Private club membership and marketing has come a long way in the last ten years; however, it’s amazing to see that a number of leadership teams remain hesitant to fully recognize the membership professional position and job responsibilities as a requirement for operational sustainability. Many private clubs still prefer to hang their hats on the famous quote, “If you build it they will come.” And, the prestige of working for or belonging to a club that does not need a membership/marketing professional is something that continues to be held in high regard. These thought processes come from great traditions and support what makes our industry special, however all clubs must embrace the necessity of membership and marketing development to see a strong future.Luxury and lifestyle opportunities are ready and waiting around every corner to attract attention from our existing and potential members. Because of this, our number one recommendation in getting started with these best practices is to employ a capable team member specializing in the membership and marketing process. We would like to focus on three internal best practices that even the most traditional private clubs can immediately begin implementing, which are Research, Analyze and Connect.
In today’s market, it is essential that all private clubs understand who they are, not who they think they are. The best way to get started is to conduct both an internal and external research study. These projects are likely to be rather large in scope, however once the systems are in place for gathering information the process can be easily managed over time. An external report should focus on data that provides insight into the prospective market place like recent purchase prices for neighborhood homes, interests by age group or net worth and incomes within a certain drive time. Internal research recommendations include things like gathering demographically qualified membership feedback, tracking historical trends or reviewing club usage numbers and average spending.
Organizing and learning from the information you have gathered through dedicated research is exciting! Not all of the insights uncovered will be ideal or match “what we have always done,” but they will certainly identify and clarify the reality of the situation. Are your membership fees and dues in line with what your target market can afford? Is what you are offering in line with specified interests? Analyzing research data is also great for achieving transparency through effective communication. It is important to effectively share the analyzed research findings throughout the club operation as this leads to widespread trust and confidence within the organization.
Applying the education received through research and analysis is what makes private clubs competitive and sustainable within the market. Establish an implementation timeline, make it a priority to align club operations with data results and begin strengthening the connection between club offerings, member satisfaction and the enhancement of market share. Keys to securing a strong connection include awareness, brand consistency and creativity, all which require robust communication capabilities. A dedicated membership and marketing professional can take ownership of this task, acting as an ambassador, to ensure the club’s membership culture is effectively protected.