Marketing & Communications
Marketing refers to the activities undertaken to promote the buying or selling of a product or service. Marketing in a gliding context is about making sure people who could be interested in getting involved are aware that the opportunity exists and is within reach, and can have a conversation and an experience that will help them discover that gliding meets their needs.
Why people are tempted to participate (or not) in outdoor sports and activities such as gliding is a complex topic. This Sport England document explores the issues.
The BGA’s role is to raise awareness of and promote gliding and in doing so signpost towards clubs and their marketing efforts. For example, BGA promotional activity, including at events and through social media, points people at the BGA external facing website, which includes a ‘club finder‘ facility, which in turn has information about each club which can be edited by the club concerned, E.g. this entry for the Devon and Somerset GC.
Delivering what we sell – and selling what we deliver
Of course we need to deliver what we sell. Looking inwardly at our club, reflecting on the reality of its offer to members including talking about that to existing members, and as a result making any necessary changes is important.
There is some great club marketing guidance available. For example, Sport England publishes the excellent ‘Marketing inside out’ guides aimed at clubs. This extract is an example from ‘Marketing Strategy’:
Developing a marketing strategy to manage your efforts will help you to think about what makes your club different, and how you can get the right message out to the right people. Having a plan in place helps you to concentrate on maximising opportunities for increasing sales, sponsorship, membership and participant numbers. You’ll find your marketing is more likely to be successful when you’ve taken time to identify what you want to do and when you want to do it. In its simplest form, there are four main areas for you to consider:
What is your offer?
It is important to be clear on what you are offering and to whom. This is what you are trying to ‘sell’ or promote to both new and existing ‘customers’. Start off by thinking about who your ‘customers’ are. These are the people you want to attract to your club. They could include members and participants, volunteers, coaches and officials, parents, funders. Write down a list of all your customers, both existing and those you want to target in your marketing efforts. You then need to think about what you offer each of these groups of people. Think about the 4Ps of marketing and ask yourself the questions below
Product – What is the Unique Selling Point (USP) of your club? What makes you different to others
Price – How much does it cost for someone to be part of your club? Is this price right for your target audience? Can you offer different prices for different services or memberships?
Promotion – Is your club well known in the local community? Do your current members promote your club on your behalf
Place – Are you easy to find? Do your facilities meet the needs of your offer?
You should carry out some research to make sure what you are offering is what the people you want to be part of your club are looking for. Check out our understanding participants and market research sections for more guidance on carrying out this research….”
Women in gliding
While 50% of people are women, that percentage drops down to 6% among pilots. More than 400 women from 24 different countries, who represent over 35 different adventure sports and outdoors activities, were questioned to find out what inspires women in adventure and to identify anything that makes it more difficult for women to get involved in outdoors adventure – read the article here.
A 2018 survey of women glider pilots provides some interesting detail – view the survey results summary here.
Women Gliding provides some great support and guidance for women and gliding clubs. Learn more here.
Reach out locally
Reaching out to the local community, press and social media will help you to encourage interest, help people to discover gliding, and as a result grow the membership at your gliding club. Local online and printed press is ALWAYS looking for positive human interest stories – solo, conversion, new instructor, first soaring flight. The list goes on.
The BGA owns a glider simulator used to promote the sport of gliding. It can be loaned to clubs – read more here.
Recruitment – Welcoming Potential New Members
Friendly and supportive
When new people visit a gliding club either to look around of try gliding for the first time, most are entering an alien environment where there are a lot of unknown requirements and unusual terms being used. It’s easy to feel like an outsider facing quite a tight and unwelcoming clique, particularly if club members ‘British reserve’ takes over and no-one smiles and says hello! Discovering how great gliding can be takes a bit of time and application. That often needs a bit of friendly support. Public health warning – over enthusiastic welcomes can feel desperate or like some kind of cult. Like everything in life, there’s a balance.
Helping people to discover what they want from gliding
Many clubs quietly carry out triaging by chatting to people who have turned up for the first time. Some do so before the person has even turned up. If the club member (effectively an ambassador for the club) who is having the conversation understands peoples motivations for being at the club, they can offer information that can help a new person decide ‘yes, I am only here for an experience’ or ‘yes, I’d like to come back and do this again’. Offering to show potential new members around the tidy club facilities with a cup of tea, and offering to answer any questions no matter how daft they might seem, is all helpful, as is offering a phone number to the new person for a follow up question. It’s likely that not every member would be successful acting as an ambassador with potential new members. But a surprising number will be, given some direction.
By adopting this type of approach, clubs have demonstrated that they can significantly increase their first flight to full member conversion rate.
Don’t forget that complex fees structures, long waits to fly, and the demonstrated attitudes of those dealing with potential new members (including instructors) can all impact conversion as well as retention of existing members! Clubs with a well managed waiting list to start training, and training that is delivered in a structured way that doesn’t, for example, involve standing around all day, demonstrate that they are well-run, popular, and represent value.
Website and social media
The BGA’s marketing website is viewed by a significant number of people every year. The ‘Club Finder’ facility is popular and can lead people to your club information within the BGA website. That information including images is maintained and updated by your club. Here’s an example.
Any club that is unsure about how to administer its club page should contact the BGA office.
The BGA’s ‘Gliding’ Facebook page , other social media and club Facebook and social media can be far more effective if they work together by actively sharing content. Is your club social media working for you?
Club PR handouts
For many people, you can’t beat the personal touch. A friendly smile and a willingness to provide information based on sound knowledge of the club can go a long way! Its often helpful for someone interested to have something to take away from such an encounter including a named real person they can contact to arrange to visit the club.
An A6 double-sided full colour printed postcard can be tailored to personally feature your own club’s name, logo, contact details, website and social media channels, as illustrated in the example shown.
Club postcards can be supplied at a cost of:
£30 for 200 off, plus p+p
£40.75 for 500 off, plus p+p
To order your personally tailored club postcards, please fill in the Club Marketing Information eForm. This will ensure that we have the information we need to be able to produce your own club postcards accurately. A PDF proof of your card will be emailed to you for checking and signing off prior to production.
To order your club postcards, all you need to do is email email@example.com with the following information:
- Your club name
- Your name and position within the club
- Confirmation of authority to make the order on behalf of the club
- Confirmation the club is content with the cost
- Confirmation of the order quantity
- Completed Club Marketing Information eForm
Clubs will be invoiced by the BGA and postcards mailed to the club’s preferred delivery address.
Free promotional stickers also available for club use. Please contact the office for details.