The growth in the number of youth soccer clubs in the US over the past two decades has led to a club market consisting of over 6000 Youth Soccer Clubs. While youth soccer clubs certainly compete with one another for wins on the field, they also compete off the field for player registrations. With so many clubs in every corner of the country, how does a club stand out and make themselves the preferred choice for families?
Question: What Are Families Looking For?
Families consider a number of factors when comparing their potential youth soccer clubs, including: location, price, reputation and more. With 30 years combined experience working with clubs, colleges and families, the ACA team has identified the club’s college pathway as one of the main reasons that players select, are retained or change clubs during their high school years. Families often see club soccer as a stepping stone toward a college roster, heavily incorporating the perceived ability of each club to contribute toward this goal.
So How Do You Grow Your Club?
Identifying the importance of a club’s college pathway within the club marketplace gives you the platform to strengthen your message, appeal to families, and grow your club in the process.
At this point, you should ask yourself these two questions:
- What is my club currently doing to strengthen our players college pathway?
- How is my club communicating with current and potential families about our college pathway?
If there is room for improvement in either department, there is room for your club to grow. Improving your pathway to college and more effectively communicating this pathway to current and prospective families will help your club differentiate itself from the competition. Communicating with prospective families about your college pathway makes your club more attractive than the alternatives, while informing current families about this pathway makes it easier to retain them.
3 Steps To Success
The first and second step of the process toward growing your club involves improving your club’s college pathway. This means providing your players with the resources they need to maximize their chances of ending up at a college that is a good fit. These resources can be split into two categories, technology and guidance.
Step 1: Technology (Giving Families The Tools)
The rate of technological advancement has changed the way many industries operate and the recruiting industry is no different. Technology has improved the convenience and efficiency of many of the steps in the college search process. Providing your athletes with a technology platform that allows them to more effectively engage with each step of the recruiting process is a positive step toward a strong college pathway and a significant selling point to prospective families. Technology can help players find schools, make highlight reels, communicate with coaches and track their progress, while allowing club coaches to monitor and advise players on their progress.
The ACA Platform provides your athletes and coaches with all of the above and more, allowing you to provide the tools for a stronger college pathway.
Step 2: Guidance (Show Families The Way)
Consider this metaphor: using recruiting technology without guidance is like driving in a foreign country without a map – the car will help you get somewhere faster, but will you arrive at your desired destination? Probably not. What does a family’s ‘desired destination’ look like in the recruiting process? It looks like committing to a school that is a good fit academically, financially, socially, geographically and athletically.
Technology needs a map (or guidance) to work the way it is intended, and clubs considering strengthening their college pathway shouldn’t neglect this important fact. Showing families that you have the technology for the recruiting process is great, but showing them that you have the ability to guide their use of this technology, through continued education, is even better.
What does ‘Guidance’ look like? Guidance is any resource that provides your athletes with accurate information about the college recruiting process. ACA provides guidance to your families in the form of a comprehensive online educational course detailing all the steps of the recruiting process: The Pathways Course, featuring over 10 hours of content across 5 key modules. Topics include – ‘finding the right fit’, ‘communicating with college coaches’, ‘gaining coach exposure’, ‘making the final decision’ and more.
ACA’s guidance also features the ACA College Night which is an educational seminar at your club featuring top college coaches and an ACA expert, educating your families on the recruiting process and how to use the ACA Platform.
Step 3: Marketing (Tell The World)
A clear college pathway will help your players, but it will not help your club grow and attract more families if not clearly communicated. Your club should be shouting about your clear pathway from the rooftops. This means talking about your pathway through your marketing channels. The club website should have a prominent section featuring all aspects of your college pathway for interested visitors and current families. Social media and email strategies should include messaging, graphics and information about your college pathway. To put it simply, your families and potential families should have no doubt about the technology and guidance you provide to assist high school aged players on their pathway to college.
The ACA Marketing Package helps you to shout from the rooftops about your clear college pathway. Not only does the Marketing Package include a section on your website that demonstrates your recruiting technology, guidance, and player commitment list, but it includes a comprehensive set of social media, marketing and print templates designed specifically for your club. These templates include a variety of designs that demonstrate the features of your ACA Technology, the Pathways Course and the College Night. The Marketing Package also comes with a Marketing Guideline, which walks you through how to use the marketing resources effectively to grow your club. In essence, the Marketing Package helps you promote your superior college pathway.
So what should you do? Evaluate your current pathway, and your current marketing strategy. If there is any room for improvement, take your pathway to the next level with ACA’s Technology and Guidance, and tell everyone about it with ACA’s Marketing Package.