How often have we heard from members of the board, “Let’s get as many members in the door paying dues,” “All we need are more bodies,” “We’re in the dues business,”? These all too familiar phrases continue to drive the reactive marketing plan at private clubs. While most boards focus on the number of new members coming through the front door, they neglect the overwhelming number of members leaving the club out the back.
Current members will always reevaluate their memberships against relevance. So as club officials, we need to place more emphasis on ways to increase the club’s perceived value. But how? Follow this straightforward approach to quickly increase club value for all of your members.
Increase Club Value by Becoming Relevant
Every member joins a club anticipating a lifestyle more exclusive than what they can experience outside of club life. But, too often, members are left unsatisfied by the lack of amenities and programming that are specific to their individual interests, and they become apathetic. At this point, the membership reevaluation process is set into motion.
By gaining a better understanding of members, your club can easily implement changes that satisfy your membership.
First, pinpoint the characteristics that make each person unique. You’ll quickly find groups of individuals that desire identical amenities. Segment these groups to determine your submarkets within your target audience and current membership. These submarkets are typically referred to as Buyer Personas or your Member DNA, and play to those traits.
Once you isolate each set of these personalities, conduct surveys and focus groups separately based on each groups “Member DNA”. The feedback determines which desired events, menus, etc. to implement. Implement your findings, and you’ve now added relevance to your club.
Don’t stop there, modify your membership categories, if necessary. If your club doesn’t offer a social membership, really scrutinize the reason why. Not everyone in your target market plays golf, right? In fact, the penetration rate of golfers in a typical market is 12%. That means 88% of the households don’t play golf. Therefore, most potential members aren’t interested in joining your club because you don’t offer a relevant membership category to their needs. But they are still very interested in exclusivity and social opportunities.
Each persona should have their own marketing communications strategy. The customized strategy set forth determines the message and marketing channel to use for each individual or group. You don’t have the same conversation with every person in the dining room. Why would the message be the same to every member, or more importantly, every potential member?
Likewise, each member or prospective member prefers to receive their information differently. Email is sufficient for some, while printed letters will resonate with others. However, the fastest growing source of information is social media. Let your personas determine the message and the communication channel, rather than what has always worked in the past. This route will be more effective and efficient in the long term.
Personalization is comprised of simple steps that can make all the difference when attempting to increase club value. Personalized messages will not only effect engagement and retention, but recruiting efforts will improve without the need for discounting or gimmick marketing programs. As humans, we crave an exclusive lifestyle like a private club. It’s our jobs as club executives to find what lifestyle best fits our current, evolving membership.