A.S.K. Workshops speaker, Mark Taylor (PGA of GB&I), explains how to speak to current and potential members more effectively…
Communicating with members more effectively
Once we know who it is we are talking to and what they like or dislike about the golf club then it becomes easier to communicate and market to them more effectively.
This is particularly useful when marketing to visitors and potential members but is also important for communicating with existing members.
These days there are many more ways of communicating directly with members than relying on word of mouth and the club notice board. Direct mail can be cost effective as the message is well targeted, while email communication has a proven record in golf clubs looking to communicate quickly and easily.
Emails are highly targeted, cheap to send out and also enable a facility to respond quickly and effectively to its current needs, such as promoting an upcoming social function for example.
But, however a club decides to communicate with its members, a consistent approach is needed. So many golf clubs launch a monthly newsletter, for example and after a few issues when there is nothing to say (!), the whole idea tails away.
The same applies to the club news section on the website which is fervently updated for the first few weeks and then again, the novelty wears off and it falls down the ‘to do’ list.
Intermittent communication is almost as bad as not communicating at all as it makes it doubly difficult to pick up where you left off after a spell of silence.
The secret to making a successful communication programme work is to make someone take responsibility for it. In most private member clubs this will be the Secretary or a member of the Marketing Committee.
A simple communication plan such as weekly update of the website, a monthly newsletter and email, a regular ‘what’s coming’ poster on the notice board…..the ideas are numerous but the key is to commit to them and make sure they happen.
You will by now have built up an excellent picture of your members and how they are using their membership. This is an excellent starting point for input into a marketing plan.
However, once having analysed membership there is still a need to keep doing so on a regular basis. A snapshot every six months would be the minimum especially as the nature of the game makes it a very cyclical business, with the results in the height of summer very different to those in off peak times.
Things change much faster than they ever used to and clubs must be aware of external influences as well as internal ones. For example, the completion of a new housing estate a few miles down could explain an influx of members during the past few months – and could point to a source of more.
Regular reviews will also allow the monitoring of changing membership demographics.
The average age of a golf club membership has been increasing steadily in recent years, mirroring general population demographics. This has had economic consequences for many clubs who have seen their senior membership (often paying reduced fees) grow out of proportion with their club membership.
A regular review and the statistics to back it up would have meant many golf clubs addressing this issue long before it became a problem. For example, exit surveys may help to spot a worrying trend which could be acted upon.