I recently sat down with leading-edge private club marketer, Ruth Glaser, who was instrumental in helping Hazeltine National Golf Club integrate digital marketing into their process, and I asked her what her one piece of advice would be for any private club looking to grow their club membership. I was a bit surprised by her response.
I thought for sure she would say something about starting a blog or promoting content on social media as the best place to start. Instead, without skipping a beat, she said, “ You have to have a CRM”. Think about that. Despite Hazeltine's well-known success with blogging and lead generation, Ruth still identified the CRM as her go-to tool. After all, you can't close the leads you generate (or even nurture them) if you aren't tracking them.
What is a CRM?
If you're not familiar with the acronym, CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Management” software, a system for managing the relationships with your customers.
For some organizations, a CRM is a sales tool that is simply a place to house member and prospective member names and ongoing interactions. For others, it’s a marketing tool that can give visibility to timelines of the who, what, and when of a deal (membership, wedding, event, etc.) closing.
Ideally, your CRM is the hub for ALL sales and marketing communication within your organization. For private clubs looking to strategically impact retention and grow club revenues, having a CRM is essential to compete. Ruth went on to say, "Once you have that essential communication tool in place and a defined process for following up on leads, you can then begin the building of content strategy for driving leads."
All CRMs store prospects’ contact information — their name, phone number, email, and any other identifying information an organization wants to track. Beyond contact information,
Finding the Right CRM for Your Club
Finding the right one for your team is no easy task and can make your head spin. After all, there are more than 200 “Membership Management Software” products in just this list! So, knowing what you want to get out of a CRM is just as important as knowing you need one.
My recommendation (and I am sure Ruth would agree): start with the basics including the price tag. There are a lot of free CRMs on the market that can get the job done. Here are just a few ways Hazeltine National gets the most out of their free lead CRM tool, HubSpot:
Storing Contacts: Initially, when Ruth and her team started using their CRM, they took advantage of the 1,000 free contacts. As the number of their leads increased, they were able to pay a small monthly fee to accommodate the influx of prospect names (you won’t hear her complaining about that!). However, because the CRM was free, including the 1,000 free contacts to get started, this negated any need for budget approval from anyone in the organization.
Automated Data Entry: Because the software automatically logs emails, calls, and meetings without any manual intervention, it also includes the prospect's full interaction history. This means that when someone from their organization follows up with a prospect, they have visibility in one view of all past interactions which lends the right context when reaching out.
Pipeline Management: Having an up-to-the-minute view of your entire sales funnel is valuable for managing your leads and opportunities. You can sort deals by won and lost, appointments scheduled, or applications sent, and have visibility to all parts of your business. It’s been valuable to Ruth to have insights on all opportunities from all departments stored in one place and to be able to easily segment opportunities like golf membership, social membership, weddings, events, etc.
Team Communication: Some interactions at your club may require engagement among multiple team members. With the ability to tag team members in the organization through the CRM directly, it eliminates the need for added emails to the company. An example is “Mary,” who oversees membership sales. She wants to invite a prospective new member to enjoy a complimentary round of golf and needs to coordinate with “Pete the Pro” to schedule the round. “Mary” can easily tag “Pete,” who can pull up the record while automatically sharing the insights to previous conversations and interactions, giving “Pete” context for his follow-up.
Simplifying Email Communications: There are some emails that become standard communication, particularly as a follow-up to inquiries. We all know the more tailored and personalized our communication is with a prospect, the more effective our outcomes will be. Ruth’s team has been able to leverage the power of email sequences and templates so that repetitive emails are standardized and scheduled automatically. Tracking the performance of the emails helps to determine which ones are the most effective and which ones need to be modified, sharing the best ones with your team.
Why a CRM Matters for Membership Marketing
As you can see, there are so many benefits to having a centralized communications platform to help you grow your business and achieve your revenue goals. The great news is you no longer need to let budget or complexity be a barrier to adoption. Above all, if you don't have a CRM, it's time to get one.
If you already have a CRM and aren't using it, it's time to re-evaluate if you have the right one. There are many good and pricey "club marketing" CRMs on the market today. But don't assume that just because the CRM is marketed to the club industry that it's the best one to help you get the job done at your club.
Boardroom Magazine will be the first to acknowledge how behind in technology the club marketing industry is, which would suggest that seeking technology solutions like CRM software elsewhere might make more sense. There's a good chance that a free version of a CRM is exactly what your club needs.
Just ask Ruth.