Derby Marketing in the Pandemic

Posted on 19th Apr 2020 by Gireffe

"I know! I'll really promote My Derby Diary in the 2020 season!" ... and we know how well this season has gone. We will eventually be back on skates; you hitting each other and me sending you to the box for leaving your mouthguard in your helmet or cutting your own team mates (my two favourite penalties to issue.)

The derby community seems to have adapted well to social distancing requirements with team workouts on Zoom, pass-the-helmet challenges on Tik Tok, etc. And while these are super important, they are also all 'internal' and not growing your base for when we start up again.

External marketing for derby is generally aimed at two different audiences; participants and fans.


Now is the time to refine your Social Media Strategy (you do have one, right?) across all platforms and make sure your League's SEO approach still works. (SEO is constantly a moving target.) It important to remember that your League is more than just your Facebook Page. I look at a lot of derby websites and too often they are the forgotten piece of the marketing mix. (Hopefully My Derby Diary is also part of that mix.)

And make sure that your Social Media is more than just birthday shout-outs. They are important, but a wall of them is not likely to inspire someone to follow you.

Having well developed channels isn't enough though. You need content. Here are some ideas;

  • A watch party of Whip It -- It always amazes me how many players were inspired by this movie
  • A watch party of last year's Champs game -- with a bunch of caveats that your league might not be exactly as presented. (Which isn't a bad thing, I personally love grassroots derby.)
  • If your League is lucky enough to have someone record your bouts, post and promote them
  • As a variation of the last bullet, cut up the video to illustrate things about derby. Let's face it, its confusing as heck if you don't know what's going one -- especially at speed. But it is also amazing to be in a building full of educated fans. Bonus points for not just saying 'the player with the stripe on her helmet' but saying 'Stitches, who has the stripe on her helmet' helps fans recognize players for an extra level of cheering come bout day

All these should be listed on your Facebook page as sharable Events, on your League website -- and My Derby Diary (of course!). Depending on what the media situation is in your area, you could even promote some of these on local radio or newspapers.


This includes players, on-skate officials and off-skate officials and starts with everything for attracting Fans, but one you've got them hooked there are some next steps to keep them engaged and ready for when new skater intake starts again. I've been thinking of two specific things that I think might have a positive effect on recruitment;

  • Create a private Facebook group for recruits and have weekly off-skate skill development with them and share videos of skating techniques. Imagine how much more smoother your new skater program will be if they already can stand on one-foot the required length of time, can do grapevines or hold a squat (which is essentially derby stance) for 2 minutes. Obviously it's all different with skates on, but some muscle memory is better than none.
  • Send them a 'new recruit' package in the mail (yes, physical mail) which has a League sticker, a list of things they could do to start to prep for their new skater session (very similar to the first bullet) and a League magnet to put it on their fridge.

Wrapping Up

Marketing is all about repeating a consistent message. A lot of Leagues rely on the bouting season as their principle marketing events, but the pandemic has thrown that into chaos. (Yes, even more chaos than a freshie bout with a split pack.) Leagues need to find new marketing levers to pull, and pull them hard else I fear our niche sport is going to be set back years in terms of awareness outside of those of use already initiated.

Oh, and remember, we all win with more fans, even if they end up becoming 'trained' from a League across the planet from you. We need to think globally and not just locally.