Analysis – Start at the very beginning
I’m not one to advocate that The Sound of Music is ideal for much as far as golf clubs are concerned. However, Maria was right when she suggest you should, “Start at the very beginning, a very good place to start”. Too often eager golf club marketers are keen to skip the marketing basics of analysis and get right to executing their promotional ideas.
It’s not that the ideas are a problem but whether they are right for your golf club in the first place. Financial needs often drive decisions when the wise thing is to take time to really consider a defined marketing strategy. It can save a lot of wasted time, resource and loss of confidence and will set your golf club apart from the others.
Establishing the right strategy firstly requires some time considering where you are now. Before you get to the latest offer, lovely creative and changing websites it’s important to do the background work.
All good marketing starts with research and this should focus around 3 key areas:
1. Your own golf club analysis – where you are now, what are your overall business objectives and how might marketing help achieve them, your strengths and weaknesses and any external influences.
2. Competitor analysis – what is already being offered and by whom. Consider their brand, price, location, sales and marketing efforts. Also, consider indirect competitors such as driving ranges, other leisure facilities, footgolf – anything that competes for your potential customer’s leisure time.
3. Market analysis – the size of your existing market, the likely customers within it and their likely golfing demands and habits. Include looking at your existing customer base – members, golf visitors and clubhouse users. It’s important to understand who are already members or visiting golfers and why
A SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) is the usual starting point when defining a marketing strategy for a golf club. Please don’t be skip it because you think you already know. This is about seeing your golf club through your customers’ eyes – not yours. To see how different thinking can be, ask a small group of the committee and staff to each to go away and come back with their SWOT analysis done. You will be surprised at the differences and how some people perceive something to be a strength and others a weakness.
Your competitor analysis should be relatively straightforward. You may be able to draft in a willing member or relatively inexpensive professional resource to help you here. The first step is to define what they are offering. Build a spreadsheet for your immediate competitors. Consider their prices, products, what they claim as their USP (unique selling points). Also, where and how they are actively marketing their golf club.
For competitors you can review their websites. It is also worth signing up for marketing emails or even enquiring on the phone or visiting their club. Seeing their product from a customer perspective will be invaluable but remember to be impartial.
If you don’t have time, try to find members who may regularly visit other clubs and see what they think. Also, be careful on being reliant on published pricing. What many golf clubs publish as their rate can be miles away from what they are charging and what offers they may have in place.
The market analysis is probably the trickiest one. Consider local demographics and your potential customers. Think about how many of them are in your target area (usually 25 minutes’ drive from a golf club) and what they are looking for. This could prove very useful in deciding your positioning and what, if any, new products you may need.
If the segmentation research may seem over-whelming, then at least clarify some key points about your local market.
- What age group are they mainly in?
- Is there any major development planned for the next few years?
- What income bracket do they fall into?
Take the time to write your target market description. You may have more than one but don’t fall into the trap of trying to be all things to everyone. All this information helps you understand where you are now, vital for the next step of deciding where you want to be.
For more ideas, go to the golf club marketing resource website.