Rover P6 Club Blog

Part 4 - What is the point of a classic car club in the digital age?

Intro

We’ve all heard the pessimism. Classic car clubs are on the decline, membership numbers are dwindling year on year, and owners think they can get everything they need online for free. Read the press and look at the size of the communities on Facebook and you’d be forgiven for thinking the classic car club was running out of purpose in the digital age.

But we’ve found the opposite is true. The point of a classic car club remains the same as it has always been. The clubs are still the hub of the classic car communities, the classic press still look to them for expert opinion and promotion, and major events like the NEC Classic Motor Show still rely completely on the club scene for their success. In fact, if anything the digital age is only strengthening the place of the club at the heart of the classic car communities. Classic car ownership is rocketing in popularity (up from 1.1m to 4.5m people in 5 years in the UK)[1] and the clubs can lead the way in driving this popularity by utilising new digital platforms. Promoting the cars that clubs support to ever larger numbers of enthusiasts is easier than ever with universal social media platforms and digital channels.

Part 3b - What is the "Ideal Membership Cycle"?

Intro

As we were nearing the end of the process to restore and stabilise the existing services we were offering to our members, we had a much more thorough appreciation of what our problem areas had been, and more specifically what the factors behind them were. Armed with this knowledge, we were now in a much stronger position to think about how to avoid those problems in future. So we began to think about growing the club. That didn’t just mean simply increasing the number of members that we attracted and retained - if we were truly honest, we didn’t know for sure what changes might achieve that. We knew we were in the digital age and could no longer rely on traditional methods of getting found through Google and the major motor shows. But what to do? We needed a completely new approach.

Part 3a - What’s Causing Static or Dwindling Club Membership Numbers?

 

An Inevitable Downturn?

At some time or another we all find our club having a very static or dwindling membership base. In the last few years, many clubs we have spoken to are reporting this as the norm. But is the downturn inevitable? General interest in classic cars is booming, attendance of the major indoor car shows is spiralling and clubs are still taking healthy numbers of new members. But in 2014, the FBHVC released figures to us that revealed that, on average, the number of club members across the board had falled by nearly 10% in the preceding 5 years. So what’s causing it?

 

In this two-part article we draw on our own experiences of static and dwindling membership numbers to try and pin down the factors behind these membership trends, and consider some of the changes you can make - both procedural and behavioural - to help turn the decline around. We’re not saying it will work for every club, but if you can be sure you are doing these basic things right, you are on firm foundations to help turn the decline into growth.

Part 2 - Is Facebook Really Killing the Classic Car Club?

Leaf through the Classic Car press and every now and again a scare-story emerges that blames Social Media for the demise of the traditional classic car club. The nature and extent of the reported ‘demise’ often varies, but the reasons are the same, and usually rest on a series of assumptions drawn from facts in a recent survey:

  • Club membership across the board is static or dwindling - Fact. There are too many free web forums and people can obtain their information from knowledgeable sources on social media without ever needing to join a Club - Assumption.

  • More classic car owners are socialising online - Fact. People are no longer interested in the traditional ‘pub meeting’ and this damages the ‘community spirit’ of the Club and subsequently the take-up of membership - Assumption.

Part 1 - Managing Classic Car Clubs in the Digital Era

Welcome to the first in a series of blogs by The Rover P6 Club on managing a classic car club in the digital era. The Rover P6 Club has been particularly successful through the integration of key Social Media and online outlets and in this series we want to bring our experiences to the wider community, backed up by our own statistical analysis of how to successfully use the “new” online tools available to all of us, for free, to enhance our presence, demonstrate our effectiveness and allow the Club achievements to be the sole driver of WHY people should join our clubs.

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© The Rover P6 Club 2016

 

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