Your next MVP (Most Valuable Promotion)
Just last week the Starbucks barista handing me my grande vanilla latte did a double take at my hoodie and asked where he could play baseball or softball in the UK. I was en route to the Manchester Indoor Softball League and was wearing a BSUK hoodie. I hadn’t said a word about my work, but my clothing had done the job for me.
It turns out he had spent a year at university in America and had thrown himself into the American culture, joining the intramural baseball and softball leagues. He loved the game but did not expect to return home and be able to continue to play. I happily informed him that he works half a mile from the biggest indoor league in the North West and invited him to come along and see how the indoor game is played.
The week before last, Greater Sport CEO Yvonne Harrison was stopped at Stockport train station by a big baseball fan who saw her hoodie and loved it so much he had to ask her where she got it from. Another potential new player, captured by a BSUK hoodie.
BaseballSoftballUK’s very own Regional Development Manager, Luis Arrevillagas, first found out about baseball in the UK by spotting a guy in Manchester city centre wearing a Manchester Baseball Club jacket. He tapped the guy on the shoulder and asked where they played and told him he had played his whole life in Venezuela. Sure enough, they snapped him up to join the team.
It’s not quite walking around with a sandwich board advertising the sport, but it has the same effect. Simply wearing a T-shirt/hoodie/jacket with your team’s name on the back could be your best way to recruit for next season. Even if someone is too shy to tap you on the shoulder and ask for more information, maybe they will go home and Google it, find your club’s Twitter page and get in touch that way. At the very least, you’ll get one new supporter.
The idea that you can tell someone about you, your team, your sport and what you represent without having to speak to them at all is quite powerful. Club jerseys are all about being part of a team, a community and being an ambassador for the sport -- while also looking dashing on the field.
University sports clubs across the country hardly need to promote their teams with banners and flyers as their job is done by walking round campus with their club’s info proudly plastered all over their clothes. Why should baseball and softball in the wider community be any different?
You can promote your team for years to come for relatively little expense. Hoodies can be printed on for as little as £10. Think about it this way: if your club’s treasurer budgeted £150 to spend on promotion and recruitment for the upcoming season your could bag yourself a brand new club hoodie by convincing them to buy 15 hoodies rather than paying for the design, printing and distribution of 1000 flyers. If someone has no interest in playing, that flyer will go straight into the recycling bin. If someone sees you wearing a hoodie with your team’s logo and info on but has no interest in playing, they’ll simply look away. But as well as promoting the club to those who might want to know, your members will get to feel more connected to the club -- and keep toasty warm at the same time!
Just remember to use the club’s full name: nobody is going to be enticed to play if they don’t know what MMSC stands for (Mossley Mayhem Softball Club for anyone wondering!)
With help from Sportivate funding last year, we gave out “I Love Manchester Softball” shirts to anyone taking part in beginners’ softball sessions across Greater Manchester. Rookies were given a shirt after attending a certain number of sessions, with the idea that the shirts would help them feel part of a team and to promote softball externally. These shirts have been worn across the globe, as you can see, with players sending photos from as far as Canada, Australia and Dubai.
Promoting Manchester Softball across the planet simply by handing out free T-shirts!
This could be how your team’s next MVP could be found.