Many private country clubs are finding themselves in a conundrum: They need members, but the number of people joining clubs isn’t growing. Therefore, membership is now a market-share game, and clubs need to develop marketing plans to attract members from other clubs as well as those looking to join a club for the first time.
Unfortunately for most private clubs, the job of membership chair is merely a part-time volunteer position. Well meaning, to be sure, but often unable to dedicate the time necessary to figuring out a solid strategy for getting fannies in the seats. Enter country club membership marketing firms.
Numerous firms have attempted to get into this business, with varying degrees of success. Our choice remains Creative Golf Marketing, based in Kansas, and its founder, Steve Graves, a former golf professional. CGM’s strategy is simple but has worn well over the past 20 years: incentivize members to get involved while taking away as much of the “hard sell” as possible. Additionally, CGM is not a proponent of eliminating initiation fees, saying they serve to weed out those simply looking for a deal and then looking to jump to the next club with an even better deal.
To be sure, membership marketing firms are not inexpensive and are not for all clubs. Know the costs involved and what your true break-even point is. (Remember, you’re likely to bring in some new members even without engaging a firm to assist.) But for clubs at a loss in how to attract new members, a membership marketing firm might be able to provide an assist.
Creative Golf Marketing, prices vary