Will Boucek is the founder of The Tennis Tribe. He is also an experienced entrepreneur who helped a six-figure business grow by over 450% and scale to mid-seven figures.
We thought, when many of our readers are sidelined at home, it may be the right time to spiff up and streamline your marketing efforts. Will is an expert in online lead generation and efficiency through software and automation. Creating content and connections between businesses and customers is his specialty.
THE DEFINITE MARKETING GUIDE FOR TENNIS COACHES
By Will Boucek
If you’re a tennis coach who needs more students, members at your club, or juniors at your academy, this guide is for you.
Below, you’re going to learn the fundamentals of marketing in the tennis profession. Follow the advice in this guide, and you will attract new tennis players consistently month after month. I’ll show you the best marketing channels to pursue, how to market on a tight budget, and how to retain existing players.
Whether you like it or not, as a tennis coach, you are running a business. Specifically, you’re running a service-based business.
Similar to how someone pays their dentist to improve their teeth, tennis coaches are paid to improve a player’s tennis game.
Unfortunately, many coaches aren’t trained to run a business and get overwhelmed by the idea of doing sales and marketing.
Below, I’m going to make it simple for you. You are about to have a clear idea of how you should be selling and marketing your tennis coaching services.
Understanding Your Customer Journey or Sales Funnel
In any business, you have customers. To acquire those customers, it’s the job of the sales and marketing department to take people through a customer journey. Also called a sales funnel.
For tennis coaches, and any business, your customer journey has 2 parts.
Make sure as many tennis players hear about you as possible. Also called “traffic”.
Get these tennis players to sign up for a lesson or clinic. Also called “conversion”.
Step 1: Make Sure Tennis Players Know You Exist
Whether you run a club, academy, or a local tennis center, every single student you’ve ever had starts here.
The first step in the customer journey is… them finding out that you exist.
For most tennis coaches, similar to other service-based businesses, the majority of their students come through referrals. So the first time a potential student hears about them is through someone they know.
If you don’t have an organized referral marketing campaign set up, you should. It’s the most effective way to grow your business as a tennis coach.
Here are a few other ways you can get people to find out about you. These are called marketing channels.
Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) - Getting your website to show up on Google Maps when people search for “tennis lesson in [your city]”.
Social Media - Engaging your current customers in a way that encourages them to share your content with their friends who might also play tennis.
Local Signage - Post signs at local parks, athletic fields, schools, and more.
Partnerships with local businesses or organizations - Cross promoting with other businesses is one of the best and cheapest ways to market your coaching services.
Facebook & Instagram Advertising - This is slightly more advanced, but if you have a budget, it’s a great way to grow even faster.
Each of those marketing channels above will help more people know that you exist, but that’s not enough. I know that Prince makes tennis racquets, but I haven’t given them a dime since 2005.
So how do we convince tennis players, who know about us, to become customers? Conversion.
Step 2: “Selling” Tennis Lessons or Clinics to Your Marketparagraphs & more.
Conversion, or making the sale, is crucial. Without it, you don’t have a business.
Many coaches can make some small adjustments here and see massive gains in their business.
To get this right, you need to understand how people buy. We’re going to use an example to illustrate this.
Let’s say you chose 3 of the marketing channels above to test for a month.
You run a referral marketing campaign
You post signs around town.
You improve our local SEO by making some improvements to your website and getting Google reviews.
In one month, you may have 500 people find out about your coaching services. Out of those 500, let’s say 100 have some interest in tennis.
We need to encourage these 100 people to contact us and sign up for a tennis clinic or lesson. Let’s see how this works.
20 People Were Referred by a Friend
You decided to test a new referral marketing campaign for a month.
After making “referral discount cards” you handed them out to each student in your weeknight clinics. If they bring a friend, both get 50% off that clinic.
There were 20 people who heard about your clinics through this campaign. Here’s what happened to them.
5 of these people came to a clinic.
5 of them told their friend “I’m too busy.”
10 of them said, “maybe later.”
5 of these went to Google and searched your name, or “tennis coach near me” because they forgot your name, later that evening (you’d lose these if you didn’t do the Local SEO below). Then, they clicked on your website.
Since your website is well-designed, with a contact form and answers all the questions they have, 3 out of these 5 (60%) contact you and sign up for a clinic.
If you’re thinking… “I can’t afford to give 50% off clinics. I don’t do discounts.” I hear you. We’ll cover this below.
Referral Campaign Results: 8 out of 20 = 40% conversion rate
60 Tennis Players Saw You in Google Maps
You made some improvements to your website and started asking for Google Reviews. After several months, you climbed to #1 in your area in the Google Maps section when people search for tennis lessons.
This month, 60 people searched for tennis lessons within several miles of your location.
20 clicked one of the other 2 businesses listed.
40 clicked through to your website because you have the best, and the most Google Reviews.
Out of the 40 who clicked, 12 of these contact you interested in lessons for themselves, or their junior player. 6 of them signed up for a lesson!
Local SEO Results: 6 out of 40 website visitors = 15% conversion rate
Note: In our example, the conversion rate on the website is 2x higher for people who were personally referred by someone they know. Again, I’m making these numbers up to illustrate a point. It’s probably even higher than this. That’s why referral marketing campaigns are so effective.
20 People Stopped to Read Your Sign
You posted signs at a local park with two tennis courts, and other athletic facilities. When you did this, 20 people actually stopped and read your sign.
Here’s what happened.
None of them contacted you.
This is very disappointing, but you can fix your signs next month (more on this below).
Local Signage Results: 0 out of 20 = 0% conversion rate
Similar to coaching a tennis player, we need to be constantly looking for more areas to improve in our marketing. We’ll do that now.
Analyze & Improve Your Marketing Campaigns
In each of the campaigns above, we learned what was working, what didn’t work, and a few areas to improve upon.
The Referral Marketing Campaign Was a Big Hit!
The referral offer led to 8 new students in clinics. 1 of them even signed up for private lessons. Unfortunately, 6 of the 8 didn’t come back for a 2nd clinic, so you lost money on those.
Here are the changes you’ll make next month:
You tried emailing each new student after the clinic to get them signed up for next week, but it didn’t work. Next month, you’ll start offering each new student a 5 clinic package before they leave the court!
You’ll also promote the referral campaign on social media to get more current students talking about it.
Note: Referral campaigns also help with retention because you’re getting your members invested in the promotion of the club. Plus, they’ll enjoy playing tennis with their friends.
The Local SEO Campaign Worked Great!
This campaign led to 6 new students, 5 of whom are now taking regular private lessons. Great work!
You notice that 6 of the 40 website visitors contacted you. 3 filled out the contact form, and 3 called and left voicemails.
You’re not answering your phones in the pro shop all the time, because you’re busy teaching lessons. It’s possible more people called and didn’t leave a voicemail.
Here’s the plan to improve this campaign:
You set up call forwarding while no one is in the pro shop to make sure someone is always answering the phones. It will ring to someone’s cell phone who is available so they can sign up the customer for a lesson over the phone.
The website is all set, but you continue to ask for Google Reviews from your best students. You have twice the amount of reviews as the next club on the map, so you want to make sure you stay in front.
The Local Signs Were a Flop :(
0 people contacted you through the sign, so maybe this isn’t the right marketing channel for you.
But before you trash this idea…
You show the sign to another coach who had success with this in the past. After reviewing your sign, they notice that you didn’t have a few key elements that would have increased your conversion rate.
Here’s what you’ll change:
Add your email address to your sign. A lot of people don’t like to make phone calls, so an email gives them a 2nd way to get in touch.
You add your website URL for people to find more information. You actually create a new page on the site called “mytennisclub.com/special/” that gives them a special offer, and a way to easily sign up.
You can now track visits to this specific page so you know how many people are reading the sign and going to your website.
Your phone number was too small so you will make the font bigger.
Last, you notice that the other signs around the park are all the same color, so you decide to make yours a different brighter color that catches more people’s eyes.
After these changes, if the local signs still aren’t working, it may be time to test a new marketing idea.
Key Takeaways: How Tennis Coaches Can Grow Their Business
Hopefully the story above helps you get a better understanding of how sales and marketing might work for you as a tennis coach.
There are a few key points that I want to highlight.
Today’s marketing is multi-touch, meaning that a person might find you 4 different ways before becoming a customer.
You saw above how people who heard about your club through someone they know found you on Google as well. They might also see you on Facebook or through other marketing channels.
Keep showing up and eventually, they’ll come to you.
Your website matters… A LOT.
In a few of the examples above, a tennis player found out about you one way, then went to your website. When people hear about you through a friend, they are very likely to do some research of their own, online. Impress them with a good website and it will help your other marketing channels.
Many coaches make the mistake of trying marketing for a few months, and then quitting because they “didn’t see the results.”Remember the local signs above, it didn’t work, then we found ways to improve it.
Also, some marketing channels have a compounding effect. A referral campaign might show some immediate results in month 1, but running it for 6 months in a row could yield 10x or 20x the results.
Local SEO and Google Reviews may not show any results for 6 months, then you may get 100 new students in the following 3 months.
Being consistent with your marketing will help you develop a brand authority in your area that local tennis players know and trust. Eventually, you can become the go-to tennis coach in town.