If you aren’t taking advantage of the holiday season, then you must not like making easy money. Golf courses are notorious for their lack of marketing skills. That’s what makes marketing for the holiday season so easy for a golf course. The media does the marketing for you. Everyone knows about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The public just needs to be told that you’re participating. You can be pretty successful with very little effort or marketing know how.
This is a huge gift (pun intended) to golf course operators. Basically, you just have to deliver something that is worthy of gift giving and you’ll be profitable. The best part about a holiday promotion is that the mentality to spend money in our customers is already created for you. Your golfers and more importantly, your golfer’s loved ones, are programmed to spend money on these two days.
You just have to do SOMETHING!
Have I ever told you about the story of how I wasted thousands of my parents’ dollars? You know the one. It starts off where I go to college for four, ok, fine.. five years, to get my degree. That degree I really wanted, so that I could be a high school English teacher.
Then, I got offered a job and decided to turn it down, so I could be married and have kids instead.
It’s a great tale. Unless you’re my parents and you’re out all of that college funded money.
Up until today, the main way in which I used my fancy degree was that I can speak the language fluently. That’s right folks. I can travel to England and can speak like a native! Cheery-O, mate. Wait. Wrong country.
Today, we’re going to talk about writing copy in your email.
I get hundreds of emails a day and I’m sure you do, too. Some are promotional, while others are important and are worthy of a response. When it comes to the promotional emails that hit my inbox, I primarily delete 50-75% of them without even opening them up. If I’m lucky, gmail will do all of the work for me and they’ll end up in the promotion tab which basically just sends my promotional email to my spam filter. When it comes to the promotional emails that are left, I only read a few on a consistent basis because I enjoy reading them or I find their information valuable. Otherwise, I’m outta there.
I’m guessing your assessment of your inbox is about the same. What does this mean to you as a golf course operator?
Guess where your golf course’s email is ending up in your customer’s inbox? That’s right. It’s heading right for the promotion tab where it basically turns to unread spam. Cue the wah wah waaaaaah.
If it’s lucky enough to sit in the promotions tab with a slim chance of being read, then your subject line has to put up a big fight and do its best to appeal to the reader until it’s (hopefully) opened.
If your email doesn’t have what it takes, then it’s going directly to the trash pile.
There’s so much pressure to be involved in social media nowadays that it’s easy to forget about the only form of marketing that YOU OWN and CONTROL.
I’m talking about your Email List.
You might have the feeling from all of the hype about social media that email is a dying form of marketing. I’m here to tell you that it’s time to wipe that feeling away. Email continues to be a major player in the marketing world and should be an important part of your strategy.
That’s why it’s so important for you to have a solid email list. Then you write regular emails because they matter to your overall marketing scheme and drive business to your golf course.
What strategies do you have in place in order to grow your list? If you’re depending on your snack bar staff or tee time booking agent to do all of the heavy lifting, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
For years, I depended on my staff to get the emails from our customers for my list. This really isn’t a very smart way if you’re wanting a good list. In my case, some staff members would leave off the .com to the email address while others had a hard time hearing on the phone while typing at the same time and would put in a B for a D in the email. In addition, there were some staff members who simply felt uncomfortable asking for it.
You know where that got me? A pretty junky list that didn’t grow much every year. Until now…
My goal is to add at least 20 new golfers or prospects to my list EVERY DAY. Here are some of the strategies that I have put in place in order to make that goal happen.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m old or if I’m just so busy doing golf course stuff that I forget to notice the rest of the world. I’ve been blogging on my golf course’s website for about three years. Mostly, I have used it as a way to get to know my golfers better and to help them get to know me. I give them background information of all the fun jobs we’re doing behind the scenes.
Last year, I kind of hit a brick wall when it came to my blogging. I just felt like I was doing it all wrong, and I all but stopped blogging entirely. Yes, we still had funny things happening at the golf course, but I just didn’t take the time to grab my camera and snap a few photos of my superintendent falling into the pond when he was trying to fix the water aerator like I once had. That may have been because I was too busy laughing, now that I think about it.
I began searching for some ideas on what to blog about at my course to try and help me get my rhythm back.
Then, I fell down a giant rabbit hole known as the internet.
When I first took over managing my family’s golf course in 2004, I really wanted to provide a magnetic calendar with all of my upcoming promotions and events to all of my season pass holders. (We’re primarily a daily fee course, but have about 175 members. We stopped calling them members and call them season pass holders because that title gave them more authority than we were willing to allow. Ha.)
Here it is!
The lovely magnetic calendar.
I was young and naive. Before I knew it, I had been talked into the wonders of direct mail marketing and decided that printing 2,500 magnets would be a much better buy, so why not buy them? Then, I was introduced to the wonder of purchasing physical addresses based on location and interests. I didn’t know this even existed! What will they think of next? I could buy 2500 addresses for only $50. Who cares that it costs thousands to send the stupid calendar, right?
Before I knew it, I was spending a significant amount of money on a beautiful magnet that I was sending out to the general public within a certain radius of my course. My naive self thought I’d be rolling in the cash with all my great promotions that everyone was going to be banging down my door to attend.
Crickets. That’s what I got.
When I think about it, I’d like to take my 26 year old self and sucker punch me right square between the eyes. Then, I’d like to have all of that money back, so I could pay for my son’s college bills of today.
It’s kind of like when you stop smoking and you think about all of the thousands of dollars you wasted because you made a bad choice when you were young.
There’s nothing quite like the school of hard knocks. My family has been so amazing at allowing me to experiment and stretch myself. See what works and what doesn’t. Yes. The magnetic calendar was a one and done idea. Thankfully, they never talk about it or hold it over my head.
Sadly, that wasn’t the last time I was talked into a good deal.
In the summer months, I’m rarely in my office. I’m putting out fires, managing people, executing events, scheduling staff, visiting with golfers and mostly just juggling all the many tasks that make up the life of a
General Manager Wizard of Fun. All of those tasks are driven by my marketing and content calendar.
The marketing and content calendar is what drives my business. It’s what provides predictable income in a business that is often unpredictable.
I’ve noticed that if I don’t get my content calendar in place by end of January, it simply doesn’t get done. I get too busy and the planning never gets completed. It’s not to say that it can’t be done in February or even the first of March. It just seems like January was meant to be a planning month.
Because of that, I’m going to share my content calendar with you, so you can use it. (FYI. I plan to complete my marketing calendar in the next few weeks. I’ll share it, too. Both calendars work together.)
Let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of my Content Calendar first.
Let’s face it, there are many different types of golfers out there. Some golfers are avid with low scores and enjoy a challenge. Then, there are some who enjoy the game, but have never really mastered it.
I’ve been working at my family’s golf course since I was eleven. I can remember waiting on golfers at the snack bar for years, assuming they were good golfers. When I was eighteen, I began mowing the fairways and tee-boxes. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that these golfers who played nearly daily for the last seven years of my life turned out to be HORRIBLE golfers!
Step away from your desk and take a look at your golfers. Get to know them and their skill level!
You need to really dial in the type of golfer your course attracts. Without this information, you’re wasting valuable time and money in your marketing.