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how to engage players and members

Sports Marketing Network provide key tips on how to engage
players and members

More than ever before people in sport and leisure are being asked to do more with less. It isn’t easy. Many organisations are tackling this challenge with cost-cutting initiatives without really making any changes to the way they operate. What’s the net gain? Not much in the way of unique added value for your customers.

There is an increasing focus on the role that physical activity can play in contributing to an improvement in the nation’s health. Even relatively small increases in physical activity are associated with some protection against chronic diseases and an improved quality of life. These benefits can deliver cost savings for health and social care services. However, the benefits of physical activity extend further to improved productivity in the workplace, reduced congestion and pollution through active travel, the healthy development of children and young people and more active and happy lives for later life.

So, we are seeing an increasing number of organisations and community groups and trusts that are developing and delivering great initiatives helping people to become more active.

Often these initiatives are flexible, do not necessarily require commitment day in, day out, are accessible for everyone regardless of levels of fitness and skills and appeal to different groups and people of different ages regardless whether they are looking for fun and/or recreation. The good providers also include the wider community when developing and delivering their activity programmes.

The trick is to spot practical opportunities everywhere inside and outside your organisation and explore them.

Here are 16 notes, ideas and suggestions.

1.     Many, many years ago, the British Admiralty turned down the invention of the wireless telegraphy because the noble Sea Lords were quite content with their system of using men on hilltops to signal to each other using semaphore flags.

2.     Many people and organisations working on the coal-face in community sport and physical activity have been very successful in spotting and exploiting opportunities whereas others, often from within top-heavy, centralised organisations have found it very difficult to be innovative.

3.     You need to combine the method and motivation.  Method without motivation ends up on shelf and motivation without method is ineffective.

4.     You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper.  “We have always done it this way” approach will not help you develop compelling propositions.

5.     Ideas without information are pretty worthless.  Information without ideas can still be useful.  The best of all is abundant information, supplemented by ideas.  The mistake which so many people make is to assume that collecting more information will do away with the need for ideas.

6.     Often people are trained to solve problems as they arise.  The notion of throwing up ideas for no good reason is alien to many and those ideas are rarely used as few organisations know ‘how to handle new ideas.’  This is why the notion of the Opportunity Search is such a great one as it provides a framework that excites and focuses the creativity of the executives.

7.     Many people are too busy solving the everyday short-term problems that they ignore the important medium and long-term opportunities and therefore they rarely get ahead.

8.     Problem-solving without opportunity-seeking leads to stagnation and decline.

9.     If you only come up with solutions when the problem is ‘blocking the road’ you will always be panicking and fire-fighting.

10.   If the penalty for coming up with an idea that didn’t work is bigger than the reward for coming up with a great idea – then no one will be putting forward any ideas.

11.   Badly run organisations tend to assume that all their troubles are external (the economy, the government, regulations, etc) and that there is nothing wrong with their thinking.  Successful ones feel they are successful because of the competence of their thinking, culture and skills and they regard external problems as difficulties to overcome.

12.   Complacent organisations do not learn nor study.  Why bother yourself with that new stuff if you already know everything?  Complacency is not usually the characteristic of someone who is genuinely interested in a subject.

13.   Too many people find uncertainty uncomfortable and take the “Don’t waste time dabbling in what might be but get on with what is”.  Since opportunity search involves uncertainty at least at two stages – the uncertainty of even finding an area of opportunity and the uncertainty that it will prove invaluable – such minds are reluctant to get involved in an opportunity search.

14.   A steady flow of creative ideas, implemented well is the lifeblood of any sport and physical activity provider and the inspiration that motivates users, members, volunteers, sponsors and engages the community.

15.   At the core of every successful sport provider is a creative process producing great ideas, well executed.  A willingness to experiment, fail fast, learn fast, fail often and then moving forward.

Sports providers which demonstrate sporting vibrancy and innovation are sustainable because they continually re-imagine their programmes and refresh their thinking and their relationships with the world around them. They open new doors before the old ones slam shut.