Tips for Creating a Successful Private Club Membership Marketing Plan

Want to realize membership strategies to market your private club more effectively? Here are a few tips for creating a successful membership marketing plan

Why would I need a membership marketing plan?

Whether you run a small, single club, a medium sized one, or a large management company, whether your club is newly founded or well-tried, there are certain daily challenges that you, as a club marketer, must inevitably face. These include driving member referrals, satisfying member demands, and achieving business goals. Such business goals should not come into being randomly or just by gut feelings. Rather, your marketing plan should be the basis of your corporate agitation. The process you should follow, in creating your marketing strategy, will be outlined for you in this article.

Make sure your membership marketing plan doesn’t become a monster, but rather is constructive and focused on the most important elements. There is no point in investing hours and hours of work into a plan just to disregard it in the end. In order to achieve your personal business goals, the membership marketing plan you devise should be something you can use in your daily operations. There are several things you should pay attention to when composing it. This means that full concentration and sufficient time are required when you sit down to devise this plan. However, the act of creating the plan alone is of course not sufficient. Your membership marketing plan should at the very least be updated regularly (say once a year) and be coherent with the general business strategy. This brief article should give you a rough understanding of how to create a private club membership marketing plan, and eventually serve you as a tool to sustain your position within the harshly competitive private club business.

Preconditions for a membership marketing plan

In order to determine precise marketing goals, you should already have formulated a clear business strategy. To do so, it is important to observe your club from a bird’s-eye view and to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are our members and target audiences?
  • Why should prospective members join out club verse our competitors? What advantages do we offer our members?
  • Who are our competitors?
  • What are we specialized in? How are we differentiating ourselves from our competitors? In which departments and amenities are we better?
  • What are our products and services – and for which of them did we receive positive or negative feedback?
  • What are some weaknesses of our club?
  • What is our philosophy / our vision?

You should have convincing answers at hand for these questions. Only then can you begin drafting precise goals for your marketing strategy, defining concrete demands to be achieved over a specific period. Those goals must be formulated in such a way that they are verifiable and controllable. Maybe you want to increase membership inquiries from your website by 5%, or you want to strengthen your presence on social networks. By choosing specific targets, you can later measure your performance. Do not forget to define and include budgets for marketing measures into your calculation. In the end, it’s all about making those measures worthwhile for you and your club.

Create specific marketing measures

You have taken an important first step by doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis as well as defining a business strategy. By now, you are getting ready to actually start working on your membership marketing plan. That includes developing certain measures for the following categories – the so-called four P’s.

  • Product
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Place

It is highly recommended that you do some sort of brainstorming with different managers from respective departments of your club. Hear everyone’s opinion, let them speak, and be open and even eager for new ideas. Afterward, you can – either on your own or with your team – make a cost-benefit analysis of the various ideas. Those measures that show great promise for your budget can then be included in your membership marketing plan. Concrete examples of frequently used elements could be:

  • Club logo / business cards
  • Direct mailing / Club Newsletter
  • Presence on social networks
  • Online Advertisements

Concrete measures must be formulated precisely and be achievable within a certain time frame. Do not hesitate to be ambitious here, but do stay down-to-earth. Often, multiple small steps are necessary if one wants to achieve a single, bigger goal. Always keep your target audience in mind and set up a logical agenda, coherent with your business strategy. Share your membership marketing plan with all of your employees, letting them know that they are a part of this plan and have contributed to its development.

This process also has the advantage of giving different departments the chance to better understand the work of their colleagues, as they search to include everyone into a general business strategy.

Performance review

Your membership marketing plan should be your guide into the future. As such, you should constantly challenge the goals determined within. In the fast-shifting club business, a correct analysis of the situation and the related goals one day can be outdated and irrelevant overnight. Internal changes can have an impact on a club and its marketing efforts, of course, but so can shifts in the social, political and economic environment your club is attached to. Keeping your plan up to date doesn’t mean that you need to hire economic and political experts, but you should pay attention to external events and be ready to adapt when necessary.

A performance review offers valuable clues as to the effectiveness and profitability of your business strategies and marketing efforts.

Somewhere between the constant optimization and adjustment of your strategies and the necessary patience to let your ideas come into being, you might find the secret to an effective membership marketing plan. Control your success regularly by looking at numbers and stats, as well as by organizing team meetings. It is the only way to ensure that you achieve the goals as you’ve set them out in your membership marketing plan.

Final words

A membership marketing plan supports you and your club in different ways. Not only does it help you gain new prospects and turn one-time guests into new members, it also helps you embed unclear and indefinite business goals into concrete frameworks, and eventually to implement them with well thought out measures.

As a first step, it is important to develop and formulate a general business strategy, essential for your club to position itself properly. In due course, you and some handpicked coworkers should also determine some clear business objectives, from which you can deduce certain marketing measures.

From there, things get more elaborate as you have to put your – to this point still purely theoretical – membership marketing plan into practice. From here you need to be patient, as well as vigilant of how your strategies will fit your day in, day out work processes. Ideally, you want to create an action plan for and with your employees to describe how exactly you want your ideas to be applied.

Once you’ve managed to successfully implement the membership marketing plan into your daily workflows, you must not forget to carefully observe the impact of your measures. Not until your strategies bring about real improvements, your employees work together to realize objectives, and you’ve managed to prove a profit, can you consider the implementation of your membership marketing plan completed successfully. Until that happens, be critical, do not hesitate to challenge formulated goals and adapt them to altered circumstances. This is the only way for you to guarantee – whether you happen to run a small single club, a medium sized one or a large management company – that you have done everything in your power to tap into the full potential of your club and membership.

12 Creative Golf Influencers Accounts You Should Be Following

As more and more people and companies in the golfing space have started making noise about Instagram, we at Private Club Marketing have curated a list of accounts you should be following.

With golf looking for more ways to attract a younger demographic Instagram’s platform is perfect for getting your message out to the loyal young followers of your club and course.

Naturally, we decided to jump on and find out what the fuss was all about.

It’s fun, simple, visual and addictive. What’s more, it’s unlike any other social platform. It is unrehearsed and offers behind the scenes insight into the daily lives of golfers that the other platforms can’t replicate.

It feels very private and in the moment. This is what makes it so good. It’s also what makes it hard to find decent accounts to follow. Instagram is not designed to be a viral platform. Unless you know who to follow, it will be a ghost town for you.

Here’s a list of the best we’ve found make sure you check them out, and let us know if we should add anyone to the list.

Rory McIlroy

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I hit a little white ball around a field sometimes!

 
 
 
 
 
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Private Members’ Clubs Give Up Armchairs for Workspaces

Ambience of unalloyed comfort gives way to challenge shared office market

Soon after the launch of London’s lavish private members’ club 12 Hay Hill, its boss Stephanos Issaias had to throw out all the sofas and chairs on one of the floors and replace them with less comfortable seating.

Unlike many traditional private clubs, 12 Hay Hill allows members to mix business and pleasure: laptops and smartphones are permitted in its lounges, luxury serviced offices are available to rent.  But some of its members, who today pay £3,800 a year for the privilege, had complained that the comfy sofas that were perfect for reclining with a drink or a book, were not appropriate “for holding meetings”, according to Mr Issaias.

Such are the dilemmas faced by a new type of club that is springing up in the UK capital. Dubbed “club-working” spaces, these offer the exclusivity and social networking of the City clubs of old, combined with the work-friendly environment of WeWork, the $20bn shared office provider.  The rising popularity of working in places other than traditional offices has been driven by IT that has made it ever easier, and the growing cost of space in London.

The trend is also catching on outside the UK. In the US, city clubs such as Jonathan Club in Los Angeles and New York’s The Union League Club “have been adding co-working areas into their interiors and updating their look to make it more modern” in a bid to attract millennial professionals, according to Zack Bates, chief executive of Private Club Marketing, which promotes clubs and hotels.

Read the full article on the Financial Times: https://www.ft.com/content/292f1f4c-a7aa-11e8-8ecf-a7ae1beff35b

Golf & Entrepreneur Magazine Podcast Interview

Ryan Walker, Publisher of Golf & Entrepreneurship Magazine sat down with Zack Bates for the G&E podcast to talk about how Zack got his start in the golf and club business, and how Private Club Marketing came to be one of the most influential membership advisory firms to Top 100 private clubs and luxury brands throughout the U.S.

Listen to the podcast at the link below, or check it out on iTunesSpotify, or Stitcher.

Click Here to Listen

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5 Takeaways from the Florida Membership Marketing Summit

For anyone working in membership sales and club marketing, there was no better place to be this May than the Inaugural Florida Membership Marketing Summit. Held in Naples, Fl the event was an opportunity to learn and share with other membership thought leaders and practitioners working to promote membership at over 80 resort, golf, yacht and country clubs. This year, it was encouraging to see five different presentations that featured customer service, social selling, and marketing technologies. The summit also served as a great opportunity to learn about some of the challenges and opportunities in the private club industry, specific to Florida.

Here are five quick takeaways from the Summit:

Customer Service is a Contact Sport
Getting your club staff to recognize that they are part of the membership sales and retention process. From remembering names to preferences, to a simple smile. Here are the 5-E’s to improve your customer experience.

Club’s Need a Multi-Faceted Marketing Strategy
Susan Green from the Oaks Club put together a panel of experts on club marketing. From social media to curated content in print, web, and video all need to be part of your marketing strategy moving forward. When establishing a marketing plan be sure to include ways to show ROI for every dollar spent. If you cannot give definitive ROI and tracking, move on. Here are some great ways Private Club Marketing can assist your club to execute its marketing strategy.

Automated Chatbots are an Asset to Signing New Business
Setting up automated chatbots to answer simple questions like “when is Taco Tuesday? Or, what’s the Dress Code?” can drastically improve member and guest communication and free your membership and admin team up from these daunting questions that members constantly reach out to ask you. In addition, a non-automated chatbot can allow you to connect with more website visitors looking for membership and event information. Check out Private Club Marketing’s website for an example of how Chatbot’s work. CLICK HERE

Your Club Should be on Social Media (Regardless of non-profit status)
Whether you like it or not, most of your members are already on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Fish where the fish are! Try to limit advertising all the time on your posts (especially if your a not-for-profit club). Members want to see what’s coming up and been happening at your club – share those and watch your social media engagement grow. Here’s our Social Media Tips for Private Clubs.

Elevate your PR Strategy
Have new and exciting things coming up at your club that you want the local paper to write about? Be sure it’s newsworthy to the public and not just your members. Start fostering relationships with your favorite writers, bloggers, and photographers sooner than later (recommend before you start a major renovation or announcement). When submitting news to your local paper it’s best practices to have a press release already written and completed for the paper’s editorial team. That way they have most of the work done and may just need to follow up on a quote or 2 from your press release.

The 5-E’s: Customer Engagement is a Contact Sport

Companies that sell “luxury” like designer handbags, travel and country club memberships tend to make customer service a top priority. These brands target an affluent demographic that expects nothing but the best, especially when they’re spending a lot of money on your services and products.

Private Club Marketing is known for working with exclusive golf, city and yacht clubs, as well as luxury brands like Macallan, Aston Martin and Four Seasons Hotels, has learned a lot about what the luxury market wants from the businesses they patronize.

“When dealing with high-net-worth individuals (and families), it is important to portray trust and professionalism. Excellent customer service is the best way to put a customer at ease. Successful customer service representatives will portray empathy and will make the customer feel comfortable engaging with your brand and invite their friends to do so as well.“

Below we’ve included John DiJulius’ 5-E’s of Customer engagement for your enjoyment.

FAB FIVE – We hate platitudes. Don’t tell your team to be present or to make or exceed expectations. Tell them how, make it black & white, and make it measurable. One of my new favorite systems for making a member connection are the “5-E’s.”

  1. Eye Contact
  2. Ear-to-Ear
  3. Enthusiastic Greeting
  4. Engage
  5. Educate

Why? – We love these for five reasons:

  1. They are so simple to do
  2. They can be effective with every member
  3. The first four take zero time to execute
  4. They demonstrate genuine hospitality
  5. No one else is doing them

Eye Contact – This eliminates the head down, uncaring, robotic feeling when the front-line just asks, “next?”  A great training method for this is to audit the employees by periodically asking them, “What was the color of the member’s eyes?” (maybe a bit too creepy, though).

Ear-to-Ear – Smile.  A smile is part of the uniform, and a smile has teeth. Demonstrate a positive attitude and tell the member that you are happy to serve them.

Enthusiastic Greeting – Your greeting must demonstrate genuine warmth and not just a trained greeting. It should be one that shows enthusiasm in the voice coupled with a smile and eye contact.  You are now giving genuine hospitality as if the member was an old friend visiting at your home.

Engage – THIS IS THE ONE, the secret ingredient that most clubs do a poor job of mandating, training, showing its importance, and hence they provide little direction to employees on how to execute. This doesn’t have to be a ten-minute conversation.  Every single member can be engaged within the time it typically takes to serve them, be it 90 seconds in a grab-and-go environment or a 45-minute meeting. This action demonstrates that they are not a herd of cattle, or one of a hundred member.  It eliminates the “too task focused on the transaction” versus having an “interaction” with someone.  In the incidences where you know the member — make that known.  Utilize any member intelligence you can, from info in a database to recognizing their bagtag, or a picture of their twins on the desk, a hat, college shirt, tie, glasses, or anything else you can point out.

Educate – This is the one that may slightly affect time of service in industries that are built around rapid pace (fast food) and may have to have an above & beyond action when it is warranted, i.e. a new member unfamiliar with a menu. For the rest of us it should have zero impact on productivity and be demonstrated every single time. Think of companies like Ritz-Carlton and Apple stores. Their employees are brilliant about their products and application.

 

Contact us to learn more

Private Club Marketing, recognized as Platinum Clubs of America‘s preferred Membership Marketing Firm, is a luxury marketing, branding and membership sales consulting firm specializing in private clubs, golf communities, resort destinations, boutique hotels, estates and unique lifestyle environments. We help Developers, Owners, Financial Institutions, and Management Companies make big decisions on envisioning, strategy, marketing, sales, and organization.

10 Things You Didn’t Know about the Kentucky Derby

As far as live horse racing track competitions go, the Kentucky Derby is the crown jewel of live horse races. Since the official race is almost here, we want to share some Kentucky Derby facts so that you can impress your friends over a refreshing Mint Julep.

10 Kentucky Derby Facts

The Kentucky Derby has never, ever been canceled

The Run for the Roses has lived through some hard times in American history. But since its founding in 1875, the race has never been canceled. Come rain or shine, come depression or war, come what may, there will always be a race on the first Saturday in May.

Space is limited

Only 20 of the best of the best thoroughbred racehorses compete every year. When you compare this to the number of horses born every year, that’s less than one percent of horses that get a chance to run.

Extravagant hats are a deep-rooted tradition

Kentucky Derby facts aren’t all about the horses. The founder of the first race in the Triple Crown series wanted this event to compare to Paris Fashion Week. To this day, women come dressed to the hilts. Every year gets more and more fabulous.

Female horses don’t always run the live horse racing track

One of the more troubling Kentucky Derby interesting facts for owners of female thoroughbred horses to hear is that only three fillies have won the competition.

Horse lovers know how to party

Kentucky Derby facts for kids that could get them excited about the festivities is that for over 60 years, there are two weeks of parties, parades, and events before the great race. Those familiar with the scene call it the Kentucky Derby Festival.

Triple Crown winners are the most physically fit thoroughbred horses

Racehorses in Kentucky are strong athletes. To win the Triple Crown, a horse must take first in three competitions all held within the same month. Can you imagine the kind of energy that takes? Some interesting Kentucky Derby facts trivia you could spread is that only 12 horses have ever been honored as Triple Crown winners.

It costs a pretty penny to enter

It’s not polite to talk about money, but when talking about Kentucky Derby facts, we’ll make an exception. If all deadlines are met, it costs over $50,000 to enter the race.

Mint Julep is the official drink of the race

A hot day at the live horse races requires a refreshing beverage. Mint Juleps are the official drink of race lovers. Attendees drink more than 120,000 of these things during their visit at the track.

You can win big

On top of a sweet blanket of roses, Derby winners take home $2 million. That’s a nice chunk of change.

People bet big

When it comes to Kentucky Derby facts, it’s no surprise that people bet big. But would you be impressed if we told you people bet nearly $209.2 million in 2017?

A lot of luck and just $1 could’ve made you $75,974.50 richer at the 2017 Derby. All you would’ve had to do is pick the top four horses in the 2017 Kentucky Derby in the correct order.

#LiveUnderPar: PGA Tour Launches New Advertising Campaign

For the first time in more than 20 years, the PGA TOUR is launching a new advertising campaign designed to capture and celebrate the energy and spirit of today’s TOUR. Titled “Live Under Par,” the campaign plays on golf’s unique scoring language to portray the relentless pursuit of excellence by TOUR players, both competitively and in how they embrace the values of the game like sportsmanship and respect, as well as the PGA TOUR’s ingrained mission of giving back.

The thematic of “Live Under Par” immerses spectators into the contagious excitement of the sport, showcasing its vast 360-degree impact both inside and outside the ropes. As part of the current integrated marketing strategy of the TOUR, the campaign aims to reach beyond the core golf fan and attract new and diverse fan segments to the sport. Further, it will serve as a call to action for dedicated golf fans to share their passion for the game and invite newcomers to “join the PGA TOUR.”

“Live Under Par” will itself live across all social-media channels in addition to print and TV.

The direction of the new creative found its impetus in a comprehensive audience study that revealed, among other things, that while hard-core golf fans look to broadcasts for the technical content you’d expect (“tips” and “advice” for their own games, for instance), another demographic the PGA Tour dubs “Sports Socialites”—and make up nearly a quarter of golf’s viewers—are looking for far more social and interactive content, including “player access” and the chance to “connect to others.”

Perhaps most telling is that while older viewers enjoy the usual competitive drama of televised tournaments, younger viewers are looking for “social connections” and for the players to be “relatable.”

Five Ways Hospitality Technology Can Be a Member/Guest Service Differentiator

Every private club and hotel’s success starts with friendly guest interactions. Your staff answers the phone enthusiastically and professionally, greets incoming guests with a smile, and maintains an upbeat disposition during their in-person interactions.

In the information age, friendly guest interactions must necessarily go beyond face-to-face encounters and follow-up phone calls. It must cross over into your guest’s digital experience.

Cutting-edge hospitality technologies let luxury properties offer more efficient, communicative customer service across multiple channels while still maintaining the essential friendliness of hospitality. Here are five ways clubs and hotels are leveraging these exciting new platforms as guest service differentiators.

  1. Recognizing Loyal, Return Guests

Just as Amazon saves a shopper’s preferences, many hospitality platforms store information about their guest’s favorite restaurants and spas, or their birthdays and anniversaries. This new kind of hospitality technology effectively improves the level of guest service a property can offer. It helps properties not only recognize loyal returning guests, but provide them with a highly personal experience.

Robert Sereci, General Manager at Medinah Country Club is taking this challenge on head on, “We are working with a 3rd party company to develop analytics to better understand member usage with the data collected [by our POS and tee time systems]. Our current vendor has almost zero analytics.”

The Cosmos Club in Washington DC started a “Longevity Recognition Program” that tracks members when they reach 30, 40, and 50 years of membership.  Mitchell Platt, General Manager said, “We send out a congratulatory letter and meal certificate to show appreciation.

  1. Personalizing Each Visit

To make a visit memorable, it must be tailored to the guest. Starting from their initial point of contact with a guest, your staff should collect details about a guest’s preferences. CRM systems now contain information about dietary restrictions, and other personal needs and preferences.

Russ Snella, Manager of IT Strategy and Solutions, formerly at the Union League Club says, “Every generation communicates differently. If you are not using their method of communications you are wrong. Every form of communications is required.”

Even a quick search through GHIN will give you insight to where a guest has recently played golf. Once a guest arrives at a property, the staff updates the guest’s profile. This high-touch service environment personalizes the guest experience and ultimately cultivates long-term customer loyalty.

  1. Using Member-Only Mobile Applications

Many members, especially millennials, prefer communication via mobile devices. To effectively greet this audience and offer them attentive guest service, club and hotel properties are using members-only mobile applications to field requests, use on-property text messaging, and increase social engagement.

Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, AZ is currently in development of a full-service member mobile app. With six (soon to be seven) golf courses and clubhouses, nine restaurants and grills, and dozens of events and classes each week, navigating Desert Mountain can be a challenge. “Beginning this fall, members will be able to reserve tee times, dining reservations, book spa appointments and manage event sign-ups with one touch,” says Kim Atkinson, Director of Marketing and Communications. “We’ll also use the app to push notifications to groups based on preferences and interests, and will work to enable members with common interests to connect with one another.”

Sequoyah Country Club in Oakland, CA recently opened a new state-of-the-art wellness center and installed Technogym equipment and technology solutions. In 2017 Technogym partnered with IBM to create a “human-like” virtual coach, able to interact with people using natural language, and to offer them personalized training programs based on their goals and context conditions (such as weather, agenda, health conditions, food intake) in order to enhance a healthier lifestyle.

  1. Building Long-Term Customer Loyalty

How do properties build a successful loyalty program without it becoming intrusive? Some properties are automatically enrolling repeat guests into their loyalty programs, and then offering personalized invitations, individualized concierge services, and other high-touch experiences based on their visits. Others use their guests’ transactional data to offer personalized gifts.

Preferred Golf, a division of Preferred Hotels and Resorts offers points members can use towards golf trips and experiences. By their members using their iPrefer rewards, Preferred Hotels and Resorts are better positioned to personalize the guest experience while they are visiting one of their 750 hotels worldwide.

  1. Streamlining Technology Deployment

Issues with connectivity, fragmented ecosystem, and personnel training can prevent a hiccup-free deployment. New, innovative hospitality software can be deployed quickly and easily. This software is user-friendly, decreasing the time needed to train staff.

Companies like Atlantic IT have tech and sales staff with experience at Top 100 private clubs to assist with deployment of new technologies. Krystal Triumph, Director of Business Development says, “With every club being unique and having custom requests for integration, we’ve learned that there really isn’t a one size fits all platform. So, we’ve developed standards and best practices to help our clients’ use technology to standout and create a personalized experience for their members.”

Club and Hospitality technology is advancing at a breakneck pace. As your property considers new platforms and applications, review these five methods of using technology as a guest service differentiator.

Private Club Marketing CEO Zack Bates Named to 25 Most Influential People in Luxury Digital to Follow

Since Verb Brands curated their last installment of the leading luxury influencers in 2015, the world of digital marketing has been revolutionized again. Luxury brands are now starting to catch up with the rest of the industry and deliver incredible, immersive and customer-focused digital experiences. 2017 was been led by some incredible brands and some incredible people behind those brands including Digital Director at Soho House & Co Kris Shaw, Jeremy Langmead the Brand & Content Director at Mr Porter, Tiffany Dowd founder of Luxe Social Mediaand Anna Nash Head of Global PR and Communications at Aman Resorts. Here is Verb Brands’ list of the 25 most influential leaders in the current luxury digital world, rounded out by Private Club Marketing’s CEO Zack Bates.

Click to see the list