4 Ideas for Optimized, Year-Round Program Themes

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To everything there is a season, as we know, and the old adage applies to your business, too.

Perhaps your busiest and most profitable time is summer, when camps abound and kids flock to your facilities. Maybe you have a steady stream of hockey players in the winter. Whatever your busy time may be, it’s your job to gear up and prepare for the most successful period in your year.

But what about all the other “seasons”?

Strategic, Optimized Programs

It’s easy to get wrapped up in signature offerings and miss opportunities to optimize the rest of the year. Having optimized curriculum means being strategic about what is offered when. It means that scheduled courses are relevant, popular and most importantly – full.

To optimize your website, check out this post for tips or our whitepaper.

Success Starts with 2 Key Behaviors

Marketing research suggests that there are two key behaviors required to create and market community programs successfully:

1. Know WHO your business best serves and HAVE PROOF of it.

    • We’re not talking about hunches or ideas, here. We’re talking about solid data and feedback from your community. It’s time to evaluate who is participating, when they are participating, at what rate they are participating and which offers are resonating.

Data analytics can make this task as easy as a click of a button.

    • It is also prudent to evaluate your surrounding community. Are your residents primarily comprised of young professionals, older adults, young families with children? This information should inform your offerings. For a cost, NRPA can run a Facility Market Report which evaluates the size of your market, age trends, exercise habits, recreation spending and social media usage of the population served by your facility. It may be money well spent.

2. Shape your offerings to speak the language of the people you BEST serve.

Simply put, give the people what they want. Shift your curriculum to engage your KEY markets. If it’s young professionals, consider more after-work offerings. If it’s youth, pay attention to school calendars and schedule thematic camps during seasonal breaks. Commit to this, knowing the homework you’ve done should pay off.

Keep in mind, this information may change depending on the time of year, per facility.

4 Tips to Fill Courses Throughout the Year

  • Experiment with thematic offerings built to coincide with national initiatives. For example, September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Offer a kid’s dance or aerobics series for the month, or partner with local schools in September to do some special fitness activities; The first Friday of October is Visit a Park Day. Consider a special event to bring community members outdoors and into your parks.
  • Use the weather to your advantage. People are naturally more active in warmer months. Increase offerings during this time and build programs for kids and adults alike that can incorporate the great outdoors. Consider outdoor art camps for kids or cycling programs, outdoor yoga and beachfront boot camps for adults. During winter months, offer New Year’s Resolution Trackers or Spring Break Countdowns to keep members motivated.
  • Know the school schedule. According to the US Census Bureau, 6 out of 10 kids participate in extracurricular activities. Advertise after-school offerings through local schools districts. Keep an annual calendar of longer school breaks and experiment with day camps to keep kids engaged during each seasonal break – fall, winter, spring.

    In addition, hundreds of kids in your community may be reading the same book at any given time…consider activities that tie into a current book theme. Schools may be thrilled to promote a related event in order to reinforce the reading.

  • Experiment. If ongoing, weekly classes aren’t filling up, consider cutting regular offerings and reframing them as special events. For example, weekly art classes could morph into a month-long/week-long intensive study. Yoga could be your fitness theme for September, Spinning for October, etc. Finally, offer incentives during lower enrollment periods.

Create administrative efficiency and free up time to develop new curriculum ideas and strategies – all year long!

The holidays and seasons are fun, easy and effective to plan and market around. But don’t get stuck there! Stretch your creativity to engage more participants all year.

Gina Calvert

Gina is the Senior Marketing Writer for ACTIVE Network, providing marketing and business resources for active lifestyle organizations across a range of markets, including government, nonprofits, YMCAs, Parks & Recs, camps, schools and endurance events, for almost 7 years.

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