Swimming is in the greatest spotlight in history through TV, social media, traditional media, streaming and mobile app viewers. For many, if not most, this is their primary check-in on the sport since London 2012.
So, what are we doing with that attention? In marketing buzzword-speak, we need to “convert” that passion into participation.
We also have to be self-aware enough to know how newcomers think about the sport. It’s not always what we think.
The good news … people get passionate about swimming quickly. We call it getting the case of “Olympic Fever.” It’s strong and contagious.
The bad news … they quickly divert that passion to MLB post season, NFL preseason and the never-ending cycle of sports in America.
It’s our job, no, it’s our responsibility, to ride the Olympic wave and convert people to get involved. But we have to know how they think first to know what to do about it.
- Checking the Box: 79% of parents don’t consider having their kids join a swim team after learning to swim.
- Call your local learn to swim providers and tell them about your next tryout, possibly your Olympic Fever Tryout?
- Kickin’ It: Non-swimming parents view soccer as more fun, easier to learn, cooler and more enjoyable as a parent. That is, until they TRY swimming, then it beats soccer in all categories.
- Create a “welcome new families” story on your web site and social outlets targeted to new visitors to talk about the benefits of swimming and what differentiates your team
- There is No “I” in Team: Only 16% of non-swimming parents see the sport as a builder of teamwork vs. 60% for soccer, baseball, football and volleyball. Focusing on the team aspect of the team is vital!
- Post new pictures that focus on the team atmosphere such cheering for teammates, your team cheer or playing games on the pool deck
- Quittin’ Time: The #1 reason kids quit is because it is no longer fun and they want to do other sports, so we have to show that pre-team opportunities exist or even seasonal to get involved.
- Share information on the many levels to get involved in your program beyond year-round membership.
- Coaches Are Respected: Parents see professionalism of coaches (background screens and certification) as top USA Swimming benefits. In fact, parents see swim coaches as more trustworthy than soccer, baseball, football and volleyball coaches.
- Highlight coaches in your promotions and show their smiling faces and talk about their experience and credentials in your social posts!
- Mom is Driving the Bus: For non-swimming families, mom is the #1 influence in choosing a swim team for the family. The child is #2. Dad is (a distant) #3.
- Target talking to moms locally, and even get your existing parents involved to share messages on social
- Paying Their Dues: 67% of parents say they would consider a swim team if it was more affordable.
- Highlight short-term (ex. Seasonal or pre-team) options for newbie parents with a focus on mom and various entry-level options for time and price points.
- All Swimming is Local: USA Swimming parents drive an average of 15 minutes to get to the pool, so that means marketing can be targeted close to your team allowing you to manage budgets easier.
- Focus your attention on those closest to you and a 10-15 mile circle around your team’s sites
- Smells Like Teen Spirit: Top competitors to swimming include: Boys – Basketball; Soccer; Baseball; Lacrosse; Football. Girls – Basketball; Soccer; Volleyball; Dance; Softball & Gymnastics.
- Many of these sports are seasonal also, and make great recruiting opportunities, so reach out to teams in your area about ways to stay in shape for other sports
- A Brief Story: 97% of non-swimming parents say “they are not comfortable” with their son wearing a swim suit brief. Only 30% like the jammer.
- Highlight images on your site and social media of boys wearing the jammer and explain the various options in your welcome new families messages
If You Do Just One Thing… focus hard on optimizing your web site and social channels for someone new to the program. Put yourself in their shoes and look at your own site. Talk about the great things in your program and get your existing families to share it so we can convert Olympic Fever passion into participation!
Use the #SwimTrends hashtag and be a Swim Trend Spotter yourself and let me know what you think is important for this column and social media.