Six Principles For Marketing a Golf Course

Preface: This is a roadmap of how to powerfully and positively increase your marketing. Don’t get overwhelmed by this list; you don’t need to do it all. Start with one piece and continue to improve on it. The results will come a lot sooner than you think.

Golfers have a lot more choice when deciding which course they want to play. What amenities, features, and experience they are looking for when visiting a new golf course.

Golf course owners, professionals, and managers know that today’s golfer is doing their research online. They are looking for the best rates, golf course reviews, drone videos, etc. They research to plan their golf day. Where they are going to play, eat, how long it takes to get there, etc.

Golf facilities should start with these tips to massively increase their digital marketing efforts. They include the website, social media, and e-commerce.

1 – Establish Your Brand; Your Guiding Light

Branding is the foundation of marketing. It’s even more critical in golf. What comes to mind when you hear “Pebble Beach” or “Sawgrass”?

These are large corporations, and you can’t compare yourself to them yet. These businesses know how important their success depends on their branding. Branding helps guide almost all decisions at Pebble Beach, from the logo to the menu in the restaurant.

The goal of branding is to differentiate your facility from other entertainment businesses in your market.

While marketing a golf course, you should pay attention to what makes your golf course different and the experience your guests will get when they visit.

It is important to understand that each golfer is looking for a unique experience. That does not mean “flashy” marketing; rather, it means being able to portray an authentic emotion in all mediums of display: on the grounds, on the website, in print brochures and any other promotion.

To have success at attracting new players to your facility, creating an authentic brand name with values is essential. The most important part of branding is having a clearly defined Target Audience. Knowing who you are marketing to and what they value will help you define your unique characteristics that make your golf course branding different from others in the market.

Those may include:

  • A focus on the future by making junior golf a priority
  • A laid-back atmosphere: no dress code, etc.
  • Playability for all ages & skill levels
  • A course that depends on corporate income
  • Resort amenities such as swimming, dining or spa
  • Environmental values: green initiatives and sustainability, and much more

How would you describe your course? Ensure the description is clear and includes all the amenities specific to your golf facility (not generic ones). If you do not know how to talk about your golf course, then there is no way you can know how to market it. In addition, find out exactly who your visitors are and what they want from their experience at the course.

To have an effective marketing strategy, it is critical to understand all aspects of your golf facility to convey that message to your target audience accurately. To achieve this, start with a SWOT Analysis. This will help you identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your golf facility. When you have this information, it becomes easy to create a marketing strategy that includes all aspects of your golf course, such as location, price point, target market and more.

Goals such as increasing your revenue, getting new golfers to play at your facility or expanding your membership base are common, but they are not enough on their own. When you have clearly defined goals, strategies and tactics that match them, you will get better results in a shorter period of time.

Brand loyalty is vital for your business, and although it can be challenging to achieve, it is easier to maintain if you have a clear marketing strategy (branding). If a golfer decided he wanted to play at the best golf course for seniors, you need to make sure that all your promotional materials lead him there. If one of his friends asked him which course he would recommend, he should lead that friend to you.

2 – Deploy A Marketing Strategy

Many golf facilities are operating with little to no marketing. It’s often the case when the leadership has not established a brand.

In North America, Covid-19 has created a massive surge of new golfers. My recent conversations with golf facilities have been:

“I’m so busy. I can’t handle more golfers.”

“I don’t see the ROI in marketing.”

We all know if you don’t compete, you can’t lose. That may be true in sport, but in marketing, you can fall very far behind.

Golf is an entertainment spend. Golf facilities need to understand their competition is entertainment. Not just other golf courses. There’s no shortage of places to spend your dollars:

  • movie theatres
  • hockey or baseball games
  • concerts
  • golf facilities nearby, and more

After you’ve established your brand, how are you going to target golfers in your demographics? How will you expand your reach and influence other people’s decisions?

Try these basics for reaching new golfers:

Build or grow email marketing lists

Email marketing is still the most powerful form of marketing. It’s a targeted communication tool that can build awareness of your facility and brand. Email marketing allows you to communicate information about facility hours and specials, tee time availability, merchandise sales, upcoming events or tournaments, lesson availability, restaurant menu and lunch or dinner specials, special promotions or tournaments.

Golfers open emails. The open rate for golf facilities is enormous. Golfers are excited to consume your content. Email marketing allows the interaction to be specific and targeted for maximum effective communication with your desired audience.

This also assists in the relationship management process and is a great tool to keep on file information from new customers such as name, email, phone number, address (if applicable) and permission to contact them. It helps create a relationship with the guest, which leads to more visits and possibly a lifetime customer.

Deploy and Nurture a Review Mindset

Reviews are User Generated Content (UGC). The most powerful form of SEO content you can build on.

Asking your guests to submit reviews is one of the most powerful tools in a facility’s marketing strategy. A review provides an opportunity for new guests, old customers and the brand itself to get great exposure. Having a good number of quality positive comments on Facebook or Trip Advisor can hugely benefit your business. Golfers are using these platforms to learn more about the golf course and its facilities.

A bad review is an opportunity. It is not a bad thing. No business is perfect. People want to see how you deal with a bad review. That itself can win you more points than a positive review.

3- Invest in your Website Design/Content

An outdated website can say a lot about the golf facility. If your website is current and demonstrates your brand and experience, golfers will stop searching and book a tee time.

An excellent example of being helpful and proactive is a website with an FAQ section. This allows guests to learn more about the golf course and get answers to questions they may have.

-Does this facility offer what they need?

-What kind of value will they get for their money?

-Does this place look like it’s been forgotten or abandoned?

-Do they have a driving range?

-Is there a restaurant?

-Can I get lessons?

When building the website, make sure to have a person with marketing expertise to help guide the design and flow of information. The site should be easy to navigate, reflect well on your business and most importantly, represent your brand/golf experience in the best possible way.

4- Utilize Social Media Strategy

Today, social media is the most basic way for marketing a golf course. It is an opportunity for golf facilities to communicate directly with their guests. Building an engaged following on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or TikTok can show off the facility while building awareness of events, sales, careers, etc.

Golf courses have a huge advantage over almost every industry when it comes to social media. Visual marketing platforms like Instagram and TikTok allow you to show off your facilities and courses in a way that no other marketing channel could. This is the biggest opportunity golf has to showcase its events, products, staff, course design, membership specials, etc.

By allocating time, resources or an employee to manage a Facebook or Instagram page/account, facilities can gain new customers and grow their business by:

  • creating new relationships
  • increasing sales
  • increasing memberships
  • increasing participation in events

Golfers are foaming at the bit for content. Please give them the content, engage with them, and create fans for life. There are countless stories about how a Facebook interaction turned into a membership. Adopt that mindset, and you’ll win the social media game.

5- Experiment With E-Commerce

If your golf facility does not have an online presence, it will be missing out on a large market of potential customers. Potential customers are researching facilities and other golf businesses to find what fits their needs best.

A golf course with e-commerce on its website offers a better experience, more sales, and less friction to gaining new customers. You can:

  • increase pro shop sales with product highlights on your homepage
  • collect tournament entries
  • A/B testing to help drive your purchasing strategy
  • clear out ageing merchandise

No matter how you look at it, e-commerce allows you to serve your golfers more efficiently, making you more money.

6- Invest in Customer Relationship Marketing

A well-thought-out social media strategy utilized consistently will allow you to build an organic customer base of golfers that may become loyal customers. A strong relationship with your guests creates brand loyalty and raises the chances of returning to play again at your facility.

The more engaged you are with your guests (and potential guests), the better chance you’ll have of attracting new golfers or growing your existing membership base.

Conclusion

The golf market is competitive, and you need to have a strong marketing strategy in place if you want your business to succeed. These are just five common mistakes that can cause problems for the long-term success of any golf course.

If you’re looking for help with these challenges or other ways to improve your digital presence online, let us know! Our team will be happy to partner with you on creating an SEO/marketing plan tailored specifically for your needs and goals.

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