Today on the show we are joined by Greg Griffith, the Executive Director for the Georgia State Soccer Association.
Adam: [00:00:06] Hi, and welcome to the Good People, Good Marketing podcast, a podcast about digital marketing and how to make it better so the good people and good organizations can have good marketing as well. I’m your host, Adam Walker, co-founder of Sideways8, a digital marketing agency and 48in48, a nonprofit dedicated to hosting events that build forty-eight websites for forty-eight nonprofits in forty-eight hours.
[00:00:28] My guest on the show today is Greg Griffith. Greg is the Executive Director for the Georgia State Soccer Association, better known as Georgia Soccer. Georgia Soccer has over a hundred and twenty affiliated member organizations and services over one hundred thousand members. Georgia Soccer is the largest youth sports organization in Georgia and they also support amateur adult soccer leagues in Georgia. Greg, thanks for joining me on the show.
Greg: [00:00:53] Thanks. Great to be here, Adam.
Adam: [00:00:56] Well, my son played soccer—I mentioned that a minute ago—and I’m a big youth soccer fan because I like that they’re running a lot. That feels like a really good thing to me. I know there’s a lot more to soccer than running, but I love seeing my kids get their energy out so I really appreciate what you’re doing to bring that level of health and athleticism to the youth of Georgia, so thanks for that.
Greg: [00:01:21] Thank you. That’s what usually attracts people to soccer to begin with, is you can get a three-year-old, four-year-old kid out there and run around and they can actually play soccer. It’s one of the few sports you can actually play at that age so it’s a real great way to start get some energy out.
Adam: [00:01:35] I did coach my son. I want to say he was four or five and you’re right. They can play at that age though it is a little like hurting cats. You’re like, “No, go that way. No, go that way.” There’s a lot of that and then there’s always that one kid that actually knows what’s going on and they’re like just the superstar because they actually know what’s happening and they can just take the ball and run with it while everybody else is spinning in circles and picking dandelions and running laps so I love it, man. Such a great sport though and so complex, once you get into the depths of it. It’s a significantly more complex sport than I had ever realized prior to doing a little bit of coaching.
Greg: [00:02:13] Yeah, it’s interesting. It’s actually been compared to chess, as you know when you get the ball you have ever-changing options and a lot of different options that you can do forward, backward, sideways, and what you do will dramatically affect the game and just like chess, there’s various different options. Every time you move a position you have a lot of different options of where to move each piece and you’ve got eleven other players on your team and they’re all moving as well, and so it really is a mental game as much as a physical game.
Adam: [00:02:43] Yeah, I love that. I love that. That’s great. Well, Greg, let’s dive in here. I want to hear about your thoughts on some marketing efforts here. So related to digital marketing, can you tell us something that is working well for you?
Greg: [00:02:56] Well, it’s interesting so I started at the Georgia State Soccer Association, as you said known as Georgia Soccer five years ago and we really were kind of heavily into print marketing at the time and it wasn’t really all that effective for us. In fact, we weren’t really being effective marketers at all so we at that point switched over to digital marketing and that’s been much more effective for us. And we started doing emails, updating the website and also being much more active on social media and all of those things have been much more effective for us and much more cost-effective for us and I think most nonprofits are moving that way and moving away from print.
Adam: [00:03:38] That’s right. Well, I mean you mentioned cost-effectiveness. That’s really one of the nice things about digital marketing, is that there’s not a high cost to entry. I mean if you’re going to do a gigantic mailer to ten thousand people, there’s a high cost to entry. You’ve got to get it designed, you’ve got to get it printed, you got to get it shipped and mailed and all that stuff. It just costs a lot of money to do that and you have to wait to see what the return on that is and sometimes you never really know what the full return on that is. But with digital media, you can create an ad today using a simple tool like Canva and you can run that ad with a $10 budget and you can immediately tell, is this effective or not? And if it’s not effective, you just move to something else. No big deal, you’ve lost ten bucks and if it is effective you spend ten more and ten more and ten more and ten more and you ramp it up from there, right?
Greg: [00:04:24] Yeah, it’s interesting. I brought on someone and I said, “Hey, I think you’re going to be a marketing manager for us, but not really traditional marketing. We’re going to call it a digital marketing person.” And it’s kind of interesting. He left our organization, got hired by a healthcare organization and I said, “What role did they hire you in?” And he said, “Digital Marketing Manager.” And I said, “Oh, that’s a thing now. Oh, great.” So five years ago, I don’t think it was a thing, but now everyone has a digital marketing manager so I think it’s great.
Adam: [00:04:52] Absolutely and everybody really should in some kind of capacity. If you don’t have one, you are one hopefully and people can grow and learn and that’s why I’m doing this podcast so people can grow and learn and get better at digital marketing for nonprofits that’s the whole point.
Greg: [00:05:07] Great, great.
Adam: [00:05:09] Great, I love it. I love it. Okay, so question number two: related to digital marketing, can you tell us something that’s not working that we can learn from?
Greg: [00:05:18] Well, let me start by what really is working well. We found that Facebook for us, we’re trying to get soccer moms to put their kids and become soccer moms, and so Facebook for us has been very effective at getting the message out that, “Hey, it’s time to sign up for soccer.” One of the things that has been problematic for getting people to register for soccer is the time that you register is usually months in advance of when they start to play, so a lot of times a mom will be busy doing whatever they’re doing in that season and not think, “Oh, I need to register for three months from now.” And so when we send messages out on Facebook we can really target moms with kids at a certain age and say, “Hey, it’s time to sign up for soccer,” and we found that has been really successful.
[00:06:03] We’ve also found that our engagement on Twitter and Instagram has been really successful with the players and we’ve been able to have dialogue back and forth. And we did something last year, there’s a professional player in the English premier league named Dele Alli and he was doing this one particular move where he put his hand over his face in a particular way and it was called the Dele Alli Challenge and we said, “Hey, give us your best Dele Alli Challenge.” And we got so many responses from players who posted a picture on our site and so it was really great interaction with them.
Adam: [00:06:37] I love that.
Greg: [00:06:38] Yeah, so we found that social media has been working really well for us. And the thing that hasn’t worked for us so far is Snapchat and part of why I think why it hasn’t worked for us is the filters for what we’d like to do around a soccer field are too expensive for the area. So we have massive areas of soccer fields and if we want to try to put a filter on, say, “Hey, at our Georgia State Cup, hey give a shout out to us on Snapchat.” It just doesn’t work for us, but we haven’t been able to get Snapchat to work for us at all yet.
Adam: [00:07:16] Right, yeah, I mean Snapchat, it’s a tough crowd and it’s kind of a tough audience. It’s a little harder to leverage, it’s hard to track the links back. I mean just all around it’s a tough sort of gig, so I totally get where you’re coming from with that. Okay.
Greg: [00:07:28] Yeah, my kids love it and I see why they like to use it, but it’s almost the opposite of what we want for them to get out of it so…
Adam: [00:07:37] Right, yeah, no, I get that. I get that. I totally understand. And so then last question: related to digital marketing, can you tell us something you are excited about?
Greg: [00:07:47] Well, really, what we’ve seen here is that our front face now used to be our website and now it’s our social media so basically our website has become like if you know what you’re looking for, if you want to get your soccer schedule or you want to see something about our policies or want to get a phone number from somebody that we have on there, that’s what people are using our website for. But information that we’re trying to get out to the public as our front face, that’s social media and so that’s been a change. It used to be, “Oh post it on the website.” We assume everyone’s going to know it. We’re trying to be proactive and use social media as our front face and that’s where we’re interacting with people so I think that’s been a real big change.
[00:08:32] But as far as being excited about it, we really think that— I mean, soccer in Atlanta has made it (unclear 08:41). When I took the job people would always ask me, “When’s soccer going to make it big time?” Well, Atlanta United sold a million tickets last season and has shattered records so they’ve kind of made us big, but we can see that just every generation coming up, soccer is a part of them. So we just want to get the message out that they can play as soon as three years old, that they can continue to play till they’re eighty-three or longer. We have walking soccer leagues now, so our messaging has to be that it’s kind of a game for your whole life and it’s fun and it helps you stay healthy, like you said, walk around but also be mentally challenged and so we’ve got to get that message out and we feel like digital marketing is the best way for us to get that message out right now.
Adam: [00:09:28] Absolutely. I love that. I love that approach and you’re right; you can’t just post something on a website anymore and assume everybody’s going to be actively checking the website. I think what you can do is you can use social media as a sort of tentacles to draw people back into deeper content on your website for sure, but if you’re starting a sign-up for the Spring League, I mean, launch it on social media that’s where it should go. It’s going to get eyeballs there and then you can bring him back into the website to actually fill out the forms or whatever you need to do from there, right.
Greg: [00:09:57] Right, right and then there’s a lot of other ways of tools of integrating within your team of telling them when practices are and when games are and what jersey you need to wear. So there’s all kinds of tools that integrate now on your phone all digitally and again there’s ways that you can use that to market to those kids and the moms and the team managers and everybody involved with sports. So we’re still getting into that and figuring out the best way to use that as well, but one thing that’s sort of been common now is that everybody has a smartphone, so we can best use that smartphone technology. Whether it’s around what they’re doing, practices games, where they want to learn about professional sports or want to learn about amateur adult soccer, become a referee, whatever it is, we need to take advantage of that, that they have that tool that we can use right in their palm of their hand.
Adam: [00:10:57] Right, absolutely. Absolutely, I love that. Well, Greg let me see if I can recap what we talked about so far. So related to digital marketing, what is working well for you, you mentioned five years ago the switch to digital from more traditional print marketing to digital, which has been a lot more cost effective because you can test with smaller amounts and figure out what’s working and then ramp up from there. You mentioned that you updated the website, you’ve leveraged email more, you’re leveraging social media and it’s just significantly more cost-effective and specific to social media you mentioned that Facebook is working really well for you to connect with and create soccer moms, so moms that need to sign up their kids for soccer and becoming the soccer moms. I love that, that you can use Facebook to really target and get on their radar and then also for player engagement, you can use Twitter and Instagram and it’s just different. They’re different platforms for different purposes and you’re leveraging them in very unique ways to serve your organization which I think is really, really smart.
[00:11:58] For what’s not working related to digital marketing, you mentioned that getting people to register months in advance is sometimes tough and so you’re reaching out to them on Facebook trying to get in front of them early enough to be able to do that. And that Snapchat is difficult because filters are expensive for the vast areas that you’re trying to do and it’s kind of hard to get the message out and if it’s just a brand awareness play that’s sometimes a little more difficult from a nonprofit perspective.
[00:12:19] And with what you’re excited about, you mentioned that the front face, the front door of your connection of people used to be the website where you would post something and they would see it because it’s the website and they’re visiting a website and now it’s really more social media and you’ve got to be engaged and connected on social media and then drawing them back into the right places on your website for more specific and individualized experience. Did I miss anything in that summary?
Greg: [00:12:46] No, I think that’s a great summary, but I think that just for anyone listening to this podcast that’s kind of in the position like me as an executive director who maybe hasn’t gotten into the marketing end of it so much on the digital side, I mean, you’d be amazed to see the specificity that you can get from Facebook and Instagram and some of the other social media that you can really, really target to a zip code to a, “Hey, I want moms with three-year-old kids. I want dad’s with sixteen-year-old kids,” or whatever it may be. You can really, really target your audience very effectively so if you haven’t been on there and haven’t looked at that, that’s what’s worked really well for us because we have some areas where in and around the Atlanta area specifically where they have waiting lists for their soccer program so we don’t really want to market in those areas. We want to market in other areas where, hey, they have plenty of fields and not enough kids, and so by doing that targeted marketing we don’t have to waste our marketing dollars in areas where there’s an overabundance of kids and not enough fields.
Adam: [00:13:58] That’s right.
Greg: [00:13:58] So I just want to mention that to those out there, take a look at what’s available because I was really surprised when I saw it four years ago. It’s only gotten better.
Adam: [00:14:07] That’s right it’s really fantastic. Well, Greg, this has been really great. Really enjoyed having you on the show. Thanks for sharing some of your thoughts with us and hope you’ll come back again soon.
Greg: [00:14:17] Thank you, Adam. I appreciate being on.
Adam: [00:14:22] Thanks for listening to the Good People, Good Marketing podcast. To get more resources about digital marketing, make sure to go to goodpeoplegoodmarketing.com where you can find more podcasts, blogs, and other fun resources. Also, if you want to find me, your host, you can find me on Twitter @ajwalker, and on my blog at adamjwalker.com where I blog about leadership, productivity, habit building, and the craziness of having five kids. Thanks, and tune in next time.
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