Rick Borstein, FAAS President/Webmaster
People who visit your society’s website are your customers. Most will not be members of your current society, but can contribute to your club nonetheless.
Customers are valuable to your society! They attend society functions such as auctions, shows and swap meets. They buy fish, plants and equipment at these functions which fund your society’s bigger member initiatives.
Perhaps even more importantly, your customers talk to other potential customers. They can help spread word of your club by word of mouth.
How many times has a new member said to you that they had no idea there was a club in your area?
Yes, your society is on the web, but many aquarium newbies don’t think to go to Google and search on “aquarium+society+Chicago”. Even if they did, your site may not come up at the top of the list.
Thus, it’s important for you to reach out in other ways to potential customers.
Below are a few ways you can spread the word.
Use your URL Everywhere
Make sure your website address is prominently included on all printed material your society creates. Your newsletter, auction announcements, reports, and flyers all should have your society name included.
Consider creating a special logo or catchphrase for your website and using it consistently. For example:
Catch Seattle Guppies on the Web!
Tell potential customers why they’d want to visit your website. For example:
200+ Detailed Cichlid Profiles
FREE Cichlid Classifieds
Greater Chicago Cichlid Association
Get Your Message to the People
You need to get your society’s message in front of people who are interested in the hobby, but may not know anything about your club. Where can you find these folks?
At the Library
Lots of beginners go to their local library to research fish. You will find aquarium-related books in both the adult and kids sections. Your society can donate aquarium books to the library and include a sticker in the front of the book about your donation. Include your website, of course.
The Greater Chicago Cichlid Association prints inexpensive bookmarks with information about the club. Club members take these to their local library and insert them in aquarium books on the shelves.
Your Local Pet Shop
It can be a challenge to work with some local pet shops. You will need to carefully position your clubs revenue-generating events (e.g. auctions) to local pet shops or they may consider your club to be competition. It can take a while to build trust.
Large, multi-location “superstores” offer a different type of challenge. You will need to find a sympathetic manager or fish section employee to help you.
Once you’re “in”, here are a few ideas you can use to promote your club:
- Put bookmarks into books in the book section.
- Create flyers for a notable upcoming speaker
- Create POP (point of purchase) material such as small sign with information about your club.
- Create a “Your First Tank” brochure that the pet shop can give out to first-time hobbyists.
- Offer the pet shop a link on your web site
- Create a special “Ask Us” page on your website specific to a pet store. This “landing page” is a place that pet store employees can send customers with aquarium-related questions. It may be a little bit of work to answer the question, but you’ll get a dedicated customer and collect their email address as part of the deal!