Alistair Dunsmuir: Securing free marketing for your club
One way a golf club can potentially increase income without spending any significant sums of money is via free marketing.
This publicity normally comes when there is a specific story of interest that at least one branch of the media is keen to report on. For example, East Sussex National received global coverage when it hosted the Disabled British Open just before the Paralympics in August, while, at the same time, Lockerbie Golf Club grabbed local attention when it hosted ‘Rockerbie’, a music concert that raised about £6,000 for the club.
However, to maximise the value from this, golf clubs need to proactively promote themselves to the media and then react to requests for information.
Recently I heard of a consumer environmental magazine, which has 20,000 readers per issue, a Twitter account with 40,000 followers, a Facebook page that is liked by more than 18,000 people, a YouTube channel that has had nearly a quarter of a million views and an emailed newsletter that is subscribed to by thousands of people, which approached a golf club about running an article on the considerable ecological improvements it has made to its course and clubhouse (after an environmental body that had worked with the club contacted the journal to highlight the story).
This was quite a coup as previously the magazine had only written negative stories about golf’s impact on the environment, while the club is keen to attract new members despite it investing less than £500 per year on marketing.
However, when the publication requested a handful of quotes from the golf club – to supplement what the original source had written – plus specific environmental and generic marketing pictures, nothing was sent. Several attempts over the next two weeks proved equally fruitless. Finally the manager emailed over a picture, seemingly taken hurriedly on his mobile phone, of the course. Unfortunately, this was not of a good enough quality and the feature was dropped.
If the club had spent less than 30 minutes providing what was needed, it would have secured marketing that, based on its existing expenditure, would have otherwise required more than 20 years to save up for.
Free marketing is a tremendous opportunity to showcase your golf club. But it is unlikely that zero cost publicity can be achieved through zero effort.