By: Melissa Fadler, AOAP, Director, Marketing & Member Engagement
If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent countless hours in the pool. You know the feeling of swimming laps and pushing yourself to reach your goals, or just lounging by the pool on a hot day. There are other people out there who love to swim, too. They just don’t know it yet! As aquatic managers, one of your main jobs is bringing new swimmers into your community and keeping them coming back for more. The best way to do this is by attracting potential members through marketing campaigns that speak directly to them while also being consistent with your overall brand identity as an organization. In this post, we’ll discuss some strategies that can help get people interested in joining your team:
Have a clear brand.
A clear brand is one of the most important things to have when you’re trying to attract new patrons. The first step in developing your brand is determining who your target audience is and what they want out of the experience at your facility. For example, if you’re marketing towards families with young children, highlighting your swim lesson programs, your safety protocols, or any special event geared toward families would be ideal. If you are more of a competitive venue, then maybe your coaching programs, lap swim and fitness hours, and open swim times are more relevant.
If you can’t come up with a good idea for how to brand yourself after trying these approaches, try looking at other aquatic centers or ask the AOAP Member Community that have similar offerings–their success could provide some inspiration!
Be consistent with your messaging.
Consistency is key. Your marketing messages should be consistent in look, feel, and verbiage. The messaging should always be consistent with the way you run your organization. This helps people trust you, remember you, and feel like they can rely on your brand.
For your aquatic facility, this means that all of your messaging, policy signage, marketing collateral, promotional items and more should all have the same look, voice, and feel. In addition to helping customers understand what’s going on, it will also help them feel like there’s an overarching brand tying everything together.
Get to know your community.
Your community is your most valuable resource. You need to know what they like about the center and what they’d like to see changed, as well as their needs and how you can help them. The best way of getting this information is through surveys and focus groups, but don’t stop there: Ask people in person too! Work with assessment professionals in your organization to help craft marketing surveys or work with the programming data you have to find out what is working and what you can continue to promote.
When it comes down to it, though, knowing your community means keeping an open mind about what makes them tick–and that’s not always easy when you’ve been working with them for years on end. But if you want to attract new swimmers (or any other type of clientele), then understanding their wants and needs is key–and only by getting out there into the world will you be able to do so effectively.
Use social media and other digital channels.
Social media is a great way to reach new swimmers. Use it to promote your center, programs, events and classes. The best approach is to pick one or two social platforms and do them well. Customize your content for each platform and build your followers through engagement!
Consider promoting with local businesses and organizations.
Promoting with local businesses and organizations is another great way to attract new participants.
You can find local businesses that have a large customer base in your area by searching for “businesses near me” on Google or Yelp. For example, if you live in Los Angeles, there are lots of popular restaurants near aquatic centers that might be interested in promoting their locations as an incentive for customers who join the center. You may also want to look into local gyms and fitness centers whose memberships include access to swimming pools at no additional cost (and who might therefore be more willing to promote your facility).
Offer incentives for new memberships or programs.
- Offer a free introductory class or pass to your facility.
- Offer discounts on memberships, programs and classes.
- Offer a referral bonus or discount for those who bring others to your programs.
- Give away free items such as t-shirts, towels or caps to new swimmers who sign up for a program or membership.
- You can also offer them an incentive in addition to their first purchase by giving them something they wouldn’t normally buy (but will use) like goggles or swimsuits.
You can use these strategies to attract new swimmers and keep them coming back!
- Use the strategies in any combination. You don’t have to do all of them, but you might want to pick a few that are most relevant for your community.
- It’s not mutually exclusive; you don’t need one or the other, but try them and see how you do.
We hope this article helped you think about how you can attract new swimmers and keep them coming back! If you have other strategies or ideas that we didn’t cover here, please share them in the comments. We’d love to hear from our readers on what works well for them in their aquatic facilities!