Tactics for growing your clubs member base
Attracting new members in to your fishing club can be tough. With so many competing activities available to choose from, it’s important that your club does everything it can to attract a potential member to sign up.
So, to make your life just a little bit easier, we have pulled together our top ten tips to help you recruit more members for your club.
1) Be easy to find
We live in a digital world where 94% of British adults have access to the internet sitting in their pocket 24/7. This instant access means we’ve moved to a nation of individuals who research our options before making a buying decision or becoming a member of a fishing club. So if someone wants to find out more about your club, waters, membership etc. it’s highly likely that the first thing they’ll do is ‘google’ your club, looking for a website. If they can’t find one, they’ll often move on to a competing club instead.
For many, if you don’t have a website, you simply don’t so its vital that you have one!
Your site will often be the first impression for a prospective member – it needs to promote your club to the max (and be up to date!). It should be simple to navigate, be easy to read on a mobile and communicate all the ‘need to know’ details about getting involved. And please make sure there are really clear instructions on how a member can join or renew!
After a potential member has found your site, their next step is to check out your social media pages. This will give them a deeper insight in to the daily goings on and social scene at your club. This is also a great place to develop a social community & tell your club story. We will be talking more about Social Media options in a future post (watch this space!).
Being easy to find is our first tip to winning new members but it’s also the most important. We therefore recommend making this your number one priority. Once this is in place, all the others tactics will be much easier to implement.
2) Encourage existing members to spread the word
Word of mouth is probably the most effective method of generating new interest in your club. It’s also free!
That may seem really obvious but how many times have you asked your existing members whether they have a friend or family member who would like to join?
Maximising the goodwill amongst existing members and asking them to ‘refer a friend’ should be part and parcel of every club event & communication.
3) Reach out to your local community
One of the great things about member groups such as a fishing club is that it helps strengthen local communities.
So why not leverage that?
- Gain some publicity from your local newspaper. Ask them to publish an interesting story about your club. It may be an overview of your clubs history, updates on conservation projects or simply just a member drive – whatever it is, all publicity is good publicity. And whilst you’re at it, why not ask them to start printing your match results too.
Invite local schools in to the club and teach them the basics – give them a taster session & extend the invitation to the rest of their family too. And don’t stop there. There are plenty of other community groups who who’d be keen to give fishing a go – scouts, guides, rotary, church etc.
Team up with other local sports clubs and maybe offer their members a free guest ticket in exchange for a day out with their club.
Place your fishing clubs details on local noticeboards & advertise that you’re looking for new members. It doesn’t need to be a glossy brochure, just point them in the direction of your website and they can get everything they need from there.
4) Encourage people to become a member throughout the entire year
In 2016, Rod licences moved to a 365 rolling licence as it allowed anglers to receive a full 12 months fishing for their money. The change was one of a few requested by the Angling Trust following feedback from anglers up and down the country.
So if its proven that anglers want a full 12 months fishing for their money then why not give it to them at your club too?
Stop restricting your membership sales to just a few weeks of the year, listen to your fellow anglers feedback and start taking advantage of new member registrations every day of the year.
5) Market to lapsed, expired & cancelled members
Lapsed or cancelled members should be easy targets to tempt back to the club. You already know they enjoy fishing so why not entice them back with a special re-joining offer?
If you’ve got their email address & marketing consent on file then it would take no time at all to send an email blast, highlighting all the great things that they’ve missed out on since they left.
6) Capture the impulse & make it easy for new members to join instantly
Picture this. You’ve captured the interest of a potential new member, they visit your site full of enthusiasm, they review the waters they want to fish and are now chomping at the bit to join. They navigate to your membership page, still visualising the fish they are going to catch the next day and then all of a sudden their heart sinks, their enthusiasm wanes and decide that joining your club can wait for another day.
That’s right, they’ve just discovered that they can’t sign up & pay online.
Asking someone to to print a form, order a cheque book, purchase a passport photo or buy a stamp creates hassle and slows the process down. And for time poor individuals, this often forces them to re-evaluate whether they even want to sign up any way.
There’s no need to take this risk. Enable online joining and start capturing the impulse of new members, allowing them to sign up when they want & pay how they want.
85% of members indicated that it was important that they could set up and manage their payments online.
*According to a survey conducted by our partners GoCardless
7) Run events and allow guests to sign up then and there
We are huge supporters of clubs running family & community fishing events. They generate interest both in their club but also in fishing in general. But we often find that not many clubs proactively convert attendees in to members. Some will print off a few forms and hand them out, others may point them in the direction of their website but the best way to convert a potential member in to a full member is to actually sign them up then and there.
The key here is to capture them at the peak of their enthusiasm and that will be when they are actually there, attending the event.
Take your phone or a tablet with you and get them to complete their membership application & pay online instantly. You’ll be amazed at how many more attendees start converting to members.
8) Offer guest tickets & taster sessions but make sure you follow up!
It may be tempting to limit guest ticket availability to friends of existing members but what if someone has just moved in to the area and doesn’t know anyone at your club yet? Why not offer guest tickets or free taster sessions to potential new members? Allow them to fish your waters, introduce them to fellow members and encourage them to sign up to a full membership.
Just make sure that you follow up afterwards! This could be as simple as a quick call, text or email (which can be automated in Clubmate) but if you don’t provide that friendly reminder that a full club membership is available for them to buy, you’ll find some may not convert.
9) Be inclusive
One of the main reasons Clubmate exists is to help more people fish, more often.
We want to help clubs welcome new members no matter where they come from, no matter whether they are young or old, male or female, experienced or beginner. But for a club to be truly inclusive, they must adapt & recognise that not everybody likes to operate in the same way.
For some, they will want to visit the club in person before signing up, others would prefer to research online. Some members like a physical handbook, others prefer a digital one. Some like to pay by cheque, others prefer the instant confirmation of paying by card. Some members like to receive a physical newsletter, others will prefer an email. The list goes on.
To be truly inclusive, you’ll need to consider these approaches and see if/how you can accommodate them.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that not all potential members will speak English as their first language. So you might want to consider translating your club rules in to multiple languages? Or displaying signage in multiple languages? *google translate is pretty good for this
To create a balanced member base and secure the long term future of the club, you should try not to focus too heavily on one sector of your memberships (even if they currently form the majority of your member base). The key is to make yourself available & welcoming to everyone and not shut anyone out – even if it may prove a little uncomfortable at first!
10) Advertise with club clothing
Offer club clothing to your members and they become walking ambassadors for your club! Every item used, seen and loved is a positive reinforcement of your fishing club. And its free advertising too! You’ll be surprised at how many conversations a club branded hoodie can initiate between strangers.
It’s cost & hassle free for a club to offer branded clothing so why wouldn’t you promote it?
If you’d like to find out how Clubmate could help your club with any of the above – add your details in the ‘Get in Touch‘ form and a member of the team will be in touch.