First off today, I have a question: Are golf courses “listening” to their social networks? I have left 10 different messages with 10 separate golf facilities in the past week in their “contact us” section of their pretty static websites. In all of them, I left a message that read “I am interested in custom fitting for irons. Do you offer that service? If so, please contact me”. After 7 days, I have yet to have one response. Not only that, but I could not find any information about custom fitting on the websites. All of the facilities had instruction programs listed, some with more details than others. The ten facilities were spread around the Northeast US and down into NC/SC. A mix of public and private courses. Do you think golf courses are “listening” to their customers or asking what they may want/need?
We are all consumers. I had 17 emails in my inbox yesterday that were golf related. Several from GolfWeek, a Golf Galaxy message, a tee-time booking engine, several area public courses and a few that I just deleted without actually looking at content.
Point being, we are approached daily through digital media about golf and related products. I don’t mind that, but a note to retailers and golf facilities: If the subject matter in the email doesn’t catch my attention or makes me say “So what?”, that message is going in the trash and your open rate is going down. But, since repetition is the key to adult learning, your product or service is probably dangling in my brain somewhere.
Golf courses, golf pros….educate me. Inspire me to WANT to come see you. Tell me WHY i should come see you and WHY your lesson tee or custom fitting zone or pro shop is worthwhile and better than the one down the road. Golf facilities, is there a reason you are different than the track down the street from me? Why should I join your club? What’s your value proposition?
Like any consumer, I like a good deal, but there is only so much motivation for me when there is a “Buy 2 dozen balls, get 1 free”. Am I going to buy the balls? Probably, if I need them. But does that mean I’m going to become a “loyal customer” or perceive you as the expert? Probably not. Because you’re most likely not going to do anything to persuade me to “stay”. Can you educate me on ball fitting? What’s the difference between the Bridgestone and the Pro-V1? Does either ball help my game? The answer is “no”. You want to know why? Because you’ve never actually asked what kind of ball I play, and why I play it.
I notice this at most golf courses I visit. No signage to direct me to the golf professional and his/her teaching proposition. Vague mission statements on golf course websites that tell me….not much. Any course can direct me to “book a tee time”. Not many can tell me WHY I should. The “why” is really important to me as it probably is to most golf consumers. It’s why Golf Digest, Golf Magazine and all the others exist. The golfing public has a thirst to learn and is a curious bunch. Local pros and facilities need to quench that thirst for knowledge and not leave it to the main industry players.
I know as a consumer of golf, I’m looking to be viewed as a valuable piece of a golf courses business. I WANT the education, I WANT to be inspired by a passionate golf professional (because that trait is infectious) and I WANT to know I have a trusted source to go to with questions and needs that need solutions.
The PGA Professional and golf facilities around the country are falling a bit short in the “inspiration” and “trusted advisor” categories. You can either snag me as a loyal customer by creating engaging conversations with me and creating a “community” in your area, or you can do what the golf industry has been doing….well, forever and that is….believe players will just “come”. I don’t buy a lot of clothing at Jos. A. Banks, but due to their aggressive messaging EVERY DAY, I know that if I need a pair of khakis or a dress shirt, I know I can get a great deal and that they are communicating with me. They are creating a “conversation”. That’s much more than I can say for most golf courses and golf pros in the country.
I work for a really cool company called RetailTribe. We work with 1100 golf pros and facilities around the world every week helping them grow their business. We help them define what they do, we customize and create content for them to put them in a position where they are viewed as the “trusted advisor” on golf in their area.
We help them educate, inspire and engage with their players. We help them quench that thirst for knowledge from their players. And you know what? Golfers want to have that conversation. They want to be asked “Why do you play that driver?” or “how have you been putting?”. Golfers want to think about their games and discover things. We want to be engaged. We just don’t get asked often enough about what or why we do things related to the game.
By the way, sign up for the RetailTribe “Best Practice Vault” for free information. Good stuff there for golf professionals and facilities.
I’d enjoy hearing your comments or questions. Drop me a message or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy the day.