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How To Start An Aquarium Society(Part 2 of 4)

Fish Have Clubs, Why Can't I?

By Schuyler Sloane (N.E.P.A.S.)
 
Now what do I do?
 
The remainder of this book can be used as a checklist. You don’t necessarily need to follow it in order but it will help you to not get to far ahead of yourself. You have a lot of work ahead of you so take your time and the rewards will be great..
 
Get a web site.
 
But isn't a web site expensive and require a lot of knowledge?
 
Well if are sitting here at your computer then you are past the biggest hurdle of them all. I started out by using a free website host like yahoo and Lycos and a large list of others provide.
 
Remember you don't have to build the world's largest and most comprehensive aquarium web site, but you do want to get as much information out on what your club is doing as possible.
 
You are probably saying ” But I don't have anything to put on it!
 
I thought this too but I couldn't have been more wrong. When I originally set up the aquarium society web site it was nothing more than my own personal web site and had close to nothing as far as fishy content. That became the basis for my experiments in web page design.
 
Every time I had an idea I was able to go right to the site make and adjustment and I was done. The website had grown from being a one page ad to a 30+ page informative web site. There are a few reasons why I put creating a web site at the top of my list of things to do. The first being that you will be able to gauge at least in some small part the amount of interest that people will have in your club. The best tool for this is a hit counter on your website. There are approximately 14 million pages of information on the internet connected to “free hit counters” Check a few of them out and choose the one that suits your needs.
 
Flyers and advertising
 
Ok now you want to get people to know who and what you do. This could involve many things flyers, buttons, magnets, business cards, billboards, infomercials. Ok the last few were a little on the big side but not impossible. But let’s stick to what we can afford.
 
Let’s start with flyers, you have a few people and a few fish. But nobody has a clue you exist. Te best way to fix this is going to be with flyers. You don’t have to run off a million flyers to get people to visit your club. First come up with some small art work to put on them. Next you will want to give as much info as possible, the best way to do this is to remember the 6 W’s: who you are, what you do, where you do it (very important) when you are doing it, and why you are doing it. Now I know you are thinking there are only 5 w’s that have ever heard of what’s the 6th, Good question, the 6th w is one of the most important. What do I get?
 
Remember this last one because I will be getting to it a little later. Now that you have a flyer made up I’ll give you what will be the best piece of advise at this time in your club, Cut the flyer in half horizontally. Yes I said cut it in half why spend the money for printing full page flyers when you can get the most important information on a half sheet of paper instead of a whole one, look at it this way with you’re old flyer the cost would have been as follows: Say you make 100 flyers a month for say 6 months at 5 cents a copy in 6 months you will have spent 30.00 dollars now cut that in half you have now only spent 15.00 and can now send me the difference. Just kidding, but that 15.00 will come in handy in other ways.
 
I have been asked on many occasions about home printing of materials versus having someone do the printing for you. In the early days of our club I tried to print the materials I needed in bulk on my home 3-in-1 machine What I found out quickly is that these printers are not made to print in volume. For the amount of money that you will spend to replace the inks in your printer you could have had an office store print you materials cheaper and faster. Plus for a little extra they will cut, fold, staple , collate and what ever else you need, saving you time to work on other things.
 
As far as that 6th w “What do I get?” Everybody loves to get something extra, when making those flyers let the people reading them know what they have a chance to get. Tell them about the door prizes , the free samples and the great fish related items they have a chance to get at a really low price because of the auctions. Besides all that they get to meet a great group of people. Now as far as other ways to advertise your club. You could do all of those other things but remember it is going to cost you money so I would wait until you have a core membership base and the finances that go with it before doing them. Now all you have to do is distribute the flyers. This can be done in a bunch of different ways. Try to stay local, and stay within the hobby. For example if your club is located in Northeast Philadelphia do you want to really invest in sending flyers to Southern New Jersey? In my opinion all you will be doing is wasting time and gas, besides that’s what you have the web site for. If people from outside your area want to visit your club they will. Your best bet for putting out your flyers is to ask people, Go to the local fish and pet stores and ask to speak with the manager and introduce yourself to them, remember their names and how to get in touch with them, this will come in handy in the future when it becomes time to start looking for sponsors. ( I’ll get to that in a future chapter) The flyers that you put in the pet stores will be the best chance that you have for getting people to check your club out, think about it where do most people get those heaters and tanks and … oh yeah the fish!
 
The other most important place that you will need to put flyers will be the local crowd gathering places, places like local stores and libraries. These places will always have a lot of people coming in and out of them. Just make sure that you have permission. One last way to advertise your club is in the hobbyist magazines. Most have a section in their magazines for local aquarium societies to place their listings and even better most are free. This is great because most hobbyist read these magazines for all the knowledge they provide. It also helps when you go to find local sponsors that you can show them your listing, It helps to show that you are legit.

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