GetintheLoop was invited by the PGA of BC to present at their educational seminar to speak about using digital marketing to change the face of the golf industry. It often seems as if golf courses can sell themselves; enjoying the warm southern BC climate on internationally praised golf terrain is usually enough persuasion to bring in customers, but digital marketing is just what the industry needs to keep up in the age of technology.
Passionate about both the game and business aspects of the industry, PGA of BC professionals are devoted to improving the game and learning new ways to market it. The level of dedication in every professional is inspiring; when you love what you do, it truly shows, as is the case with this remarkable group. We were honored to share our experiences and give guidance into the ever changing topic of marketing, as it can often be daunting to keep up with so many changes in social media, online strategies, and understanding your target audience. Matt was able to give some key updates on recent changes in the digital world as well as some starting steps that golf courses, or any business, can use to start building a strong digital marketing strategy.
A mobile strategy is crucial to any business attempting to thrive in 2015. The average smart phone user checks their phone 155 times a day, and 40% of daily decisions are driven by a mobile phone. With 95% of all smart phone users using their phone for local searches, businesses without an effective web presence are failing to be part of a critical buying market. A profound advantage of mobile marketing is that it can be instantly presented to users, and has the ability to reach a business’ specific target market, catering to when and where they need the information most.
If courses and golf professionals want to increase engagement amongst their existing and prospective members, digital marketing will be a necessity. By increasing a course’s online presence, critical information that could determine a golfer’s decision on where to play is at the touch of their fingers. This could include course information, photos of views, weather and playing conditions, tee time availability and amenities. The simple task of providing consistent and reliable information gives courses the ability to change a potential guest into a paying guest during the decision process, before they even leave the house.
As far as social media goes, Facebook and Twitter are the most commonly utilized platforms, with Instagram close behind. Creating compelling content consistently can be challenging, but luckily, user generated content and the use of pictures is the most successful on these platforms. In fact, Facebook and Twitter posts have both proven to increase engagement by up to 150% when pictures are included. This is a no-brainer for golf courses, as some of their biggest selling points are their picturesque views, and capitalization of these social media strategies will increase overall engagement and value.
A corporate-sized advertising budget isn’t necessary in order to start utilizing digital marketing; effective, simple, and cost-efficient tools are available to help build a better online presence. Programs like Hootsuite and Google Analytics give businesses the ability to post content and analyze their effectiveness at little to no cost. A social media strategy is easily deployable as a majority of a course’s employees are already active on these platforms; encouraging staff members to give updates on their personal accounts not only increases job satisfaction, but also increases engagement of new customers. By educating employees on appropriate content to post, businesses still remain in control of their own brand and are able to hold consistency in the message they’re transcending.
Your marketing message (digital or not) is what your customers are experiencing before they get on your course, which is why having the right marketing strategy in place has the ability to alter the profitability of the business and the customers experience as a whole. The PGA of BC is built on solid foundation, with a passionate team dedicated to making the game the best it can be, so it’s exciting to see how digital marketing will change the energy in the industry. Now is the time to start executing a digital marketing strategy to grow your online presence! Take small steps to get started and don’t be afraid to try new things in this ever-changing digital world.