Marketing: Getting students to the pool and wanting to join the I-League.

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Original and authentic stories can efficiently spread I-League news. 

Word-of-mouth marketing and building relationships in person is the best way to market. 

One the I-League gets into the school setting, great word-of-mouth marketing is needed and expected.

Background for building word-of-mouth messages:

  • Students in schools without swim teams are often NOT willing to rush to the swim pool to swim laps.
  • Students who go to the pool and have a good experience are often willing to tell their friends and bring them along to future swim dates.
  • Students love to play games while in the pool. Gameplay with teams such as boys vs girls; 6th graders vs 7th graders; are exciting for dozens of sessions. 
  • To keep the excitement building, students love being part of a team and playing against another team, perhaps from another school. But for interscholastic play to occur repeatedly, the kids must come to expect a level playing field among teams. When the students expect and trust a sense of fairness excitement builds much more quickly.
  • Attempt to build confidence.
  • Strive to avoid embarrassing moments for any individual.
  • At the pool, kids never say, "I'll race you over and back, over and back, over and back, over and back, and we'll see who wins." No. That's a 200-yard swim race. Don't expect it to happen much, if at all, in the I-League. But, we'll be happy to race one-length, or even a half-a-length. 
  • Likewise, kids never agree to race each other for the sixth, seventh and eighth time. Once you get beat by another a couple of times, you don't want a piece of that again -- not right away. The value of racing is short lived.

Marketing 101

  •  Marketing isn’t the act of getting people to buy what you’re paid to sell them.
  • Good marketing is the craft of understanding what people want and need and helping them achieve it.
  • For the I-League to catch on so that school administrators support these efforts, we'll need to present something that we believe in to other people who are eager to believe in as well.
  • Demand for swimming, aquatics and game-play at the pools can skyrocket despite poor popularity in recent times. 
  • When the right people are coaching with new approaches that resonate, we can do great work in aquatics on behalf of any local audience. The youngsters and their guardians deserves it. They are going to come to appreciates it and applauds it. For the I-Team's coaches, practices can't be just a job. 

Prior to getting the I-League into the schools, the second best way to communicate marketing messages, email, is going to be utilized.

The demand for traditional, competitive swimming in many areas is way down.

An entire generations of kids are doing other things, not competitive swimming. There’s no need to sign up for an endless uphill battle of marketing against a trend. More competitive swimming is not the answer for places where competitive swimming has already failed. 

Rather, we're going to sell and promote something different and something that we believe in to people who are eager to believe in it as well.

To change the outlook and increase aquatic participation competitive swimming needs to be put into focus as be considered more like the tail of the dog. The tail should not wag the dog.  

Competitive swimming is the end-all-be-all in some more affluent schools. In other schools, not so much.


About the author 

Mark Rauterkus

Insert YOUR comments in the box at the bottom of this -- and all the other pages. Questions. Insights. re-writes, whatever.

Swim, water polo and SKWIM coach in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Also the webmaster for the International Swim Coaches Association.

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