Low-Cost, High-Value Golf Membership Marketing Strategies
Not all marketing has to cost a lot or take a great deal of time and effort to produce some spectacular results. Here are some proven winners some of which are sure to make sense for your golf club.
One-Day Member Guests
The advantage of the one-day member guest over the traditional 2-3 days events is that the guest will most likely be local. If they are local and friends of an existing member a good many of them will also be membership prospects. Make the format one in which the member invites not one but three guests and you will triple your number of prospects immediately.
Have these events several times per year with the stipulation that you can only invite the same guest once per year and you will have a significant number of prospects at very little cost to the golf club.
Make sure the guest fills in a registration for the event, which offers membership info as a question thus easily identifying hot leads. Make sure the guest goes home with some membership materials and at some point during their visit mention that membership is, in fact, available.
If your golf club is a higher-end club in the sunbelt, a recreational area or you have “country” or “non-resident” type memberships holding a team invitational is another excellent way to generate membership interest in your club. Invite a team of four players, two, two-man teams from selected clubs across town, out of state or even out of the country, if appropriate.
Here’s the perfect schedule and format; I’ve played in many and this is the best!
Thursday afternoon practice round followed by a cocktail party and nice light snacks: 18 holes two-man scramble Friday morning; Lunch followed by two-man modified Chapman in the afternoon; Dinner Friday night; Two-man better ball Saturday morning followed by lunch and awards!
Social nights are membership opportunities that are often overlooked. When you have a comedy night, play, theme night or similar event at your golf club, members will often invite other couples from outside the club. Couples who if identified, greeted and paid attention to, might well be membership prospects.
Dog and Pony Shows
Many higher-end golf clubs and those clubs associated with real estate development use “dog a pony shows” disguised as wine and cheese evenings to showcase memberships and often real estate as well. This usually starts with an invite from an existing member who also holds a membership up North, if we are talking about the South Eastern US. Or, out West, if we are talking about Arizona, Colorado etc.
This is really a mass referral program designed to attract second membership people and is very effective. At my golf club, eight members joined from the same club in Connecticut. Solicit the help of a member of the host club you wish to reach. Host a cocktail party at the club and invite all of the members to join you. During the early part of the party make your 10-15 minute presentation.
The trial membership is nothing more than the age-old puppy dog close. “Take the puppy home for the weekend and let me know Monday if you want to keep it!” Nonetheless, reducing risk can be a big help to getting people involved in membership and over coming buyer reluctance. Trial memberships usually waive the initiation fee initially and sometimes even have reduced monthly fees, although I would not recommend it. The key to success of this program is to sell them in the spring and make them good for 90 days, so the prospect must make a decision right in the middle of the golf season.
The success of this type of program rests squarely on one factor, involvement. A connection with the club that goes beyond the layout or the conditioning of the course. The prospective member MUST make friends, join a group entertaining his friend and the club, and participate in every way possible. If this happens, he will join. If it does not, he most likely won’t.
YOU CANNOT leave this to chance or the good will of other members; you MUST participate in matching him and introducing him to people like him! People of similar age, golfing ability and lifestyle.
At the end of the trial period, he must come up with the initiation fee and pay regular dues, although depending on your situation, you may offer financing of the initiation or some kind of value-added offer for acting now!
Mall Booths and Swap meets
This may seem like an unlikely way to get members but for anything, but the top clubs, it’s actually perfect. In November and December, where do all the people go? The mall right! So if the people are in the mall and they are there to spend money and buy gifts, that’s exactly where you should be!
Look into one of those carts that you can rent in the middle of the isle. Get a flat screen with a DVD of your club, have brochures and info kits. Have a trial membership for 90 days, as well as, a full one on sale. Have a drawing to win free prizes each day. You are, of course, collecting leads by having them fill in a questionnaire. Consider gift certificates as well, depending on your situation. You will find that everyone who is into golf will gravitate to you just to see what you are selling. You will also find wives and girlfriends stopping by as well!
If you want to catch fish, fish where the fish are!
Not all swap meets or flea markets are created equal. Some are really low end; others sell new cars, oil painting, and high-end antiques. Whether this strategy makes sense for your golf club depends on what type of club you are and whether or not a suitable venue exists. For example, the swap meet in Newport Beach California is a perfect venue for all but the highest end clubs. Why? Because the parking lot is full of BMW’s Jags and Lexus, in other words, regardless of your opinion of swap meets, people with money go to that one. In fact, tens of thousands of people go to that one!
Think Outside the Box on How to Reach Large Numbers of People
Think also about local events in your community that attract large numbers of visitors; I’m talking Greek fest, chill cook-off, strawberry fest, a taste of Tampa, church jamborees etc. If there are lots of people there, perhaps you should be there! At all of these events, there are lots of people standing around looking for what to do next and when a golfer sees GOLF amid the antiques and local artists, you can bet he will seek you out!
While this is a shotgun strategy, it’s one that will pay off not just in memberships but in outings, weddings and banquet business as well. Try it; you may be surprised!
Joint ventures are another excellent strategy that few clubs employ. The key is to seek out another club, resort or company that has enough of the membership prospects you want to reach among their employee or customer base.
Take the example of a Florida club that teamed up with a Michigan resort. They offered the owner and manager of the resort free accommodations in the club’s lodge and a free membership in return for the resort promoting the club to the 49,000 people on its e-mail list and on its website. The joint venture has the added value of getting the owner’s personal recommendation, i.e., “If you are looking for a great club to join in the Florida sun, make sure you check out XYZ Country Cub.”
We have offered similar deals to the owners, manager and golf pros of several clubs in New York and New Jersey. The basic concept being put us in front of your members as a second membership option and we’ll take care of you. Usually, we are only talking about a few weeks anyway!
Golf club and resorts are by no means your only option for joint ventures. City clubs, yacht clubs, and large employers are also ideal targets for joint ventures as are churches and fraternal organizations. Consider donating a one-year membership for their fundraising activities in return for your club information being distributed through out the year to their member base. If it’s the right organization, you will be hitting a lot of the movers and shakers in town!
Most large employers will offer your information to their employees just so long as they get some kind of special treatment for GM employees ONLY. Last year at one club in Michigan, we had two of the Big Three sending our offers to over 140,000 people, for FREE!
Many clubs give top realtors free social memberships in the hope that they will use the club for entertaining guests; therefore, exposing people new to the area to your club first. This, like the celebrity and opinion leader program to follow, is well worth considering. Five top realtors can bring a lot of people through the club’s doors over the course of the year and by the time people buy, they have often already made the decision of where to join. This makes it important to get to them first and a realtor is that frontline player!
Celebrity members can often bring some excitement, free publicity, credibility and hopefully, some new members as well. Celebrity members are usually given complimentary membership in return for using their picture and quotes in various marketing materials. This, of course, works best if the celebrity in question is actively involved in the club but even if that’s not the case, that fact that a local sports hero says he plays on your course leads credibility. After all, if a world-class athlete who has the money to play anywhere is a member of your club, it must be good!
All The Best,