Have you ever wondered why the growth of golf is stagnant? I’ve sat through countless presentations that make a good case for why the game of golf isn’t growing. It takes too long. It’s too difficult. It’s positioned as an elitist sport. It’s too expensive. I’ve even attended a seminar where they blamed the lack of growth in the game on the fact that minorities don’t enjoy the sport.
They make a good case, but when you truly think about it. They’re just a bunch of excuses for a poor marketing effort by the entire golf industry.
People sit in stands for more than four hours watching a sport. They binge watch on Netflix for more than four hours. Heck, they even wait in line at Top Golf for more than an hour to get a stall. There are many things that people buy that are expensive, but they don’t gripe about it, like a good mattress, a high end car, good running shoes, quality dress pants. Not to mention, have you looked at the price of refrigerators lately? They walk in with certain expectations which are then met – whether it be related to price or service.
Why is golf struggling then?
In my opinion, it’s struggling because of an industry wide lack of knowledge on how to properly market the sport.
Who Is Your Competition?
You want to know who your biggest competitor is? It’s YOU!
That’s right. You’re getting in your own way. You’re too busy making a bunch of excuses for your golf course rather than just embracing its nuances and spinning the narrative into a positive manner.
Have you ever thought about how preposterous it is that golf courses all over the world remove entire holes or change their entire layouts just to shave off 30 minutes of someone’s game? It’s crazy when you really think about it. Yet, over and over again, that’s the solution that I hear from “industry leaders.”
Let’s take a look at how you might go about positioning your golf course in a better manner. Spinning your narrative to show the public that business gets done on the golf course. Spending four hours or more with your family/friend/business partner is a good thing. Learning the sport can add value to your life. . .
Fight the War with Content Marketing!
This is really the only way to truly make a dent in the age old beliefs about the game of golf. We have to educate our golfers and the public about the truth of golf. It’s a sport you can play the rest of your life. It’s hours spent away from the cares of this world. It’s time spent with your family. It’s where business gets done. It’s unmatched beauty in nature. When playing, we need to let people know that it’s ok to use the forward tees if you’re new to the game. You can play fast golf even when you aren’t a good golfer, then explain how. Help them realize that playing in a scramble format for a new golfer is still playing golf. Everyone is welcome to play.
Creating good content is a smart business move for your golf course because it will:
- Build your brand
- Help to sell your golf course
- Builds a relationship with potential golfers who trust you
- Helps to overcome barriers to the game
- Deepens the loyalty of your golfers who already love you and your course
- Builds confidence up in YOU
- Crushes your competition
Content Marketing is one of the only ways that you can establish yourself and show the business behind the logo. You can show your personality and let the public know what they can expect when they walk through your doors.
Let’s Talk About Crushing Your Competition
When I first took over my family’s golf course nearly 15 years ago, I wanted to “look” like every other golf course. I struggled with marketing for a few years because I was trying to look like the public perception of golf. You know the one. Pool tables in the locker room. Men smoking cigars on the back porch. Cherry wood cabinets lining the pro shop floor. Staff dressed in crisp linen pants and a polo shirt. I finally made the decision to stop doing that and just be myself, cater to the golfers who actually play my course, and it changed everything in my marketing – not mention increasing my bottom line.
After making that decision, I had to let the public know that they were welcome at my facility. I needed to let them know my values and expectations as a business.
When you decide exactly who you are marketing to, it’s a freeing experience. I no longer worry about the golfer who prefers the local high end country club over me. That’s fine! That high end club is going to have a different marketing message than I do and should attract a different type of golfer. After all, we’re two totally different styles of golf courses.
In order to truly crush your competition, you have to get out of your own way.
Here’s how. . .
You need to set a schedule and force yourself to do things in your business that you haven’t done before. You need to think about adding value for your golfer. I’m not talking about adding value in the sense that you include a free cold towel with your round. I’m talking about marketing value. What are you doing to attract people to your business?
Set some goals. What are your goals for the upcoming golf season? What is the financial goal associated with those goals?
Then, you need to create content that gets your golfers motivated, so that you’re able to achieve those goals. Imagine if you were able to talk every golfer who plays your golf course into play just one more time. How much more revenue would that result for your business?
For example, if my goal was to increase my women’s lesson program, then I might provide additional marketing value in the form of writing a blog post about why women should learn to play. In my marketing, I’d speak directly to women in my social media posts and point out all of the benefits. I’d give away a free video series that I made on my phone showing people how to play faster golf. Lots of value that’s free, spins my message in a positive light and attracts more women to my lesson program.
See what a difference that could make if everyone in the golf industry was doing their part?
Get People to Engage with You & Your Content:
- Create worksheets with golf tips
- Hold short lesson clinics using Facebook Live
- Start a lesson YouTube channel
- Create a series of videos on how to play fast golf
- Take those barriers that prevent people from taking up the sport and SPIN THE MESSAGE in a positive light
Get More Email Subscribers, so Your Message Spreads Farther:
- Be clear on your audience and then grab them at every turn
- Golfers and customers should be able to get on your email list in many areas around your club
- Provide a kiosk in the clubhouse and give away a sleeve of balls to new subscribers.
- Have your starter carry an iPad with the ability for golfers to join your list
- Provide multiple areas where golfers can sign up on your website
- Automate your Email: Create campaigns that are triggered when a golfer performs a specific behavior
Get Better. Be Better.
I completely understand it. I work behind the counter. I organize golf outings and weddings. I’m on the phone. I schedule the staff. I juggle many things in my business. I fill in when a staff person doesn’t show up. When we’re busy, I check in golfers. But, I always set aside an hour a day for the most important thing.
You need to make a commitment to yourself to still make time to focus on growing your golf business.
Don’t be reactionary. It causes you to feel like you’re always chasing the carrott. Create a proactive marketing strategy for your business instead.
Make a promise to yourself that you’re going to give one or two hours a day to Crush the Competition. That crushing starts with crushing your own mind and its limiting beliefs.
If you think you can’t do this just because you still have a flip phone, then think again. Write it on a piece of paper instead and have someone help you post it online to either a blog, your website, social media or a combination of all of them.
Provide Quality Content
I spoke with a fellow golf course owner recently. I mentioned to them that I was giving away an online planning guide to help attract golf outings to my golf course. The golf course operator thought it was a good idea, so they decided to give away something similar. The problem with what they gave away was that it was created by someone else!
They were taking the easy way out. Only YOU know what the person playing at your course will find valuable.
Force yourself to sit down and brain dump everything you say when someone is first planning a golf outing at your course. Think about the golf outing coordinator who hasn’t played golf before. What are the questions they ask? What are the mistakes you see happen time and time again? Then put the answers to those questions all on paper. It doesn’t have to be an entire book. Make it easy on yourself and title the worksheet Top Five Mistakes First Time Outing Coordinators Make. Then, list them with explanation and how to avoid them.
As golf operators, we have skill sets that are coveted by the public. Share those skill sets! The trouble with them is that most of them are stuck in your brain. For example, I’m really good at ordering food for large crowds because I help to plan 100+ events a year. The average person only plans one party a year or maybe less. Wouldn’t that person like a list of how to determine how much pulled pork to order for their graduation party? YES!
New golfers are constantly worried about the fact that they might slow the speed of play. Yet, there are ways to prevent this. Make a list of those and share them with the public. Here, I’ll get you started. . .
- Write your scores down at the tee box
- Play in a scramble format
- Don’t take practice swings
- Park your cart on the way to the next tee box
- Play ready golf on the green
You can take that list and explain what each of those mean and how that helps to speed up play. Better still, grab your phone and create a video that you can share on your social media channels explaining each of those scenarios.
I’m quite confident that if all of us, as golf course operators, were preaching this message loudly and were creating a good marketing strategy that we could change the perception of golf. The trouble is that is the only people in our industry who have a strategy are the professional tours whose marketing strategy focuses on the Professional Golfer – not the every-day golfer. There’s nothing wrong with that because it aligns with their goals, but as small business owners, we can’t depend on them to do our marketing for us.
As we approach a new year, I challenge you to do at least five things differently next year in your marketing. What message are you going to share with your golfer? It is so easy to connect with your golfers using social media in a way that was impossible with the phone book or a flyer hung up at your local grocery store advertising a golf outing. You can engage with your golfer. Daily!
You just have to DO IT!
Pull up your sleeves and get to work. The golf industry needs you to do your part.