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6 min read

Why Marketing to Prospective Members Starts With a Strong Website

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Rogue Valley Country Club (RVCC) raises the bar as a private club that is looking into the future and is on a mission to expand its membership. They recognize that this journey begins with having a website that tells their story and makes it easy for prospective members to find the information they need quickly and efficiently – leaving an instantly hospitable impression.

Investing in a website redesign was one of Erika Reyes’ first recommendations and actions when beginning her role as Membership and Marketing Director at RVCC. Erika knew that prioritizing an update of the existing website would better position the club for long-term success. She knew what she wanted the new website to accomplish; however, she knew from personal experience that all web design initiatives are not created equally. 

Drawing on her strong background in marketing and design, Erika understood the importance of looking beyond her existing club technology platform’s design offerings. Websites built on the dominant club technology platforms think first of the existing member, and only secondly to the prospective member’s experience. Erika felt satisfied with the inner workings of her existing members’ platform – where to book tee times, pay dues, etc, but she wanted a facelift for her prospect-facing website. The purpose of this website is quite different, and she wanted it designed with her prospective members’ experience top-of-mind. Additionally, many club websites are built using the same old templates, so they all start to look the same. Erika wanted RVCC’s website to feel fresh and stand out from other private club websites.

Unfortunately, the first web team she engaged to handle the initial redesign left her feeling underwhelmed. That’s when she decided to partner with StoryTeller to bring the site over the finish line. Here are some of the lessons the team learned along the way.

Not All Web Platforms Are Created Equal

Hiring the right web designer and/or developer and assessing their ability to deliver the website you want can be a road filled with detours and potholes. First, be sure to take your time and make sure the designer’s vision matches your desired goal. This is a discovery process, and there are very important things to uncover during this stage. For example, which web hosting platform will deliver the functionality you want? Do you prefer the ability to easily make updates and changes to the site once it goes live? Or, will you leave that power in the hands of your designer? 

“For me, it was super important to have a user-friendly platform that allowed me to make any necessary website edits that were needed,” explained Erika. “As someone who is very hands-on with our marketing strategy, I knew that a user-friendly website was an absolute must!” 

Oftentimes, it's not until you understand what different technology platforms bring to the table that you realize what's possible and where there may be trade-offs. When we showcased the benefits of designing on the HubSpot platform, Erika felt confident that she was making the right decision. 

“I was so happy to find that with HubSpot, not only could I make edits to our new website with ease, it was now aesthetically pleasing and finally functioning correctly,” said Erika. “All thanks to HubSpot!”

Understand Roles and Responsibilities

Some companies and organizations work with two different companies to launch a new website. They engage a designer to make the website pretty and a developer to build out a website that will guide the prospect on their journey to learn more. Some buyers assume that all website partners do it all – design and development – only to discover some website partners require significant hand-holding and time commitment to fill the gaps. With their initial web team hire, RVCC found themselves needing to spend unanticipated amounts of time guiding the design process, writing website copy, and providing strategic direction.

“Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way about choosing the 'right' web design team for us,” said Erika. “Initially, my goal was to go as fast and as budget-friendly as possible, meaning I wanted to get the new website up and running with keeping the budget in mind. But, as the old saying goes, ‘you get what you pay for.’” 

“After meeting with the StoryTeller team,” recalled Erika, “I instantly knew this was the route I wanted to go. They were highly professional, efficient, and timely! In addition, they made the website redesign process easy and fun.”

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Invest the Right Amount of Budget

Have you ever heard of the productivity hack, ‘Only Handle It Once”? (Also known as the O.H.I.O. method?) The idea is that it’s far better to do something right the first time you take on a project or task. When it comes to building a website, it’s more efficient, and cheaper in the long run, to select a partner that you’re certain will deliver on your vision the first time. Too often, organizations fall into the trap of launching a new website that doesn’t quite fit the bill and then pour money into fixing what they’ve already paid for. Nothing’s worse than feeling like you’re fixing something that you just bought – especially if a new website has been on your wishlist for years. 

If you feel that you’re in the middle of a situation where you’re not happy with the direction your web team is going, don’t be afraid to pull the plug. As the saying goes, "Hire slow; fire fast." It’s definitely appropriate to switch gears if you realize you’ve made the wrong selection when it comes to choosing your partner. The importance of your website really can’t be overstated. It’s the first impression your club makes when prospects are getting to know you, and it should be a reflection of what a member will experience if they decide to join your community.

Important Design Considerations

Aesthetics and functionality make or break a visitor's experience. It takes a fraction of a second to make a first impression both in-person and online, which is why your home page is the most important page on your website. From here, a prospect will determine whether or not they want to take the next step to continue on their journey. 

Take a look at these Before and After images below to see what we mean. We added key information on RVCC’s various membership categories to their home page because that’s information visitors want to know right away. To access the information, prospects fill out a short form of their name and email address, which also provides Erika with an opportunity to begin the sales process. 

Even seemingly small design considerations can play a huge role. When partnering with RVCC, we made sure their graphics and text communicated a stylistically sharp look and contemporary feel. For example, when we included their logo, we made it more subtle than before. (There’s no need to have a logo jump off the page as the “feature story”), and we selected a more memorable, modern font.

We also changed the site navigation. Because although RVCC offers many fantastic club amenities, it’s their golf offerings that usually bring prospective members to their site. Thus, instead of having information on ‘golf’ listed under the ‘amenities’ tab, we made sure it was featured front and center. Small changes like this have a big impact on your prospect’s overall online experience.

Before

After

Additional design elements we addressed were adding more visuals (both photos and video) and adjusting the typeface. Photos and video tell your story right away in a way copy just can’t. People want to see the club they’re thinking about joining. Also, typeface conveys certain feelings and messages and reflects the brand identity. It gives the first impression even before your actual content. Beyond the typeface, the arrangement of text has a great impact. 

Look at the Before and After of this page:

Before

 

After

RVCC's BRIGHT FUTURE, SERVING PROSPECTIVE MEMBERS

With Erika at the helm and a new website as a top sales tool, we know the future is bright for RVCC. Now that the website functions how she wants it, Erika will be focusing her efforts on the storytelling – creating blog articles that share club insights and provide a window into the culture of the club. Beyond focusing on the website hosting platform, Erika will also be able to utilize all the functionality that HubSpot and StoryTeller have to offer. 

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