Strategy for Growth Marketing at Scale
Centralized golf course management brings with it a set of economies of scale in growth marketing. Core services like graphic design, branding, and advertising resources shared among all facilities go a long way.
In the past, golf clubs more or less sat around and waited for golfers to come to them.
Nowadays there is much more competition for recreational and disposable income. Clubs need to be much more proactive to attract the attention of young families and working-class folks.
The first simple step in and any sound marketing campaign is to establish the club’s position in the market. This might require some market research, secret shopping, surveys, or other strategies. The goal is to understand as much as possible about the local competitive set and strategize on how to differentiate. Find your niche right?.
For example, let’s say that there are five clubs in the immediate vicinity. Conduct a survey ranking these five clubs on various factors like golf course conditions, service-levels, reputation and history, and general desirability. If a club ranks fourth on this list, yet has become the most expensive at the same time, they’re naturally going to have difficulty recruiting new members and participation.
Sound market research arms clubs with talking points and differentiators against all the other clubs in your competitive set.
Creating Compelling Marketing Content
In general, golf courses struggle to develop compelling marketing content on a continuous basis. Of course many are under staffed and have not delegated these kinds of responsibilities to anyone in particular. As a result, marketing activities fall to the back burner.
Those that are taking a stab at marketing their facilities aren’t always very good at creating content that resonates with their audience.
The first thing to do is identify who your ideal customers are. What challenges do they face? What questions do they have? Where do they go to find answers?
“Meet” your ideal customers where they are, and presents information or stories that are interesting and helpful to them. Telling better stories and delivering value builds trust.
On the other hand, many clubs are simply asking people to buy things continuously. The target audience quickly tunes out this type of messaging and nothing is gained.
Ideal Customer Personas
Try creating a set of two or three ideal customer personas. No more than 2 or 3. Customer personas are fictitious representations of the ideal people that you want to attract to your club. Advertising agencies do this all the time. Create a profile of a genuine human being that would make a great customer, complete with a photo. Seriously.
For instance, one persona might be a 45 year old father of a family of four. His name is Steve, he lives in the suburbs, earns $200k as a financial advisor, likes to stay healthy by swimming, playing tennis and golf, and his kids are 10 and 12 years old.
Another ideal customer persona might be a 60 year old retiring business woman named Cindy. She’s had a successful career, he husband doesn’t play golf, and lives near the golf course. She’s most interested in finding more social activity, exercise, and learning a new skill.
As you can imagine, each of these two personas are going to be asking very different questions and are going to be interested in very different things.
The key to creating content that resonates with either of them, is to compose content specifically for one of them at a time. Steve is going to be interested in all of the amenities at the club, like the pool, fitness, tennis and probably junior golf programs. Cindy is going to be interested in beginning golf clinics, social groups and events, and maybe the 9-hole ladies league.
“Go with minimal ad spends until you start seeing positive return. Only when $5 starts turning into $10 is when you ramp things up. ”
Go Where your Customers Are
Once you have two or three good buyer personas identified, then it’s all about bringing compelling content to the places where they are. This means social media, email, advertising, events, and leveraging the current network of members and partners that you have available through the club.
The strategy needs to be carefully considered to make best use of resources. As we roll out different campaigns, you’ll need to track results and determine which strategies are performing the best. Only when you start seeing returns, ramp up expenditures in the strong areas, while reducing or eliminating the weak areas.
There are infinite ways to market a golf club. Uniformly, it always starts by identifying and empathizing with your ideal customers. Once you know who they are, what they like, and where they find their information, you’ve got a good chance to meet them there with something that resonates.