Club Advertising Ideas: Reach More Golfers, Tennis Players, and Dining Patrons Without Blowing Your Budget
By Fred W. Layman III
When you hear the word advertising, what comes to mind? If you think about TV commercials, billboards, or radio ads, you would be right, but there are much more effective (and less expensive) ways for clubs to advertise in 2020.
Advertising is part of your marketing strategy as a whole; striking a balance between ads and the rest of your message is critical.
In this article, we’ll give you a rundown on what makes an ad effective and give you some golf and club advertising ideas that will get the most out of your budget.
Use paid advertising on social media
Social media platforms are fantastic marketing channels because they offer tools designed to help target your specific audience. People give a lot of data to these companies, including location, likes, and interests. Your club’s advertising campaign can be set up to reach golfers based on the pages they follow, the area they live in, and what they talk about.
These features let marketers get their messages in front of the people they want to attract, not in front of thousands of people who may not be interested in it. A golf course’s social media advertising campaign should aim to drive as much traffic to a page on the website that gets people to book a tee time. To do this, ads must get people interested in playing golf and ready to make a booking.
Using pictures or video is ideal, as these formats will attract the highest number of eyes. Avoid using flyers for paid ads as these are often ignored by users. Instead, opt for a beautiful picture of your course, with some design elements like a text if you’re promoting a deal or an upcoming event.
Get your website at the top of the search results page
Google is often the first place people turn to when looking for a golf course in their area. The search engine allows you to pay for your website or business profile to pop up at the top of the results page. This is a massive advantage because 41% of clicks go to the top 3 paid ads on the results page. What’s more, visitors who click on a paid ad are 50% more likely to purchase something than organic visitors. What this means is that you’ll be getting much more traffic on your website from people who are ready to book their next round.
When setting up your search advertisements, make sure that visitors land on a page that will let them make a reservation right away. This landing page might include some images of your golf course, a few reviews that you took from third-party review sites, and your booking engine.
Invest in influential social media pages
Influencer marketing is a great way to reach a broader audience through a channel that severely impacts their buying behavior. Golf bloggers and local influencers are open to posting about your golf course in exchange for a free round or money if they have a large enough following.
The trick here is to be transparent about the posts being sponsored while also authentically showing off how great your golf course is. For example, you can invite a golfer with a sizeable audience for a free round, and in exchange, they’ll need to post a picture or video to their profile. Ensure that you check out what they’re going to post before they publish it to make sure that they won’t damage your brand, but let the influencer use their voice and style.
To decide who to partner with, take a good look at their profile. Follower count is an indication of their reach, but engagement is the most critical metric. Engagement measures people’s interaction with a user’s posts, either through likes, comments, or shares. The more people interact with an influencer, the more likely they are to trust their opinions and pay attention to a sponsored post.
The main concern when using influencer marketing is bots (or fake followers). It’s effortless to purchase followers online, but advertising to these bogus accounts will give you nothing in return. To avoid this, you can check out someone’s profile yourself or use a free tool like HypeAuditor. If someone has tens of thousands of followers but gets very few comments and likes, the chances are that many of those followers are fakes.
Don’t forget about flyers
Physical and online flyes are an eye-catching way to distribute information. Hiring a graphic designer is a must; any cheap or poorly made flyers will be ignored. When outsourcing a job like this, it’s essential to strike a balance between letting them know what you want and what your branding is and trusting their professional judgment.
You should provide some high-quality images of your golf course and all of the information that you’d like to have on the flyer. The designer will also need to know what sizes you’ll need, so decide where you’d like to post these flyers beforehand. Printed flyers will be big or small, depending on where they’re displayed or distributed, while digital flyers will need to adhere to standard sizes depending on which platform they’ll be on.
Think of locations around your golf course that customers might frequent. Grocery stores, restaurants, and other small businesses may be some right spots for flyers. It would be best if you also made them available at your golf course.
Online flyers should be posted to your platforms, but use them sparingly. People are on social media to be entertained, not to be bombarded with pure sales messages. Flyers that feature pictures of your golf course will be better received, but you should still keep their frequency to a minimum.
Best practices for sporting club advertising
For your advertisements to be worth your time and money, they need to be created and distributed correctly. The effort that you put into an ad before it’s sent out to the public will pay off big time by getting golfers actually to book rounds at your course.
1. Appeal to golfer’s emotions
You can spend thousands of dollars creating a professional, beautiful advertisement, but it might not work if it doesn’t appeal to people’s emotions. Consumers often make purchase decisions based on how something makes them feel, not just the images they see around them or on their screens.
Think of TV commercials: charities will often trigger sympathy by showing the people or animals that need help. These commercials can often be hard to watch, but they’re very effective at getting people to want to help those in need.
Think of what emotions that a golfer feels when they decide to book their round. They might have a genuine love for the sport, belonging for freedom, looking to spend quality time with loved ones, and a slew of other emotions. Convey that your golf course will fill these needs, and you’ll see an increase in the number of golfers at your tee box.
2. Targeting does not mean bombarding
Posting too many advertisements will lead to advertising fatigue, where people who are bombarded by those ads will stop paying attention to them. If you use social media, you’ve most likely experienced this by seeing the same company’s promoted content in your feed over and over again. You may have paid attention to the first couple of times, but these messages just become background noise after that.
To avoid this phenomenon, advertisers need to control the number of times people will see their content. Like Facebook, social platforms will limit the number of times an individual will see your paid content, but those limits are usually set around four times per day, which can still be pretty high for specific campaigns. One way to combat this is to optimize your ad delivery to unique daily reach, meaning that your audience will see your golf course’s advertisement no more than once per day.
3. Talk about the benefits of your golf course, not its features
Letting people know how many sand traps and water features your course has will never be as effective as telling them how beautiful or challenging it is. The difference lies in showing people what kind of fantastic experience they’ll get rather than describing your operation’s physical attributes.
Instead of using a copy like “a great golf course in the Phoenix area,” opt for a copy like “Beautiful, challenging golf near you.” The second option may not seem as specific as the first, but keep in mind that you’re trying to interest people by appealing to their emotions and not just providing facts.
4. Tell a story with your golf course’s advertisements
People love a great story, that’s why we read books, watch TV and movies, and listen to our friends to tell them. Unlike those types of storytelling, though, your ads can tell a story with a picture and some words or a short video (if you have the time and budget). Think of what appeals to golfers in your area and then find a story that you can build around it.
One way to do this is to show a golfer teaching their child how to golf at your course. This tells the story of passing down a sport and of spending quality time with family. The best part is that it requires minimal time and effort; all you need is a photo and some copy.
Another example is to use historical pictures taken at your club. You’ll be painting a picture of the rich history of your golf course, tennis center, and aquatics and inviting them to be a part of the next chapter.
What should you take away from this?
Advertising is a crucial part of your marketing strategy. That being said, golf managers often pour a lot of money into ineffective campaigns run on useless channels.
To get the most out of your club’s advertising budget, invest in creating the ads, and take advantage of digital marketing channels. Appealing to emotions while remaining authentic is key to attracting golfers.
Fred W. Layman III, USPTA, NGCOA, GSGA, SCGA, USGA, General Manager/COO, The Windermere Club, is the President of an Augusta, Georgia based club lifestyle management and consulting firm focused on supporting golf club owners, country clubs, residential developers, asset managers and community boards in the successful operation of their resort, club, tennis, golf and food and beverage operations. His articles can be viewed on FredLayman.com. Fred@FredLayman.com
Background: Golf and Tennis Club Owner, Developer, Home Builder, Hospitality, Lifestyle and Leisure