After bringing his degree in advertising and experience in sports marketing to his new role as Membership Director of The Golf Club of Georgia in Alpharetta, Ga., Evan Keimig has found that selling club memberships has much in common with selling a traditional consumer product, but with one big difference. “The exciting differentiator between a product and a membership is the potential to sell experiences and memories that engage all five senses,” he says.
By Evan Keimig, Membership Director at The Golf Club of Georgia in Alpharetta, Ga.
When I graduated from the University of Georgia in May 2020, I did not expect to land in the private golf industry. A move from Athens to Atlanta meant I needed to find a role quickly, and golf was a natural industry to pursue after spending my childhood learning, following and sharing the game.
I brought a degree in advertising and a professional background in sports marketing with me to Alpharetta, Ga. and joined the golf shop staff at The Golf Club of Georgia. Almost a year later, I now serve as the Membership Director of a club that serves authentic golf enthusiasts from all walks of life and provides a setting to reignite players’ love for the game.
In speaking with prospects, members, co-workers and guests, I have learned that selling memberships is not unlike selling a traditional consumer product. People desire a club membership for many of the same reasons they purchase an item at the store. There is a need or want that they wish to have filled. The exciting differentiator between a product and a membership is the potential to sell experiences and memories that engage all five senses. Memberships, and the opportunities that come with them, will leave an impact and a story to share.
Simplifying the Approach
A lot of the lessons I have learned in my new role revolve around simplifying my approach to membership management and sales. I enjoy the challenge of finding solutions that benefit both the club and the member.
I recommend simplifying the way you market and position your club, especially when prospects are considering joining other clubs. You know what you do best, and your members and staff do, too. Ask questions of those around you, to learn what keeps them coming back.
Keeping a finger on the pulse of what prospects are consistently and specifically looking for offers a chance to intentionally address those needs going forward. I have found it is not always the tangible assets, but the way people feel at your club that drives membership sales and retention. By simplifying how a club is positioned, you leave less to chance and remain in control of how membership and its benefits are perceived.
What Sets You Apart?
It is helpful as an individual in the workplace to capitalize on your unique strengths and differences, and the same logic applies to marketing your club. Offering an amenity, experience or menu item that differs from the other clubs that prospects are familiar with will give you an edge.
Whether they recognize it or not, member prospects are creating pro-and-con lists in their heads each time they tour a new facility or play a golf course for the first time. By clearly presenting your “pros,” the prospect sees what makes your club great and is more likely to recall the assets that set your experience apart from competition.
People are enamored by uniqueness and storytelling. Position your club to tell a story that is different than what they have heard before.
Making it Personal
One strategy I have particularly enjoyed is not allowing a prospect to leave his/her tour or round of golf without learning the face and name of a staff member other than myself. Introducing the prospect to another member of your staff shows the value you place on the people of your club. Not only does the prospect meet someone they can turn to later, they learn about the people culture that your club instills. Capitalizing on the skills of your staff members also gives them an opportunity to sell themselves and speak to the value they bring to your club and its members.
Only the Beginning
Once a new member joins your club, the temptation is to leave them alone and focus on the next sale. However, I have received consistent feedback from new members that suggests their decision to join the club is only the beginning of your role in their experience.
The membership director and surrounding staff are likely the first points of contact at the club for a new member. This leads to an important responsibility to make their transition into the club smooth, enjoyable, and customizable.
Remaining physically present, proactive in meeting their needs, and accessible for questions is a huge part of my role with new members. I want them to know that I am genuinely excited to welcome them to the club and to make their experience as excellent as I promised them it would be. Delivering on the points you made during your first conversations about membership builds trust, creates value, and increases retention.