Fact: Your Golfers Are Visual and Social
It’s no longer enough to just attract new golfers, but the savvy golf course operator also employs strategies that also build relationships to keep them coming back. Sounds like common sense, right?
An innovative breakthrough a generation ago, “relationship marketing” now has become commonplace. Nowadays, course operators are considering the golfer “journey.” It’s important, of course, that golfers buy a tee time from you, but what are some of the methods you should be employing to leverage those purchases to create long-term relationships?
That’s what John Brewer Jr., General Manager of Split Rock Golf Club in Orient, Ohio, has been thinking about for years. With the advent of easy-use handheld technology, one of those ways he’s discovered is to incorporate short videos as a high-powered, highly effective tool in that effort. Teaming up with his GOLF Business Solutions Plus Specialist, Melissa De La Paz, Brewer has been planning, producing and posting weekly videos, then tracking the results and continually refining strategy.
"A local company that does video production and marketing for small businesses made a presentation to us that included some of the results they could deliver, in terms of click-throughs and likes and so forth,” says Brewer. "The numbers were basically the same as what we’re achieving on our own, in our work with Melissa, so that was very satisfying to see.”
An outsourced firm may be able to deliver video content that is more slickly produced, but for the team at Split Rock that doesn't seem to matter. Golfers who follow “The Rock” on Facebook and enjoy the videos don't mind Brewer’s simple approach.
“We're doing this to start a conversation with our customers and see where it leads," says Brewer." It's personal. It’s not fancy in the least, and maybe that's why people come into the shop and start talking about our videos and ask us what we’re planning to do next.”
All marketing and selling should conclude with a call-to-action—that’s the accepted wisdom. But in relationship marketing the action isn't necessarily a purchase. In 2019, Brewer worked with de la Paz on a video promoting a used-ball donation drive that resulted in some 20 golfers showing up with buckets of shag balls that had been gathering dust in their garages.
“We had an unexpected range ball shortage and I know for a fact that half our players have a big stash of scuffed balls they can’t seem to toss out," explains Brewer. “We put out our request via video and got a great response. Everybody was talking about it—that's the whole point anyway, the back and forth interaction.”
Mike Hendrix, Vice President of Clubhouse Solutions, agrees completely with the Split Rock concept of video that is home-cooked, folksy and sincerely personal. The point of it is pure connection, not communication of the sort a marketer would use to convince consumers they should change cell phone providers or have their home checked for termites. Getting your home checked for termites might be a necessity but, unlike playing golf, it’s not something you actually want to do.
“When you are selling golf," says Hendrix, “you're basically inducing a person to do the thing they want to do. They want to engage with their favorite activity in their favorite environment. So, let’s just get the engagement process started—and video is the tool for that. It’s natural and easy to consume video—especially on your smartphone, which is where so much content gets consumed these days anyway.”
Led by Hendrix and Clubhouse Solutions Specialist Gabriela Vaughan, the GOLF Business Solutions team produce Clubhouse Bulletin, a rapidly growing video newsletter customized for private clubs as a way for them to connect with members. In this case, the homemade look and feel isn't appropriate, yet there's still a need for a warm, upbeat and personal tone. The natural ease and charm of on-air personality Bailey Chamblee supply those qualities.
By using broadcast-quality production elements, with the GOLF Channel Newsroom as a backdrop, a Clubhouse Bulletin segment holds a viewer’s attention as it delivers engaging content—news, events and important updates. Other production values include professional course imagery, a scrolling information ticker and club-specific branding in each video.
“Club GMs and officers will view a sample segment and assume there's a high cost to get involved," says Hendrix. “But the cost of entry for a club to add this powerful communication tool and really build engagement is very reasonable.” While it's generally a means of connecting with and retaining the existing member, Clubhouse Bulletin enrollment also allows a club to create an outreach video showcasing it for potential new members.
Humans are wired to process information visually––it's how our brains work. Human golfers are wired to enjoy their experiences at your course or club by personally connecting with the people who provide them with service and a great product. Short videos inviting viewers to come and enjoy themselves will make a strong impression—and produce business results that make everyone happy.