This article is an update to the original that appeared in Golf Biz Journal in February 2008.
The golf industry has recently been through some tough economic times. With the supply of golf courses outweighing demand, golf courses need to compete for a finite population of golfers. But to do so effectively, they need to invest in marketing and aggressively go after new customers.
Contrary to popular beliefs, businesses should continue to market even when the economy is down. Investing in marketing will boost revenue opportunities now and create future opportunities to attract new business. But, before you open your wallet, there are ways to get the most out of your marketing dollar. The following are five tips to help you get those precious golfers’ attention while using your budget wisely.
Don’t Shortchange the Strategy Process
When resources are scarce, it’s tempting to short cut the planning process. But doing so guarantees a marketing plan that is little more than a list of unrelated activities. Without a plan, you may be tempted to spend money on programs that are not the best use of your marketing dollar. By thinking in broader, more strategic terms, you can align your spending with your goals and spend your valuable time and money on programs that are worth doing.
Focus Your Resources
One issue for many businesses is spreading their marketing resources too thin. They try to execute too many diverse marketing activities without a clear goal or become reactionary and jump from one activity to another. By setting clear goals, pairing them with creative strategies and focusing your resources on doing everything possible to achieve them, you are more likely to be successful. For example, if your goal is to increase the number of golfers, one strategy could be to focus on attracting golfers from vulnerable courses that are in some type of transition. Pick the best opportunities and hammer away for at least six to nine months. Use your marketing to attract their outings, their regular golfers, their members and their leagues. But be sure to monitor all competitive activity in the process to enable you to quickly react to changes that could benefit you more.
Take Advantage of the Internet
The Internet is a powerful channel that you can utilize fully without spending a lot of the marketing budget. Traditional methods of marketing to your prospect database can be done using the Web at a fraction of the cost. Get a quality web site developed professionally that interacts with your visitors and enables you to collect information about those who come to visit. Then make sure all of your marketing programs direct your prospects to your Web site. Once there, provide valuable information to keep them coming back often to see what you have to offer.
Market to Your Customer
Once you have invested in the cost of obtaining a customer, don’t forget to nurture that relationship. It is far more cost effective to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. Remember, if you are trying to attract your competitions’ golfers, they most likely are trying to attract yours. Ignoring golfers who frequently play at your course or treating them like strangers will only encourage them to look elsewhere.
Get creative and invest in marketing that delivers value to your regular golfers. Send out monthly newsletters with golf tips, course events, and other activities. Post information in the newsletter about new merchandize or services being offered and ask for input through a Web response form. Offer an email newsletter that parallels the hardcopy version and let people opt-in to save you postage. Most of these activities are all simple and inexpensive, but they help you create a positive experience and stay visible with your customer.
Invest More – Time, Effort, and Money
When the economy is down, you should expect to invest more than just money in your marketing to stay visible. Spend time with your customers to show them you value their business and implement marketing activities that communicate clearly about what you offer that is of value to them. Use all aspects of your marketing to drive new golfers to your Web site. Get involved with your local business community through the Chamber of Commerce to encourage businesses to host their meetings at your club or schedule an outing. Attend networking events to promote your golf programs. Host a networking event at the club to encourage people to come see the facility. Participate in community events that keep your name in front of potential golfers.
Simple, effective marketing is not out of reach for businesses on limited budgets. Build your strategy. Focus your resources wisely. Invest more time and effort to communicate with your prospects. Offer value to your current customers. And, take advantage of cost-effective, Internet marketing. You will begin to see results.