How to Market to New Private Club Members and Keep Them

iStock_000008534192XSmall The struggles associated with a weak global economy continue long after major regional improves have been made.  One of the first hit when the economy weakens and last to improve are the Private Country Clubs.  Many look at the private club industry’s existence during a recession as the survival of the fittest.

Who Keeps a Private Club Afloat

During good and bad times the membership of a private club is what keeps it afloat.   Unfortunately the membership consist of people and no matter what sector of the economic community they reside the shape of the global economy will govern the amount of support they can afford to give to their club.

The survival of a private club is squarely balanced on the number of members they have on their role.  Most private clubs set up operations that effectively deal with an influx of members coming and going.  Some manage to a maximum membership.  Some club’s operations are so finely tuned the lose of just one member could raise havoc in the club’s ability to maintain the high standards it established.  Nonetheless, no matter how a private club is organized operationally the membership, and the monthly revenue generated from monthly dues, is their life’s blood.

How to Replace Members

Losing a member, or members, of a private club for any reason is to be expected.  However when the number of members resigning is more than the number of new members joining there obviously is a need to take action.  Naturally, mounting a campaign to lure in potential members is one of the first things a club’s management needs to organize.  Replacing members is a daunting task in a bad economy.

The proven way to recruit new members to a private club has been through word of mouth.  Communicating effectively with the current membership the need for new members usually is productive.  However, there probably is going to be a need to take that effort a step further and step outside the club’s membership to the streets.  Here is where things have changed.

Online Social Networking

Old methods of broadcast media in the open market may have a ‘feel good feel’ to traditionalist but more and more people who would be in the market interested in being a country club members are not seeing and/or not interest in those forms of advertisements.  The trend in marketing is rapidly moving to the internet. 

The internet is not just for teenagers to hang out and giggle.  The internet is now the tool people use to communicate and research.  Even the over 50 crowd that many private clubs write off as not being interested in private club membership are crowding on the internet to expand their social reach with family, friends and business associates.  The creation and development of social networking online was a natural occurrence.  However, approached this more savvy consumer is not done using traditional methods.

Social Media, the hybrid method of being social to develop a message, is now stepping forward as the most effective way to reach any market.  For the private club, social media has to be executed differently.  More dedication to reaching out and touching people using a more conversational style develops trust.  Once trust is establish consumers are more likely to listen.

Enticing potential private club members to ‘check out’ what someone is mentioning in the online social space is the key.  Having someone designated as the club’s online social community manager helps build trust and consumer interest.  Just posting ads and self-promotions with no intent to interact with the online community kills any attempt to show the market what you private club has to offer.

Social media is now part of traditional marketing and it is very important private clubs formulate an effective strategy to use it.

How to Keep Members

One of the mistakes private clubs make when developing their strategies is when they forget about their current membership.  Low moral produced by deteriorating facilities, lowed quality of golf experience, reduced personnel to handle member’s needs and ridged inflexibility in the club management attitudes will add to the problem the club has by driving off current members.

Offering more services to help current members adjust to change a poor economy  causes can also be done through online social media.  It is a smart move to dedicate a person on the club’s staff to service the people currently paying the club’s bills and getting them through the adjustment the private clubs has to make to the change in social culture is a smart.

The clubs who step up and offer programs that train or retrain their current membership to adjusting to change will be the clubs who survive.

Rinse and Repeat

Once a club develops their strategies to recruit new members and keep current members on board an effort has to made to make adjustments where needed but also stay the course with building a stronger online presence.  Once momentum is gained and traction is established with a club’s digital footprint repeating the strategy is the next step.