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The Latest from The Index

golf marketing for instructors

Better golf marketing in minutes: 5 tips you need to try!

Nov 07, 2019

Leverage the Value of Distance-Control with a Free Wedge Fitting

It’s a tantalizing question that instructor Rob Noel posed to golfers in his database: “Do you really know how far your wedges carry?” Many players who care about scoring aren’t sure at all, and it weighs on their minds when they’re inside 130 yards trying to pull a club. Noel invites them to a “Free Fit Friday,” in the noon to 4 p.m. time slot, featuring TrackMan for accurate measurement of carry distances. Structure of the afternoon was based on 30-minute sessions for each participant, with the chance, in Rob’s words, to “turn yourself into a scoring machine!” Benefit to the teaching professional is profit off wedge sales as well as an intro for non-students to see how competent and dedicated this academy’s coaches and clubfitters really are.
 

Use Nameplates as Rewards and Recognition for Regulars

Golfers see their names on cart signs, bag tags and lockers, so why not on the range? Even if you all you use are plastic plates that with an erasable surface, players will still enjoy seeing those beautiful words—their own first and last name. The plates you order could even have pre-printed titles, like “Golfer of the Week” or “Fast-Improving Student” or “Top 20 Most Improved.”. You don’t have to have one of these plates ready for every student every time—instead use them as an incentive for people who don’t yet have one, as well as a reward and retention tool for lesson-takers who are in your book already.
 

Hand Out Impact Decals on the Range

In the GolfWorks online catalogue you’ll find iron impact decals in rolls of 200 for $30. That works out to 15 cents apiece, a very small price to pay for the chance to create a meaningful connection with a range user who isn’t your student but seems like a good candidate. Make up a small poster showing a half-dozen used decals with off-center hits, blurred dimple patterns and other indicators of sub-optimal impact, topping it with the headline: “What Do These Marks Mean?” On a select basis, invite golfers to take 3 or 4 decals with them when they pick up a basket of balls, then upon their return they can show you the imprinted decals. It will likely be the first time they’ve ever used impact decals or impact tape, which makes this a great conversation-starter potentially leading to lesson signups.
 

“My Golf Teacher Reached Out to Me!”

Apparently this was the excited thought that went through the minds of 10 students who received texts from New Jersey-based instructor Brian Dobbie. The question Dobbie sent to his students, none of whom were currently active in his book, was disarmingly simple—he asked: “How is your game?” The message went out to the 10 golfers simultaneously and results came back to Brian quickly. All 10 golfers responded and the outreach resulted in Dobbie booking three standard lessons plus one playing lesson. He puts this nice success down to “the importance of following up,” in all kinds of different ways—including a quick, simple text.
 

Take Lessons in a Skill besides Golf and Blog Your Progress

Instructors are often advised to take lessons in tennis, guitar, fly fishing or some other motor skill, in order to remind themselves what the motor learning process is like from the student’s side. But if you ever do take this advice, don’t miss the opportunity to bring your golf students inside the process of what you’re being taught, how you’re going about practicing and what kind of progress you’re making. It will increase their respect for you (especially if you practice faithfully!) and it will build a narrative quality into your messaging, as your progress continues.


Discover all GOLF has to offer instructors! To check out our tools, tips, and more, CLICK HERE.

 


beyond yelp reviews

Beyond Yelp reviews: consider a secret shopper

Nov 07, 2019

Go through checkout at a big retailer and the cashier is bound to ask, “Did you find everything you were looking for?” Apparently there is research telling Target, BestBuy, and the other big boxes that consumers would spend more money if store inventory were somehow different or if items were displayed differently—so they constantly ask us about it.

Public-facing businesses—and golf instruction is no exception—can learn something from watching chain stores dig for data about the customer experience. The extreme way of doing it involves the trained “secret shopper,” hired from a legitimate agency and posing as a customer. Online reviews have reduced the need for secret shoppers, but they’re still around, supplying objectivity and professional reporting.

A marketing specialist with expertise in golf shop retailing, Jackie Beck, got hired a few years back to do some secret shopping in the instruction category. Beck was given a list of 50 contacts—academies as well as solo teaching pros—and told to proceed as any curious golfer would. She studied the instructors’ websites, checked on prices, called or emailed to inquire about available services and in some cases attempted to book a lesson.

In a presentation that Beck later made to a gathering of coaches—some of whom were among the 50 she had secret-shopped—her report had the attendees studying their own websites on smartphones, real-time, as she went through actual examples of what she saw working and not working. In many cases there were broken links within websites, long scrolls to get to important content, missing information, weak photography and a general failure to “tell the customer what makes this teacher a great choice.”

Beck found a disconnect between golf shops and the lesson tee, especially for teachers who are independent contractors at public courses. The staff in those shops are trained to promote the golf operation but not the lesson business. Beck addressed this issue, asking: “Is the golf shop delivering messages to you, with accurate information about people who have called asking about instruction? If you suspect that’s not happening, have a few people you know and trust call in, inquiring about golf lessons.” Consider “hiring" a former junior golfer who went on to study marketing or management at college then returned home with a degree. Trade a 3-lesson series for an objective report on what the customer experience was like, in fine detail.

Beck understands that instructors have to address the operating details of their business in small doses. “Prioritize the things you want to check on, and take them one or two at a time,” she advises. Are golfers arriving on-property and getting confused about where to go? Are there messy or cluttered spaces they would find unpleasant. Is noise a problem at certain times and places? Are the restrooms clean? Are the range balls noticeably deteriorating?

Unlike a BestBuy or a CVS, golf facilities aren’t chains that all look alike. That gives the instructor a chance to liven up the surroundings and add a little sparkle, making return visits more enjoyable.

“Your teaching skill is the big draw, but a golfer’s overall experience will play a part in whether they want to come back,” says Jackie. “If it’s a $75 lesson and they feel the experience was worth $100 they will automatically come back.” It takes a long time to learn how to teach effectively, and yet being around for a long time can dull your eye and ear for what’s pleasant, interesting and appealing about the details of a visit.

One final point Beck makes is focused on programming, and the need to bring flexibility to it. “Some instructors will schedule a ‘Chips and Sips’ clinic for women and be overly concerned about whether chipping can be taught properly in this type of setting,” Beck observes. “I say, ‘Who cares?’ The women are happy. Some nights they’ll be fine with skipping the golf part altogether—let them!” If you have reservations, ask directly whether social-night only is of interest to the participants. “Ask and listen,” Beck repeats. “We have to get over the idea that we know better than the customer.”

To learn more about our instructor offerings, CLICK HERE.

 


Instruction Programming

Instruction Programming: What to offer and how to explain it

Nov 07, 2019

Golf instruction comes in a wider variety of formats than it used to. To expand their audience, teachers keep adding programs of different types. We’ve seen instruction tailored so that it’s more social, more technology-based, more focused on scoring, more geared toward women, or otherwise customized.

Lately a new line of thinking has come along to offset this programming trend. Special formats and event-based teaching are still being offered and continue to attract golfers. However, they’re getting pushed to the side and kept separate from the “main course” product, which is long-term coaching relationships that remodel golf swings and produce significant game improvement.

Research shows that rewiring a golfer to truly change motor patterns takes months or even years, plus steady practice to attain interim goals. The results are dramatically pleasing to the golfer, and the coach-student relationship that develops is a big source of job satisfaction for instructors. In good part the happy ending is due to the long and emotionally painful span of time in which the embarrassed golfer has dealt with a sense of futility about their play. A fair number of people commit to long-term coaching right at the point where they’re ready to quit the game.

Meanwhile, financial compensation to the teacher improves significantly when the lesson book is filled out far in advance with these every-week or every-other-week clients. Eventually this scenario leads to rate increases. Next time you hear of an instructor who raises rates, check to see if they have a growing stable of committed long-term students—you’ll find this is virtually always the case.

Because the long-term student is so valuable—and because he or she is always going to be a minority within of the instruction-minded population—the coach needs a “sales funnel” with a very wide feeder end. That coach also needs a “gateway” product, usually called a New Student Assessment or New Student Evaluation, that large numbers of players will undergo.

Out of the pool of players who come through the gateway—and their total could be 100 or more over a season—perhaps 20 to 40 percent will enter long-term programs. They’ll buy lessons in 10-packs, 20-packs and 30-packs, and they will make the journey from frustrated and par-deprived to become mid-80s or even single-digit players. Their investment in the coach-student collaboration is key to the golf instructor’s business plan and yearly income. Both parties win.

How does this model impact programming and your menu of instruction options? It starts by putting the New Student Assessment front and center, where it can do its job of filling up the wide end of your sales funnel. Lots of options and details about formats and special events will confuse your best prospects, i.e, the people who legitimately want to improve. They scroll through academy websites, see all the diversity and intricacy and get overwhelmed. In many cases these golfers have spent a long time postponing the decision to try and end their frustration. They need simplicity and a clear path to improvement.

Instructors have long used programming to let people know they are up on the latest developments in the field, from TrackMan diagnostics to AimPoint green-reading to the use of a communications “locker” for sharing video, notes and practice plans. There’s logic to this, but again it’s a possible source of confusion and even intimidation. There are students who in general are impressed by technology, but there are others who shy away from it. Telling people about your certifications and the tech tools in your teaching bay is well and good, but you can do it in descriptive copy that’s distinct from your programming information. Don’t let it detract from the messaging that encourages new students to come meet you and get assessed.

The other extreme is clinic programming that’s fun, social, relaxed and looks inviting on the club calendar. Nothing wrong with this, either. Just don’t let it cloud the message about long-term coaching and how to get started on it.

On your website you can do all this through clear communication that keeps the gateway product, a New Student Assessment or whatever you use, separate from your tech talk and from the fun, “intro” events you offer. In email marketing you can offer the specials and one-offs selectively, and let people know they are “events” that don’t come up on the schedule regularly. In social media messaging you can carry along the same approach.

Being versatile is a good thing and having lots of ways to meet golfers is valuable. Getting the best return on your investment in training, tech and marketing is always about having a filled-out lesson scheduler that stretches weeks or even months into the future, booked up with thrilled students who rave about you.

Create a gateway product, build a sales funnel to feed it, and tailor your menu of services so that you and your best customers achieve meaningful rewards over the long haul.

To learn more about our instruction tools, trainings, and tips, CLICK HERE.