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« Back Post Date: Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Club Staffing Options for Internet Marketing
A review of the staffing options available to General Managers for Internet Marketing, including outsourcing of some aspects of the job.

 

Club Staffing Options For Internet Marketing

By Dr. William D. Ivers, CEO, Clubessential

Club general managers face some tough sta
ffing issues when building and maintaining electronic communications with members (website and email).  While some clubs are lucky enough to have a staff person who has digital skills, graphic arts capabilities and a passion for marketing, this is a fairly rare and expensive combination of talents.  In addition, it is likely that the club’s electronic communications won’t demand exactly one full time person in this role – instead it will require a third of a person or a half, or one and a half.  Seasonality also makes this staffing difficult, because during the busy season, when a talented person is most needed elsewhere, demand for high quality electronic marketing is at its peak. Fortunately it is possible to hire inexpensive outside help to fill in the gaps.
Here are some areas where outsourcing makes sense:

  • Graphic Arts.  The artistic theme of the website, and the consistent carrying through of that theme, not only on the website but in associated emails, event posters, calendars, newsletters, etc.  is an important way to improve member engagement, participation, website traffic, and the overall image of the club. 

    Unfortunately a club usually can’t afford to employ a skilled graphic artist for every new event or announcement or newsletter.  However, Clubessential’s Studio Design Group can be hired inexpensively to create templates that can be used over and over.  The club staff can also examine how the artists used the standard editor to create a few sample templates, and learn to do them on their own.  Some projects, such as creating a fancy flash animation, can’t be done easily in-house because they require special software and very skilled electronic artists.  But Clubessential can spread the cost of such tools and skills across many clients, so we can provide them at low cost, far less than typical advertising agency rates.   With artwork, a little bit of outsourcing goes a long way.

  • Designer Websites.  Clubessential’s new Designer Website technology greatly surpasses what was possible even just a year ago.  Every page of these new websites is editable, yet each page can be artistically pleasing and merge gracefully with a common style.  A year ago, if you wanted a beautiful website you had to accept two bad tradeoffs: 1) the high cost of custom creation (through an advertising firm or a vendor manually building designs), and 2) the inability to change or edit the design once built without paying all over again.  Now you can get inexpensive beautiful designs that are also editable, so they will be a lasting investment for the club that can evolve to meet future requirements.

    Here are a few Clubessential Designer Websites that illustrate the new technology: www.clubessential.com/demo.  If you are interested in an upgrade to this quality of graphics, give Clubessential a call, because the cost of the upgrade is likely to be much lower than you might imagine, having worked with advertising firms in the past.

  • Content Loading.  When a website is first created, or when it is upgraded to a Designer Website, the content of the website must be loaded or re-loaded into the frame of the website.  This can be problematic because the very people who must come up with the content (writing paragraphs about the clubhouse or finding pictures of the facilities and history, etc.) are also the ones who normally load the content into the website.  This “loading” involves learning to lay out pages using the tools of the website and then formatting everything to look artistic while at the same time matching the branding of the club.  Frequently the web administration staff just does not have time to assemble and write the content, learn the tools and then format the website, all under a deadline for a website launch date.

    For a modest flat fee, Clubessential’s Studio Design Group and Client Services team will load a new website, or completely reload an existing website, with content provided by the club’s staff.  We will refine the navigation and sequencing of pages, edit, organize and artistically display the content, making optimum use of all the features of the system.  The result will be a cohesive, well designed website that has a uniform appearance in keeping with the club’s branding and that illustrates how the tools should be used.  The club staff can then proceed to maintain the website, mimicking the standards set in the initial loading.  It’s a great way to push forward the launching of the new Designer Website while at the same time educating the internal staff to carry on post-launch.

    Besides loading a website on a one-time basis, Clubessential also offers content loading on a sporadic basis to fill in when club staff must be deployed to other tasks.  Clubessential will also take over content loading altogether if a club wants to completely “outsource” this part of the work.

  • Search Engine Tuning.  While some clubs may not want to publish much information on the public side of their website, nearly all clubs want their websites to be found easily using a search engine, because:
    • Members should be able to find their own website even if they don’t remember the web address.
    • Visitors may need to look up directions to the club.  These could include swimmers coming to meets or golfers to tournaments.
    • The club may wish to attract new members who search the web for local clubs
    • The club’s banquet facilities can be described if the club holds events.
    • Some clubs are associated with properties that could be displayed for the public
    • Etc.

    The technology underpinning Clubessential’s websites has already been optimized to enhance search engine rankings.  However, the content of the website (as provided by the club staff) must be organized properly to get the best placement.

    For a modest fee, Clubessential will work with the club staff to select appropriate key words and phrases and then will organize the content of the website to make those phrases effective.   Most clubs will only need to tune their websites for search engines once, because the content of the public portion of the website seldom changes.  This makes search engine tuning a good task to outsource because it isn’t worth the staff’s time to learn the techniques.
  • Technical Support.  Only the very largest clubs/resorts can justify having highly skilled technical staff.  Other clubs should make sure that all of the technical aspects of their web communications are the responsibility of their web provider.  The best way to contract for this service is on a flat monthly fee basis, so that no matter how complex a problem might arise, it isn’t the club’s responsibility to pay more for a resolution. 

    At Clubessential we try to avoid imposing technical skill requirements on the club staff.  We split the work required for electronic communications into two parts: technical and cultural.  Clubessential builds the technical support into the fixed monthly price of its services so the club is never surprised with unexpected charges for technical work.

  • Communication Management.  Every club organizes its annual calendar and sets up a schedule of tasks to inform members of upcoming events.  All clubs have staff members who perform this function, but often they are unfamiliar with the new electronic tools and possibilities.  Often the best type of outside help to acquire in this area is “Consulting By Example,” where the consultant is engaged to design the communication management for, say, a particular event, emphasizing throughout the transfer of knowledge to the club’s staff, so that for subsequent events the staff understands how to incorporate electronic communication.  Such engagements are quick, fairly inexpensive, and custom built to the needs of the club.  They leave behind valuable electronic marketing processes that can be used as a blueprint over and over in coming years.  This is a far more economical (and often more effective) approach than outsourcing all communication management to an advertising/marketing firm.

    Clubessential’s marketing staff can design custom consulting engagements to jump-start a club’s communication management.

Before hiring your next Membership Director, Marketing Manager, Website Administrator, etc., consider making the hiring easier by choosing to outsource tasks that can be more efficiently provided by specialized vendors.  Clubessential may be able to provide unique professional services at a fraction of the cost of hiring those skills for your staff.  Call Clubessential at 1-800-448-1475 to receive a quote.  If we can’t do what you need, we may know of another vendor who can.

455 Delta Ave  · Floor 4  · Cincinnati, OH 45226  ·  800 - 448 - 1475
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