Youth sports provide major benefits to kids’ mental, emotional, social, and physical health. Studies have found that youth sports participation can lead to lower anxiety, higher self-esteem, and improved overall fitness.
So it seems like a no-brainer that parents would want to get their kids involved in sports. However, if they’re not aware that local sports are an option, where do they go from there?
This is why youth sports marketing can be so important. Getting the word out about your league not only helps more parents and kids find you, but it also helps increase the success and longevity of the league as well.
Throughout this article, we’ll walk you through key steps in putting together your marketing strategy so you can start promoting your youth sports organization.
Understand your audience
Your first step is gaining a clear understanding of your target audience. Who should you be marketing to?
Depending on the age range of your team’s players, you’ll likely be targeting the parents rather than the kids themselves. However, if your players are teenagers or playing high school sports, you may be able to create content directed towards the young athletes themselves.
Think about the types of content and messaging you should create and share. Ideas include:
- Benefits of youth sports on kids
- Photos of kids having fun playing sports
- Registration costs and time frames
- Information about youth sports in general
Here’s an example from the Little League Facebook Page sharing a link to the parents’ guide to Little League alongside a graphic:
Content like this helps families feel more secure about being a part of your league, knowing what’s expected and knowing their kids are in good hands.
Build a strong identity
The next part of your marketing efforts is building a strong brand identity. Your brand identity helps your league become recognizable around the community and reflects your organization’s mission and values to your target audience.
A brand identity involves aspects like:
- A logo
- Brand colors and fonts
- A tagline
- Marketing messaging
- Brand voice and personality
- Mission and vision statement
- Other visual elements
Having all of these elements outlined helps you to create an effective marketing strategy that both reaches your target audience and resonates with what they want to see from a youth sports organization.
To create your own brand identity, start brainstorming how you want your visual identity to look while also thinking about the best tone of voice to use in your content. You can always DIY your brand identity by using graphic design tools like Canva or Visme. Or you can choose to work with a brand designer to help you compile your entire brand identity.
7 ways to market your youth sports program
Now let’s talk about your overall marketing plan. These seven tactics can help you reach a wider audience with your online presence, helping you fill up your sports teams with excited young players.
1. Build a user-friendly website
Start by creating a website for your youth sports league. Using a sports website builder can make the process easy, providing you with a hub for all important sports information, a place for you to manage the league, and a key component of your digital marketing strategy.
Easily create your own league website where you can house info like:
- Registration pages
- Sponsorship information
- Photo albums
- Contact information
You can even create a blog and informational landing pages as an SEO strategy to help your website appear in local search engine results.
Here’s an example of what your sports website could look like:
📚LEARN MORE: The Best Youth Sports Website Hosting Sites
2. Leverage social media
Create social media accounts for your league to reach even more potential families interested in local sports. This is a great place to share league updates, photos, links from your website, and more.
Popular social media platforms for youth sports include:
You can share anything from text-only posts to links to photos to videos. Keep family members in the loop of what their kids are learning, share information so more families can sign up, create sponsorship or partnership advertisements, and more.
Take a look at other youth sports leagues to get an idea of the types of content you can share. Here are some examples of Instagram content from a league based in Columbus, Ohio to get you started:
3. Step up your email marketing
Email marketing, or sending out regular email newsletters to subscribers, is another great way to reach your audience with information for your youth athletes. Email marketing campaigns can be useful for increasing the number of registrations you get to fill up your league as well.
Start by creating a sign-up form on your youth sports website so that you can collect email addresses from potentially interested parents. You can then import those emails into an email marketing software so you can send out email blasts with relevant league details.
Some ideas for your email newsletter include:
- Sharing dates, details, and links for registration
- Putting out calls for coaches and other volunteers
- Sharing details about tournaments and games
- Informing subscribers of sponsorship opportunities for local businesses
- Letting parents know about upcoming fundraising initiatives
Set a cadence for your email newsletter that works for your league and the frequency of news you need to share. For example, you could stick to a weekly newsletter that switches between league updates and general sport tips and information. Or you could choose to create a monthly or quarterly newsletter—or only send out emails when you need to share information with parents.
Many email newsletter softwares will also let you create different audience segments, so you can have an overall audience for your marketing content dedicated to increasing brand awareness and registrations.
But you can also have an audience for families that have already signed up so you can share more pertinent information with them, like when skills evaluations are, when practices will begin, and more.
4. Communicate via text
SMS marketing is another great way to communicate with local families about your league. In registration, you’ll likely gather parent phone numbers as part of the signup form. Create a list of phone numbers to use for mass update texts.
Many leagues will use this for urgent updates, like fields closing due to bad weather or any last-minute changes to scheduling. However, it can also be used to update parents on when facilities will be closed for holidays, when various sports open and close for registration, and similar announcements.
5. Host local fundraising events
Hosting local fundraising events helps you in two ways: one, you’re able to raise funds for your league, and two, you can get the word out about your league even more.
There are a number of youth sports fundraising ideas out there you can use for this. A few include:
- Restaurant fundraisers
- Bake sales
- Car washes
- Silent auctions
6. Get local PR
Getting local PR can be another great marketing strategy for your youth sports league. There are quite a few ways that you can do this and reach even more families—and potential athletes.
Try things like:
- Talking to a local journalist for a local newspaper feature
- Send press releases to local news outlets
- Reach out to local influencers and creators
- Get involved in local community events
- Host events using your sports facilities
Getting local PR can help you further grow your league, getting more awareness and more registrations.
7. Make it easy to register players
Finally, make registration easy. If parents are having to jump through hoops to register their kids—or, less hyperbolically, only have the option to register in person—you’re alienating potential players.
Add online registration functionality to your website by using a sports registration software (like JerseyWatch) so parents can easily sign their players up for your sports league without having to leave home.
Create a form with all the basic questions—parent information, athlete information, contact details, uniform size, etc.—while also being able to take payment or even collect donations throughout the process.
The bottom line is, the easier it is for parents to register their kids, the more kids you can get participating in your league.
Adapt to the changing trends
Once you’ve got your marketing strategy in place, you need to keep an eye on trends in youth sports. What do parents and their children want from their local youth sports team? How can you best reach them through digital avenues?
Subscribe to industry newsletters, keep an eye on trending sports topics, and test out different ideas to see how you can stay relevant and increase participation year over year.
Adapt your strategy, your content, and your communication methods based on the latest trends. Staying relevant is the most essential way to keep registration up and reach even more local families.
Create your own youth sports marketing strategy
Youth sports marketing is all about spreading the word about the availability of youth sports in your area so you can increase registrations and generate more participation. But behind every good strategy is the right sports management software that can help you build a website, register players, fundraise for your league, and more.