Tennis Industry magazine

 

Kicking it up

With some creative marketing and promotions, you can drive participation in your programs.

By Robin Bateman

“I want MaconTennisConnect to be on everyone’s lips when they think of tennis in Macon,” says my boss, Carl Hodge, the tennis manager/head pro for the city of Macon, Ga.

“Okaaaay,” I say, settling into my chair. We’ve just sat down for a power lunch. I love these meetings. They’re always so productive.

“So, I know your gonna really think I’m crazy.” He takes a deep swig on his iced tea before he continues. “Every morning before I fully wake up, before I even get out of bed, I make myself answer one question: What can I do to make my programs better?” He sighs. And I smile. What a powerful tool. What commitment.

tennis drills

But I want examples. “Like what?”

“Anything,” he says. “Anything, from instruction, to marketing, to admin efficiency.” He scoops up a forkful of beef tips and rice and I wait. “But the key is, I can’t get out of bed until I come up with something.”

He slides into his zone and rattles off a few of his morning inspirations. Lately, he’s been on the marketing/promotion bandwagon. He has loads of ideas, some of which he’s already executed.

Like “Bring Your Racquet to Work Day,” which he just implemented in his adult beginner’s class (Play Tennis Macon). Carl is famous for assigning “homework” to his students. Usually, homework is an instruction-based activity — for instance, hit 100 serves in, etc.

However, one night, he told his students they must carry their racquets with them for 24 hours. “I want you to sleep with your racquet,” he said to his beginner players. “Bring it to work with you. When you go on your lunch break, that racquet better be right with you.”

I stare at him while he tells me this, no longer concerned about my now cold vegetable plate. “And did they do it?”

“Wendy and Sandra are in the class. Call them when you get back to your office and see.” Wendy Mullis and Sandra Hill both work in our Parks and Rec Department.

Some of Carl’s other ideas include:

Back at my office, I punch in Wendy’s number, even before I sit down. “Hey, Wendy, I just spoke with Carl and he says you had to take your racquet to work yesterday as your homework.”

“Yes, I did. Both Sandra and I did. I took my racquet with me everywhere. In fact, I had to go to finance and Adah Roberts asked about it. She wants you to call with class information.”

Bingo. Now that’s taking the “ask me about tennis” buttons to the next level.

Getting the Bucks

Looking for funding for your marketing efforts? Check out your local district. In our area of Macon, Ga., the USTA Southern Section and USTA Georgia are actively involved in supporting the growth of tennis at the grassroots level. Generous funding from USTA Georgia is made available to CTAs to make programs like ours take off.

At least once a year, Georgia’s Community Tennis Association leaders gather to share best practices, get inspiration from others, and ask and answer questions about tennis in their communities. USTA supports local tennis initiatives all over the country; contact your state or section office to find out more.

And don’t forget about the Tennis Industry Association’s Growing Tennis 50/50 co-op funding program. The 50/50 program offers matching advertising/promotional dollars to teaching pros who want to attract new or former junior and adult players into the game.

“The co-op program is geared toward the entrepreneurial tennis pro who is serious about building their business and wants to further their marketing dollar,” says the TIA’s Matt Allen. “This program is a no-brainer for any pro who spends time and money to market their entry-level programs.” For more information, visit tennisindustry.org.

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About the Author

Robin Bateman is the site coordinator for the Tattnall Tennis Center in Macon, Ga., where she coordinates tennis program and leagues, is a tournament director, serves as a team captain, and assists junior teams competing at district, regional, and section events.

 

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