When it comes to running a golf club the bottom line is to attract as many members as possible. But how exactly do you do that? Well, while every golf course has its own strengths and weaknesses a good starting point is to look at those people coming through your doors.
Who visits you?
There are two types of people who will visit your golf club, members and non-members, and neither of these should be overlooked when considering the long-term success of your business. It’s all too easy to forget about the needs of your existing customers when you are trying to strike a balance between customer retention and gaining new business, but chances are that the number of members visiting your golf club will far outweigh the number of visitors who are non-members. Ensuring that your existing members feel special encourages them to stay with you in the long term.
A good way of keeping members on your side is to foster loyalty. Consider creating a loyalty scheme where members are offered awards for visiting a certain number of times, for example a free drink at the bar when they visit, free rounds of golf or complementary visitors passes. The latter is also a great way of introducing new people into your golf club too.
Instead of using a loyalty scheme you may decide to offer those benefits mentioned above to those who refer their friends to your club only. This is likely to be at a less-frequent rate than using a loyalty card scheme, costing you less money in the long-term so is more suited to those with a smaller budget. Either way, using a referral or loyalty scheme should be an essential business expense that will help generate extra revenue in the long run.
Tailoring to your market
You should hopefully by now have a rough idea of whether the people coming through your doors are members or not, but you need to look further into the information to gain real benefit. What are the ages of your clients and how far are they travelling to get to you? Understanding more about your member’s lifestyles will enable you to tailor your business to your client’s needs. For example, older members may be retired and can play longer games without rushing. However, younger members may well benefit from a shorter game of 90 minutes which would fit in better with their busy lives.
Are people travelling a long way to get to you or are they local? If visitors are mostly local you may need to expand your marketing campaign to target those further afield. Conversely, if you have a lot of people visiting from the wider area these could well be one-off visits, and as such may need persuasion to visit again. Offering a discounted membership tier for occasional visitors, for example, those that visit once a month may be a way of enticing these people into spending more of their cash with you.
Effective email marketing can encourage people to visit your golf club, but first off, you need to capture your visitors’ email addresses. So how do you do this without it feeling intrusive? One of the easiest ways we find is to offer something in return for the information. If your customers feel that they are getting something free they are more likely to view the idea favourably. You may have to be a little persuasive but it should never feel forced.
Target non-members and ask them if they would like a free round of golf on their birthday. Usually, this is enough to pique their interest and get the information you require. Take down their name, address, date of birth and email address and ask if you can contact them with offers and deals. Chances are they will say yes, but if they’re not keen, don’t hassle them. That is one sure-fire way to lose custom. If your visitor is more than happy to let you contact them then ensure that you send a personalised follow-up email thanking them for their visit to your golf course. Being courteous and using the person’s name shows an interest in them and studies have found that this is more likely to gain a positive response.
Now that you’ve opened a communication channel with your potential customer you can also send them details on upcoming offers and events at your golf course to try and tempt them back in. For added benefit make these deals only available to those who sign up to email notifications. When your existing members get wind of these offers they are likely to sign up too, making your job of targeting your customers simpler.
While a website may be something you’ve never considered for your golf club, it’s essential to create an online presence so potential customers know of your existence.
It’s natural for potential customers to search out businesses online to understand more about them before parting with their hard-earned cash. The things most commonly searched for are prices, opening times and services offered so ensuring that these are available in one easy place is essential. This is where your website comes in.
As well as including basic information on your business, you should also aim to keep your website fresh in people’s minds. A good way of doing this is to introduce a blog section to your website. Filled with engaging content that is aimed at a golf fan, your blog can act as a way of showing readers that you have a good knowledge of your industry and if posts are well-written they will encourage people to revisit your site on a regular basis and consider your golf course if they ever want to visit one.
Amazingly, very few golf courses have successfully embraced the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to market their business, but the bonuses of signing up on these sites are huge. Imagine being able to reach huge amounts of people in a short amount of time and get your message out there.
Like email marketing, you could use this format to share special events on your social media pages to generate some interest. Perhaps you’re planning a relaxed dress code for a couple of days or drink specials, which can often tempt new visitors if the price is right. Put these on your Facebook page or rave about them on Twitter for great results.
Alternatively, you could use your page as a forum to fill up last-minute tee-time cancellations and pose surveys on golf-related topics so that you gain more information on your followers. Instagram is also a great way of showing off your facilities and selling a luxurious lifestyle. Key snaps of your visitors revelling in post-round drinks or the lush quality of your green will all help sell your brand.
Ensure that if you do set up social media pages that they are maintained regularly. Failing to do so looks lazy at best and unprofessional at worst. Gaining followers is one thing, but retaining them is quite another, so if you don’t update your social media pages from month to month, be prepared to lose followers in the process.
Why not streamline a lot of your communication with your customers by creating your own Golf Course App? Simply choose a template and your business information will be pulled from your website and social media pages, keeping your branding in the process. From here you can interact with business queries in real time while you are on the go, offer loyalty schemes and discounts to tempt visitors into your golf club and even use push notifications that will promote specific offers to your app users if they happen to be nearby.
Using an app can also allow your clients to make their own bookings allowing you to concentrate on keeping your visitors happy rather than manning the phone. Not only is this more convenient for you and your customers, but an app is more likely to appeal to younger, tech-savvy individuals, tapping into a market that is often overlooked in the golfing industry.
Hopefully, you’ve learned an awful lot about marketing and how it can influence your business and have considered the tools and techniques described on this page to see if they would work for you. Remember, though that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to business marketing as new technologies and business ideas will be invented every day. The best way of keeping ahead of the trend is to keep researching marketing techniques to keep your business image looking fresh in the coming years.