What is Marketing and why is it important for your club?

What is Marketing and why is it important for your club?

Most people believe that marketing is about creating hype, doing promotions and getting the word out through ads, posters, clicks etc.

That’s adverting.  And it is what most clubs think marketing is all about.  (The same misconception applies in a lot of other businesses as well.)

Below is a diagram called the Circles of Marketing which has been inspired by a Seth Godin blogpost at www.sethgodin.com .  It explains the marketing process clearly and succinctly. I’ve adapted his explanation to relate to the club industry.

As already mentioned, most clubs marketing tends to sit in the orange or outer circle.

The next circle in (green) has a lot more leverage or influence. This is the circle of telling a story that connects with a “tribe”.  A tribe is a term that refers to a group of like-minded people.  It is the same as your target market.  For example, if the product you were marketing was gaming, the “tribe” that might be most interested in this particular story or aspect of the product, could be female gamers. Likewise, the product you could be marketing is a fitness centre, but the story might be focused towards those members interested in running.

The community is the larger group of people that the tribe or target market belongs to, which in our industry is club members, but could also embrace non-members with similar interests.

Smart marketers in this green circle acknowledge that their product or service isn’t for everyone, but do everything they can to ensure that some people will be able to fall in love with it.

Pricing is important because it has to be relevant to your “tribe”.  That doesn’t mean the price has to be low, but it has to represent good value for money.  If you are selling a degustation dinner with matched wines, the prices (and the target market) are going to be a lot different from selling a bistro meal deal.

The next circle (blue) can be easily overlooked. This is the act of changing what surrounds the actual product or service by adding enough usability and support and atmosphere so that the perception of the product itself changes.

This is the big area of opportunity for clubs. The public perception of what a club is like is generally not all that attractive, (even if not all that accurate).  However, by changing the usability, support and atmosphere of the individual products and services a club provides, you will eventually change the whole perception of the club.

Cirque du Soleil did it for circuses and Ikea did it for furniture.  They changed the way we think and feel about established products.  When you go to an expensive restaurant, you’re buying far more than what the chef cooked.  Your products and services are only commodities if you treat them that way.

At the innermost purple circle is the product or service itself. For a club that can be anything from its dining area, membership or entertainment to its loyalty program and any other product or service offered.  It can also be the concept of “The Club” itself.

When the thing or product you sell has communication built in, when it is remarkable and worth talking about, when it changes the game – marketing is a whole lot easier not to mention more effective.

Marketing is not a silver bullet. It is a process of improvement by increments.  Remember, no amount of advertising will ever turn a bad restaurant into a good one and an ill-conceived idea is not going to get any better by advertising it.

Marketing is used to identify the customer, satisfy the customer, and keep the customer. It is an integrated process that builds strong customer relationships and creates value for the customer and members and also for the club.

Advertising is the end process.

Unlike Finance, HR or Operations, Marketing is the only business practice which is focused on the member.  When it comes down to it, aren’t members what clubs are all about?

When in doubt or when your marketing isn’t working, the answer is easy:  go one circle in.

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