Whether your club is new or has been around for years, promoting your club, your programs, and events is important for its growth and maintenance. Technology makes it possible to reach out to current and prospective members in various ways, including your club website, social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), emails, printed flyers, and more. It is important to utilize several promotional tools to reach a wide audience, keeping in mind people get information from a variety of sources.
A club’s website, followed by their social media accounts, is often the first impression an interested person sees when looking for a running club. Gone are the days of needing a highly-skilled programmer or designer for website development and updates. Your website should be modern, up-to-date, easy to navigate, and inviting. It should include information about the club, a calendar with upcoming group runs, training programs, events, recent newsletters, how to join online, and contact information for leaders of the club.
Services such as Network Solutions can be used to easily register a domain name. There are several companies RRCA recommends that focus on the running community when it comes to website development, membership management and event registration. We recommend RunSignUp.com who offers easy to use templates for developing running club websites, membership management systems, event registration, and more. The Drive also provides easy to build club websites that integrate with their event registration services and more. These products offer easy to use content management systems (CMS) for website development. Most CMS systems are very easy to use and allow for multiple administrators to share the work of keeping a site updated.
Running clubs need to utilize an online membership management system that allows for members to join, renew, purchase club clothing, enter club events as a discount, sign-up and monitor grand prix participation, and much more. Seek out registration provides that are RRCA Corporate Supporters to help you establish your club's membership management tools. These online membership management systems also provide an easy solution for collecting the required membership waivers of participation and you can customize the waivers or your online forms to include information and attestation to agreeing to a member code of conduct policy.
It is important for your club to have a Facebook page
, a Twitter account
, and an Instagram account
, as these social media accounts enable the club to reach a wide audience that is both age and gender diverse. It is important to remember that the club’s social media accounts should drive people to the club's website, not serve as the website.
Post announcements and regular content in social media accounts that drive people to seek out more information from the club's website.
The importance of social media outreach by a club has led some clubs to create a new board position of Communications Director. The Communications Director could be responsible for traditional work like newsletter production but really the focus is on outreach communications to the community not just internal to members.
It's important to log in regularly and respond to messages or notifications posted to your social media accounts. If you have a limited amount of time, we recommend focusing your social media efforts on Facebook. Administrators for the club's Facebook page or group need to be very diligent in monitoring content and preventing the unwanted commercialization of the page or having content overwhelmed by postings that don’t support the RRCA and the club. We highly recommend that your Facebook page or group has 2-3 administrators. This helps ensure that the page does not get controlled by only one person or gets held hostage if a conflict arises within the club leadership. Make sure administrators know and agree that a page or group is the property of the club and not an individual, especially if someone takes the lead to set up social media accounts in the name of the club.
A club Facebook page can be a great way to post announcements including race event changes. Some clubs also have a "Member's Only" group. This can be where members connect for run meet-ups, car pools, or to discuss road/trail conditions without “cluttering” up the main club Facebook page. A member's only group is a great way to engage members, while the Facebook group page is a great place to post announcements, and drive people to the club's website. You can also set up photo albums in your Facebook group page, and let member's tag themselves. This will increase the reach of your Facebook page, while continuing to engage the running community.
Instagram is growing in popularity, and is owned by Facebook, allowing for easy photo sharing from Instagram to Facebook. Encourage your members to use a specific #hashtag, and then re-post member photos for a fun way to engage! Don't forget to tag #RRCA too!
Regular club emails
are an easy way to quickly reach your membership with information. The RRCA has a relationship with Constant Contact
who donates back to the RRCA based on members paying for their service. Your online membership management provider should also include an email services as well that your club can utilize.
With the onslaught of technology, a little paper can go a long way. Don't eliminate printing membership or promotional flyers for events that can be placed at local community centers, gyms, running stores and even grocery stores. These flyers should have an introductory blurb about the club and let people know how to get involved.
Another way to reach the local community is through the media. Television, newspaper and radio outlets are always looking for local stories that highlight positive people or events in the community. Press releases and personal contacts are great ways to reach out to these people and spread the word about the local running community. Just pitching a story can help develop relationships with possible event attendees and prospective members. Even if your story doesn’t make the evening news, the local anchor might offer to come out for an event or even want to join the club.
May clubs still produce a hard copy newsletter that is mailed periodically throughout the year. A hard copy newsletter is a great way to reach out to your members. If your club does not have the financial ability to produce a hard copy newsletter, consider a digital newsletter that can be emailed to your members. Even an annual postcard mailing to members reminder them to renew can be a worthwhile investment as you may see a return on investment for the postage/paper cost through increased membership renewal rates.
A club is only as strong as its membership. The best way to build a strong membership is to reach out in numerous ways. Don’t just pick on strategy, develop a blend of strategies
that include a website, email communication, social networking, and more. Today, people get their information in a variety of forms and one size no longer fits all for communication.
Provide for Club or Team Branded Clothing
Hosting Club-Owned Events
Hosting events is a great way to encourage membership in your club. RRCA clubs are required to post all club-owned events on the RRCA Calendar. A club calendar could also be maintained on the club’s website or a club can simply link to the RRCA Calendar. Your club can provide discounted entry fees for club members; provide for a grand prix series of events where members can earn points towards awards at the end of the series; and much more. Several of the online registration companies noted above have the ability to program race registration discounts in for club members, and they can help track points for gran prix series, and more. If you host events, be sure to use the opportunity to promote membership in the club by having an information table or tent staffed by enthusiastic members.