| Friday, February 8, 2019
The Lakeside Aquatic Club in Flower Mound, Texas boasts over 1,000 swimmers and is essentially at capacity for their team. The priority for their major marketing efforts isn’t reaching out to the community for recruitment; instead, some of those efforts center on retention.
Pam Glynn, LAC’s executive team manager, toldsftest.usaswimming.org with that in mind, they focus on member engagement and getting people to feel like they’re part of the team. She submitted two different member engagement plans for consideration for the 2018 #SwimBiz Club Marketing Awards, and was “pleased and flattered” to have won for both initiatives in the SwimToday category. This category recognizes a club that designed a marketing-based program that grows the sport, whether it is attracting new members or engaging existing swimmers with incentive programs that keep them engaged.
LAC’s first effort focused on the swimmers themselves. The team’s 1,000 swimmers were divided up into about 40 groups based on age, ability, and location, and each group has a volunteer “group parent.” Think of a “room mom” in some elementary schools, Glynn said.
“That person’s job is to plan anywhere from two to four low-cost and no-cost activities for the swimmers to participate in together outside of swim practice,” she said. “They are the most creative bunch of swim parents you have ever seen.”
Typically, the parents – with a small budget – plan a celebration for the coach’s birthday, celebrate the Christmas holidays with a secret Santa gift exchange, or host a game night. If the practice gets cancelled because the pool is being used for a high school swim meet, the group might meet up for pizza. If the weather’s nice, the group parent may recruit other parents of swimmers to host a picnic or potluck outdoors so the kids can play.
“They definitely feel like they’re part of the family, part of the team, when they have opportunities to get together outside of practice and meets,” Glynn said.
While this might breed competition among the parents, Glynn said it allows for idea-sharing. LAC’s social media pages are filled with creative ideas from the group parents, so everyone can see what the other parents are doing.
“It helps everybody be better,” she said.
The second initiative is parent-focused and is more of an educational tool. Glynn created a riff on James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” called the “LAC Carpool.” But there’s no singing – Glynn drives around with and interviews either a parent volunteer, LAC swimmer of the past or present, or coach.
Parents have come on the “show” to describe how to survive long days at a swim meet, or what each volunteer job is like at meets. Coaches have discussed how meets and practices relate to each other and why they’re important in their own ways, or how to take the focus off of going best times at every meet and finding other types of victory. Older swimmers have talked about the college recruitment process. Age-group swimmers described what it’s like to travel to a meet and rely on parents, coaches and teammates for support.
“Our main product is for the swimmers, but the people who pay the bills are the parents,” Glynn said. “We need to make sure that they feel like they’re getting all the information they need and find ways for them to be involved if they want to be involved. Just do things that keep it fun and interesting and not frustrating for the families. That’s what these programs have focused on.”
Glynn, who runs what she calls the “dry” side of the swimming business, already has plans for Olympic Trials in 2020. The team will be taking 100 of their top age group swimmers to a meet in Lincoln, Nebraska, then to Omaha for a few days to watch Olympic Trials. Hopefully, she said, there will be lots of LAC swim caps racing in 2020 in Omaha, and even more in 2024 and beyond.
“Coming into the end of the quadrennial is so exciting and so inspiring,” she said. “We’re definitely doing everything we can to motivate those kids and inspire them.”
Nominations are now open for the #SwimBiz Club Marketing Awards! We want to hear about the best and the brightest promotional efforts from the swimming community. A panel of industry professionals will review submissions and select the winning USA Swimming member clubs will be recognized for marketing excellence. Awards will be handed out at the #SwimBiz Club Marketing Awards Dinner on Monday, April 29, 2019.