Marketing for small sports clubs: tools to help you raise awareness and gain followers online

When it comes to big sports clubs you are likely to have a paid, qualified Marketing Manager, a PR agency (or even your own in house PR) and a loyal army of responsive fans on social media, making it easy to raise funds, support local causes and of course, keep your followers up to date with what’s happening at the club.

For smaller sports clubs, it’s often a lot harder.  For a start, when working with volunteers, they may or may not have marketing skills and experience, they may or may not be familiar with social media and technology and you may not have the skills to draft a press release, keep a website up to date and engage your social audience.

However, whether you want to teach followers how to play bowling online, share golf swing tips with members when the weather is too grim to play, or just raise awareness of a new menu in the rugby club, just like small businesses, sports clubs can harness the power of digital marketing, you just need to learn the skills and take advantage of the free tools that are out there to help

Here’s our guide to some free resources that will help you engage current members and fans, as well as recruiting new ones:

Images

Before we talk about tools, it’s worth mentioning that your club should never just search for a pic on Google and just re-use it online. You won’t have the licence to use it and could face a massive demand for payment further down the line (requests for £3500 for a post-usage copyright fee are common, whereas buying the image in the first place would have been £40!).

We recommend using your own images or choosing free sources like Pixabay, Unsplash and  Pexels – these are completely free to use and often the images are great.

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all free and allow you to create an online presence for your club.  However, don’t sell 24/7- keep it sociable and fun, share relevant, interesting content that your followers want to read. You can share links to what’s happening in your sport at a higher level as well as club news, and share tips for players and fans.    If you want to add video to the mix, such as training tips and demonstrations, think about setting up a You Tube Channel or even Tiktok.

Canva

Like those ‘professional’ looking social media posts?

A great little tool called Canva is increasingly used to create them, and they offer a free version.  It makes it easy for even a novice to create perfect results, and it integrates with Buffer.  The image sizes for each platform are built in.

Buffer

If you don’t have much time, tool called Buffer makes it really easy to post to all your social networks at the same time.  There is a paid tier too, but you can you share content for up to three networks at the same time and they even have an app you can use on your phone!  It’s perfect for snapping and sharing pics and videos from training practice and sharing with your followers.

 Mailchimp / Constant Contact for Newsletters

Most sports clubs have a database of members and supporters.  However, if you want to send emails to them regularly, you legally now need to follow GDPR when contacting them.  This can present a challenge for small, untrained volunteers who may not have access to best practice legal advice.

Tools like Mailchimp and Constant Contact have GDPR policies built in, they usually offer a free tier (for example, Mailchimp lets you store up to 2000 emails and send once a month free of charge) and also will help you create a really attractive newsletter that your members will love.

A professional marketing and PR will always deliver the best results – but until your sports club can afford one, your volunteers can do a reasonable job with the help of these tools.