By Mike Szudarek
It’s amazing at how children today are beginning organized sports at such a young age. Moreover, it is even more incredible just how sophisticated their training, practice and skill development continues to progress. For those born in the 1960s and ’70s, most didn’t get serious about organized sports until junior high. Children today, however, compete at a substantially higher level. And, by the time they’ve reached junior high, they already have had years of both organized sports activity, as well as additional “off-season” conditioning and agility training.
This trend has obviously led to the many, many training clinics and camps, as well as specialized strength and performance centers that we’ve watched creep up during the past several years.
When it comes to business development, the first place most businesses are targeting is the obvious–parents and their kids. The more sophisticated centers, however, have been capitalizing on one of the more recent “micro trends” we are now beginning to see: adminstrators and coaches.
The biggest obstacle today is not so much convincing parents that their children “should” or “need” to sign-up for specialized off-season training and development (everybody’s kid is now doing this and parents realize it ), but rather, persuading coaches that this is not undermining their internal efforts or implying their programs are inferior. Additionally, it’s convincing administrators that this is “okay” in light of the empty school weight rooms across the country.
What these business owners have been able to do is understand that this intense identity group, for the first time in years, now has “competition.” Gone are the days of the shop teacher running the school weight room. While this may still occur, parents today are far too sophisticated (and competitive) to trust anyone other than an expert to help develop their children. At the same time, school coaches don’t want to feel overshadowed or threatened, and, school administrators certainly don’t want empty facilities and wasted tax payer dollars.
Take a closer look at the emotional needs of this audience and its growing influence (as well as this trend of growing uncertainty). Tailor your messages and marketing to work with them (opposed to against). And, above all, seek support and encouragement.
The new business will come. And, the headaches will be far, far less.