Foolproof Membership Sales

  |   cl blog

Whenever I get asked to help “sell” memberships for any of our clients, I usually say no. Not because I don’t want to help or need their business, but because I have an opinion about the process that is seldom shared in the private club industry. I politely explain that we believe memberships are purchased, not sold. Sounds like semantics but it’s so much more.

A membership is a choice to join a group of likeminded people for the purpose of conducting some type of activity – golf, tennis, social interaction, outdoor adventure, etc. The list is long. And choosing to join a particular culture cannot be turned into a commodity.

The key to gaining new members is to create a culture that is so magnetic and vibrant that people want to be a part of it. Sure the facilities and amenities play a role, but the heart of the issue is the heart of the club. Pun intended. Seth Godin, who I admire for his insight, recently wrote in a blog “great products work far better than great ads do.” He could have easily been describing the marketing of memberships to a private club.

What does a magnetic culture look like? They are all different, but have a few commonalities. The successful ones are vibrant, active, welcoming of new faces and the club members are engaged with each other and with club staff. There are plenty of club-organized activities, but not too many. In fact, many successful clubs have a simple social calendar that is supplemented by member-organized informal events. That’s when you know that the members are engaged; when they don’t need the staff to run their life, but merely provide atmosphere and facilities for them to do things together.

And probably most importantly, successful private clubs don’t try to be everything to everybody. They know who and what they are, and they stick to being the very best at it. Their core competency is completely aligned with what they offer and what their members want. Sounds simple.

If you need to recruit more members, start by spending more time with your current ones. We all know it’s easier to keep members than find new ones. Find the intersection of what they want and what you do best. Then spend all of your resources doing that better than anyone else.