Holistic Approach to a Better Strategic Marketing Plan

Brandon TownsPrivate Club Marketing Ideas

As you finalize your strategic marketing plan for this year, don’t fall victim to what so many organizations overlook. All too often, strategic plans include separate campaigns created for each department with little overlap and no transition to the next. This results in “silos” which creates gaps in your planning and can negatively effect the experience your members encounter daily. These silos make it difficult and sometimes painful for members to move from one amenity to another. Therefore, most members subconsciously stay within the silo they use the most.

Think about it. How many golf members arrive at the club, play their normal round and leave? Do the families using the pool also order lunch and dinner, or do they stick with the snacks at the cabana? And the all-too-common “not using the club enough” reason for resignation. These are clear signs you may need to evolve your planning process with a more holistic focus.

strategic marketing plan

In 2018, let’s tear down those silos and create a seamless experience throughout every touchpoint at your Club. Here are 5 key elements to help you build a more holistic strategic roadmap, and subsequently increase member engagement and satisfaction.

Segment your members by their needs, not demographics.

Similar to the Club’s communication strategy, different members want and need different touchpoints. Determining the various experiences your members desire and expect provides a guide to relevant events and activities that foster member engagement.

Segmenting your members based on household makeup, interests, age, membership category, etc. is a good start; however, implementing a “needs-based” segmentation will break down what each member persona desires from the Club.

Tip #1: Limit your segments to 3-5. Over analyzing the differences in groups of members could lead to too many different options.

Tip #2: If you’ve already created separate personas for your communication strategy, use these groups when defining the needs of your member segments.

Example: Based on the analysis performed, you may have created a segmented group of a large number of female golfers with children and limited time to get on the course. They primarily use the pool and attend children’s activities.

Start from the end game, and work backward.

The best way to visualize “gaps” in your Club’s experience and break down walls of the silos between departments is to imagine the experience from your members’ point-of-view working from the last touch point back to the moment they began their daily experience with the Club.

Determine expectations for each member segment, and then exceed it. The strategic marketing plan should be about optimizing the experience for each member.

Tip #1: Chances are that a member’s first point of contact for club engagement each day was not physically at the Club. Don’t forget to include your reservation system (golf, dining or other) and communications in this analysis.

Tip #2: If you’re having trouble pinpointing the ideal experience for each member segment, create a short, targeted survey or focus group and ask your members what they want.

Example: Using the female golfers with children segment defined earlier, we’ve identified lack of time to golf as a significant issue. As long as it doesn’t interfere with regular play, create a set tee time for the group to play as many holes as possible for their allotted time. Implement a specific activity during this time to occupy the children.

Create multiple points of connection to your strategic marketing plan.

When mapping the experience for each segment, think outside of their normal routine. Plan activities around meals, drinks, or children’s events to develop habits of using multiple services at the club. Your members will become reliant on this routine.

If a group of members continues to frequent the club for one service, find out what else drives these members. Clubs within clubs like card groups, bocce or pickleball, and young adult groups work extremely well. Find similar interests in each group and create activities that best suit the members, not necessarily the Club.

Tip: Store previous preferences in your CRM, and revisit before each event. This builds personalized relationships with each member.

Example: Touch base with the female golfers before every round to determine if they want their normal meal when they finish. Also, find out if their children will be attending the movie and lunch provided in the Kids Den.

Include staff from all departments in planning and communication initiatives.

You’re only one person. You simply can’t do it alone. Include influential employees in all departments when designing your strategic marketing plan. This may be the head of the department, or it could be a frontline worker. Just make sure each individual is a powerful personality within their respective department and among the membership.

Develop a committee with these individuals to strategically plan how each member segment can become more engaged with each department. Find the common elements connecting each department and add or eliminate steps prohibiting a gap as members transition between amenities.

Tip #1: Pre-order meals and have them ready when all parties arrive. Simplify the communication between the pro shop and kitchen to ensure meals are completed on time.

Tip #2: Consider using a modified banquet event sheet to list the responsibilities of each department. Include individual and department responsibilities followed by the communications to the rest of the included departments.

Example: Streamline the communication process. Have the pro shop alert the kitchen as to when they expect the completion of the round so members can enjoy their meal and glass of wine before reuniting them with their family. Take it step further and have the children meet their mother in the foyer when it’s time to leave.

Listen to your members before there is an issue.

By including a key employee within each department in your committee, you’ll be able to hear the concerns of the members well before they reach you. Take suggestions seriously. Keep in mind, if one member of a segmented group expresses concern, the majority of that group has similar thoughts.

Do golfers want a way to order food so it’s ready when they return to the clubhouse? Does another segment want extended pool hours to allow more time to use the club? There’s opportunity around every corner. Evolve to meet your consumer’s needs.

Example: Maybe the pro shop learns some of the female golfers are unable to attend on Wednesday afternoons because not enough time is allotted to include sitting down for a meal. Communicate to the kitchen this concern and that a “to go” menu could alleviate this problem. 

Tip #1: Send a survey out to the female golfing group after a month of playing, asking for feedback to make their experience better. Then exceed their requests.

Tip #2: Design a comment report shared regularly with each department. Include positive and negative feedback collected from members even if it’s concerning another department.

Remember, the whole is greater than just the sum of its parts. Your members are craving a holistic experience. Many of these upgrades to your strategic marketing plan don’t require additional funding. Give them what they want, and you will see improved engagement and satisfaction, not to mention greater ROI from increased usage and member referral.