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4 min read

Strategic Club Marketing Straight from School [Ep. 30]

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When Cathy Zehms caught word that there were plans to close Holy Cross Catholic School, where her children attended, she sprung into action. Armed with a degree in English Literature and experience in public relations, Cathy got a job at the school as the Director of Development and a K-4 Teacher’s Aid. The financial tide began to change at Holy Cross as Cathy started to implement digital strategies that included social media campaigns, blogging, email marketing, and short videos. Her marketing and Communications work caught the eye of a parent who was also a member at Green Bay Country Club. Soon enough, Cathy found herself as the marketing coordinator at Green Bay Country Club. 

Zehms,Cathy-186526Staf“I came in as a coordinator position and took a really hard look at our website and how we were communicating with our members and, importantly, to what audiences we were communicating,” Cathy explains. “Then I started fixing the obvious things that needed to be upgraded.”

The membership director‘s responsibilities, at the time, were handled by one of the founding members. Cathy soon took over that role full time, applying her recipe for success from Holy Cross to Green Bay Country Club. Her first goal was to conduct an audit of all the channels of communication that the club was using and put together a plan to coordinate the club’s digital marketing efforts. 

By applying a digital approach to the club’s marketing and communications, over the past seven years, Cathy has created a content ecosystem not seen in most private clubs. Her tactics include a club blog, Facebook and Instagram pages, YouTube videos, and ongoing email campaigns. Between 2015 and 2019, membership increased more than 160% percent. Here’s how she did it: 

Marketing Assets Audit

When Cathy began at Green Bay Country Club, she found there were a number of marketing assets and disparate social media accounts with little strategy. She started to eliminate unnecessary assets and social media channels to streamline communication which reduced confusion and focused efforts in specific areas.

Identified a Target Audience

Cathy’s PR instincts kicked in, and she started to figure out who the club is trying to reach. With a clear understanding of the target audience, Cathy began crafting the right messages for the appropriate audience. 

Strategic Planning

Realizing that strategic planning for digital marketing can be extremely confusing, Cathy created a master game plan and built a detailed spreadsheet that itemizes all the digital assets in play as well as content schedules, due dates and story ideas.

Compelling stories shared through social media

Cathy’s experience as a writer and in public relations helped hone her perspective. Always with reader benefit in mind, Cathy makes sure the content she creates tells a story and is helpful for the reader first. She then makes sure that her posts are shared through the club's social media channels.

At the heart of Cathy’s work is planning and preparation. She starts each year with a strategic plan that identifies initiatives and target goals. She then creates a game plan for each digital marketing asset that includes what work will be done and key metrics that will be monitored. That document is shared with and reviewed by the club’s general manager. Once the plan is in motion, Cathy begins thinking about the upcoming year.

“I never want to get to the end of the year and say, ‘oh my goodness, I have to come up with the whole plan for next year.’ The current year really should be doing a lot of the planning for the following year with some tweaks.”

“I never want to get to the end of the year and say, ‘oh my goodness, I have to come up with the whole plan for next year.’"

As Cathy will tell you, her department is made up of 1-⅓ people, which means she’s got a full plate all the time. To make sure she stays on top of things, Cathy pays close attention to key performance indicators and monitors the progress of all the campaigns in place, and sets new goals based on past history. When part of her strategy is underperforming, she addresses the campaign and makes adjustments. The metrics are what help her prioritize the most important work.

I'm always looking at those. I'm looking at what people are clicking on, how many of our emails are open, that sort of thing.”

Through the creation of marketing processes, the implementation of key performance metrics, and improving content quality, Cathy is changing club marketing in Eastern Wisconsin. Over the past nearly seven years, the work has paid off as Green Bay Country Club continues to drive new members with increased awareness in the community and engagement of its members.

read the case study about Greystone Golf and Country Club