By Rachel Lutz//Contributor | Wednesday, February 27, 2019Last year, the Costa Mesa Aquatics Club in Costa Mesa won the 2018 #SwimBiz Marketing Award for Best in Multicultural Marketing. Here’s their story:
The key to successful multicultural marketing for the Costa Mesa Aquatics Club, last year’s SwimBiz Award winner, was knowing how to service the local area.
“You gotta take care of your backyard,” Costa Mesa Aquatics Club Director Jose De La Jara toldsftest.usaswimming.org. “Make sure that they’re taken care of, that’s how I approach it.”
De La Jara said the population of Costa Mesa hovers around 50 percent Hispanic, which created unique marketing opportunities for the club.
The flyers that get sent out to the local area are bilingual, in both English and Spanish. Much of the information on the club’s website is written in English and Spanish. And the contact phone number printed on all of the club’s information leads directly to De La Jara, who reads, writes, and speaks both languages.
“All of our stuff is created for our target audience, where we have a heavy population of Hispanic swimmers and athletes,” he said.
The club rents pool time at the high school from the school district. Typically, they recruit young swimmers because those are the students that will eventually be attending that high school. De La Jara’s goal for them, once they are high school students, is to have the swimmers say they’ve been using that facility forever and they can’t wait to participate there even more.
“We have to work, make sure that the kids that are gonna stick around through local public schools are going to also be serviced at all times,” he added.
When young, new parents come to the club, De La Jara asks them what social media networks they’re using. He finds that Facebook is great for the grandparents, but the parents are on Instagram.
“I gotta know what my customer is using so I can market to them correctly,” he said. “I’m not afraid to try new things. It’s a moving target.”
Part of growing the club is convincing parents that their children should be water safe – and even ocean safe – since Costa Mesa is just a few blocks from the beach in Southern California.
“Where we’re being successful is because [the parents] have somebody that speaks Spanish and they feel comfortable,” De La Jara said. “They’re very comfortable with me getting them to talk and say this is a lifestyle.”
The best marketing tool Costa Mesa employed was likely successful based on “sheer, pure luck,” De La Jara said.
The swim club created an advertisement to be played at the local discount movie theater and entertainment center. After the first weekend, the club was flooded with calls. They tried to figure out, what movie just opened? Could it have been the latest Star Wars?
No, it was “Fifty Shades of Grey” for an audience of mostly moms and other women.
“That was the ultimate core audience that needed to see it, and they saw it,” De La Jara said.
The final piece of the puzzle for De La Jara is taking advantage of USA Swimming’s Flex Memberships. Oftentimes, he’s able to convince parents to try out two swim meets. From there, he can get more swimmers on the team and continue to grow his club.“I have a lot of kids that do a bunch of programs,” he said, adding that a lot of swimmers crossover between water polo and swimming. “I’m signing them up as flex membership kids because I know that they can swim, and they can train, and I can slide them over. It’s working for me. It’s a great thing.”
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.