Here are 10 ideas that clubs can use to make their marketing stronger – they’re free or cost relatively little money and they include Social Media, websites, traditional marketing and plain old common sense.
Your golf course is your most valuable asset, so show it off. If you haven’t got strong images, get some and use them. Pay a photographer to take images that you can use on the website, on web directories and in marketing material.
Consider your website audience, especially visitors. A lot of sites are focused on the members, which makes you look insular. What are the two things visitors want to see and know when they visit? Your course and your green fees… so make them instantly visible. Create a dedicated Gallery of course images and make it easy to find. Include hole numbers and/or names.
A website doesn’t have to be solely about golf. Help potential visitors by including local accommodation options and other events, festivals and attractions in the area.
Facebook presents an excellent opportunity to interact with your members and past and future visitors. Talk about changes to the course, discuss rules, explain course maintenance issues, show photographs taken by golfers, introduce/review special events (charity days, weddings, birthdays, poker nights), respond to praise/criticism and create an online community. In other words, make it more than just about the weekend scores.
Facebook is a two way street, so ‘like’ other pages of interest (nearby courses/hotels, etc.) and communicate with them, view their updates and support them. Promote their events, inform your visitors and who knows what you might get in return.
The principles of Facebook also apply to Twitter, except you now only have 140 characters per Tweet. For some clubs, Twitter feeds are for pumping out weekend results and nothing more. In such cases, the person Tweeting sees no ‘return’ on their time and the account dies off. Twitter is about interaction, being part of a conversation and not being blinkered to your own cause. Give your followers something interesting to read, ask questions, congratulate others, announce special events at the club, and link to relevant media articles, local hotel offers, restaurant reviews and weather reports.
Remember to 'search' your own club name to see if there are positive/negative comments being said about you. That way you can 'listen' and respond to the issues.
Think about it: a fourball costs you nothing and yet offering a fourball through Social Media stimulates interaction and interest in the club. You can ask for submissions via email and build up a database that can be used for future marketing purposes.
Social Media is one form of free marketing. The golf forum (such as Golfshake’s) is another – where the general golfing masses discuss all things golf, including the best courses, equipment, hotels, golf breaks, players and tournaments, and course conditions. This can be used as free research and it allows you to see what is (or isn't) being said about your course.
Then you have publicity and press releases. They’re not ‘new’ but getting a Press Release right is beyond many businesses, let alone golf clubs. There’s no point using a scattergun approach to news that isn’t actually news. Firing off a release to all the local papers might get you a paragraph of coverage, but it uses up goodwill for the time you have a really interesting story. The same applies to golf magazines – they’re going to be interested in big stories (a new nine holes, a new clubhouse) but a ‘new green’ story won’t cut it.
Here’s a scenario: four visitors arrive and start splashing out on gear and balls in the Pro shop. What if the guy behind the till says ‘Lads, you’re buying all that stuff, let me knock a fiver off your green fees’? It’s not much but it acknowledges that these golfers are bringing income to the club. The club loses £20, but they’ve gained so much more as the golfers will remember it and spread the word. And they may spend that £20 in the bar.
Obvious, but often ignored. GPS may make this redundant these days, but there’s nothing quite as reassuring as a signpost pointing you in the right direction. There’s no point having a product if your audience can’t find it. What’s more, if they can’t find it and/or turn up late, it can mess up the timesheet and the enjoyment of others.
Yes, they matter. The person producing golf club brochures, emails, newsletters, website copy, Tweets and Facebook posts needs to know the difference between your and you’re… there, their and they’re… and its and it’s. On Twitter and Facebook these mistakes are everywhere. No, it’s not cataclysmic, but silly mistakes can reflect negatively on your brand, i.e. your course/resort, and it’s such an easy thing to get right.
The above ideas are not earth shattering: they’re simple things to implement without costing an arm and a leg. They can increase your presence, reach wider audiences and encourage (and keep) new business. Golf Marketing doesn’t have to be hard - it just takes a little effort.