Tennis clubs are really struggling right now. They’ve been hit with a double whammy over the last couple of years – the pandemic closures followed by the worst economic downturn in 40 years. But that doesn’t mean that the outlook has to be gloomy for your club.

Growing a profitable tennis club all comes down to the quality of your marketing. Yet, the majority of tennis club owners are not marketing the right way. As a result, tennis clubs across the world are closing down at an unprecedented rate. In this article, I’m about to lay out a marketing plan that you can implement immediately to defy the odds and start growing your tennis club.

Here’s an overview of what we’ll be covering …

  • The Power of Direct Response Marketing
  • The Sales Funnel
  • The Front End Offer
  • Free Clinics
  • Leveraging Contact Time
  • Your Tennis Club Website
  • Your Website Blog
  • Social Media Marketing
  1. YouTube
  2. Facebook
  3. Facebook Groups
  4. Instagram
  5. Pinterest
  6. Email
  • Offline Marketing For Your Tennis Club
  1. Direct Mail Drops
  2. Event Booths
  3. Cross Marketing
  4. Ask for Referrals

The Power of Direct Response Marketing

Direct Response Marketing should form the foundation of your tennis club marketing strategy. Direct response marketing involves requesting your potential customer to make an immediate response to a message. This type of marketing allows you to accurately measure the results that you get from a marketing message when using a specific type of media. 

Direct marketing messages should be trackable based on a specific offer. You also need to ensure that the offer or promotion you’re putting in front of your potential customers is something that can give them immediate gratification. You also need to have in place the appropriate methods for tracking the total number of leads generated from the promotion. That will allow you to accurately determine whether the promotion was profitable or not. If it was, you can replicate it again and again. If not, you can reassess your offer and re-engineer it for your next campaign.

Direct response marketing should make use of both online and offline platforms. When it comes to online marketing, I recommend running search engine marketing ads on Google and pay-per-click ads on Facebook. 

Google and Facebook are two very different advertising platforms. Facebook allows businesses to use display advertising where you can put a message, image, or video in front of a specific audience type that you choose (such as female tennis players aged 50+). The narrower you can identify who your target market is in terms of…

  • Sex
  • Age
  • Income status
  • Where they live

the more successful you will be at converting them to leads. That’s because you will have targeted your message to that specific audience. 

Google also offers display advertising with similar audience breakdowns. However, their main advertising platform is their search engine by way of search engine ads. Advertising on Google’s search engine can allow for very specific niche marketing. So, when a  person searches on Google for anything related to tennis in your area, your ad is going to pop up. 

Google charges you for this on a pay-per-click basis. So, every time a person clicks on your ad and goes to your website, you are charged. The amount you will be charged for each click depends on the level of competition for your keywords in your marketplace. The lower the competition, the lower the price per click. 

Whether you choose Facebook Ads, Google, or offline direct mail, your campaign needs to be well thought out, well written, have a strong offer, a clear call to action, and be easily trackable from beginning to end. 

So, how does direct response marketing work?

It starts with you putting an offer in front of your target audience that presents them something they want. To get it they need to go to your website. The website should consist of three pages…

  • Home Page
  • About Page
  • Contact Page

On the Home Page, you should have an opt-in form for the free offer. This requires the visitor to enter their email address. 

The whole objective is to get the email address so that the person can be entered into your sales funnel. 

The sales funnel involves having an autoresponder set up to send emails and offers to your prospects and members. 

The Sales Funnel

Your marketing plan begins with your core marketing funnel. Think of a normal funnel. It’s wide at the top and narrow at the bottom to allow you to direct something to a target. In terms of marketing, a marketing funnel is the strategic business model that is used to guide prospects to making a buying decision. 

The goal of the marketing funnel is to guide the buyer from the top of the funnel where they are exposed to a wide range of potential service providers, in our case tennis clubs, to the bottom of the funnel, where your qualified leads are purchasing from you.

We are going to modify the marketing funnel where you have a big wide-open top that drills down. Instead, we are going to turn the funnel on its side so that it looks like a triangle. We’re now going to divide the triangle into three even sections. Now, your only goal, the thing that drives your business, the single metric that matters, is the point at the end of the tunnel. And that point represents the lead becoming a member of your tennis club.

The member joining your club is your core offer. But to get them into your sales funnel, you need a front end offer (FEO).

Once you collect an email address you enter them into your funnel. Then with each new message they receive, they move further down the funnel. When they become a paying member, they move out of the narrow tip of the funnel and onto your membership list. 

Your goal should be to bring as many new prospects into the funnel as possible. The greater the number of channels that are operating to do this the better. This should include the Google pay-per-click and Facebook ads mentioned earlier along with mailbox flyers and car windscreen drops. 

So what should you offer to entice people to give you their email address?

The Front End Offer

You can offer virtually any type of FEO but, in my experience, a free report and a free tennis lesson seem to work very well. Offer an all-day free pass to the club. If you really want to ramp up the response rate, include a free lunch in the offer. Ask them to bring a friend and you’ll double your response rate.

When these people come into the club, you need to go out of your way to impress them. Remember, you only have one opportunity to make a first impression. That means that all of your staff need to be cued up to welcome these visitors with open arms. 

Many people are used to experiencing lackluster service. Shop attendants don’t greet them, preferring to engage with their phone. No-one makes eye contact on the street, let alone saying ‘Hello’. You want your club to be an oasis of positivity and inclusiveness in a desert of indifference. 

When your visitors turn up, you should offer them a free lesson. It should not, though, be a cookie cutter one size fits all session. You will have people turn up who are complete novices and you should provide them with a beginner-level lesson where they learn three things that they can use immediately to make them a more confident tennis player. 

You’ll also have people who are intermediate, or even advanced, level players. If you give them a basic lesson where they learn absolutely nothing, you’re going to lose them. So, the person who is providing the free lessons to newcomers needs to be experienced enough to adapt to the experience level of the trainee. 

Imagine if you’ve been playing tennis at the amateur level for five years and turn up at this new club to check it out. You’re immediately impressed by the personal service you experience. Then, you’re given a free lesson where you’re taught a new skill that will make you a better player. You are going to be pretty impressed, right? There’s a pretty high likelihood that you’re going to become a member immediately. If not, you will more than likely talk to others about your positive experience with the club – and they’re still entered into the sales funnel. 

If you really want to cement the positive experience when a visitor comes in for a free lesson, give them an extra unexpected gift before they leave. People love to get things for free. But they love it even more when they receive an extra free gift that they aren’t expecting. 

Talk to the suppliers of your pro shop to supply free giveaways such as t-shirts or caps, or even a wristband, with their logo on it. In my experience, most suppliers will be happy to throw these in with regular orders from reliable customers. 

Free Clinics

Promoting a free clinic event is a great way to generate buzz about your club and get a ton of people coming in. Plan it for a Saturday, starting at 9 am with leveled clinics for beginners, intermediate and advanced players. Each session can last for about 20 minutes, so you’ll be able to get through about six sessions per level by early afternoon.

Once the clinics are wrapped up, hold a round-robin competition with prizes. Finish with a barbeque to really cement the relationship. This doesn’t have to be expensive. Buy a bunch of sausages, burger buns, and patties along with plenty of ketchup and you’re all set. This should all be factored into your marketing budget.

The key to making an event like this successful is to feed as many visitors as possible into your sales funnel. You can do this by holding a competition. The prize can be anything but a 3-month membership works really well. On the entry form, people will need to enter their email address, which then gets entered into your sales funnel. 

In every case when you have a visitor on-site, you should attempt to close the sale. After all, unless you make the offer, very few people will ask to become members. The key is to make the close as stressless and natural as possible. Present it to them when you’ve got them hyped up and excited about what you’ve already given them. Then, simply say something like …

You know, Jennifer, we’ve got a pretty unbeatable deal going right now that will allow you to experience what you’ve just enjoyed as often as you like. Let me show you how we can make it work for you.

Then take the person to your office and present them with two membership options; a basic rate monthly and a premium service monthly rate. This way, you’re asking them to choose this or that rather than yes or no.

I also suggest creating a sense of urgency by having an offer that is expiring soon. It could be that the first 20 people to join get a free tennis racquet, or the first 25 will get 50% off their membership. 

If you’ve done a great job of wowing your visitor, you can expect to get around one in five to join your club immediately. The other four are still very warm prospects who are entered into your sales funnel. 

Leverage Contact Time

Contact time covers every interaction with a prospect. That could be face-to-face in the club, over the phone or through email. Your goal must be for the person to walk from the interaction feeling great about it. For that to happen you need to over-deliver on their expectations. 

Endeavor to employ staff who are engaging, with warm personalities. Then constantly train them to deliver exceptional service. Here are a couple of aspects of great customer service that should be part of your staff training:

Make It Easy

Staff members need to have enough autonomy to make decisions when they are in front of a prospect. When the prospect is hot, the last thing you want is for them to have to wait for the staff member to contact you about a special rate. Giving your staff the freedom to make those calls makes the sales process more seamless. 

Look at other ways to make the sales process as easy as possible for your prospects. The less hassle, the more sales you will get. 

Follow Up Promptly

The worst thing you or one of your staff members can do is to make a promise to a prospect and then fail to follow through. In the Bible book of Proverbs, we are told that expectation postponed makes the heart sick. When it comes to business, it will also kill a sale. 

Imagine a person who is in your marketing funnel and receives an email promising them a free lesson and t-shirt. They book in through your website and then turn all eager to learn how to play tennis, only to find that no one is expecting them, all the courts are booked and they’ll have to come back in two days. If you can think of a bigger buzz kill, I’d like to know what it is. 

Don’t let that sort of thing happen to your club. Make sure that you’ve got excellent back-end procedures in place to ensure a smooth transitional process where everyone knows exactly what’s going on. 

Your Tennis Club Website

You will not be able to succeed in today’s competitive tennis environment unless you have a good website. In a recent survey, 66% of respondents stated that they would not do business with a local company that had a bad website. No business will be able to survive if they lose two-thirds of its prospects before even getting to talk to them.

With free or low-cost platforms such as WordPress, there is no excuse to not have a good website. For around $60 you can get access to thousands of themes on WordPress Themeforest that will raise your website above the norm. When looking for a theme, make sure that it is listed as a responsive theme. That means that it will look just as good on a phone or table as it does on a laptop.

I recommend hiring a WordPress designer through Fiverr or Upwork. For a few hundred dollars, they will do all of the work for you and have an awesome website up and running in a couple of weeks. 

The same study that I referred to earlier identified the following as the most important things that people wanted from a website, in order of importance:

  • Prices
  • Services offered
  • Contact information
  • Physical address
  • Driving directions
  • Customer testimonials
  • Photos of the business
  • Personal message from the manager
  • Links to social media profiles

Slow websites are one of the biggest conversion killers out there. People simply will not wait around for your side to load. Instead, they’ll click out and go to the next club on their Google search page. 

You can go here to check the speed of your website …

Pingdom will identify the areas of your site that are too slow to load and that need to be addressed. If you don’t want to lose potential sales, you should take action in accordance with those recommendations. 

Your goal for your website should be to appear on the first page of Google search when a person is looking for a tennis club in your area. For that to happen it must be search engine optimized. 

I recommended downloading the Yoast plugin. It will do an audit of your website to tell you SEO friendly it is. Yoast uses a traffic light system to identify areas that need improving. 

Your Website Blog

While most tennis clubs do have a website, only about 30% of them have a blog. The 70% who don’t are missing out on an awesome marketing opportunity. 

Blogs provide a golden opportunity to share your brand personality. That means you need to create a brand voice and be consistent with it. The easiest way to ensure that consistency is for one person to take ownership of the blog.

Make sure that every blog post is SEO optimized by making use of Google keyword research tools. I also recommend using an SEO tool called SurferSEO which guides you to create blogs that are keyword optimized. 

As well as blogging about tennis-related content, include posts about events taking place in the community. You should also create content about popular restaurants and accommodation providers in your area. That way your posts are likely to appear when visitors to the city are looking for accommodation or a place to eat. If they’re tennis lovers, they’re likely to get in touch. 

Of course, the quality of your blog content is paramount. That takes time and skill. If you don’t have much of each, I recommend hiring a freelance writer who can guarantee consistently excellent SEO optimized content.

As with all other social media content, you need to be consistent with your blog posts. Try to average a new post every week. Finally, you should make your blog posts shareable by adding links to Facebook and Twitter. The more your posts are shared, the more likely they will be to show up on the first page of Google.

Social Media Marketing

To grow a profitable business in today’s environment, you need to have a vibrant social media presence. Regardless of how you personally feel about social media, you will fail unless you embrace it. That is because the vast majority of prospective members will begin their search for a club online. If you don’t have a vibrant social media presence, you will never see them.

For many tennis club operators, social media marketing can seem very daunting. They have no idea where to start and where they should put their effort. I’ve seen clubs that have taken a  shotgun approach and ended up hitting nothing. 

That is why you need a focused social media marketing plan. It should answer the following questions:

  1. What is the 3, 6, and 12-month goal of my social media marketing plan?
  2. What do I need to do on a daily basis to achieve those goals?
  3. How will the outcomes be measured?

The end goal of your social media marketing is obviously to get new members. But that shouldn’t be your focus. If you are able to generate emails through your front end offer, you will be constantly feeding people into your marketing funnel and the sales will take care of themselves.

In order to get more people to see your front end offer you need to focus on stepping stone goals. For example, you could set the goal of getting 200 followers in 3 months or to get on page one of Google when people search for tennis clubs in your city. 

The next step on your journey toward social media success is to create a content plan. Content is everything that you put out on the Internet. Content marketing adds value to someone’s world while making your product or service secondary in the message. But it still keeps your brand on their radar. Content marketing is not banner ads, direct sales messages or telling your audience how good you are and then imploring them to buy. That is a massive turn off.

Your goal with any content you create is to get people to share it. Here are five elements that psychologists have identified that make people want to share online content . . .

Social currency

People love to share things that make them look good. They like to look smart, funny and in the know. They love to be the 1st to have seen a video or answered a question.


We talk about things that are on the top of our mind or topical. So, using a reminder that keeps an idea about your brand in people’s heads makes a lot of sense. If you’re a pizza restaurant, Saturday night could be the trigger. If you’re in a tennis club, it could be a fit looking person swinging a racquet.


When we care, we share. Just think of any YouTube videos or images you’ve shared in the past. What was it that made you share them? More than likely there would have been some sort of emotion involved – whether it be laughter, anger, sadness or awe. So, think about what can fire people up about your service.

Practical Value

People want news they can use. If we come across something, we are more likely to share it with our friends. So, focus your message on solving problems for other people.


Stories are easy to remember and pass on. If you are able to dress your message up in a true story rather than a bunch of facts and figures that will become more memorable. The trick is to find a way to incorporate your brand and make people remember it.

Okay, before we leave the subject of content creation for now, I just wanted to take a moment to set some boundary rules. These have proven golden for me and I suggest that you take them on board:

(1)  Never swear.

(2)  Never badmouth the competition or another person.

(3)  Never argue with another business.

(4)  Deal with all complaints as if the complainant were standing in front of you.

(5)  Don’t shout in capital letters.

Here’s a brief overview of the key social media channels your tennis club needs to have a vibrant presence on …


Posting videos regularly (i.e. once a month) to YouTube will give you a huge advantage over the competition. Only around 10% of tennis clubs are doing this. YouTube reaches more 18-49 years olds than any cable TV service in America.It’s also the world’s second largest search engine, after Google and the third most visited website.

Spend a few dollars to buy a tripod and a quality camcorder and shoot coaching videos that include actionable tips. The key is to keep consistent so that your viewers are not let down by a lag in posting new content. 


Facebook really is a marketer’s dream. It’s also very time efficient to use. Once you’ve got your content plan in place, you only need to spend a few minutes in the morning posting your information and a few minutes again in the afternoon checking to see if you have any comments that need answering. The rest will take care of itself.

  • Regularly share helpful information and in-depth training material that can’t be found with a simple Google search.
  • Write pieces that offer a “behind the scenes” peek at your company; include screenshots and insider videos to humanize the brand.
  • Stay on message with your front-end offer.
  • Provide a ton of content for free without requesting anything in return.
  • Always respond to inquiries in a timely manner.
  • Distribute screenshots of your members in action on the court (with their permission of course).

Facebook Groups

  • Always thank people who comment on your posts – but don’t do it straight away. Wait until the comment drops to about 4th or 5th on the list. The thank you post will shoot it back to #1 again.
  • Endeavor to continue the conversation with your thank you post by asking a question – the back and forth that this creates will keep the discussion at the top of the list for even longer.
  • Reply to people who comment on your comments.
  • Don’t get into arguments.


  • Establish a theme. The theme should be based on your content strategy, but you can also segment your themes. For instance, heart health month could be your theme in March. Include content and images on why tennis is great for heart health.
  • Maintain a visual style; capture the greatest pictures, use the best filters, and produce something unique.
  • Include a description that is worthwhile. This is your opportunity to discuss the image, so share a narrative and include some hashtags.
  • Post frequently; try to post every day if you can, but be consistent with your posting schedule.


  • Pin consistently rather than in bursts then drought periods.
  • Pin from different sources.
  • Pin original content where possible.
  • Decide on keywords that need to be incorporated into your descriptions.
  • Use images on your website for others to pin from.
  • Repin others original content and comment on it where possible.


  • A crystal-clear call to action – Consider what you want the client to do. Make it clear if they need to take action by including instructions like “Click Here!” ’
  • Keep your phrases and paragraphs brief — you don’t want your reader to lose interest or nod off!
  • Make use of white space, which facilitates reading and brings attention to various pieces of material.
  • Include hyperlinks – Point recipients of your email to your website for more details.
  • To divide content areas, use horizontal lines and space.
  • Use only web-safe fonts.
  • To boost open rates and expand your database, make use of social sharing and “Forward to a Friend” features.

Offline Marketing for Your Tennis Club

Your online marketing campaign should run alongside some key old-fashioned offline methods. These should include:

  • Direct Mail Drops
  • Event Booths
  • Cross Marketing

Let’s briefly consider each of them:

Direct Mail Drops

Direct marketing is a tried-and-true offline marketing tactic, so you shouldn’t ignore it. When combined with other marketing techniques, direct mail is a potent marketing tool. According to research, the typical person needs to hear a message seven times before acting on it. Direct marketing typically accounts for 2 or 3 of those interactions. 

For a direct mail campaign to be effective, it must run for at least 90 days. Over that time, three different messages should be distributed.

You should send out 5000 mailers each month for three months. Mailers should contain a QR code leading to your website.

  • Introduce the tennis club in Mailer #1.
  • A free introductory voucher that can be obtained from the website should be included in Mailer #2.
  • Mailer #3 ought to amplify Mailer #2’s theme and incorporates FOMO.

Event Booths

Having a booth at local community events should be an integral part of your offline marketing strategy. Plan to attend 3-4 such events every year. The best events are those related to sports, health, and fitness but anywhere that crowds gather is worthwhile having a presence at.

The key to a successful booth event is preparation. As soon as you’ve booked your booth, find out what the dimensions of your allotted area are and where you are going to be situated in relation to other booth holders and the main attraction. 

Create a club banner with your branding on it to cover the table and backdrop of your booth. This should only cost you a few hundred dollars to complete. Additionally, make flyers with an exclusive deal related to the event. Plan to have a staff member or two distribute them during the event after having several hundred produced. This will encourage people to stop by your booth, which could otherwise go unnoticed at a busy, enormous event.

The most important thing you need to do at the event is to hold a competition. Give away a free 3-month tennis club membership. This will allow you to collect leads (i.e email addresses) to feed into your sales funnel. 

The event planners will promote the event on their own. However, you should also promote your attendance at the event as well. You can do this online by emailing your lead generation email list and current members. Include a rider on your Facebook advertisements and other social media content that reads, “Check us out at [name of event] on [date]: Booth #…”

When you are at the event, make yourself as approachable as you can to attendees. Make eye contact, smile, and introduce yourself to others. Don’t talk on the phone or spend too much time interacting with your booth buddy. 

Cross Marketing

Approach complementary businesses with a proposal for a joint venture marketing arrangement. This is where you leverage off the other businesses’ clientele to market your tennis club. In turn, you offer their members a terrific introductory offer. 

Once you are in front of the manager of the complementary business, ask for their help by promoting your new club to their email list, placing flyers on the counter, and putting posters on the window. Even better, see if you can put a small tennis display in a central location of their shop. Run a competition for 6 month’s free membership and place the entry box in the middle of the display. 

Ask for Referrals

Asking for referrals is one of the easiest ways to get new members for your tennis club. It is also completely free. Yet, most tennis clubs do not consistently do it. You need to be doing it regularly. Present a form to all new members with room for them to fill in five referrals. You should also ask for referrals in your newsletters and other email content. 

At least once a year you should also run a referral promotion for your members. Offer a month’s free membership for every person who signs up as a result of a referral from an existing member. 


Things are pretty tough for tennis clubs right now. It’s certainly no time to sit back on your laurels and wait for new members to come to you. Unless your club has a comprehensive marketing plan that is being consistently executed, you are going to struggle to survive,

In this article, I’ve laid out a comprehensive overview of exactly what you need to be doing both in terms of your online and offline marketing. Here’s a recap of the elements you need to have in place:

  • The Sales Funnel
  • The Front End Offer
  • Free Clinics
  • Leveraging Contact Time
  • Your Tennis Club Website
  • Your Website Blog
  • Social Media Marketing
  1. YouTube
  2. Facebook
  3. Facebook Groups
  4. Instagram
  5. Pinterest
  6. Email
  • Offline Marketing For Your Tennis Club
  1. Direct mail Drops
  2. Event Booths
  3. Cross Marketing
  4. Ask for Referrals

I recommend undertaking an inventory in line with these recommendations to see where you stand right now. Then progressively integrate the suggestions offered until you’ve got every base covered. At that point, it’s simply a matter of consistently executing the plan. If you do that, the people will come!

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