We all know that marketing is important for our tennis programmes, but that doesn’t mean spending money on expensive gimmicks like T-shirts and balloons! There are 3 basic (FREE) marketing rules that tennis coaches need to get right and they’re not complicated or expensive. It’s all a part of working and thinking in a professional manner to grow a successful and profitable business!
These are the simple marketing rules that we swear by – and which we believe are essential for helping to grow a tennis business!
This article was first co-written by i2c Directors Mark and Richard for the ITF Coaching and Sports Science Review in 2009, we updated and revised it in 2017 – and now we’ve expanded it again! We’ve added more information and included appropriate guidance on complying with the GDPR legislation that came into effect in May 2018.
Marketing Rules #1: Value and respect your customers
Successful coaches make much of their income (and therefore profit) from regular customers. Retaining existing players is up to 10 times cheaper than attracting new players, and much easier. So, treat your customers with respect and be genuinely thankful for their business.
Simple ways to demonstrate respect:
- Always return customer’s emails and phone calls, and if you can’t respond immediately, tell them when you will respond.
- Have a diary to keep track of your timetable – that way you’ll avoid the embarrassment of missing a lesson and disappointing customers.
- Always start and end lessons and programmes on time.
- Customers who feel valued will tell other people how good you are. So, your reputation will grow.
Your customers are the people who have chosen to come to you for their tennis and they pay you with their hard-earned cash. Never take that for granted; if you don’t treat them properly then they can just as easily go to a different coach.
Marketing Rules #2: Build and maintain a customer database
Do you collect lots of customer information (phone numbers, birth dates, email addresses) on enrolment and registration forms, but you’ve never kept it or entered it into a database? Then you are missing out on an easy and inexpensive way to grow your business.
Your customer database doesn’t need to be complicated, it just needs to have headings to sort the information. You could use an excel spreadsheet but Mail Chimp has an excellent Free service that you can use for up to 2000 customers.
By always having your customers complete well-structured application forms, important information such as names, email addresses, mobile phone numbers and playing level can be entered into a simple database and kept.
Customer database DOs
- Obtain customer permission to store their information and contact them. This is a mandatory requirement of the GDPR and is easily done when you add or new customer or annually. Simply add a tick-box to any manual or digital forms that you use. If you’ve ever filled in a form you will be familiar with these!
- Keep your customer details up to date. This makes good business sense but it is also a requirement of the GDPR.
- Make sure your communications are relevant and engaging.
Customer database DON’Ts
- NEVER contact your customer’s without their permission unless it is information about their current coaching services.
- If you don’t have anything relevant or useful to say then don’t say anything! Your customers don’t want to be bothered with emails that waste their time. That’s annoying spam and your customers will stop reading your messages and unsubscribe from receiving anything else from you.
- Do not keep printed or ad hoc records. You need an organized digital database with appropriate digital security (which is provided by reputable mail or marketing automation platforms).
3 simple, but effective, things to do with your customer database
- Record birthdays and send your clients an e-birthday card. They will really appreciate it and it’s unlikely your competitors are doing the same!
- Let your customers know important milestone dates – like coaching term dates and public holidays that affect their schedule.
- Keep your customers up-to-date with your new programmes, classes or special offers that would benefit them.
Great customer records will help you to retain existing customers and build loyalty by providing a personalized service and communication.
BONUS: Download our template for your own basic customer database, Customer database template
Marketing Rules #3: Upsell programmes and coaching to your customers
One of the best ways to increase your income is to sell more to your existing customers. This is also known as “upselling”.
You know that your existing customers are tennis fans and they are loyal to your coaching business – so, you don’t need to sell them your skill and capability. You can keep in touch with customers easily and inexpensively by emailing to your customer database.
3 ways to upsell your programmes without being pushy
- Target your marketing by selecting segments of players from your database, and advertise activities and courses specially geared towards their current standard or the programme they’re on. For example, a player in your under 10’s group session will be interested in a 10U tournament – but won’t want to hear about a new adult course. If you tell your customers about extra programmes that are relevant to the coaching they already purchase from you, then they won’t feel that you are being pushy; they’ll see you as being helpful.
- Take advantage of every customer touch-point to promote your programmes. Put posters up in your club-house, include links and messages in your email signature, include short notes in your sign-up confirmation emails.
- Offering vouchers and special offers allows your customers to try out new programmes and helps them to decide whether to book an extra programme or session.
By following these simple steps, your business will become more customer focussed, and more profitable.
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Originally published on Feb 3, 2017