Securing free marketing for your club

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 15, 2012 13:52

One way a golf club can potentially increase income without spending any significant sums of money is via free marketing.

This publicity normally comes when there is a specific story of interest that at least one branch of the media is keen to report on. For example, East Sussex National received global coverage when it hosted the Disabled British Open just before the Paralympics in August, while, at the same time, Lockerbie Golf Club grabbed local attention when it hosted ‘Rockerbie’, a music concert that raised about £6,000 for the club.

However, to maximise the value from this, golf clubs need to proactively promote themselves to the media and then react to requests for information.

Recently I heard of a consumer environmental magazine, which has 20,000 readers per issue, a Twitter account with 40,000 followers, a Facebook page that is liked by more than 18,000 people, a YouTube channel that has had nearly a quarter of a million views and an emailed newsletter that is subscribed to by thousands of people, which approached a golf club about running an article on the considerable ecological improvements it has made to its course and clubhouse (after an environmental body that had worked with the club contacted the journal to highlight the story).

This was quite a coup as previously the magazine had only written negative stories about golf’s impact on the environment, while the club is keen to attract new members despite it investing less than £500 per year on marketing.

However, when the publication requested a handful of quotes from the golf club – to supplement what the original source had written – plus specific environmental and generic marketing pictures, nothing was sent. Several attempts over the next two weeks proved equally fruitless. Finally the manager emailed over a picture, seemingly taken hurriedly on his mobile phone, of the course. Unfortunately, this was not of a good enough quality and the feature was dropped.

If the club had spent less than 30 minutes providing what was needed, it would have secured marketing that, based on its existing expenditure, would have otherwise required more than 20 years to save up for.

Free marketing is a tremendous opportunity to showcase your golf club. But it is unlikely that zero cost publicity can be achieved through zero effort.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 15, 2012 13:52
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  1. Sean Mysel October 17, 16:09

    First of all, Facebook’s numbers are inflated, their stock price is dying, other platforms are taking away market share and finally most people check their Facebook on phones, it’s tough to put effective ads on smart phones.

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  2. Alistair Dunsmuir Author October 17, 09:20

    This is a great debate! From our point of view as an industry magazine, we’re finding potential advertisers are increasingly asking us about our social media reach.

    However, as Sean says, the value of an advert to them remains in the target audience, not the size of it, even if it is big and vaguely relevant to the sector.

    A company that produces software that a golf club might buy is going to have more success marketing to 2,000 golf club managers than to 20,000 people who are active golf club members.

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  3. Sean Mysel October 16, 17:58

    Miklos..all due respect, but I have not talked to one company nor the major golf corporation I worked for that had any sustained success with social media. I’ve worked alongside major sports franchises here in the US, none of them have reported any tangible increase in sales from social media.

    People love social media because a lot of people use it and it’s free. Problem is that traffic is typically untargeted and unreliable. Furthermore, the press has far more leverage on media outlets than Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pin(head)trest and others. For my money I’d take a tv segment or magazine ad in a specific magazine like this one than a bunch of useless Facebook likes.

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    • Mark Goodwin January 7, 10:36

      I disagree that social media is untargeted. Facebook needs to be viewed in isolation in my opinion when we are talking about Social Media as most people use Facebook for social interaction with friends (not companies) and I think their appeal to an advertiser is limited. I certainly wouldn’t advertise my golf business using Facebook.

      The point of the article is about how clubs can maximise revenue through free marketing. Taking a TV segment or magazine advert isn’t going to be free.

      LinkedIn & Twitter in particular however have worked wonders for me. More and more clubs and PGA professionals are using social media and it is about increasing awareness to a specific group of interested people. You don’t follow someone on Twitter that you are not interested in. However you may “like” a Facebook page simply because it gets you in a prize draw for example.

      Back to the article though. An interesting piece and a very important debate as the survival of clubs depends on their ability to maximise these opportunities. Sadly the case above doesn’t surprise me.

      Reply to this comment
    • Miklos Breitner January 21, 18:34

      Dear Sean! There are many great examples that social media can be a sales channel. Here is the example of Dell: What many companies forget is to add web analytics tracking code to their social media posts and links. When I worked for Citi we created a personal loan calculator on our Facebook page where prospects could request personal loan. Thanks to our web analytics software we were able to measure the effectiveness of this calculator.

      Social media is not free!! The costs are: community management, content development, advertising to promote, application developments etc. One of the reasons is yes the size of reach. But also a great opportunity to talk with your customers that otherwise would be hard even if you have contact center. Last, but not least you gain insight, trust from prospects etc. In social media what matters is not just the number of LIKEs (it is important to reach more people), but to be able to participate in conversation and generate conversation.

      Do you think offline media is reliable? Do you really trust CNN, New York Times, AP? They tell you what is the news for you? How do they know what matters to you or are you interested in??

      Tv is a different story. I do not argue with this. I am not convinced that print ad can make that effect like ads in Google. If you have social media presence, I recommend to create an adequate environment (=content) that will attract those people who you would like to be your customers. To have this, first you have to listen (use Radian6 for instance) what people are talking about in social media about your product/service category + about your company + about your competitors.

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  4. Miklós Breitner October 16, 10:17

    This case is a typical reaction by someone who is using those “old school” methods that were used before the rise of social media. They are not the only one. 75% of marketers do not respond to questions and requests on social media. In our days when social media is integral part of our life, marketing be about active participation in relevant communities and facilitating conversations. Not everybody understands this + willing to allocate sufficient resources to meet expectations.

    Companies do not have to rely totally on classic media relations. They should use applications that boost word of mouth and social sharing (e.g.’s application, Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/LinkedIn sharing buttons etc.) solutions and contents that were created intentionally for sharing. These solutions can also bring bigger credibility to the company/golf club/etc.

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  5. Sean Mysel October 15, 15:29

    Great article! I believe that 80% of marketing is promotion and if you can befriend the media, it pays huge dividends down the road. Managers should ditch the elaborate marketing schemes and replace it with specific targeting, a little bit of psychology or getting in the customer’s mind and messaging. Once that’s done it’s all about getting the message out there and the media is a great conduit for that.

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