Another supermarket trip, another assault on the senses by brands, brands and more brands.
Eager to persuade you to reach up and move their product from shelf to trolley, every packet, bottle and tin is clamouring for your attention.
So why exactly do you always reach for the PG Tips or the Persil?
Over time, you’ve been convinced that these are the only tea bags for you. You trust them to produce the perfect cup of tea. You’re not sure if the own-label washing liquid will make your whites quite as sparkling white. You trust your chosen brand to work wonders in your washing machine.
When it comes to building loyalty within a club or society, the principles are the same. Meet expectations, create perceived value and develop an attachment.
Once you have your members’ trust, they’ll be coming through your doors time and time again.
Here we explore five ways to build this loyal member base to ensure it goes from strength to strength.
1. Communicate Wisely
Building brand loyalty is essential for your club. Whether you run a martial arts club, a flower society or a tradesmen guild, retaining the members you initially attract should be central to your business plan.
There’ll be natural fluctuations in your member base: people will move house and join a more convenient club, their interests will change, they’ll get a new job which swallows up more time etc.
This kind of turnover is unavoidable and needs to be factored in. Beyond that, your focus should be on developing the personal rapport and trust that encourages members to stay part of the club.
The unique nature of a club or society means you’re often catering for a person’s passion. Whether it’s golf, martial arts, literature or languages, this provides the perfect opportunity to ramp up the personal approach to customer loyalty.
The most important way to do this is via communication. It’s crucial to your club’s very existence.
Here are some essential communication tips for building loyalty in a club or society:
- Maintain regular interaction: make a monthly phone call to share information and discuss their needs, send an email newsletter to update them on club news and events, or develop a social media strategy to foster your club culture on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
- Share your expert advice: if you run a Lego club and know where to get hold of rare sets, let your members in on the secret.
- Charm members at meet-ups: learn their names and use them, be polite and positive, show an interest and listen when they chat, and learn all the body language tricks.
- Set up a website: not only a magnet to attract new members, your website can interact with existing ones through an interesting, informative blog, club news and photos of events.
- Personalise your communications: remember birthdays and other important occasions, hand-write a thank you note to a member who helped you out with a last-minute task, and pass on interesting articles or websites that will be of interest.
2. Get To Know Your Customers
The more you know about your members and their values, the better you can meet their needs while also building brand loyalty.
The registration process plays its part here. However you welcome new members, ensure that you use this initial opportunity to find out as much as possible about them.
Beyond the expected basics, make answering other questions optional to avoid putting them off. For those who are willing to share, you’ll be equipped with precious insights that you can use within your loyalty campaign.
You can also use social media stats and website analytics to gain a deeper understanding about your members.
And customer relationship management (CRM) technology can help you manage all the data you hold on them. A CRM system provides easy access to all your members’ details, communications and attendance records.
This database should be at the heart of your dealings with members: it allows you to understand their needs, tailor your marketing messages and ultimately improve relationships.
3. Gather Feedback
A good habit to get into to spark loyalty is to ask for and encourage feedback.
Listening to what your members are telling you and acting upon it shows that you care about them and value their opinions. They’re part of the club.
As a consequence, your personal relationship gets stronger because they trust you and therefore become more invested in your group.
So how do you gather useful feedback as a tool for building brand loyalty?
- Provide as many feedback methods as possible: some members may feel uncomfortable speaking to you in person, others may prefer a face-to-face chat. So offer an email address, phone number, online feedback form or meeting time to cover all bases.
- Ask for casual feedback during conversations: find out why members chose you and not the competition, ask existing ones what you could do better. Just don’t forget to note down what they said.
- Encourage members to engage on social media and comment on your plans or ideas.
- Ask for input when making decisions about the club and empower members to have their say.
- Prepare a formal feedback questionnaire to gather quantitative and qualitative facts and figures. You can then share your findings and put specific plans of action into place.
- If you have a large membership, set up a member hotline to discuss any concerns.
- Encourage feedback at every opportunity. If you create open channels of communication, you’re less likely to get complaints.
- Analyse and monitor feedback to help identify problem areas.
- Thank your members for their feedback and make sure they know how useful it is.
And if you do get a complaint? Handling it effectively could make all the difference to whether someone renews their membership.
Apologise, listen to their concerns, establish the facts and agree what action will be taken. Keep them informed throughout this process, remaining polite and professional.
Follow these tips and you could even convert a complainer into a loyal advocate of your club and its prompt resolution of issues.
4. Make It Easy to Pay Membership Fees
Running a club or society will often mean taking regular membership fees. This is an easy win when it comes to building brand loyalty.
Whether you have a dedicated treasurer or manage the money yourself, Direct Debit is the ideal solution to handling payments.
Instead of processing a muddled combination of cash, cheques and debit card payments, you can ask members to pay by Direct Debit. This means that their payment will be collected automatically from their account on a pre-agreed date.
Alongside impressive benefits for you, such as secure cashflow and less admin work, it delivers unrivalled security and reliability for your members:
- Flexibility: members can choose their payment date, allowing them to efficiently manage their cashflow and remain in full control of their finances.
- Hassle-free: setting up a Direct Debit with you is quick and easy for members. Payments are then taken care of, reducing their financial admin load and saving them time.
- Smooth service: a payment made by Direct Debit is far less likely to fail, meaning less chance of an interruption to their membership due to unpaid fees.
- Security: you can reassure members that their payment is protected by the Direct Debit Guarantee. This offers unbeatable levels of security and drastically reduces instances of fraud.
When combined, these member benefits result in a smooth payment system for you and them. If they can pay your membership fees via a straightforward, secure and tech-friendly method, they’ll think of your club as a professional organisation that wants to make their lives easier.
The result? That lovely word loyalty again.
5. Offer an Incentive Scheme
One of the oldest marketing tricks in the book, you can incentivise membership of your group with a promotion to tempt both new and existing members.
If you rely on annual renewals, you could devise a ‘first month free’ offer if members sign up again by a particular date.
If new member registrations are quiet over the summer months, you could hold a free open evening to showcase what you do and spark interest. Involving existing members in these events will make them feel valued and boost their loyalty.
To further personalise your offering and generate good-will, you could link with a local charity and donate 5% of each members’ fees when they commit to renewing.
Loyalty within a club or society can be hard-fought. Take care of your members, nurture them and treat them well. You’ll quickly see your member database develop.
Feeling looked after, members will soon become advocates. Proud of their club, they’ll be keen to recommend it to others, helping numbers and your bottom line to swell.