Membership Is Not a Logical Purchase

This is part 2 of a 3 part series on modern membership marketing strategy.

You can read part 1 here.

Think about the last pair of shoes you bought. Did you buy those shoes because they had more leather per square inch than the competitor? Or did you buy them because there were exactly 48 stitches per shoe, vastly superior to the other brands? Doubtful. More likely, you bought them because they looked great on you. They looked stylish. They were comfortable. They might impress your co-workers or your friends. Heck, maybe they just filled a gap in your wardrobe for that one outfit you’ve been dying to wear.

We buy shoes like we buy just about everything else: for emotional reasons, not logical ones. The logical person would consider how much material we were getting for our money or the amount of steps we’d be able to take in a given pair of shoes before they wore out. But that’s not why we buy them. And even if we did buy shoes for seemingly logical reasons, there would always be an emotional reason behind it. For instance, you might buy durable shoes to hike in, but the reason you hike is because you want to stay healthy, see how far you can push your body, or for the simple enjoyment of being outdoors and exploring. It’s for these emotional benefits we break out the proverbial checkbook.

Any purchase on the luxury side of the spectrum is absolutely made for emotional reasons. Cars, handbags, yachts, watches and jewelry and all those other fun things are not logical purchasing decisions. Take private club membership. It’s not a very sound financial investment. You’re probably not going to get any true ROI on your equity membership. Even if you did, there are many more alternative vehicles that a financial advisor would recommend. People join clubs for things like camaraderie, to achieve social status, to give their family a safe and secure environment, to experience exceptional service and for many other reasons that are not inherently logical.

When I look out into the marketplace today most clubs are portraying the wrong things. They’re trying to appeal to the wrong psychological motivations. Very few are selling experiences. Most are selling a series of features instead of benefits. Just about every advertising message for a private club I see are a series of bullet point items. Bullet points are, in fact, the ultimate delivery method of logic. Think about it.

Let me know if this sounds familiar to you. It’s a description of a country club I’ve made up, but it’s one that I bet you’ve heard in some form another before.

“Come visit the best kept secret in Springfield. We offer a championship 18 hole Fazio designed course, 12 har-tru tennis courts, a modern fitness facility, an Adirondack style clubhouse and a 250 seat formal dining room.”

I love Fazio designs as much as the next guy. I truly do. But will I drive 20 or more miles outside my geographical area to join a club simply because it’s a Fazio design? I’m sorry Mr. Fazio, I will not. Does that big dining room offer something different than the club down the road, probably not. Does the style of clubhouse architecture influence my decision. Unequivocally, no. The list goes on.

All things being equal, I’m going to join the club I feel meets my emotional needs and those of my family. Now if your club can do that better than the club down the road, that’s where I’m going to apply. It’s truly that simple for vast majority of those considering joining a private club.

As such, clubs that use copywriting geared toward the emotional side of the brain would fair far better and do more to stand out from their competition. Below are a few concrete examples of how you can say the same thing, but say it in a much more effective manner by replacing logical statements with emotional ones.

Instead of This

Join us for a fun-filled open house.

Say This

You’re invited to an exclusive one-day-only luxury lifestyle experience.

Instead of This

The best kept secret in South Florida.

Say This

Come explore. We’ve been waiting for you.

Instead of This

We offer a championship 18 hole Fazio designed course, 12 har-tru tennis courts, a modern fitness facility, and a 250 seat formal dining room.

Say This

Imagine the possibilities.

Understanding this concept intellectually is one thing. Putting it into practice is the hard part. I can almost guarantee you that your brain will try to fight this with every ounce of effort it can muster. Your fingers will beg you to type out that next bullet list. Something in us feels if we don’t describe every last detail or squeeze in every amenity description we’ll somehow miss out on that perfect member. All I can say is don’t give in to that lie. Take a look at Rolex, at Chanel, at Louis Vuitton, at Mercedes and at every other brand on the luxury spectrum. They’re selling an emotion. Study their ad messages and their copywriting style in their literature, on their websites and on their social media accounts. You’ll find they focus on things like tradition, passion, prestige, elegance, attention to detail and the like. These are powerful motivators for those considering big-ticket items. Fight the temptation to stuff more in and edit yourself past your normal comfort level. You’ll see that prospects will become much more engaged with your message.

Next Steps

If you like what you’ve read, there are a number of action steps you can take right now:

  1. Subscribe to Private Club Radio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app to get weekly tips and advice from the industry’s leading experts and thought leaders.
  2. This concept is one piece of an extended online course called Marketing to Millennials. I’ll teach you effective strategies for reaching younger demographics without alienating your older membership. Click here to learn more and register.
  3. Share this article with a friend or colleague that works in the private club industry. Let’s grow this industry we love together!
  4. Schedule a complimentary 15 minute discovery session over the phone with me. I’d love to answer any questions you have and see if there are some ways we can help grow your membership together.