should actively be doing. There are many ways to effectively promote your club membership:
- Fliers – Creating fliers with information about your membership (types, benefits and prices) and placing them all around the local community.
- Newspaper Ads – A regular membership ad for your club in the local newspaper.
- Social Media – Using tools like Facebook and Twitter to make the public aware of your membership opportunities.
- Banners – The placement of banners and posters around your club advertising membership to people who may have only came into the club for one day to see what it’s like.
- Having a membership stand at preseason and early season games and competitions.
So in the end it is pretty simple. Providing and promoting more than just one type of membership with your club to the community will greatly enhance your club’s chance of attracting new members, therefore generating more revenue at your club, which will help to ensure overall success as a club.
More Club Participation Information
a) Club Participation
c) Benefits of Club Membership
d) Barriers to Joining Sports Clubs
e) Understanding the ‘funneling’ effect of Sports Participation
f) Re-engaging past Club members
g) Strategies Clubs can use to Attract and Retain Members
h) Disability Inclusion