In 2008, the economy took a huge nose dive. To make matters worse, the main road to my family’s golf course was closed with a 20 minute detour. If you’re ever curious about how to lose money at lightning speed, talk to me about that glorious year.
When the road finally opened (just in time for winter, of course), I knew that there was no way that I could possibly save the golf course simply by cutting costs. I was going to have to market the course back into recovery. That’s when I began going to the Marketing School of Hard Knocks. Let me tell you. That is a degree that I’m more proud of than any others I’ve received.
In my first year of designing a marketing plan, I started small. Three live concerts, a junior and women lesson program, plus a big promotion for Memorial Day. I spent time writing emails, designing flyers, writing TV commercial scripts, and passing out calendars to my golfers for these promotions. It was successful.
The following year, I added a few more. I included a Christmas in July promotion and we celebrated Labor Day weekend in style. It worked well, so I added a few more the following year.
Eventually, I had gotten our promotional calendar busy enough that I was no longer very efficient. I had trouble keeping up with the number of emails I needed to write, flyers I needed to create and my computer desktop was a mess of folders and files that had zero sense of organization.
After five years of adding more and more promotions and marketing prowess to my golf course, I became overwhelmed. The programs and promotions were working, but I was tearing out my hair with overwhelm of how could I possibly keep this up? I had staff members and family who could see I was overwhelmed and wanted to help me, but I didn’t have the foggiest idea how to tell them to begin. The only thing I really needed to get it all done was a few extra hours in the day.
In the fall of 2014, I listened to a podcaster who was explaining how she planned out her year. I was immediately fascinated by the systems that she had put into place and how she was able to delegate tasks to her team to help prevent overwhelm. I was hooked. I studied her and listened to that podcast about ten times until I thought I could take a stab at creating a marketing plan that would be sustainable from one year to the next.
GOOGLE SPREADSHEETS TO THE RESCUE
If you have followed with me for long, you know that I have a major love affair going on with Google and its spreadsheets. I think they’re magical.
I decided to create a spreadsheet to help keep my marketing calendar organized. It first looked like a calendar and then slowly transformed over the years into so much more.
The off season was spent, loading in all of the events and promotions that were scheduled at my family’s golf course. When I was done, I begin adding links to documents containing emails that I had stored in my Google Drive. This process helped me to eliminate the computer desktop overwhelm because I no longer had to hunt down the email that was written to promote my junior lesson program. It was directly linked within my spreadsheet!
The spreadsheet also worked as a visual aid for my golf course’s long term goals. Slow times and what was planned to help them was clearly visible in black & white. I can take utilization reports from my POS and create promotions to encourage play during slow times.
ADDING MORE & MORE
I linked to all of my events to their calendar page on my website. This helps me to quickly update the events from one year to the next. In December, I click on each link and update the pricing and dates of what I plan to do in the following year.
Over the years, I began adding more to my sustainable marketing program like Facebook posts, App Push notifications, Instagram stories and more. Each year, I look at my marketing calendar and decide how I might make it even better in the coming year.
Because the spreadsheet is an accumulation of my entire year, I can quickly add more to my overall marketing strategy. I can track promotions and how successful they were in my business. If they weren’t as successful as I thought they should be, then I can include additional marketing materials to help promote.
Sometimes those promotions just needed to be dropped because they were a flop and no amount of marketing would make them be a success.
Yes. Sometimes you just simply have ideas that crash and burn.
A HELPING HAND
Two years ago, my nephew went to play rugby in New Zealand. He was having trouble getting a Work VISA. One day, he asked me if it would be possible for him to continue to work at the golf course even though he’d be living on the other side of the world.
Because of the power of Google and its spreadsheets, I can share my work with anyone. Including my nephew on the other side of the world.
He and I began working together using my Marketing Spreadsheet and I discovered something amazing. Not only had my spreadsheet helped me to get better organized at finding the marketing materials in one place, but it also allowed me to easily assign tasks to helping hands.
For years, I had staff who would offer to help me, but I never knew what to tell them to do. There are always slow times at the club. Rainy days, off season, or consistent slow times in the week. Why don’t golfers like to play when it’s 110 degree? I can only have my staff clean and organize so much around the clubhouse before they start giving me the side eye. 😏
Since I keep my FB posts, App notifications and emails in my Marketing Spreadsheet, I am able to easily assign tasks to my staff. Rainy day? No problem. I can easily show my staff how to help. Suddenly all of my App Push notifications are scheduled and it makes me hate the fifth rainy day in a row a little less.
Before my Marketing Spreadsheet, I never knew how to easily tell someone to help me when they offered.
In case you’re wondering, yes, my nephew did help me from the other side of the world. I also continue to use my college staff after they return to school in the fall by allowing them to work from my marketing spreadsheet. It’s a giant weight of overwhelm was lifted from my shoulders.
NUTS & BOLTS OF THE PLAN
Over the years, I have met many golf operators who ask me how I’m able to be as productive as I am. My answer to them is always my Marketing Spreadsheet. Good news! I’m sharing it with you to use for yourself. That’s right. We’re talking years of work that I’m passing right along to you because I think you’re awesome.
In case you haven’t grabbed it yet, here’s my Marketing Spreadsheet.
In February, I’ll be teaching a class on how you to use this system at your own golf course at the Golf Business Conference. There’s still time to sign up!
Just start easy like I did with a few promotions. Over time, you’ll be able to easily add more promotions and events to your course’s calendar. Before long, you’ll no longer need to adjust your budget by making cuts in your departments. A marketing calendar allows you to GROW your business.