Marketing Coach and Public Speaker- Gulko Brand Marketing
Q: From your experience, what would you cite as currently the top reason(s) why people now drop club memberships?
A: They do not perceive receiving the value expected. We live in a busy world today and clubs must work smarter, not harder, to attract, retain, and build the most valuable member relationships. Today, the entire family wants to go their club to enjoy the many offerings and amenities, participate at the club. Also, consider time. We have to make many more decisions today as to where to spend our time. So, whoever delivers more premium value, wins! And, today, family time wins.
Q: What are the most basic things a club must do to halt/prevent attrition and ensure healthy membership levels?
A: First, they must communicate more often with their members. Treat them like best friends. Practice internal branding to ensure your club’s positioning, vision, and personality resonate with members. Get to know what they are thinking — survey the membership, online and also one-on-one to determine what the members’ perceptions, needs, and desires are. Then make a concentrated effort to demonstrate that the club hears them, truly cares about their opinions and is reacting by planning activities, programs, and service to exceed their expectations. By doing this, the members feel a sense of ownership in the outcome and this creates a greater sense of community.
Q: What would you cite as the biggest mistakes that clubs now make in the membership retention area?
A: Planning in a vacuum. Marketing starts in the minds of the customer – not in the minds of management. Go to the front line where the marketing battle is being fought. Effectively communicate and exceed your members’ expectations. Many times, clubs are not being made aware of why members joined in the first place, and then only upon an exit interview, they find out why they are leaving. However, now, it is too late.
Q: Should a club or resort implement different retention strategies for different member demographics?
A: Absolutely! Just think of each category of membership and define exactly what his/her reasons for joining, their needs and target specific activities, programs tailored to their interests. By doing this, you will increase member participation and drive non-dues revenues to record levels. Like ice cream – one flavor does not satisfy all. It’s like having 6 businesses targeting 6 different market segments all under 1 roof. New strategies to drive new successes.
Q: Is it important for a club to employ a membership director? What qualifications should this person have?
A: YES. A great personality, likability factor and well organized. This person must be out in front representing the club’s culture and personality. As a people person, they should be dedicated to creating NEW ideas to attract new members and interact, embrace, involve current members and nurture relationships. They should have a marketing or sales background to ensure experiencing a customer-centric experience. Psychology is key. And, they must be proactive in planning and quite sensitive to people’s needs, responsive in following up with prospective members in a timely and professional way, and create a sense of excitement, a “buzz’, think out-of-the-box to drive out-of-the- box results!