This blog provides supplementary thoughts and ideas to the site. If you haven't seen the main site, there is a lot there including the Martel and Rodwell interviews, photos, and articles. This blog is focused on advancing bridge theory by discussing the application of new ideas. All original content is copyright 2009 Glen Ashton.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Local clubs and ACBL Marketing?

We played in at the Peterborough Bridge Club (just under 2 hours northeast of Toronto) for the two weeks we were at cottages. In the 11 sessions we met new players each time. There was one consistent thing about all players at the bridge club: they were all super nice! And I mean all the bridge players, not just 95% of them. I have never played at a bridge club like that - it was so enjoyable!

Their goal for the upcoming year: to be even nicer (I don't believe that is possible given they were 100% nice already, but that is what they are aiming for). As with all North American clubs, they face the demographics concerns: the bridge population is getting older, and the "regulars" are dwindling. The club is doing all they can - low playing cost, good location with free parking, free coffee and cookies, lesson programs, separate games for upcoming players, announcement of winners in local newspaper, bulletin boards showing upcoming events and pictures, junior program etc.

Part of the bridge revenue associated with this club goes to the ACBL, and they need to help support great bridge clubs like this. It isn't enough for the ACBL just to produce a magazine and provide services for existing members, and to run three tournaments a year. The ACBL needs to work hard on helping clubs get new members. Current ACBL marketing efforts are discussed here:

That's not much. Clicking on "The Exciting World of Bridge" gets this:

Is this supposed to get people into the clubs or keep them away? Get it rewritten!

Say you google "bridge game" - what are the sponsored links? - well there is nothing like "Find a Bridge Club!" or "Enjoy Bridge!" - this is modern marketing 101.

Say I google bridge "bill gates" and get this article: Billionaires bank on bridge to trump poker

The "Related Advertising Links" I just got beside the article are Psychology Degree Online and Medical Billing/Coding.

What about the excellent ACBL Bulletin - rename it "Bridge Bridge!!", put an arbitrary cover price on it, and:

- Give sets to magazine distributors for free: whatever they sell they split between the retailer and themselves. Ensure the magazine has near the front, details on how to learn the game quickly, how to find clubs and how to play online.

- Develop target profile of just retired/former professional and direct mail Bridge Bridge!! to them with details on a) how to learn bridge in 2 hours b) how to play online for free c) how to find the clubs where there are games and lessons for newcomers just like them.

- Sponsor links on the Internet, offering Free Stuff about bridge: when they click and then provide their email address, send them a pdf copy of Bridge Bridge !! with a free offer to get the next one in print, give the email address to nearest clubs for the clubs to get in touch, and link them to free online bridge clubs.

These are all types of activities you can't expect the local bridge clubs to make happen - you need the efforts of orgs like the ACBL for widespread marketing campaigns. If something isn't done, the bridge clubs are at risk!


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