Open for Business
With the U.S. Open upon us, you can promote your shop or facility along with the tournament.
By Joe Dinoffer
Imagine a world where everyone is talking about tennis.
Every day, it’s on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, and for hours on end televised matches are watched by millions. If you’re in the tennis business you’d be in second heaven, right?
Well, don’t try to wake up because it’s not a dream. For two weeks this year, starting Aug. 30, an event called the U.S. Open makes this dream come true. Millions of sporadic fans will enthusiastically come out of the woodwork to play during this two-week event, and millions more will watch it on television and read about it on the front pages of the newspapers. It’s the time of year when “play” becomes more than a button on a VCR.
You can take advantage of this excitement for tennis right from the counter top of your pro shop. There is no better opportunity each year to increase the numbers of your tennis playing customers and the numbers on your bottom line.
Here are some ideas to fire you up about the U.S. Open and tennis. Along the way, you’ll also fire up everyone around you.
1. Become a local Mecca for the Open
Use bulletin boards, bathroom mirrors, voice-mail greetings, court reservations staff, club newsletters, e-mails, fliers, TV, VCR, and PA system announcements to broadcast the play-by-play of the Open. For weeks leading up to the event, show highlights from previous great U.S. Open matches in public areas throughout your club. If you don’t have tapes of matches yourself, ask around. Chances are one of your members has some great matches of years past on cassette.
During the event, daily draw sheets and results can be pulled off the internet in seconds (www.usopen.org), faster than people will catch it on the news. Just print out the results and your facility becomes a Mecca for the Open. Advertise your intentions with local press releases and radio PSAs weeks ahead of the event. Set up a temporary phone line with updated messages on voice mail bringing fans the latest results and human-interest stories.
You may even become an “expert,” interviewed in local press, radio and television. The sort of exposure this effort can bring will attract players to your doorstep throughout the year.
2. Promote player racquets to boost your own racquet sales
Print out the U.S. Open draw daily and go to a copy center in your neighborhood that can blow it up to a 2 × 3-foot size for easy viewing. Then make nickel-size copies of the logos of the racquets that each of the top seeds are using. Post these logos next to the names of the top players. Your own customers will then start identifying with the players who use the same racquets as they do. Plus, depending on who wins the tournament, be prepared to have inventory of that pro player’s racquet. Chances are that sales of that particular frame will increase overnight.
3. Become the local source for U.S. Open fan merchandise
U.S. Open T-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, and tennis balls are only some of the possibilities. If you didn’t do this for the ‘04 Open, plan it for next year. There’s even a basketball-size U.S. Open tennis ball available from one of the major ball manufacturers. Visit molehillapparel.com to order U.S. Open apparel and accessories featuring the U.S. Open logo.
4. Organize events leading up to and during the Open
How about a dinner event with films highlighting the best matches from previous U.S. Open tournaments, or even bringing in a tennis legend speaker who is prepared to play in a weekend mixer with your members?
5. Create a U.S. Open sweepstakes for several months leading up to the event
How do tickets for two plus round trip airfare sound (an airline based in your city may donate the tickets for the right kind of exposure or if a percentage of revenues goes toward a good cause in your area).
Two possibilities for a sweepstakes are a tournament event — how about calling it the U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament? — staged in early summer, or simply holding a drawing and to qualify for a ticket you must have played a certain number of hours in a specific month or purchased a certain amount of merchandise in your pro shop or specialty store.
The halo effect of the Open creates dozens of profitable possibilities. The U.S. Open is not only a huge profit center for the USTA, you can turn it into an income-producing event for yourself as well. Like other major tennis events, it’s a great time to take advantage of the high visibility of tennis.
See all articles by Joe Dinoffer
About the Author
Joe Dinoffer is a Master Professional for both the PTR and USPTA. He speaks frequently at national and international tennis teacher workshops as a member of both the HEAD Penn and Reebok National Speaker's Bureaus. He is president of Oncourt Offcourt Inc. and has written 16 books and produced more than 30 instructional videos.