How to Grow Your Club – PR and Marketing Guide

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Let’s imagine (or you might not have to) you have started your rowing program and members are starting to join. How do you go about growing your program? This post is mostly aimed at rowing clubs that serve a community of some description. Your club may have masters or juniors or both. During the time that I served as Head Coach of the Tulsa Youth Rowing Association, we managed to grow the club from one coach, ten athletes and no equipment to a program with over 60 athletes, 7 coaches and many thousands worth of dollars in equipment. Considering the population of the surrounding areas and the general interest in rowing in the Midwest, I consider our efforts a success.

So how did we get there? 

The first thing that I did when I started to think about this blog post is brainstorm all of the channels that we used to help grow our program. I came up with the following map. I would also like to say that this does not represent all of the options available to you, but it is a good start and can help you build your list of initiatives to foster growth in your program. 

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As you can see, there are many channels that you need to think about to help with your PR and marketing efforts. However, your number one program builder is running a good program and word of mouth. If the people involved in your rowing organization are learning the sport, developing as people and having a fun time that’s the first thing you need to put on your list. When this happens your club will grow.

When we ran statistics on how our athletes were finding out about the program it was from referrals by athletes and parents involved. We found that 70% of new members were a referral of this kind. 

The next most important priority is getting a good looking and functional website out there. A large proportion of folks are online and your website is your front door to the online world. At this point, it would be helpful to recruit someone who is web-savvy and has some experience in creating websites. It’s possible to create a very good looking and functional website using content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress or Joomla. Once you have your website online you are off to the races.

I will get a little more specific about what should be on your website in a later post. However, for now, a site that displays club events, dates, times and provides information to prospective members or parents of prospective members will do. In another post that I have written, I talk about the importance of communication and preseason planning and you are welcome to take a look at that if you like. It’s important to keep in mind who might be interested in rowing as an option. If you are a high school program you are marketing to parents and high school students. If you provide the right information you project the image that you are a club that is worth investing time and money in. Secondly, you are a club that is organized and well-run. 

The concept map has many different avenues. However, I will conclude this post with the concept that you are always building relationships when you grow a club. These relationships could be in many different forms. These could take the form of a relationship with a parent who is a marketing specialist, an editor of a magazine, a local radio station or a news reporter. A club should exist to serve the community that it is located in. It will most likely take some time to develop these relationships. However, if you tell your story and communicate your message clearly you club will grow. Finally, remember to thank those that are willing to help your organization and you will meet with great success. 

I will continue to expand on marketing and PR efforts in later posts. However, for the time being, I hope that this post and concept map has been helpful to you. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know by contacting me at neil@coachbergenroth.com.

Until next time, happy marketing and PRing


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