Using Special Events!
Special events can be an effective part of your marketing strategy and have far-reaching effects if done correctly. We recently created a new event called a Kids Tri (triathlon) and so far have had great results.
As a family club with a 30,000-square-foot Youthplex devoted to kids programs and two indoor pools which host the largest swim lesson program in the area, year-round kids programs are a big part of our offerings and a huge draw for family memberships. Some of these programs are included in the membership fee and some are not. For example, we include dance, gymnastics, Taekwondo and Kidfit in the family membership for a very minimal fee, whereas swim lessons are a separate fee. Members, of course, receive a discounted fee and non-members pay more for swim lessons.
We are always trying to think of ways to showcase our youth programs so that more people are aware and will consider joining the programs, either as part of a family membership or as non-members. Our latest idea for this type of program/event promotion is a “Kids Tri.” This is basically a triathlon for kids, ages 5–12, which allows them to participate in a 2-hour event that includes swimming, biking and running. Of course, the kids are separated into age-appropriate groups and the event is more fun than a contest. Our Kids Tri is happening on August 22, 2012 and we have already had 80 registrants.
We also added an interesting twist to this event by hosting two separate Kids Tri Clinics which are 2-hour events designed to teach kids what each individual activity (swimming, biking, running) is about, and how to transition from one to the other in the event. We did this because there was some hesitation on the part of the kids to participate since they were unfamiliar with doing all three activities in one event. The clinics have attracted over 40 kids and were successful in getting new registrants.
The way we leveraged this program for marketing was to hand out Kids Tri fliers to all our campers and Summer youth program participants (dance, gymnastics, taekwondo). We also made lobby displays that consisted of large colorful vertical banners with a small blow-up baby pool filled with beach toys and Kids Tri fliers. During busy times we had staffers dressed in swimming and biking workout gear talking to people about the programs. At the Kids Tri event itself, we advertised that there will be discounts offered for early program registrations.
Since this is a kid-oriented event, the local press expressed interest in giving us advanced coverage as well as on-site coverage that day.
We plan to make the Kids Tri an annual event that we will fold into our ongoing marketing strategy for kids programs at the NAC. Next year we will position the date just prior to our online pre-registration for kids programs for the fall in order to create excitement for sign ups.
I have included the Kids Tri promotional material that we developed for you to view and would love to know if anyone else has done a similar program and what results you had. Click on the images to enlarge them to full-viewing size.
Linda Mitchell is the director of marketing, public relations and charitable giving for Newtown Athletic Club in Newtown, Penn. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.