Social media is marketing directly to the people your golf club needs

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 24, 2012 15:31

My name is Gavin Johnson. You may remember it from a recent article, when I wrote of my concerns for golf clubs’ future sustainability. I am not a man to shout a problem without a solution; it bothers me so many of us do this as players at our clubs, so here I come to you with something that I hope may be of interest and assistance.

A solution that means you don’t need to change your values, your tradition or even your offering in many cases. This solution simply gets your message to the people you need to see it in a way you want them to see it. It can be changed daily or can work as part of a long-term strategy. It works and its pretty much risk-free.

We have over 600,000 golfers in England that play regularly (millions more play but not regularly) but don’t join clubs. Is that because your club isn’t good enough? Because it is more expensive? Is it because you don’t offer direct debit? Or other incentives such as discounts on gyms, playing at other courses for free and so on? Or excellent catering? Well, no it isn’t, is it?

It’s because those people don’t know what you offer. They just know you are a golf club, the rest they presume … unless you tell them.

We think people know, hey who wouldn’t? We see it every week, but then we are at the club, we are within. We love it and understand it. So many don’t. We must accept barriers exist and try to remove them. It’s about improvement not change.

I have been working with various clubs (traditional and proprietary) and associations promoting the use of social media in a bid to generate case studies and substantiate my views. Social media is frightening and alien to some but to the 91 per cent of 16-to-24 year olds that use it regularly (a key golf club drop off I might add) it isn’t.

Also the 18 per cent and growing number of over 65s that use it may have interest too. But don’t get confused, what you want depends on what approach you take and what you need to achieve. Attraction, engagement and retention are all different things that fuse in some cases. A club told me that their membership was old so they didn’t need social media nor would it be relevant. This club had low member numbers. My suggestion in this case is that it isn’t as much about engagement as it is attraction so it’s less important or relevant that the members see it as beneficial or even use it if they choose not too.

It doesn’t affect them, it’s not intrusive at all nor changes anything at the club.

This club needs to engage locally and make people aware of their offering. They can offer workshops if members show interest but if they don’t they wont have a revolt as the approach doesn’t affect them. The key as in many cases in our political club environments is outcome. A TV in the lounge is a great idea for me but in a traditional club with an ageing membership it may lose more than it gains as I have heard ‘If I want to watch TV I will do it at home’.

Social media is deemed ‘new age’ or ‘not relevant to us’ due to lack of awareness. People talk of the threats, ‘what if we are on these medias and we get bad reviews and they spread’. Firstly that will happen if you provide poor service whether you are there or not; people are on these medias even if you aren’t (Facebook has over 30 million users in the UK, Twitter averages 40 million tweets per day).

Would you rather bury your head in the sand or would you rather know what’s being said and look to address anything that’s valid?

Hey, if it’s not valid, with parental controls, you can delete and block users anyway.

Do your members voice all concerns to the committee? It’s more likely that Tiger wont win again, but they will contact your directly and in many cases privately via these medias. Information is valuable. Don’t let lack of awareness or fear of unknown affect your club’s performance.

How much do you pay for your flyers? Your banners? How much do you pay for a newspaper advert, magazine or radio advert? Now tell me what is your return on investment on these medias? How long does that advert last? How do you know what the benefit is? Do you know who you are reaching? How many people? Do you know that they even are interested by your offering? What demographic are they? Do they ever respond? Do you know or just presume as one month you had more visitors? Traditional media has a place in certain cases but consider what you want to achieve from your marketing and consider your return on investment.

Social media gives you power. Social media is not a website though it can direct people to it. Social media can be the equivalent net to the website being the fishing trawler. Social media is advertising and marketing directly to the people your club wants in an environment they operate in.

How do you view a link in an email or an advert? Do you click it? I don’t. In most cases I dismiss it as sales or a cheap advert. If, on Facebook, a page shows interesting content that make people look and engage, or if on Twitter, a subject matter and opinion is passed or an offer promoted, people see this and respond to it far more. It isn’t direct sales but people see who and what you can offer. One club in January had views and engagement with over 900 relevant people on Facebook and the offering was seen by more than 7,000 people on Twitter.

Do you need new members? Follow local golfers and engage with them. Do you want to offer corporate memberships? Follow local businesses and post relevant information for them. Do you want more visitors? Use your social media to spread the word and any promotions. Do you want a place for your golfers and members to contact out of hours or on the day the office isn’t manned?  Can a newspaper advert or flyer do this for you? Do you want to post competition results? Even a video of features on your course to entice societies? You can do all this yourself if you have the skills or for less than the cost of a monthly advert with various companies.

Below is a summary of a recent case study. This is not generic statistics, this is a realistic, actual direct response based on one month’s medium-low activity. Over £4,000 was generated directly. How much else, we don’t know, but in most cases 80 per cent don’t let you know they are coming; monthly, quarterly or year-end figures may clear this up, but if the 20 per cent you do see directly and clearly is worth ten times more than the cost, is there even a decision to be made?

These results are from January 2012 only and are based on two clubs, one traditional and one proprietary. These results are based on individuals that heard of a club’s offering via social media and made contact; this was followed through to direct revenue generated. We expect far more revenue to be generated but sadly we can only directly link certain things. Both of these clubs did not run initiatives through January they simply existed on social medias. What you want to achieve depends on the approach you take. By the time taken to read this article a club could have promoted a golf offer to a database of over 10,000 relevant golf people.

  • • Six new full members
  • • Three new junior members
  • • Two society bookings (which generated £1,600)
  • • One social function booking (which generated over £1,000 in bar revenue)
  • • An increase in visitor numbers (one specific example was an eight-ball which was tweeting, looking for courses open due to snow closing many in their local area, the course contacted them and they played same day)
  • • Ladies’ golf promoted and 13 ladies booked lessons
  • • Social events attendance doubled
  • • Funding received from the county association for group coaching.

In addition, using social media in this way meant that the two clubs:

  • • Provided out of hours queries
  • • Collected data on over 300 golfers
  • • Engaged with members
  • • Increased awareness about themselves to over 15,000 people.

Gavin Johnson is from Golf Club Advisor, which offers social media marketing to golf clubs. Currently the company is offering three months of marketing for free to golf clubs for a limited period. To get this service, email or call 07540 105864  

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 24, 2012 15:31
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  1. Golfing Journalist (@AlDunsmuir) October 2, 14:26

    @BarnabyRead Definitely agree. No doubt about it, social media works for golf clubs:

    Reply to this comment
  2. Sean Mysel August 6, 20:21

    Well Done Gavin!

    One thing I would always recommend for social media is to make sure it funnels people to your website, especially if you sell tee times, merch., or other services on it. One thing I wish more golf courses would do is to capture email addresses. It’s so much easier to cultivate customers to your brand when they receive your message on a consistent basis.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Hunters Creek Realtor March 9, 10:43

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    Reply to this comment
  4. Natalie (@Nat_Ire) March 4, 13:34

    » Social media is marketing directly to the people your golf club needs

    Reply to this comment
  5. (@eTeeoff) (@eTeeoff) March 2, 20:32

    Social media is marketing directly to the people your golf club needs: #Golf marketing

    Reply to this comment
  6. (@GarforthGC) (@GarforthGC) March 1, 12:21

    » Social media is marketing directly to the people your golf club needs

    Reply to this comment
  7. (@gafsverige) (@gafsverige) February 24, 23:57

    Sociala medier för golfklubbar – läs en bra artikel: Kommer för övrigt en spännande föreläsning om detta på #MPG2012

    Reply to this comment
  8. Stewart Ross (@slross425) February 24, 16:05

    » Social media is marketing directly to the people your golf club needs

    Reply to this comment
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