From coast to coast, there is fantastic momentum sweeping across the private club industry. Renovations on and around the course are taking place that are striking a chord with the next generation member and their families. What’s slow to change, however, are the renovations to modernize marketing and communication strategies to match how the buying process takes place today.
No matter how prominent or successful your club has been in the past, one thing remains consistent, your online presence and how you communicate with your prospects through the “buying cycle” matters to the success of your membership growth.
The buying process now starts online
Most big purchase decisions begin online today, and this includes club memberships. Whether we are talking with our friends to get recommendations or we type keywords into the Google search bar, all paths lead us to websites.
As club marketers, your job is to make sure that the buyer – your prospect – finds what they are looking for quickly, and that each interaction with which you communicate is both timely and personalized. Unfortunately most clubs today lack the strategy and experience to adapt their marketing to support what today’s buyer needs.
Two of the biggest barriers standing in the way of modernizing membership marketing go hand-in-hand: the lack of sales and marketing technology used by clubs and the inability to get buy-in at the board level to invest in marketing.
Convincing the old guard that change is needed presents a tough challenge, especially when the board is composed of long-time members who see the club through a certain lens that doesn’t always align with modernization. As managers and leaders, it’s your job to help these members understand why change is necessary for your survival.
So, how do you convince your club that modernizing your membership marketing is necessary?
Here are some ideas to bring to your next board meeting:
Technology Personalizes the Buying Experience: It’s no secret that private clubs are struggling to attract millennials – and millennials prefer shopping online. They are doing their homework online to find out all they can about you before they are looking to speak with you. Having resources available on your website like a downloadable membership guide breaking down membership categories and fees in exchange for an email address is a fantastic way to give them what they want and begin a conversation. Technology enables you to personalize communications based on buyer’s interest as well as use automation so that your response is timely. You only get one chance to make a first impression!
Technology Increases the Efficiency of Your Staff: New tools do come with a cost, but you're spending money to make money. Empowering your membership and communication team with software that can do a lot of the heavy lifting will enable them to spend time doing what they do best, close more deals. Not all prospects are ready to join immediately after they inquire about membership. Sales and marketing technology like HubSpot can give each lead a grade or a score so that your team spends time with the most highly engaged and more sales-ready prospects, while allowing future email communications to be sent out automatically to continue the courtship with your prospect.
Technology Enables You to Track Your Investment: One reason you may have met with resistance in the past when broaching the subject of a marketing spend with your board is that you couldn’t provide the data and analytics to show the return on your investment. What’s radically different about digital marketing using marketing software is that it’s 100% measurable. Rather than spending money on marketing and guessing if it was effective or not, you can actually track how your customers found you, what campaigns were effective to convert your prospect into a lead, even down to which social media platform they have engaged with you on. Adding the measurement component to marketing turns the conversation from marketing as an “expense” to marketing as an “investment.” Over time, it’s not uncommon to see a payoff of 3X, 4X or 5X return. Would you spend $50,000 to generate $250,000? I sure would.
Transforming your online presence to connect with today’s modern buyer takes time and expertise. However, once you “build the engine” and automate some of your marketing process, your website can be a 24/7 sales resource. So when your prospect, sitting in his/her robe on a Sunday morning having coffee while the kids sleep, is “shopping around” on their computer to find a private club that's just right for them, you can have peace of mind knowing that you are connecting with the next generation member exactly the way they want to connect with you… on their terms.