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Looking ahead to a successful future for your bowls club

"MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 01: Fun, excitement and the social side of bowling is seen on the bowling green on March 1, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)"

During this time of uncertainty, why not start thinking about how you can create new ways to attract members to your club once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

There are many things you can do to help promote your club and hopefully drive new membership. Usually, we are so busy focusing on the next event, the bar or keeping the greens running that we seldom have time to even think about the future! Now, with club closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have some free time to consider what will happen when we start bowling again.

Here are some suggestions as to how you can promote your club when your club reopens.

Come & Try Day/Week/Month

Many state bodies offer Come & Try Day promotional help and a Come & Try event can definitely bring in the numbers.

What to do on the day

When organising your club’s Come & Try event, remember many of the people attending have never played bowls or have

only ever played barefoot bowls, so it is a good idea not to be too formal when it comes to the game itself. Create a relaxed and fun atmosphere as this will bring people back to the club in the future. While most people who attend will not be interested in becoming a full member straight away, we suggest having

a sign-up sheet available for people to provide their details if they are interested, which means no one feels obligated to do something they do not want to do and they can just enjoy their time at your club.

Offer a free sausage sizzle and create a festive atmosphere. Have plenty of seasoned bowlers walking around offering to show people how to play (but keep it casual). Make sure to keep the coaching informal, you don’t want to be instructing them constantly. Just show them the basic techniques and make sure participants are not dumping the bowls on the green, just let them enjoy the game and be on hand to offer tips and advice if needed.

Small games or Jack Attack would work best for non-bowlers as they may not want to play a three hour long game, a short and sweet game would give visitors a taste of competitive bowls and help make the day even more memorable.

Social media and advertising

The cheapest and most effective form of advertising is through targeted paid Facebook advertisements, you can target potentially thousands of people in the local area around your club which will help raise awareness of your club or a specific event over the space of a week for less than $100. If you don’t already have a Facebook page, why not? This is the perfect medium for sharing news to your members and promoting what’s happening for people who may not know what you offer.

You can also encourage current members of the club to share the ad on their personal Facebook page for free to help increase the reach of your advert, as well as posting on the club’s own page and on local community group pages.

Word of mouth and letter drops:

Another great way to advertise is through word of mouth, members can invite family members and friends to the club to help boost numbers. Offer sign-up discounts or bring a friend for free days.

Letter drops around the neighbourhood and canvassing in high traffic areas also help promote your club.

TV/Radio stations and Newspapers:

Try and see if you can get a small shout out for free on local media outlets about your club or any events held such as club championships, restaurant deals, etc. It’s also a good idea to invite your local media along to the event as they may come down to cover it as a news story which will help provide the club with extra press and exposure. Any story you can get about your club is free advertising!

Send letters or make personal contact with local businesses

Introduce yourself and offer your club as a venue for team- building, or offer a cheap way for businesses to advertise by signage or sponsorship. Can you offer special deals to local businesses?

Have a booth at local malls, fairs, festivals

Have a carpet and some bowls for people to try rolling up, preferably something like a Jack Attack set or similar, where people can see how much fun bowls can be. For those that try, offer them a free or discounted game at the club.

Incentivise your existing members

Offer deals such as if someone signs up a new member, they get free green fees for a month or similar. Your members are your biggest sales force. If you keep them happy, they’ll want to talk more about the club and will want to encourage others to join.

These are just some ways you can think about increasing your membership. Let us know if you have any other ideas.

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