There is not one exact answer for everyone, but the underlying concept for all clubs is the same. The key to growing your club is conveying a compelling message.
The first thing we need to do to grow our clubs is to determine what our message is. Why should kids join? What makes our club special? What makes our club unique? What makes our club worthwhile?
This sounds simpler than it is, but it is important that we spend a significant amount of time honing and crafting this message. We need to focus on really making it meaningful and unique – not regurgitating the same generic buzzwords that every other club is using.
Hint: After the initial draft, define the meaning of the key words, then use the words contained in the definition. Possibly do this two or three times.
The second step is to clarify and condense the message. If we cannot quickly and easily articulate our club’s message, then no one else will understand it either.
Once we determine the key components of our message, and what it is within the message that makes our organization unique, we then need to figure out a clear and concise way to express that message. This is an “elevator pitch,” if you will. It might also develop into a slogan. Ultimately, it is a simple, straightforward definition of what makes our club what it is.
Once our message has been crafted, we then need to identify the people who need to hear our message. Based on the mission, vision, and unique nature of our club, we need to clarify who our audience is.
Which type of family or kids are we truly targeting? What is important to them? What makes them unique? What are their needs? How do they make decisions?
Keeping these qualities and characteristics of our audience in mind, we need to refine our message further so that it makes sense to them.
Side note: Before Step 1, we need to know generally who our audience is so we can appropriately craft our message. Knowing who we will serve is part of identifying who we are and what our purpose is as a club. Step 3 is about identifying the behaviors of the target audience in preparation for Step 4.
Lastly, we need to figure out how we can get the attention of our audience. Where do they place their attention? Where do they already look and listen for information?
Wherever it is that our audience puts their attention for information, we need to post our message there. Is it flyers at the local schools? Is it in local community centers? Is it in local businesses or on specific street corners? Is it on certain websites?
Identify these places, then share the message there.
A Beginning to Growth:
These four steps are, of course, a simplified and conceptual version of how to grow a soccer club and the process is not quick nor easy. These steps take a lot of reflection, discussion, refinement, and time, but ultimately, these are the principles that apply to all organizations and are the key introductory steps to growing our youth clubs.
Bonus Step 5:
In order sustain long-term growth, we need to deliver on what we promise.
It is crucial that we not only craft and communicate an attractive message, but also execute on it and create the experience we advertised. At the end of the day, if players and families receive the experience they expected, they will be happy and will return each season – often with a friend or two.