As the dark weeks of January are upon us, zero degrees outside, even in the sun. What makes people come back to you each week? This weekend, my social media feeds were full of clubs and teams flooding their channels with similar last chance messaging... “We need you!” “Come be our 12th man” But did it work, does it ever work? Are you already preaching to the choir? Lots of questions, as so often with event marketing the messages go out into a darkness and we’ll hope come the weekend that the numbers turn up. But realistically, by a Friday people have long decided their weekend plans. Let’s spin this around and think about how this would work in other industries. “Come help us fill our cinema” “We need you at our concert” Not very appealing. So they market themselves on the “experience” not the pressure on the individual to be present. Why do I care if the cinema is half full. Like most, it will be at the point where the cinema is due to close down, that I’ll think should I have gone more? Then move on in my thoughts. Otherwise it's there when I need it and choose to attend. During this pandemic we’ll regularly see owners of these establishments or venues state it’s the best way to “watch a film” or “enjoy music”. Which has even seen me visit the cinema 3 times in the last month. I had previously not been to the cinema in years. With the usual reasons, too many noisy people, too expensive, I’ve got Netflix…Amazon etc… So why did I go. Now is the time where people are striving for the normal. I looked across at my 10 year son and thought what has he missed out on over the last 2 years and actually am I just being a grumpy…safe…protective? But these are experiences, memories and moments that we’ll both look back on. I even, for a small moment, afterwards considered signing up for the monthly pass and the benefits it may bring. But I didn’t, I walked away happy. Happy but not willing to commit to monthly payments to something. Something where I didn’t know what was coming up this year. I thought of the £20 popcorn & drink deal each time, thinking about the commitment I would be making. I didn’t rush off to follow the cinemas social media or pass comment online about my experience. This year, I also attended my first cricket 100 game and in similar fashion. I though it was fantastic and engaging, I will be going back next year. But it’s not got me following local cricket or rushing out to buy a bat and pads for the summer ahead. So what do we have at club sports that makes them so special. Community and belonging. Sat back in the cinema, I had neither. Even at sports events, I might not have it…but I can see it all around. The more times I go the more times the opportunity to be part of it and embrace it. We have a unique situation where it’s not just about results on the pitch, track or court. It’s about bringing people together at one place where they can unite win, lose or draw. A place where they can have the same level of escapism, participation and enjoyment of real life events amongst others. Each individual will have their own reasons for attending. Like mine for the cinema. Those social media posts or posters out on the streets will work. But maybe only as a reminder…only when it triggers the emotional side within each individual. The hard work never stops to keep people engaged and present. So, this weekend when you look at the numbers that came and how happy you are. Think about what steps your are taking to embrace your community and create that belonging. Are you on track, on plan or not even with a plan about building your community.