A Quick Introduction
This blog is going to take the form of a small story. Earlier this year, we took a chance, and entirely changed the direction of our business practice. We looked to strip back our partnership with Amazon and instead partner with gymnastics clubs, to give the commission we earn from our books sales back to the sport.
Read on to discover our story, and how you can become involved in our new initiative to raise money for your club.
Back in January of this year we visited Get Set For Growth to discuss how we were getting on. It can be quite a lonely and daunting place running a small business, and a good sense of direction and perspective is hard to envisage in a small team. We visited the lovely Sarah Veakins with the hope of coming away with some clarity on the direction Head Over Heels should be going.
We were feeling content with the sales we were getting from Amazon and how we were doing our bit to promote the sport we love so much. However, we felt our website was old fashioned, our marketing direction was hit-and-miss, and we wanted to set some goals for 2018.
During the meeting, we pulled apart everything ‘Head Over Heels’. It quickly became obvious that if we wanted to reach more ‘Head Over Heelers’, and spread our passion for gymnastics further, we needed to overhaul our approach to day-to-day work.
Sarah challenged us with questions and ideas we hadn’t thought of: where do you want the direction of the company to go next? Is your social media strategy strong enough? Do you realise that you are becoming an influencer? As the discussions progressed, there was the sense of overwhelming doom: my goodness, did we have some work to do!
We discussed the elephant in the room: Amazon. Ethical? No. Successful? Yes. Could we have built our business without them? Probably not. However, the commission they had taken to enable us to get started, and were still taking, was (and had been for some time) a point of contention. Sarah suggested how much better it would be if we could somehow put this commission back into the sport, and hence an idea arrived: our club partnership programme, ‘Help Your Club Raise Funds’. It’s aim? To give gymnastics clubs the commission we were giving every day to Amazon.
The only issue was that we had no idea how to put the idea into practice. It seemed like an insurmountable task. There are thousands of gymnastics clubs in the UK and many thousands of gymnasts. How could we beat Amazon to them?
One of the exercises we participated in was creating a target persona: those people who might be open to such an opportunity, if only they knew it existed. We talked about where this person (in our case, ‘Jenny’) would be hanging out, and gymnastics waiting rooms stood out. Would she like to see a poster, receive a flier or get an email/letter from her club?
From this starting point, we put our heads together and designed the beginnings of the Partnership Programme…
We broke the programme down into the three core elements that it absolutely had to be:
- Easy to implement, as clubs don’t want to be doing extra jobs alongside their busy schedules.
- Professional, as clubs won’t want to promote anything substandard.
- Profitable, as we would like clubs to have funds for their new kit or training courses.
The first thing we did was to create a poster and draft an email for clubs, including how the programme would work and what the parents would need to do. We designed forms for the clubs to receive their commission and implemented a system where we could track club sales through their own unique codes.
Before approaching the first clubs with our offer, however, we rang a few of the larger clubs and ran our idea past them. Having never cold-called a club before, I have to say: I was a little terrified.
‘Hello, it’s Gemma from Head Over Heels Gymnastics. I’m just calling to see if you could help me with something? I run a gymnastics club and I write the series of books with the same name. Could I ask for some help with an idea I have?’
The response was surprising: as fellow gymnastics coaches, they were pleased to be asked for advice. Chatting to them was invaluable and enabled us to make lots of tweaks to the process before it was set up.
Putting the Plan into Practice
So, with all the background work done, we were ready to contact our first clubs. Wanting to play it safe, we contacted all of the clubs we knew and compete against in our county. These people I count as my friends and colleagues, so I’ll admit it was a little like cheating: I’m sure most of them felt obliged!
However, after getting our first club links, we felt confident to reach out to clubs we didn’t know. The response has been astonishing, and the support for the idea has been very well received. We have teamed up with nearly 50 clubs in less that 3 months, and look forward to working with many more. The first installment of commission has gone out to clubs, which has hopefully helped them to improve their equipment, or provided coaches with the opportunity to have professional training.
And so we come to today. Somehow, after months of doubt, change, and striding into the unknown, our participation programme has taken off. Anarchists in our own right, we’ve laid the groundwork to part ways with Amazon (a mighty blow for the retail colossus, we’re sure) and have begun to distribute our commission back into the gymnastics community.
But we want to go further. There are more clubs out there that could do with funding, and we’re eager to help. And that’s where you come in. If you, reader, happen to be a gymnastics coach, or parent, or gymnast yourself, and you’d like to get involved with our partnership programme, we’d love to hear from you. A quick disclaimer: there’s no hidden agenda on our part, or any kind of cost for you to pay. It’s just our way of giving back to the sport, and we’d love to give as much as we can.
On top of the funding, we’re giving away a free book to every club who partners with us for their gymnasts to review. We’ve seen a brilliant response on our social media channels, and it’s been great to see how broad the UK’s gymnastics community really is.
To find out more about our participation programme, enquire about our books, or to simply gush about gymnastics for a paragraph or two, be sure to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.