How to Grow Your Sports League

As a league administrator, when you hear the word marketing your thoughts probably turn to how to increase the gate and sell more apparel. While there isn’t anything wrong with these ideas, marketing can be so much more for your league.

Marketing is a way for you to emphasize the advantages players receive by playing in your league, how your organization gives players the skills needed to get to the next level and your success by highlighting wins, championships and player achievement.

Marketing directors define their target audience and develop a plan to sell a product. Your target market is easy, it’s anyone in your community who plays your league sport. As a league administrator, you also have a product that has value for athletes. You just need to use every method and avenue available to you to get the message out.

Some obvious ways to market is social media, website, flyers, handbooks and local media. But let’s look at some other ways you can market your league.

  1. Try and set aside time every week to market your league. Your time is valuable and the average league administrator is overwhelmed and has limited time. But make marketing just as important as any other responsibility you have.
  2. Communication is your most valuable marketing tool. Use a system that allows you to enter all communications in one place but sends to multiple platforms like text messaging, email, website and social media. This saves you time and makes communication easy.
  3. Emphasis why players should play for your league through all your communication vehicles. Look for inspiring items to share. Post photos when you can. Some ideas of stories are:
    • Athletes and teams involved in community service and academic awards earned.
    • Certifications and awards that your coaches or managers earn.
    • Share examples of good sportsmanship when you can. Remember that media will pick up negative examples and feature them.
  4. Enlist the help of coaches and parents. Parents are great avenues for photos and player accomplishments. You may even find a writer or two among them. Coaches are your first line of communication between your league and parents. They can have a positive or negative impact on your marketing efforts.
  5. Don’t wait to the last-minute to communicate changes. Plan ahead and anticipate areas that will need your attention. Is there a major schedule change coming up, a move to a new facility, changes in entrance fees? A good marketing approach is to deal with these issues before they occur. Then you have time to defuse any concerns or problems.
  6. The most effective marketing tool is satisfied participants and word of mouth. If you have happy parents and players, your league will grow. A well run and organized league makes for happy participants. No matter if you use technology or paper, make sure you stay organized and communicate what is happening as soon as possible. Parents and players don’t get upset because of a change, they get upset with last-minute changes or changes they didn’t know about. As a parent of a player, this was the biggest issue I had with leagues my son played for. Nothing is more frustrating than showing up for practice or games and finding it cancelled or moved.
  7. Always ask for feedback and provide opportunities to ask questions. There are lots of free and easy online tools for surveys including survey monkey and google forms. Parents meetings provide a face to face opportunity for you to build relationships and make yourself available to your parents.

As any coach knows, you need a good game plan to win and marketing is no different. It will take time and planning but once you’re in the game, you’ll enjoy the victory.

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