Whatever it is you are doing for a living, you should think about the future. If you are a sports club owner, you must find ways to attract new fans and do everything to keep them your fans. It’s OK to think that today’s fans’ children will be your fans tomorrow. So the best thing you can do today is help your fans raise a new generation of your club’s fans.
If you consider children uninteresting as a target group because they’re too young and don’t have (much) money of their own, you’re very wrong. Do you know what all children come with? An ”army” of parents, grandparents, relatives, godparents and lot of others who are willing to do/buy everything for their sweethearts. If you have any children around you, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
And if you just stop for a second andlook into the near future, you’ll realize that those children will soon become adults with their own money. Spending it on your club will be just one of the possibilities. Cooperation with their parents can be a ”shortcut” to their hearts.
Here are 5 tips that can help you on your way to raising a new generation of fans:
1. Mascot time
If you work in a sports club and you still don’t have mascot, my advice is to write down ”create a mascot” into your schedule. Here’s my first-hand experience: Adults love mascots, but children adore them.
This photo was shot during gymnastics Grand prix Osijek in 2015, and it was one of the activities ran by Overtime. While Gymi, the mascot of the event, was strolling down the streets of Osijek, this little boy noticed him, screamed his name, ran happily to him, hugged him tightly and didn’t let go for a long time. It was definitely one of the cutest expresions of love and emotions that I’ve ever seen and definitely the kind of love you need. I’m sure that this young man ‘annoyed’ his parents until they took him to Grand prix so he can once again see his big fury friend.
It’s also important to know that mascots shouldn’t just be funny creatures that appear at your games. Make them as human as you can. Turn your mascot into your ”communicator” with children. Let them tell your story through his character and ”teach” them all the right values.
This should be a beginning of a long and beautiful friendship.
2. Game time
If you take a look at children nowadays, you will probably notice how addicted to cell phones they are, and how they will snatch your cell phone of the table to play their favorite game. Games will always be something that children love, so it’s very logical to think about puting yourself into one. Making a small ”online playground” on your clubs’ website is an excellent way to give children what they love and creating a nice connection with them.
Memory with your players, puzzle with a team photo, hangman with players’ names or creating printable coloring pages are just some of the possibilities.
Doing something like this you will also get some extra points from their parents who will surely appreciate that few minutes of silence while children are playing.
3. Party time
Children also love experiences that are not a part of their everday routine. A chance to visit your stadium and see how things look on the other side seems like an amazing experience for a young fans. If you add a few players and a mascot to this story, this can become even more fun. These kind of activities can make children even more interested in your team and your games.
Organizing similar promotional events in places such as the city square, shopping mall or playgrounds around your town is also a good way of giving your little friends an amazing experience and also an opportunity for your club to attract new fans at those frequent places.
Using these kind of events to promote your youth academy can also be a good move. And who knows, maybe you will find your club’s future star this way.. Best things sometimes happen when you least expect them.
4. Shopping time
What does every child need? Clothes, shoes, toys, candies… well a lot of things. Child’s wish is usually a command for adults, so offer them interesting items with your logo on it. While thinking about which products you need in your fan shop, think as a parent, or even better – as a child, and think of the coolest things you would want for your birthday. ”You in the childrens’ shoes” will help you think of what you should you offer and how you should promote it, while ”you in the parents’ shoes” will help you set a reasonable price.
Gift vouchers are also a ”must have”. They can be a good choice as a birthday gift for those who are not sure what their relative/godchild wants, but they are sure that they want something of yours.
Discounts on products for children are something you should also have in mind. Holidays like Christmas or Easter, International childrens’ day, your clubs’ birthday, and beginnining of a school year are just some of the days you should think about discounts.
Discount is not the only benefit you should offer. For example, sending birthday cards to children who are your members or season ticket holders is something that won’t cost much, but will mean a lot to children and their parents.
It may sound a little bit cold and capitalistic, but creating a consumers’ habit is something very desirable and welcome. Spicing up the selling with great emotions makes the story more romantic. People must know that by buying products they are helping their club to be more organized and competitive. That’s what everyone should see and feel.
5. Viral time
Children often surprise us with genious ideas, their vision of the world and ways how they express their love. If you ever recieve something that shows their love for your club, don’t hesitate to share and show everyone how amazing your little friends are.
One of the most popular football clubs in Croatia, Hajduk Split, shared a video in which their 5 year-old fan showed he knows the names and numbers of all the players of his favorite club. Video went viral on social and news portals, and has shown us that the little ones can often write the biggest stories.
The best way to make something like this even better is to show how thankful you are for having such amazing fans. Sending them a kit signed by the whole team or inviting them to one of your games are just some of the things you can do. Something like this will probably become one of the best memories in their lives. Moreover, this will definitely ”buy” them and their parents for a lifetime.
If you have a youth academy, ask your little players what they think about your club, players, supporters and sport in general in front of the camera. Amazing answers are guaranteed. This kind of content is something that proud parent would definitely like to share, and children will be very happy and proud because they can find themselves on the Internet (on dad’s phone they often snatch from the table).
Investing into your future by building a strong relationship with little ones is one of the best investments you can make. Players can come and go, but fans must be kept for a lifetime. People often say that old habits die hard. When it comes to love, it probably dies even harder.
And love is all we need…
Photo source: Flickr