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Best Practices for Private Club Membership and Marketing

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Private Club Marketing's editorial and research is conducted in conjunction with its advisory and development team.

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The near and long-term rewards to taking the following steps are much more rewarding best practices for club marketing and memberships.

If you Google “best practices” for practically any form of private club marketing or membership campaign—print, e-mail, or social media—the word “relevance” is sure to come up. Simply put, your messages need to resonate with your audiences. Sounds obvious enough, but how do you execute these best practices for club marketing?

The answer is not as easy as, say, mailing out a general membership e-mail to 1,000 members, past members and prospects to diminishing effect. But the near- and long-term rewards to taking the following steps are much. much more rewarding.

Relevance should be the primary goal of your private club marketing and membership engagement strategies. Everything else (including response and donation levels) can only happen if the message is interesting enough to open and the reader is sticking around for the story.

We like to think of relevance as the hub of a wheel with 8 spokes that are critical to keeping your campaigns rolling. If any of the spokes are weak or missing, your marketing won’t be as effective.

The 8 Spokes on the Wheel of Relevance:

  1. Segments – Hopefully, you are segmenting your members into lists (active members, past members, prospects, etc.). Have you gone beyond the basics to see if you can create sub-segments? The more you can personalize your message, the better the response will be. For example, can you identify members who constantly visit the club but rarely spend and those that come less frequent but spend more and tailor your messaging accordingly?
  2. Offer – The other advantage to defining and refining your segments is that you can fine-tune your offer to resonate more fully with each audience. Maybe you can incentivize those non-use members to bring a guest with them by providing premium benefits. These might include an invitation to a special cocktail party or acknowledgment for their support over the years.
  3. Story – If you had 8 seconds to get your members’ attention and tell them why they should refer a friend to join, or attend an event, what would you say? The best place to start a private club marketing appeal is with a compelling headline that draws the reader in. Follow your headline up by telling a story that describes the campaign, establish why the recipient should want to participate (appeals to their emotions). Your club may be focused on many initiatives, but resist the urge to try to share them all—you’ll only turn off the recipient. Make sure every single word is focused on the campaign at hand.
  4. Proof – What are your clubs latest triumphs? Sharing them is an excellent way to keep active members engaged and help prospects or past members get involved. Do you have statistics or testimonials that help prove the effectiveness of your program? Create a sidebar or graph to shine a spotlight on your success. People scan e-mails, blogs, and printed materials before they dig deeper. Make sure your proof points pop off the page.
  5. Call to Action – The biggest mistake many clubs makes is not making it clear why people should join or refer their friends to your club—NOW. Create a sense of urgency. You are competing not only against your recipient’s leisure dollar, but every other form of advertising they are being subjected to on a given day. You need to encourage them to act when you have their attention. This also means repeating your call to action several times in the same communication—particularly in your e-mails and on your website. The more buttons and text links the better. Take a page out of the best of breed consumer marketing playbook. Look at e-mails you receive from retailers. They weave many ways for the customer to buy throughout their promotions. You should do the same.
  6. Measurement – How do you measure success? The number of new members? The number of referrals? A combination of the two? Do you have a system in place for measuring results and tracking them over time? If you don’t, your campaigns will be run more on intuition than fact. That doesn’t bode well for the longevity of any organization.
  7. Post Mortem – When the campaign is over, how do you share what worked and what didn’t and who gets to contribute to the discussion? It’s a shame that many people with institutional knowledge aren’t given the opportunity to help make things better by participating in a post mortem. There’s nothing like a “shut the phones off, 3-hour honest assessment while the data is fresh” meeting to generate ideas and get the team fired up about the next promotion. Distribute the notes from this session, so you can:
  8. Implement Learnings – Your campaigns should continually evolve to take advantage of your recent learnings and fine tune your messages to each of your membership segments. Doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t is the best way to achieve success and maximize your return on investment.

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