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. (more…)
With the onset of colder season temps, I was reminded of an audit that many golf courses need to perform on their Facebook and Google Listing.
Why, you ask?
Did you know that Google Maps will mention that your business is closed if your business hours aren’t set? Yep. When someone asks for directions using Google Maps, then Google will say, “Are you sure you want to go here? It looks like it’s closed.”
To you, this might seem like a minor thing, but let me tell you about the younger generation. I have two children who drive in my family and they don’t know how to get anywhere without the assistance of Google Maps. From experience, I can tell you that they believe Google Maps whole-heartedly when it says a business is closed. Don’t let this happen to you!
Golf courses can often have some pretty strange business hours. It is confusing to your golfer as well as people who are doing holiday shopping.
Take a minute to update your Google & Facebook hours. (more…)
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.
Call clubhouse. Sign up child/self for lesson program. Get email when to show up for lesson. Instructor gives group coaching information, then walks down the line up of golfers to correct swings.
Is it any wonder that people are constantly leaving the game? Beginning golfers are like little robots on an assembly line of instruction. Position your thumb here. Tuck in your elbow there. Put your weight on this foot. Bee Bop Boo Bop.
Have you ever thought about the experience of your customer? Do you build up their anticipation before the lesson even begins? What about after it’s over? How is your follow through when their lesson is complete? Are they still on your radar, or have they become one of the many forgotten golfers?
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.
While attending a recent golf conference, I had several people who stopped me to ask questions about how to post on their golf course’s Facebook page. When I went to go help them, I noticed that none of them had the Facebook Page Manager downloaded onto their phone.
Everyone that I helped was posting and monitoring their business page from the regular Facebook app that is meant for personal use.
Suddenly, a post is born.
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.