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Promoting your club
Whether your club is new or has been around for years, promoting your club is important for its growth and maintenance. Technology makes it possible to reach out to current and prospective members in various ways, including through websites, social networking sites, listservs, e-mails, flyers and local media outlets. It is important to utilize several promotional tools to reach a wider audience.
A club’s website is the often first impression an interested person sees when looking for a running club. Your website should be easy to navigate and inviting. It should include information about the club, a calendar with upcoming group runs, training programs, events and races, recent newsletters how to join and contact information for the club.
Services such as Network Solutions can be used to quickly set-up your website. Club Express offers an easy to use template for developing running club websites and there are other great services on the market that clubs can utilize. These products offer easy to use content management systems for website development. So your club does not need to engage a website development expert per se; you just need someone with a little creativity and ability to update information on the club’s site using an easy to use website building product.
Registrations, membership renewals, and special event invitations can be handled through sites such as Constant Contact (link to online services section) or other services such as Paypal.com, Active.com or Signmeup.com or marathonguide.com.
In addition to the basic items, your website should really show off your club. You can have members submit photos of events and populate slide shows through free services such as Flickr or Photobucket. The webmaster can post announcements about club news or have your president keep a blog about club activities. In addition, your website should have links to sponsor websites, the club’s Facebook page and other club-related networking sites. It is important to remember that the club’s Facebook page should drive people to the website, not serve as the website. Put up a teaser for the club on Facebook that makes people want to seek out more information from the website.
In addition to the website and social networking sites, listservs and club e-mails send word to members, but can also allow them to be in contact with each other. Listservs are great tool for connecting members in search of training partners, ideas for new routes and resources about running and the community. Your listserv should be restricted to members of the club so that you can better monitor the communication that goes on. Club e-mails are an easy way to quickly reach your membership base with information that doesn’t require feedback. Companies such as Constant Contact can help you set up your e-mail list and make it easy to communicate with everyone on your mailing list. Just make sure you don’t turn people away by sending too many e-mails.
With the onslaught of technology, it is easy to forget that not everyone uses the Internet. You can expand the club’s visibility by putting out flyers 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. Flyers should stand out, but not be too flashy. 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 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 you club does not have the financial ability to produce a hard copy newsletter, consider a digital newsletter that can be emailed to your members.
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. Remember, creative ideas create attention.
Calendar of events
RRCA clubs are required to post all club events on the RRCA master calendar. A club calendar could also be maintained on the club’s website or a club can simply link to the RRCA master calendar. The calendar should include all of the group runs, training runs and club activities that the club conducts. It should also list the contact information and name of the club member responsible for the activity. Of course, the club calendar should be kept up-to-date with new activities throughout the year.