Model Boeing 747

Specialist in marketing of air sports.

The rapid changes in digital marketing and consumer behaviour has meant that marketing strategies for air sports like hang gliding, model aircraft, ballooning, parachuting and aerobatics has had to evolve. Air sport organisations are now having to capitalise on all multimedia channels in order to soar to greater heights to meet the needs of a busy, time-poor audience.

These days, consumers are spoilt for choice, with so many different sports on offer and more media platforms than ever before. In this information-saturated world, people have become less invested in one single sporting genre, as well as having less time to commit to these sporting bodies.

It can be overwhelming for organisations to pin point where to invest their money and how to execute their messages in a clear and concise way that is easily digested by the general public. Digital and social media does require a high level of expertise, but it’s not solely about choosing the right channel. It’s also about delivering the right key messages and attention-grabbing information that influences consumers to take action.

Why is marketing of air sports different?

Paraglider Sonya Fardell

Image courtesy of  Jo Hjortshoj

Many air sport national bodies are not-for-profit organisations that are membership-based and mostly made up of a team of dedicated volunteers.

Unfortunately, these volunteers typically don’t have the resources or the expert marketing, digital and social media skills to effectively elevate their sport and grow memberships.

The hierarchy of a sporting organisation usually sees the National Body taking sole responsibility to raise the profile of the sport at the national and sometimes state levels. 
At a local level, individual clubs are often responsible for retaining and attracting new members. This requires a two-pronged approach, where the profile of the sport is elevated nationally and the grassroots marketing is undertaken locally, to attract people to join these clubs.

How to market “air sports”

Winning Podium Photo - Daniel Arapakis

Aussie junior, Daniel Arapakis, makes history as F3D junior world champion - Wingspan November 2017

In order to successfully market air sport organisations, it’s important to connect with your target audience by creating compelling content that resonates with them, as well as keeping all key messages in line with your brand story. Aside from promoting the sport as a whole, it’s also about selling the atmosphere and the environment surrounding the sport by promoting the thrill of flight, the camaraderie and the close-knit flying community.

The value consumers place on a chosen sport is usually emotional, as opposed to an economic evaluation that occurs when people buy physical products. It’s about understanding your market. They don’t see themselves as consumers, but as fans who can potentially form a lifelong loyalty, if they feel they are being looked after and spoken to directly. To target this niche audience, you need to understand what makes their heart race, what gets them excited and how you can develop the full potential of your brand, while addressing their needs.

Sustainable Marketing Services has a proven track record in the marketing of air sport organisations such as the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia (HGFA) and the Model Aeronautical Association of Australia (MAAA).

In our experience, the key success factors in the marketing of air sports are:

  • Storytelling: People are attracted to stories. Thought-provoking content can capture a consumer’s attention and hold their interest. From our experience, members love to read about air sport events, human-interest and member profiles, historical articles about older members, air sport travelling and club success stories.
  • Relevant topics and language: Understand what topics resonate with your members. What are they interested in reading about? Use language that their community uses, it makes them feel that they are being addressed personally. For example, in the MAAA, members often use the word “camaraderie”. This is highlighted throughout our marketing, publications and newsletters.
  • Two-level marketing: Using public relations at a national level to raise the profile of the sport and the air sport body. Also, using grassroots marketing to help local clubs to attract new members.
  • Modern website: An easy to navigate, interactive and modern website will help increase the profile of the sport, as well as provide members with helpful information and tools.
  • Social media:  Use social media to raise the profile of your brand. Digital is a powerful platform that can reach a wide, relevant audience. It needs to offer a great visitor experience. Most membership-based organisations must be prudent with members’ money, therefore social media is an affordable and helpful way to get in front of current members, as well as potential new members, daily.
  • Member insights: Members want to feel like they are being listened to and that their needs and concerns are addressed. Take the time to understand your members through annual member surveys, by talking to them and by listening to them on Facebook.

The most effective air sports marketing ideas / strategies include:

  • Public Relations: The power of great public relations builds brand visibility, increasing your exposure both nationally and internationally and connecting to a wider audience.
  • Regular member communications: Keeping members up to date and in the loop with the sport and the industry body, will ensure they better understand the benefits of their membership fees and where their money is actually going towards.
  • Facebook marketing: Facebook has become a pivotal marketing tool that can build a strong online community, creating a conversation and getting your messages and your sport out to a wider audience. Facebook can be a place where your members can share their passion for your sport daily or weekly, as well as creating interest from people who may be keen to join your sport.
  • Video: Most air sports are highly visual. Video used on Facebook and websites can bring the freedom of flight to life, showcasing the pure thrill of the sport from a pilot’s perspective.
  • Marketing support for clubs: To help clubs promote their wonderful sport locally and attract new members to their clubs.

Jim Fullarton

 Jim Fullarton’s 100th Birthday History Story - Wingspan Novermber 2017

What are the air sport marketing trends in 2018?

The big trends of 2018 that we are seeing in the marketing of air sport organisations include:

  • A move to invest in modern websites that better showcase their sport. A consumer’s opinion on the creditability of an organisation can be based solely on the viewing of their website. Therefore, it’s important that it is interactive, informative and engaging.
  • An increase in the use of PR at the national level to raise awareness of the sport to a wider audience.
  • A stronger focus on building a loyal community on Facebook to extend the value offered to members.
  • Increased use of videos, (including Facebook Live) to better highlight their sports.
  • People want to be front row and centre and part of the action; whether that be a birds’ eye-view from a model plane or from the paragliding pilot’s perspective as they approach the perfect landing.
  • People are extremely visual and Instagram has become a great platform to showcase a sport. Instagram hash tags are extremely powerful and a great way to get your sport noticed, as it makes it easier for people to find you online.

What are the challenges for air sport marketing in 2018?

Hang gliders

Image courtesy of  Jo Hjortshoj

Some of the challenges air sport organisations face with their marketing in 2018 include:

  • Growing membership, with an aging or falling membership as well as encouraging the next generation to have a go at the sport.
  • How to address member concerns about the cost of membership, the perceived value they are receiving and insufficient member communication.
  • How to increase their digital and social media presence in 2018.
  • How to respond to Facebook’s 2018 News Feed Algorithm change, that will impact engagement and reach.
  • What content topics to write about in newsletters, digital magazines and blogs: it’s about quality content over quantity in 2018. To do this exceptionally well requires diving deep into the insights of members. This can be achieved through surveys, conversations and listening to members on Facebook.

How can Sustainable Marketing Services help?

Sustainable Marketing Services has a proven track record in helping air sport industry bodies, like the HGFA and the MAAA, elevate the profile of their sport and retain and attract new members. With a team of marketing and PR specialists, we work closely with our clients to develop marketing plans, public relations strategies, digital marketing, marketing communications, social media and member surveys.

  • Digital marketing: new websites and online promotion strategies.
  • The writing of member communications: digital magazines, newsletters, renewal campaigns and crisis management in the event of accidents.
  • Social media, including social media strategy, content creation and management of Facebook and Instagram pages.
  • Member surveys that sharpen your personalisation with your air sport community.

Let us help you elevate and grow your air sport so that it soars now and into the future.

Call us on 1300 699 085

Watch the Sports section of the Today Show discussing the start of the Bright Paragliding World Cup 2018