Badminton – Getting a handle on marketing

Lessons from a badminton racket…

… for life and business.

Have you noticed how few sports shops there are in the High Streets of the UK these days?

I’m not talking about the cheap chain brands whose staff appear largely clueless and lacking in any sense of customer service.

No. I mean the small, independent sports shop.

The one which sells bats, rackets, balls, tops, shorts, skirts, socks, trainers, sports shoes, shuttlecocks for badminton and all those little accessories you need from time to time.

The one where the staff know a bit about what they’re selling, who can advise you about a purchase before you buy, and who may even offer a repair or restringing service.

I discovered this dirth the other day after a two-hour session at badminton. One close inspection of my racket was enough to reveal the grip on my handle had almost worn itself to the bone. It needed to be replaced.

A quick search online and it was easy to find dozens of online options for buying a new grip. Anything from a few pounds to six, seven or even eight pounds.

But I wanted the new grip put on for me.

Which meant only one thing…

I needed to find a real sports shop.

Within a 45-minute drive there were just two to choose from. I plumped for the one on a retail park on the edge of the nearest city.

It seemed a strange location for a sports shop. It took up one of a handful of units in a small court just beyond the larger shopping outlets. It didn’t look much from the outside.

Inside, a member of staff was busy re-stringing a tennis racket for a customer. As if by magic (or maybe because when I opened the door a bell rang) the shopkeeper appeared.

I showed him the weary-looking grip on my badminton racket and said: “I need a replacement grip for my racket.”

The owner smiled and nodded. This was clearly a tale he’d heard many times before. No problem.

I was given a choice. A cheap grip for £3 or a quality one for around £6. I went for the latter.

“Would you like me to put the grip on for you, sir?, he added.

I said yes. And he did.

It may have been free or just a quid for the job. A job which would probably have taken me much longer than the minute or two it took his expert skills to accomplish.

We chatted as he worked, carefully wrapping the new blue grip on my badminton racket.

The shop had been in business for 26 years. Most customers found the place by searching online. It offers a service difficult to provide online – racket re-stringing.

It may be this sports shop has a good digital marketing strategy. Or it may just be that with so few sports shops around now there is less competition for Google and other search engines to find and display.

Missing A Trick

The owner did, however, miss a trick.

He completed the job. I paid him seven pounds with grateful thanks. We said goodbye and I left the shop.

What else could he have done?

He could have asked for my contact details – to add to a database for follow-up marketing.

He could have given me a business card.

He could have given me a voucher for 10 per cent off my next purchase.

He could have asked if there was anything else I wanted today. Did I need more shuttles? Clothing? Anything else?

He could have casually mentioned something like “See you again soon and if you know anyone else who needs a sports shop do let them know about us.”

The shop has already gained my trust and confidence.

I love the new grip on my badminton racket. The sky blue colour gives it more character and personality than the standard plain black. The tacky feel of the strapping gives me more confidence when playing on court – with a sureness of grip with each shot.

The shop won a little bit of business from me.

It could have gone one extra step to make more of my visit – on the day and in future.

Now consider your own business.

Are there times when you miss an opportunity?

How can you find more ways to capture people’s details?

How will you stay in touch with them after they have bought from you?

How can you make an extra sale from the first one?

How are you getting noticed? How are people finding you?

The answers to one or more of the above could mean more revenue for you.

If you’re short of ideas, need a fresh pair of eyes on what you offer, or want some help with using content to grow your business… you know where to find me.

P.S. In case you were wondering, the sports shop which replaced my badminton racket grip and offers re-stringing services as well is called IT Sports in Clifton Moorgate – near to or part of the Clifton Moor Retail Park in York.

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