Let’s say you’re running a basketball camp, and you really want to draw in kids and find reasons for their parents to pick your camp over others in the area. There are tons of ideas out there to attract new customers and hold on to those you have already. This can range from offering competitive leagues to the right kind of drills or programming. It could be finding the top of the line facilities or the best coaching. One way that can really draw in the kids’ desire is bringing a professional player to camp.
Devil’s Advocate: Wait, you said a pro player? Like, NBA pro? There’s no way they’d come to your camp, they have way better things to do.
Reality: That’s not entirely true. Plenty of time, NBA players take time during the summer off to recover after a long season, and have some time free to reach out to their respective community. Doing this kind of outreach is great PR for them, so they’d be more incentivized to do that to make them look good.
DA: So they’re doing this only to save face?
R: Not exactly. Most of these players are just good natured people and want to give back to the community, while also making a quick buck.
DA: Oh, you have to pay them too? That’s gotta be expensive, these are the best players in the world, after all.
R: Yes, they are the best players in the world, and that certainly comes at a premium. Getting one of the bench players from a losing team is still pretty costly, and the better the player, the higher the cost goes from there. Also, how long they stick around also factors in to the final price.
DA: How long do they stay?
R: Could be an hour, could be half a day, probably not more than that. Depends on how you arrange things with them.
DA: There you go, it’s not worth it at all. Just to shoot around with the kids for what, an hour or so?
R: Well, think about what you’re getting for that small amount of time. Let’s do a quick cost analysis here. Let’s say you want to get a player who starts for a half-decent team. He’s not the biggest name on the team, but he’s good enough to be recognized by most who follow the league. He charges $5,000 for the appearance, for argument’s sake. Let’s also say that you charge $500 for a week-long session. In theory, if you got 10 new signups just for the fact that you are bringing in that pro player, and assuming the other normal costs of your camp remain the same, you’re already breaking even on the expenditure. If you get even more signups, you’re in the green. On top of that, if the kids end up really enjoying having that player around, they’re more likely to want to come back to that program. If the player enjoys it, he might come back and a relationship can be forged. Rounding this out, adding the promise of a pro player visiting is a huge marketing maneuver.
DA: What happens if the player just shows up and forces himself through it? His negative attitude will certainly rub off on the kids.
R: There’s always a chance of that. Especially if he’s one of those players who’s just trying to “save face” as you said before. You’d probably still get those kids to sign up with the promise of meeting a professional player, and if it doesn’t work out for that hour, next time you can find a different player to work with. You can repeat the process until you find one that fits your budget and your program, and more importantly a guy that gels well with your kids and enjoys his time there.
DA: So what are some things that you can do to make sure you’re getting all that money’s worth out of that player? He wouldn’t want to just stand there and talk at a bunch of kids for an hour, no one wants that.
R: That’s where your organizing plan comes into play. Make sure you come up with ideas of what that player can do with the kids. When you’re booking him to come, you need to have a plan in place of what you want to have them do, and make sure the player knows what they’re gonna do. Maybe you’ll get lucky and the player has a great time doing it and sticks around longer with the kids, or just completely ad libs the whole thing and everyone has a blast. If things fall your way, everyone walks away a winner.
DA: That’s a big if, isn’t it?
R: I mean, duh. Of course it’s a big if. The player isn’t automatically going to love your ideas. But as long as there is open communication on both ends with what’s the best for everyone involved, there shouldn’t be any problems on that front.
DA: That’s only if that player happens to be a good person who’s willing to work with you…
R: We did say earlier that if the player isn’t easy to work with, you can just find someone else next time.
DA: You did. Fair point.
R: Being honest, if the player isn’t willing to work with you unless everything is according to what they want and not you, the conversation wouldn’t last very long, would it?
DA: That begs the question of how much can you do with one of these players?
R: Really, anything short of begging for free tickets is on the table. Instructional lessons, a short speech on pro tips and pointers, playing fun games, there’s a lot to do. The possibilities are endless. If you find the right player with the right plan at the right price, it’s worth every penny you sink into it.