Marketing: Your website is a database-building tool

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire October 26, 2011 10:33

Marketing: Your website is a database-building tool

“British Golf Clubs not business minded, say US marketing experts.”

That was the headline that greeted me recently on a golf industry news website. The company concerned, which had recently launched in the UK, accused golf clubs of not being proactive enough with regard to their marketing – a subject close to my own heart.

The accusation that golf clubs aren’t business minded enough is unfair in many cases.

On the contrary, more and more golf clubs are realising that the business landscape is changing at a pace they could probably never have envisioned and many would dearly like to change with it.

However, the traditional barriers of constantly-changing committees, less than understanding members and a lack of resources – time and money – has led to the impression that clubs are less than proactive in these key areas.

Whilst panic is quick to set in when faced with declining revenues, to change a lifetime of no marketing to one of active marketing can cause an even greater sense of consternation- both from the committee and members.

The process is the most important first step. Golf clubs are run by (on the whole) bright people, albeit volunteers, who have often come from a business world where marketing was the norm. Marketing is not a dark science and as members of a golf club and therefore golfers, any committee will have been subjected to most marketing techniques, whether it is to buy a membership, a green fee or book a society day. Reproducing them within your own club is therefore not hard.

It is not the ‘what to do’ but the actual doing where I find most clubs come unstuck and here the usual lack of resources, time and money, is often to blame.

The successful clubs are those that tackle marketing methodically and soon start to establish what I describe as those ‘quick wins’.

These are those marketing techniques which are simple to implement but quick to pull in results. Results means benefits and benefits lead to a motivated committee willing to dedicate more resources, and then you’re off and running (well, jogging at least!)

The two marketing allies

Whilst it may all seem overwhelming at first glance, golf clubs have one unlikely ally in their marketing efforts and that is the golf consumer! Golf is a product which is bought, not sold, and therefore golfers are as keen as mustard when it comes to finding out where and when they can play. They actively seek information and here steps in our second biggest ally, the internet, and the first major process any golf club should put in place, a website.

‘Aaargh, no, websites’, I hear you cry and memories of hours spent trying to upload news, photographs or even a simple email flood into your consciousness. However, a good website backed by sound, integrated information and communications systems can be a revelation to any small business – and don’t have to be expensive.

One quick win for a club is collecting and using data, for members and visitors. A golf club which has a targeted and expanding database is starting to incrementally reduce its marketing costs by directly communicating with its consumers. Collecting the data is the hard bit but again a website can prove a real ally in this area. Every golf club website should have at least five data collection points, culminating in a database which can be easily segmented and used. Your database is your most valuable marketing asset so you need to ensure it can be integrated easily into your email programme. It’s worth investing in specialist email software or better still do it through your website so you can send emails quickly and easily and track all activity.

When panic has set in because 50 members have left around renewal time, then having a good database of prospects, regular visitors or even referrals from members can be a real boon. It reduces the pressure of finding potential new customers and means that lo and behold a golf club has the ability to be proactive when it comes to marketing.

One of the biggest issues I find when talking to golf clubs is that many realise the importance of their website and it needs to grow with their business but often it has been built and maintained by an enthusiastic member. Now no one wants to upset their members and diplomacy is the order of the day. One successful technique I have used is to actively involve the member in the discussions about a new site or updating the old one and how much easier it will make their lives with a new content management system, or added functionality. You would be amazed in many cases how the member is just as keen to get rid of the responsibility but didn’t want to let the club down!

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire October 26, 2011 10:33
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1 Comment

  1. January 20, 02:52

    Can you tell us more about this? I’d want to find out some additional information.

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