Promoting Your Programs
One of the challenges of any good tennis teacher or coach is to make sure that after you put together a top-notch program for juniors, adults or seniors, enough students show up to pay your bills!
Many high school coaches are able to use their schools’ courts, or find work with a park district or other private facility and continue to teach throughout the summer.
If you work in a non-profit realm, you traditionally don’t have access to a marketing department and must rely on your own abilities to promote your programs.
Following are tips which many tennis entrepreneurs have used around the country to help market and promote their programs.
If you work for a park district or other non-profit program local merchants will often help you distribute your marketing materials.
Many grocery stores will insert a flyer, which you provide, in one bag of each customer’s order. Flyers are left at each check-out lane, and baggers simply add your flyer at the end of their bagging. Meet with the manager, show him the flyer you’d like to include, and ask how many customers come through on a given day. Be apprised that a grocery store has hundreds of customers per day, and that you may only be able to afford enough flyers for one or two days, especially if you are doing this in multiple stores.
Discuss with the store manager which days are the most-trafficked by mothers if you are promoting a children’s program, and which times young adults and seniors shop, if you are targeting that group. Grocery stores are more likely to help you if you are running a non-profit junior program, or one with scholarships.
If you can arrange a sponsorship with a local pizzeria, many are willing to tape a flyer to the top of each pizza they deliver, in addition to displaying them in the store. If you regularly order pizzas for tournaments, camps or other parties, arrange a sponsorship with a pizzeria.
Again, if you are a non-profit program, local radio, TV and newspaper outlets will be glad to run public service announcements or other coverage of your programs if you contact them by sending them a short press release. Provide the basic “W’s” (who, when, where, etc.) as well as contact information for you.
Including a photo of one of your programs may also increase your chances for print coverage. Make sure that the photo is focused and preferably contains a large subject or subjects. A shot of six courts, taken from a balcony probably won’t be considered. A close-up of a determined senior or cute junior is much more likely to be used. Provide the subject(s)’ name and contact info in the event that a model release is required, as well as a caption for the photo.
If you area is large enough, have a media day, complete with on-court actions, prizes and refreshments. Get to know your local sports editor, who is always looking for supplied stories.
Even if you run a for-profit program, as long as you are providing the results of individuals, whether in team competition or individual tournament results, local news outlets are happy to report on the success of members of their communities.
The days of “provide me with X dollars or X amount of product and I’ll put your logos on my flyer” are largely gone. Sponsors, especially tennis manufacturers, want to move product. Your best bet is to work with a local retailer, who will then go to bat for you with your local rep. If you are a key player in keeping tennis alive or growing in your town, even if you are not involved with a pro shop, you will carry some weight with your local reps.
Programs that are successful and attracting and retaining sponsors have two things in common: they provide a short, written proposal; they provide a thank-you letter with follow up.
Let your local retailer or rep know what the program is, how many participants you expect, how you will promote it and what product you need. Always look for either free or reduced-priced product, since cash sponsorships are few and far between.
Look at what your cash outlays will be (printing, t-shirts, pizza, balls) and see if you can arrange to purchase product at cost or a reduced price in exchange for a sponsorship.
A good way to approach a potential sponsor is to first ask what they look for in a sponsorship prior to making you pitch, so you can tailor your pitch accordingly, or avoid spending time developing a proposal for someone who probably won’t bite.