For the PGA Professional: Do You Have a Personal Brand in the Works?

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My role as a U.S. Campaign Manager for RetailTribe allows me to have incredible conversations every day with PGA Professionals around the country. We partner with them to actively market their specialized skills as coaches, club fitters and business people.  In a nutshell, through our online platforms, we help PGA Professionals build their local communities at the club level and help position them as “trusted advisors” on all things golf in their local market place.  We know the PGA Professional is vital in growing the game, helping people play better golf, more often. When this happens, their “brand” grows, along with their business.  Online golf marketing with a dedicated RetailTribe team for you to work with is proving to have immediate impacts.  I see it as “Inbound Marketing” for the PGA Professional.  We help drive engagement opportunities in order to drive business across a golf facility.  But, we view the PGA Professional as the main cog in the club wheel.  I was contemplating this shift in the industry and the impact RetailTribe is having during vacation last week, and wanted to commit them to this space.  I encourage you to contact me if you have questions or comments! My thoughts are below.

What actually is “Inbound Marketing”?

Sunjay Agtey, also @therealsunjay, replied to a HubSpot blog question with this: “Get found, Convert and Analyze via thought leadership demonstration”. Mr. Agtey was able to express what “inbound marketing” is in 140 characters or less.

Sam Mallikarjunan says to “create valuable, enjoyable experiences instead of interrupting them.”

In September of 2012, I sort of accidently (at first) immersed myself in this activity by enrolling in a MediaBistro “Social Media Bootcamp” course and immediately fell in love with the impact Social Media can have and how quickly you can grow your own “brand”. For example, I began blogging last summer about golf, music and food and have over 400 followers. I created my rickwilliamspga.com website and now have over 12,000 page views. I began using Twitter and have over 300 followers.

I link these pages with other channels such as Google+, Tumblr, Instagram and LinkedIn (even Pinterest). The funniest thing is, I’m not “selling” anything! I’m just writing about the things that I’m passionate about and what I think may be relevant, timely and interesting to the folks that come visit my sites. But, I’ve grown my own “brand” and that’s me, Rick Williams PGA. Crazy how things come together, huh?

As a PGA Professional at a club, my feeling is that this approach is quite logical, too.  I lived the club pro life for eight years and learned many lessons.  Communicate to your members about what is important to them. That could be any number of things, but you’re the best judge of your membership and your business. Ask yourself what resonates with them, what makes them interested?  What type of things drive them to you? Is it your awesome club fitting skill and use of technology? Or is that fact that you have the most awesome pro shop staged with great theatre and items that members love? Do you have a writing style that has been complimented? Do you blog? How often do you really “talk” to your members? And dig way deep here…..what is your value proposition to your members? Why are you there and what value do you bring? How are you communicating your value?

Create Raving Fans!

PGA Member Jim Hackenberg, creator of the Orange Whip Golf Trainer has inspired me so much that I made a video last week, on the #3 tee box of Torrey Pines South, just because I thought he and his product deserved a shout out. It took me about 30 seconds to shoot. You can view it here to see how simple it can be: http://youtu.be/lgtkxtCk73E

You, the PGA Member, are a “brand”. You are the PGA Professional who makes it all happen at your club. You are the person who inspires people to want to play better golf, more often. When your members/players “see” you on video demonstrating a tip or speaking about a USGA Rule of Golf or interviewing a member after an event for 30 seconds, that resonates with them. Take the time to learn to utilize the power of your smartphone. If you don’t have one, find a staff member that does. Create a visual representation of “you”, create the image of the “trusted advisor” and build your brand!

Only a handful of my clients use video in their newsletters each week, and I encourage you to check out www.jaymullpga.com or www.joeypohle.com and see what they are doing. Their “open” rates of their messages are in the 55% range. Their “click through rates” are in the 35% range. Fairly staggering when you consider average open rates within our industry are 16-18% and “CTR” is in the 5-7% range. What these numbers indicate to me is that the video strategy to inspire and interest members to investigate further is working well. The bonus is that there is statistical evidence that these engagement opportunities drive sales up in the shop and on the lesson tee.  Members play more golf, more often and have more fun.  Each day, these PGA Professionals are building their community, their value and winning over raving fans.

I know several of our clients were actively involved at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill in various roles.  A great win by Jason Dufner and another solid showing by the PGA of America at the Major with the strongest field.  I know I’m proud to be a Member of the PGA.  This past week is just one of many reasons why.

Let’s all remember that as PGA Professionals we get the chance, every day, to make a positive impact on the game we love.  We help grow the with junior programs and Get Ready Golf or free clinics on Tuesday evenings open to your community. We teach and coach a game!  We bring the fun, we bring the education, we bring the knowledge and we bring the expertise to the masses.  Build your “personal brand” to own your local market and don’t put limits on how big your “community” can grow.  Make an impact and don’t wait for the game to come to you.

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