Marketing masterclass

    Golf Consultants Association members share their views about how golf professionals can market themselves successfully using both new and old forms of media

    Golf professionals should not regard marketing as a taboo subject – nor should they be afraid of social media or simply leave it to somebody else in the often vain hope it gets done. With a few simple steps, club pros can get a head start on the competition.

    Richard Netherclift, managing director of web and print design agency Insignia Creative, says: “With ever increasing ways to contact your potential customers, marketing across multiple channels is becoming more of a minefield every week. Getting to know your audience is key to ensuring you are on the right path.

    “Do some research on your present, and potential, audience as this will help to find the correct marketing channels to focus on. Age and gender are a good starting point and then start drilling down into specifics like location and affluence; this will give you a picture of your customer base. You can then start pin-pointing potential marketing channels. Each marketing platform will have specific types of customer interaction which should help you match your customer base too.”

    Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 10.38.32Online customer reviews can be an excellent place for pros to begin to publicise their services or business, as Netherclift explains. “There is nothing better than a happy customer to do the hard work for you,” he comments. “Do not be afraid to ask for a review and get them to post online through Tripadvisor, Google Review or golf-specific platforms, such as golftell – or just ask them for some words on email and post them on your social media, website or blog.”

    Andy Barwell, director at marcomms specialist the Azalea Group, says: “There are myriad new opportunities for the pro to consider when marketing their teaching or retail outlets, but they should not turn their back on traditional and proven forms of marketing communications.

    “For example, taking ownership of your customer database and communicating to it regularly via email, post or SMS, will keep you front-of-mind during those most crucial periods – such as the start of the golf season. Referral campaigns and encouraging recommendations can also be a simple way of increasing your client list – and this can be achieved either through word of mouth, point-of-sale promotions or social media.

    “Although there are many free marketing opportunities out there, make sure you allocate budget and time to invest in communications. Ensuring you have the resources to market your business during key buying times and a trained team who all have an understanding of how to communicate with your key customers will also maximise success.”

    To achieve positive results golf professionals need to focus on being pro-active within their clubs to assist in marketing the business as a whole, as they themselves and the club benefit from this. “The golf professional at a club is in a unique and advantageous position, but I frequently see a ‘disconnect’ between the club and its members and their club professional,” says Jerry Kilby, a consultant at Kanda Golf Marketing Services.

    “By this, I mean that the club does not always use the skills and experience of the club professional to help it achieve its objectives: whether that be membership growth, more visitors, both or something else. It also is true that some club professionals do not get involved with the club at all and they expect the club to come to them for help.

    “As a golf professional, marketing your services can be as simple as going to talk to your club secretary/manager, offering your help and working together to mutual benefit. Or it might be a more complex series of programmes that might include writing contributions for the club’s newsletters, social media activity, blogs, email blasts and digital marketing campaigns. But try the simple things first; it can be surprising how close you may be to the solution to grow your business.”

    The non-profit Golf Consultants Association is an organisation with a wealth of expertise in delivering practical advice. GCA members can offer specialist skills in any number of aspects of golf operations, including buying, selling and financing golf developments; golf marketing and media relations; designing and building golf courses and driving ranges; environmental golf development; golf market research and much more.