Grow Your Membership in Early Spring . . .
. . . or any other time of the year you want to increase membership!
by Tom Alsop, President / Founder - American Singles Golf Association
Let's start at the root concern: we're all single and we want to meet quality singles in an environment that we enjoy. For us, the environment of choice is the golf course.
Second, what's the worst day of the year if you're a single person and not involved with another single. Christmas? No, that's usually a family day. New Year's? Possibly. But we can always go to bed early and pretend it's not happening.
How about Valentine's Day? It's the day the world looks at you and asks you "why are you single?" Or at least you feel they do. It's the day that, if you're not romantically involved with anyone, you want to find a ready-made hole to fit your head size and just decend into nothingness. It's the day on the calendar you wished you could just jump over. And then, there's the big build-up. About the time those silly cherubs from New Year's are being put away at the local drug store, here come the chocolates encased in those pretty gold- and lace-wrapped heart-shaped boxes. They scream at you: you're nothing if you don't buy one of these for someone!
So will this year be any different than last year? If you're a member of a local ASGA chapter, this could be your ticket.
The first week of February is your last week before the next week, which includes Valentine's Day. "So what?" you ask. It's also the last opportunity before Valentine's Day whereby local newspapers can do a big story on your chapter in the Sunday Feature's Section. It's a little know fact but the people who put together Sunday Feature Sections are begging for content. They've done all the stories about great barbecue cook-offs, the new trend in high heels and roller-derby's comeback. And now is the time for all good chapter leaders to come to the aide of their chapter.
Do people still read newspapers? Well, if they subscribe to it (i.e. pay for it), they will read it. Subscriptions may be down but for those who still subscribe to it, they are your readers.
NOTE: The "approach" outlined in this article does not necessarily have to start in January or February. It can start anytime you want to start a membership drive.
Newspapers, and basically all mediums, don't care about giving you publicity, at least not on their front pages. They only care to print and distribute what they think their audience would enjoy reading. What's important to you is not necessarily what's important to the editor. So never approach a newspaper or TV station with the idea of them "helping you out" with some free publicity.
Your approach needs to be along these lines: we've got something we think your readers would be interested in reading about. With X-percentage of your readership area being single*, we've found that golf is the perfect environment for singles to meet other singles. Smoke-filled nightclubs and dating someone from work are a thing of the past. If you want to meet the right person, go to the golf course. There, you see people as they really are . . . how they act under stress, how they react to sinking a 20 foot putt or putting two balls consecutively into the water. Do they laugh it off or slam their club into the ground? Where else in life does 4-5 hours of close observation allow you this ability? Even church events don't allow you to be yourself (at least for most of us!).
At this point, hopefully, you've caught the editor's interest. Your goal is to get the paper to do a powerful article on the front page of the Feature's page about your chapter's upcoming golf outing. And even though it's colder than ice in many areas of the country, having a golf outing in early February, even if it's for 12-16 of your members, provides an opportunity for an article. Do a nine-holer. Nine, whine and wine. But do something!
One year, our Hartford, CT chapter played golf on a frozen lake and many people joined because they felt this was a group they'd like to be with. They were out having fun. We've had front-page articles in other newspapers, such as the Orlando Sentinel, whereby 200 new members joined within 60 days of the article, which was entitled "Tee for Two." Other articles in other cities have been titled "Love on the Links," and "Just Don't Call them Swinging Singles!" (By the way, suggest to the paper the phrase "Love on the Links" and they'll probably use it! But don't suggest other papers have used it. They probably won't use it for that reason!)
The key thing here is make the article newsworthy. Just another golf outing sometimes won't do it. Conduct a golf outing but add something to it. One chapter, for example, allowed the female members to bid on the male members, who were "auctioned-off" to be their caddies at the upcoming event. The caddies were required to pick-up the female golfer, drive her to the course, load her bags, decorate her cart, fix her drinks and to advise her on her shots (assuming she wanted the advice). The women bidded on the guys using donations typically supplied by their employers and a lot of money was raised for a charity event. The absurdity of the whole event created its "news-worthiness."
The final element towards your goal of getting an article published is that you need to have a newspaper reporter play in your event. Put him/her with a member who can speak well for your local chapter. Make sure he/she is aware of the "successes" you've had in your chapter. Even though we're all single, there is a strong desire in most of us to link-up with the right person in life. And request the reporter bring a photographer with you.
You'll be amazed at the positive response your newspaper will have towards this. Again, Valentine feature stories are hard to come by but a good "love on the links" article can be a great books at the beginning of yoru golf season. And by attracting a large percentage of singles who read the local newspaper, the newspaper will be happy as well. Again, think this: they need the story about you and your chapters and what you're doing. It's up to you to simply suggest they do it.
Make sure the article has some very important elements: 1) where your chapter meets, 2) date and time, 3) your local website or the national website (www.SinglesGolf.com), and 4) other tidbits you think they might be interested in, such as a) marriages/engagements from your group, b) ratio of male to female, c) how often you play, etc. If you give a phone number, you can use the national hotline number (1-888-GOLFMATE - 1-888-465-3628) or you may want to field calls yourself. Just be prepared for an onslaught. One chapter once had a 72-word article appear as one article in a column and the national office received 425 calls in three days. And, of course, once these new folks show-up at your next meeting, make sure they have application-in-hand. Most people never join ASGA because they're never asked to join.
And Another Bit That Might Help
As we all grow older, we lose members of our family, our friends and friends of friends. Since we all eventually die of "something," or have a long illness, we tend to support certain charitable organizations, e.g. heart association, diabetes foundation, lung, cancer, etc. So when approaching the local newspaper, ask the editor what his/her favorite charity is and then suggest that you run a golf tournament for singles, co-sponsored by the newspaper, with proceeds going to a local charity (best if it's local). You chapter can sell local businesses $200 hole sponsorships. That's $3600 for 18 holes! Then have it on a weekday whereby the golf course might allow you to play at no charge. But then charge an entry fee to include green fees, cart, range balls and extra for the charity. Get 100 players, shotgun start, party/lunch afterwards with prizes, etc. and you have a winning ticket! The newspaper wins with a great article and free advertising to promote the event, the golf course wins with free publicity (they may even give each player some discount tickets for future golf rounds) and your chapter wins with gaining new members. But make the tournament for singles only and give the singles an opportunity to meet and greet before and after. They key is to get the newspaper editor to agree to help publicize it, do a pre-event article about your chapter as the co-sponsor (see above thoughts), and then a follow-up article about how much was raised for the local charity. Then, make it an annual event!
Finally, many reporters would like to have a background (fact) sheet on our organization. For sample press releases and fact sheet, click here. Be sure to let them know they are allowed to use the ASGA logo (found at the same link) to use in the article.
* To get the real percentage of singles in your state, click here. Figure your actual number by adding the 35-59 group then the 60+ age group.
For questions, comments, suggestions, etc., please e-mail Tom Alsop at Tom(at)SinglesGolf.com.
American Singles Golf Association, 1122 Industrial Drive, Suite 107, Matthews, NC 28105