Marketing: Invest your time and money wisely to ensure you adapt to golf’s changes20th August, 2013 by admin
Your marketing strategy needs to adapt to the changes the game has experienced in recent years, writes Daniel Chidley, but that’s not as difficult as it may seem
You need to work out how to invest your time and money wisely to market your golf club and grow your business by attracting new customers.
Benchmarking within the Chartered Institute of Marketing suggests that leisure service businesses should be re-investing between two and five percent of annual total turnover into marketing their business. But, in the current climate, success comes to those who are investing time, energy and enthusiasm into the marketing of their club.
The reality… it has been an extremely difficult last 12 months. We all know business is tough; the weather has been terrible and, as a club manager, you are under increasing pressure. However, we must all continue to be proactive and create new opportunities.
The market is changing, and pulling out last year’s ineffective plan and making minor tweaks is not going to cut it. And, as Einstein suggested, the definition of insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’.
Are you doing enough to market your golf club? Could you be doing more? Are you too reliant on an ageing customer base? The market has changed and continues to change very quickly – so what are you going to do differently in the year ahead? How have you changed the way you are marketing your golf club? Below are some areas which you may be able to develop further.
Firstly, be clear on your key objectives. For the vast majority of golf clubs, there is not necessarily the need to increase the number of golfers, merely the need to increase the amount they play. The problem is that people are playing less golf, and all leisure services are competing for their leisure pound.
Secondly, consider the following tools, many of which can focus on increasing participation:
• Ensure you are charging the right price at the right time through yield management and pricing models. Embrace new sales channels – both within golf and in the wider leisure market, using all available routes to market within a planned process.
• Utilise your database to market directly to your customer base. Online and mobile booking can make it easier for golfers to book 24 hours a day and also help to manage complex pricing models.
• Invest in the customer experience at your club. Regularly appreciate / reward best customers, advocates and loyalty – random acts of kindness work well. Up-selling through service excellence also ensures that you do not over-promise and under-deliver.
• Consistently communicate that golf = fun! Remove the hype, jargon and mystery from the game, as well as the snobbery, by keeping rules and regulations to a minimum, removing barriers to the game, embracing the under-30s and encouraging beginners into the game, especially ladies.
• Make sure that golf at your club doesn’t have to take all day – consider shorter formats and charge accordingly, maybe even charge for the time played. Don’t forget the competitive element – consider fun and shorter competition formats.
• Don’t try to do it all on your own – open up dialogue with other golf businesses in the local community for mutual benefit. Join forces with local driving ranges, crazy golf, pitch-and-putt courses and consider joint marketing initiatives with neighbouring clubs, sharing the objectives and sharing the cost.
• Have you exhausted all the free local partnership opportunities in your area? When was the last time you invited a journalist to review your facility, or offered a competition prize or exclusive promotion to a local media / database owner?
• Social media: consider which platforms fit your objectives and your club’s capabilities in time, personality, skills and trust. Use one platform well, rather than doing all of them badly, and measure the return on the time that your club invests in social media.
Finally, my challenge to you for the year ahead is to be creative, innovative, stand out from the crowd and be truly distinctive. Let’s all take responsibility for making the game of golf more accessible and fun.
It is not a one-size fits all approach, you need to decide what works for your club. Whatever you do, when trying new ideas, spread your risk – test, measure and learn how to improve these ideas further. Remember, some things will work, some things won’t, but failure is OK. If something isn’t working, just stop and try something else.
Doing nothing is not an option: to quote Harvard Business Review: “It’s tough when markets change and people within a company don’t”. So, do something differently now…
Daniel Chidley is an account manager at golf marketing agency The Azalea Group