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Blog: Is the digital marketing hub a game changer for sport and activity providers?

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Posted 14th September 2021

Following the launch of the Digital Marketing Hub this morning, Yorkshire Sport Foundation Media Manager, Andy Morgan, blogs on the role it can play in getting more people active.

After watching the excellent launch webinar for the digital marketing hub, it feels like it has the potential to be a game changer for the sport and physical activity sector.

It’s been developed based on the results of research, so we know it’s needed and the way it’s been put together makes sense. The on-demand learning in particular is learning for the modern world. The peer-to-peer support will prove invaluable for so many people, I’m sure.

It’s a cliché to say that there’s lots of great work going on to get people active, but it is true. Let’s not forget that more people are active than are not in England. So as a sector we must be doing something right. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do things better, and digital marketing definitely falls into that bracket, in my opinion.

It’s a common comparison, but if only it was as easy to book a tennis court as it is to book a hotel. It could be, and the OpenActive initiative is trying to make it happen. But you wouldn’t run a hotel and expect people to book if you were relying on word of mouth or a flyer in a shop window. So how and why would someone turn up to your club or activity if they can’t find out anything about you within a couple of clicks?

I’ve worked for Yorkshire Sport Foundation for almost seven years.  Communication is my thing, not marketing, but often the two overlap. However, you wouldn’t send an electrician to do the job of a plumber on the basis that both people can fix things in your house. It’s a specialism, and perhaps that’s what puts some people off – how can I be an expert in marketing? The truth is, you don’t need to be – I’m not! I’ll be making use of the Digital Marketing Hub to fill in my own knowledge gaps.

What you need is an understanding. The principles of how to use social media most effectively, of how to make your website work for you so that you understand your audience better. The Digital Marketing Hub provides that.

You may be thinking: ‘Understanding is all well and good, but what about budget? We’ve not all got a This Girl Can budget behind us.’ No, we don’t. There are so many free tools out there, time is likely to be your biggest investment.

But let’s talk money, for a comparison of what can be done with relatively little. We spent £50 for 1,000 flyers recently, for the Active Dearne Community Champions to hand out at community events.  It still has some merit as a community engagement tool at those sort of events, but when was the last time you acted on a flyer that was handed to you? Only a small percentage of people do.

We spent £40 on a Facebook advert to promote the Active Kendray ‘Swanee Steps Challenge’ this summer. We reached 5,676 people who lived within one mile of where the challenge takes place. We’d have had to knock on a lot of doors with flyers to get that sort of reach. It’s a smarter way to work.

We know the age ranges of the people who saw the advert. We know what percentage were men, and what percentage were women. The next time we do something similar, we can aim it at the demographics we know are most likely to be interested, and therefore reach more of them. We can establish how many of those people actually did the challenge on the back of seeing the advert, and repeat it or refresh it based on that knowledge.

What do we know about the people who took a flyer? Next to nothing. How do we know it’s worked in terms of getting them to a session if we don’t ask or record it? If we don’t know that, how do we know if they’ve worked? The purposes were different, I accept that. The flyers were a conversation starter, but the principles of the comparison stand.

I’d urge you not to be intimidated by digital marketing and the hub itself. The game is the same, it’s just changing how people find out about it.

Sign up for the digital marketing hub online.

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