By Dr. William D. Ivers, CEO, Clubessential
Here’s why a General Manager should focus some attention on email:
- Well targeted email can increase member participation at every event. How often have you experienced a sell-out? Use email well, and you will experience more.
- Email can build the bonds of community between members, making the club a more important and more permanent part of their lives.
- Email can personalize members’ relationships with the GM, the Chef and other key staff. Wouldn't it be nice to walk into a crowded dining room to be greeted with smiling recognition at every table?
- Email can tempt passive members into trying club services they never use. Engaging such members is the secret to a vibrant club atmosphere.
- Yet email is so cheap it hardly appears in the budget.
This article is one of ten that will be sent, one per week, for ten weeks.
1. Capture Your Membership’s Email Addresses
2. Be Consistent
3. Make Staff Come Alive
4. Make Members Come Alive
5. Make Events Come Alive
6. Drive Traffic to Your Web site
7. Add Artistry
8. Target Mailings
9. Track Results
Step 10 of 10 to engage your membership with email
Build An Asset
Last week’s discussion focused on the importance of recording all of your email efforts and tracking the results. This historical information makes future email campaigns easier to design because it highlights what has worked before, provides templates and starting points, and targets members most interested in each subject.
This brings us to the final step in making your email campaigns effective: institutionalizing these efforts so they are part of standard operating procedure and become a permanent club asset.
Every General Manager knows that the influence of the Internet on members’ lives will continue to grow rapidly until it is pervasive. Even if you think email and your Web site can only be modestly effective today (and for most clubs I would disagree on this), you know that each year they will become more important. So given the growing importance of your electronic communication channel, you need to take a long term view, and begin putting in place processes and historical archives that will serve as the club’s communication foundation in the future.
The last nine chapters have introduced ways to build this asset, but let’s review the approaches, keeping the long term in mind;
- Know your members’ email addresses. Every General Manager should know exactly what fraction of his members can be reached electronically. Build the collection of email addresses into various activities at the club. If you can discover members’ telephone numbers you can also discover their email addresses (or find out which ones don’t use email – yet).
- Automatically incorporate an electronic communication component in every club plan, whether for an event, a program, a construction project, professional lessons, spa services, tournaments or swim meets. Always include electronic announcements, reminders and photo-rich event re-caps. The General Manager can require the e-communication plan as standard operating procedure, and once staff learn to do them, execution will take very little time while providing a big payoff.
- Personalize your content. Help your members get to know each other and all the staff. Tell stories because everyone enjoys knowing something personal about the people they meet.
- Your photo archives make your traditions tangible – treat them like gold. Capture them, annotate them, sort them and display them in your Web site. Your members will help – set up a special committee. You should be cataloging hundreds or even thousands of pictures each year.
- Use your email and Web site to capture history as it is made. Build traditions at the club by helping members remember past events and special cultural aspects of the club.
- Remember that sending your email without a “smart link” back into your Web site is like throwing your fishing bait overboard without attaching the hook and line. They may “bite” but how do you reel them in?
- Create or acquire re-usable artistic templates for every kind of email (for example, have a template for the GM’s weekly fireside chat). Consistent use of these “branded email templates” will make your members comfortable with the new medium of communication.
- Make it standard procedure to create and schedule emails at the same time all the rest of the planning is done – well ahead of the actual mailings.
- Convert raw accounting data, survey information and other sources into a marketing database about your members. Start small, but make sure this information improves constantly. Then use the information to target your marketing to well-defined groups. Don’t send an email to a member unless you believe the member will view its receipt as more valuable than their trouble to open it.
- Keep track of which members received and opened each email. Use this information to qualify member interests and quantify the success of your electronic communications.
Using email effectively takes four key things: 1) management commitment, 2) a modest amount of planning, 3) consistent execution and 4) a dedication to providing the content members want. None of these is difficult or expensive, but the results can be significant.
Thank you for making your way through all ten chapters. Good luck building a modern communication channel that furthers the objectives and traditions of your club.