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Aiming at the Right Target

Some thoughts when planning a recruitment campaign by Jonathan Isaacs

One of the golden rules of Marketing is correctly define your Target Market.

By this I mean, people most likely to buy your product.

A good example of successful marketing in the world of food is the launch of the Marks & Spencer brand 'Count On Us'. This has been clearly established to aim at people watching their weight. The name, the packaging design and details printed on the pack clearly infers 'I'm good for you, I'm low in calories and I'm healthy.'

Marks and Spencer have clearly identified their target market and have produced the right range of products to meet that target market's needs.

In the world of Croquet, if we look at ourselves as a range of products, have we identified our target market for our various products?

First of all, what are our products? These could be defined as the clubs, or as individual types of Croquet - Golf, Association, One Ball even Extreme Croquet!

The Croquet Association's survey of Croquet players shows the profile of a typical player. If you haven't already studied it - Have a look. You can find it later in this manual. How does this picture compare with your club? In most respects probably very similar.

When embarking on a Recruitment campaign I suggest a working group at your club firstly have a meeting to clearly define what your club is offering, the type of people most likely to join and ways of finding them.

Let me give an example of 2 different club's recruitment campaigns:

- The first a 3 lawn club with 35 playing members. Membership has dropped from 50 to 35 over the last 3 years and the club is starting to find it difficult to make ends meet. The club is run by a long-standing committee of 6 older players (65years+). They all play association croquet except one who plays golf and association croquet. He is responsible for the golf croquet section, which is allowed to meet one day per week. During the rest of the week the lawn priority is given to Association and members can only play Golf if there are some spare lawns. Of the 35 members, 18 play golf croquet, 11 play Association and the remaining 6 play both variants.

The club gave up having recruitment campaigns because the last 2 failed. The first campaign targeted schools and encouraged teachers to form Association Croquet sections. 2 schools attended 2 training days but no children continued to play. The club asked the schools why nobody had taken up the sport. The answer they got was they liked the game but there were no younger members in the club and the game just wasn't 'cool'.

The second campaign was based on placing posters in Doctors waiting rooms, Libraries, and Local Post Offices. The poster was designed to appeal to retirees wanting a new activity. The initial response was good - 22 people contacted the club and turned up for some free introductory coaching. The coach immediately introduced them to Association Croquet. After 3 sessions the number attending dropped to 4 and eventually only 2 people actually joined the club.

Another 3 lawn club in the same region ran a poster campaign using similar sites to the first example, plus local shops and public notice boards. Their poster was more general encouraging people to try croquet. 16 people took up an offer of 3 trial sessions. Most of the people attending were retirees. The club introduced them to Golf Croquet after going through the basics of how to hit a ball. 14 of the 16 people completed the 3 sessions and 12 joined the club. Now, 3 years later, 4 of these players are also playing Association croquet and only 2 have not renewed their subscriptions.

What lessons can we learn from these 2 examples?

  • If you are going to target the younger generations make sure you are offering a package that will encourage them to stay in the game. For example it would be useful to have an established junior section, an organised development programme and a method for the juniors to get to competitions.
  • If you are targeting retirees start them off with golf croquet. A game that's far easier to understand and will probably give enjoyment even during the first session. Association croquet can come later.
  • Make sure your club is meeting the needs of its members. Give the variants of croquet equal encouragement and above all try and avoid an 'them and us' culture.

The Survey of Croquet Players gives several pointers to successful recruitment. Here are a few:

  • Target people over 40
  • The more affluent are more likely to take up the game
  • Encourage members to recruit friends. (62% joined that way.)
  • Publicise your club's existence
  • Walkers, ramblers, Gardeners, Racquet Sports players and Bridge players could be good targets.

 

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