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In this month’s Crushing Club Academy webinar series, Valley Country Club’s membership director, Lisa Schmid shares how she is going to transform Valley’s marketing and the approach she used to gain internal alignment and buy-in from her board.

With 2020 just right around the corner, it’s a perfect time to look at your marketing plan and to ask yourself this question… “If we do the same things next year that we did this year to grow membership, will we hit our membership goals?”

If the answer is “not likely” or “no,” then the two minutes it will take to read this article can help you jump start the conversation at your club. A roadblock for many membership directors looking to innovate with marketing is getting the board to buy-in and invest in tools and strategies to take your membership to new heights.

After doing her own due diligence and researching marketing tools and strategies, Lisa knew what resources she needed to add to her marketing strategy so the club can be positioned for growth in 2020 and beyond. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.

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Lisa: [00:08:17] Well, to to even get face time with my board, I really needed to be well versed in everything that we had done with our marketing to this point. And when I approached the board, there were three topics that I wanted to frame up to get everyone excited about where we are going; context, action and results. I needed them to understand the context of the scenario for me to be able to sell to prospective members in today’s digital environment, what actions we needed to take as an organization, and what anticipated results we could expect. 

Context: I needed them to look at membership through the eyes of a consumer, from our prospect’s lens. (Note; typically board members are successful business people themselves but when they sit on a board, they sometimes have the perspective of being "guardians of the club” and they don't necessarily wear the hat of "I'm a business person sitting here.”) I wanted them to understand that our prospects are not joining our club without doing their homework and researching information about our club. Having just been through an exercise as an organization to determine new health care plans, I reminded them that we did not make decisions on just word of mouth suggestions. Like our prospects, we did our research. We considered referrals for our new provider but we ultimately needed to do a great deal of research to select our health care provider.

[00:11:23] “They're (our prospects) doing the exact same due diligence checking us out. They need to know who we are and what we do that is socially relevant. Do we have good values or are we the right community? 

By putting her board in the seat of a consumer rather than title of board member, enabled Lisa to make her point.

Next, Lisa explained to the board what ACTION she needed the club to take to help facilitate prospects who were doing their research. 

Action: (00:12:14) Just a few years ago, our website was remodeled but it’s a member facing website. It's not a website built with converting new members. So while they thought a lot of money was put into building this great website for our members, they didn't give any thought to what the site looks like to the outside prospect and why would we need to change this? It's not broken. They weren’t looking at our website from the “external” perspective, how it would create connections with new prospects. Our website has to tell a story. So when I presented this idea of telling club stories published on a blog and sharing them on our social media channels, I referenced several businesses and clubs alike using social media channels and their websites to inform visitors to attract audiences online rather than just relying on word of mouth referrals all the time.  

[00:21:53] I said I wanted our website and social media presence to turn into a dynamic sales vehicle that was an actual virtual version of me. In order to do that, we need to better leverage the great deal of internal content we create each month for our monthly newsletter. We need to take this same content and turn it outward. Content that can connect not only with members but can attract new prospects.

[00:27:09] I'm really proud of this internal site but when we add content it’s not SEO friendly. And that's where you guys (StoryTeller) come in, which was so amazing because we have amazing information about what it's like to be a family at our club that has a summer camp and competitive golf and fine dining and all these other things but our prospects aren’t going to find us unless we know how to make this information searchable and relatable. I had to really make sure the board understood that this is where we need help because we're not experts at this. With the right tools and strategy I told them that I will be able to prove how people find us. 

Lisa knew data was going to be an integral part of showing the ROI that she was asking the club to make. Here’s how she met this challenge:

Results: [00:29:34] We had a one day sale at the beginning of the year and I spent six weeks going through a four inch binder looking to identify prospective members that had ever shown any level of interest in the past. There were all sorts of scribbling notes from me that pretty much exist in my head. And everybody knows here that I have doctors handwriting. So not even I can read it. The campaign had very limited results. I was frustrated because all of this is information was in my head because we don’t have a CRM. There was no easy way to track conversations I had 2-½ years ago when I started to let them know of our incentive. 

[00:30:32] And I think that was an aha moment for them when I stood in front of them and said. You saw the results of the sales effort from the campaign and despite how hard I was working to reach out to these people, there's no way to measure how I found them. How they found us. All we had was scribbles on paper and handwritten notes from conversations. There was no measurement or way to streamline communications. We needed to own software that helps me do my job 24/7 as opposed to me just sitting at my desk, you know, 10 hours a day trying to prepare for a big sale. And the only way I can do that is, frankly, through a tool like HubSpot, which will give me basically act like 10 of me. Without technology, I am missing out on opportunities and continuity of communications to keep track of prospects so that when we have promotions or relevant communications they could be shared with those prospects potentially still interested in membership. And I think that was an aha moment for them. 

[00:33:58] The final point of the entire meeting when I was standing in front of 12 board members who of all have successful businesses and they're asking  what is this going to cost? What are you looking for? I said, every time I sit before my membership committee and I am asked about my membership pipeline there’s no easy way to answer that question without technology. By adding HubSpot I will actually be able to tell you exactly who's coming, where, how and when. Because I will have statistics, analytics and measurable data from every single thing that we do through this process this entire program. You're talking about this as an investment. It's going to take us two incremental members we wouldn’t have had otherwise to pay for it. And that's a very small number.I think that they understood it as business people. With the right tools you can measure this kind of data and show your return on investment. 

Lisa shared a great deal of other insights and you can hear the conversation in its entirety ….

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