If you are like many golf course owners, you know that running a golf course can be expensive and while risky, money must be invested into golf course marketing activities to grow membership and obtain public fees. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a well defined and properly implemented marketing campaign for your golf course.
Many golf courses have operated under the “if you build it, they will come” mantra for years, but according to a recent industry research report from IBIS World, interest in golf and the expansion in number of courses has caused many golf courses to wonder how they will increase revenues. Luckily, these are also two problems that can be addressed with a targeted marketing plan.
Take a look at some of our golf course marketing ideas to see if your marketing is up to par.
Start With a Strategic Marketing Plan
You wouldn’t just start your game at the third hole, so why would you start any marketing strategies without an overall plan? Figuring out what your golf course or country club’s goals and objectives are, who your target market is or who you want it to be, and what steps you can take to reach them are keys to a comprehensive marketing plan.
Think About Your Environment
Before you jump into promoting your golf course, make sure you have something special to promote! What sets your golf course apart from another? Maybe you have an amazing, helpful and friendly staff. Maybe you take pride in the fact that your greens are the most well kept in your city. Think about what experience you are truly offering your members, as grounds alone are not going to be enough to make your course unique. If you are offering a welcoming environment where golfers can learn, practice and improve, people will spend more time there.
Website Design and Optimization
Part of an effective marketing plan involves the creation and maintenance of a professional website. Not only should you be tagging your website on any promotional material you distribute and drive customers to it, your website will also serve as an important marketing tool itself as people search your golf course online. Be careful of the DIY websites, however, and ensure that your golf course is represented in the most professional manner possible.
Search-engine optimization (SEO) strategies and link building are vital for golf courses as many are reaching out to a younger demographic to increase interest in the sport. 91% of internet users in the United States search for something online every month. So, if you are not optimizing your website, who knows how many new and potential members you are missing out on simply because they are not finding out about you.
Social Media Marketing
Going hand in hand with a professional, optimized website is a targeted social media marketing campaign. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram remain the top three platforms that have great potential for golf courses. Facebook and Twitter are both very engaging and can lead to plenty of conversation about your course and Instagram is a perfect visual platform to impress potential members with the beauty of your course.
By building an online community of followers, golf courses can easily reach current and potential members with promotions, events, or reputation-building strategies. Customers form opinions about businesses on social media before even stepping foot through the door, and businesses that aren’t on social media at all don’t even exist in the minds of these customers.
Creative and Varied Communication
Once you have your different online avenues of reaching your people, you are in a perfect place to drive meaningful communication to your current and potential customers. Golf courses, especially, have the advantage of providing a good balance of promotional-driven content and service-driven content.
For example, if you wanted to run a membership special, you have a database of online followers you can immediately reach out to. Facebook ads specifically have become the normal way to reach your fans, and retargeting your website visitors through Facebook allows you to reach people who know you already and have shown interest in your course. Imagine providing a message of experience and education, rather than just sales and promotions all the time. You can create informational or skill focused videos and send them out to your audience to help improve their game all with a click of a button.
You can also use your website and social media pages to promote special events happening at your golf course. There should be at least one creative, fun event each month to keep the image of your course an entertaining and happening place. Social media is the perfect place to quickly inform your current and potential members of these events and keep your course image fresh. Remember, in Facebook you can start events tied to your business page so that others can comments and share images from the events you host.
If you haven’t rethought the way your course does memberships, you need to think about what will keep you current, competitive and relative in the minds of your customers. Vary your plans. For example, range-only, twilight-only and weekend-only memberships are a way to reach a variety of golfers with different schedules and availability. Think about families, as well. What kind of memberships do you offer for couples or whole families? How about kid only programs?
Dedicating some of your marketing time to making local business connections can be a great long term relationship-building strategy. Cross promoting with other businesses increases potential for new members, but most importantly, starts to make your course a staple in the community. Golf courses are also great places to host business networking events for clubs in your community like Rotary Club or other business clubs.
Free Up Your Time
There’s no doubt that if you are a club manager and you are reading this list, you might be thinking, “How do I fit all this in to everything else I already do?” To create a marketing plan and execute it the right way, it definitely takes time and energy. Recruiting a professional marketing organization to help may be a wise investment if you are serious about increasing your membership base. That frees up your time allowing you to focus on your course, members and other activities related to the business.
Need help? Contact us to learn more about your options and the ways we can help your golf course or club.