Swinging Into Action. How To Market Your Golf Club Effectively. No silver bullet to halt declining memberships, reduced fees or falling ancillary income overnight. Because everyone in this room is different. Every member, visitor and potential customer of each club is different.
No silver bullet to halt declining memberships, reduced fees or falling ancillary income overnight.
Because everyone in this room is different. Every member, visitor and potential customer of each club is different.
So exactly what is marketing: what are the basic building blocks and guiding principles?
Mixture of theory & practice, science and art – just like golf.
Pose some apparently stupid questions: what is it you do and what is it you want? Really?
Think about cosmetics, pies, imaginary cats and military commanders. Even Picasso gets a mention.
Leave you with plenty to reflect on: some quick tips for swinging into action (and more ideas if you take the workshop).
A set of more detailed slides available.
Marketing & psychology degrees.
Advertising, PR & sales promotion agencies.
Senior roles client-side with HSBC & T-Mobile.
Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing & PR award winner.
established in 2002 – Podium Training associate.
Worked with over 250 clients in public, private & not for profit sectors.
Lots of sports & leisure experience – grass roots to world stage.
Marketing is the business function that identifiescurrent unfulfilled needs and wants, defines and measurestheir magnitude, determines which target markets an organisation can best serve, and decides on the appropriate products, services, plans and structures to best meet its goals.
Marketing is the analysis, planning, implementation and control of programmes designed to create, build and maintain satisfyingexchanges and relationships with target markets (who have the ability and willingness to pay for their needs and desires) for the purpose of achieving organisational goals.
Marketing is a socialprocess (mutually beneficial exchanges) governed by perceptionsofvalue.
Marketing is a strategic discipline – it’s about doing the right things, not just doing things right.
Marketing is so basic that it cannot be considered a separate function….it is the whole business as seen fromthe customer’s point of view.
No matter what your model, the fundamental rules of marketing remain the same – right messageabout the right offer, via the right channel to the right audience at the right time.
Charles Revlon…famously said he sold hope not cosmetics.
Universal Pictures sells entertainment not movies.
The most successful airlines sell the concept of adventure, freedom and flexibility not seats.
Two types of pie and two more fundamental questions to reflect on…
What flavour are you after?
Short term profits vs longer term membership numbers?
Subscriptions, green fees, catering, facilities?
How big is your appetite?
Large portion of one pie vs small portions of lots of pies?
In other words what’s your end game?
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where.”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Vision (create memories)
The most basic marketing requirement is to establish a clear vision for your club; an expression of where the business is heading and what its leadership wants it to become…this will give shape and direction to your future activities.
Mission (unrivalled experience)
You also a need to agree and explicitly state the company’s mission; a succinct description of what your organisation exists to do.
Values (equality, fairness, community)
Creating a set of defining characteristics and governing principles that will drive the business and shape the intuitive decisions made within it, as it sets out on its mission, to achieve its vision, will help your organisation manage its interaction with customers, staff and other communities of interest.
And (Maybe) A Strapline (in pursuit of happiness)
Aneffective means of drawing attention to the one or more aspects of the brand you wish to be remembered for, bringing the other elements together…potentially a significant point of difference in the marketplace…an internal rallying call, an external signature.
more of the same
same folks, different strokes
Market Penetration Strategy
Market Development Strategy
same strokes, different folks
“Plans are nothing, planning is everything.”
Every good (effective) marketing plan comes down to just four words
A effective marketing plan is the best way to increase the effectiveness of your marketing activity – doing things right isn’t enough, you have to do the right things.
Should be a sub-set of your overall business plan.And it should be bespoke (though in reality, most share common elements and approaches).
Should be a clear and simple summary of the key market trends, key target segments, the value required by each of them, how you intend to create superiority, with a clear prioritisation of your marketing objectives and strategies, together with their financial consequences.
Eight core components are:
Tactics & Marketing Communications.
Targets & Evaluation.
Vision: An expression of where the business is heading and what its leadership wants it to become…this will give shape and direction to your future activities. The words goal or objective don’t have to appear and there are no timescales necessarily, just a determined assertion about the direction of travel.
Mission: A succinct description of what your organisation exists to do.Often there is no mention of profitability, and little about the corporate entity. The emphasis should remain mainly on specialisms and on customers.
Values: A set of defining characteristics and governing principles that will drive the business and shape the intuitive decisions made within it, as it sets out on its mission, to achieve its vision, will help your organisation manage its interaction with customers, staff and other communities of interest.There should be no need to mention quality, service, or value for money, as these subjective characteristics must be regarded as givens – if the right combination of quality, service and value isn’t provided, there won’t be any business in the longer-term.
Strapline: Aneffective means of drawing attention to the one or more aspects of the brand you wish to be remembered for, bringing the other elements together…potentially a significant point of difference in the marketplace…an internal rallying call, an external signature.
Too many bland visions, missions and sets of values can simply be transposed from one organisation to another…you must try to distinguish yours from anything competitors might have. In arriving at your statements of intent, the fundamental building blocks for your marketing plan, indeed for your business as a whole, try to consider the customer need or desire being fulfilled, the source of value or satisfaction you provide, your skills, expertise and experience as well as your organisational goals. And remember, regardless of what you come up with, it’s the customers’ take-out that is key – their perceptions shape your reality.
Though marketing plans should be bespoke to each entity, most share certain common elements and a common approach to their creation – the following template will provide a focus and direction for your marketing planning process.
Situation analyses involve the systematic collection and study of past and present data to identify trends, forces, and conditions with the potential to influence the performance of your business and the choice of appropriate marketing strategies….this stage of the marketing planning process involves a thorough review of your industry, your market and your competition.
What industry do you consider your organisation part of?
What is the size, value and status of that industry?
Are you in a particular segment?
What do recent, current & future industry trends look like?
Understanding the industry you are in, the history of that industry, its current challenges and the potential for future growth are critical inputs into the marketing planning process
What is your market?
Who are the people (and organisations) who have purchased or are likely to purchase the products and services you have to offer?
Who are the relevant suppliers and influencers?
Demographics & Psychographics
Numbers, gender, territorial distribution, age, religion, politics, philosophies, life-stage, job titles, interests, opinions, habits, media consumption etc, etc.
By understanding the unique attributes of the market you are targeting, based on both demographic and psychographic characteristics, you are better able to develop messages that are meaningful, relevant and likely to impact on behaviour.
Careful analysis of a marketplace also helps you to identify the ways in which you are most likely to be able to connect with and communicate value to your target audiences.
Often, as a result of such analyses, organisations segment their markets into different types of customer – perhaps you might be able to identify different groups on the basis of their value expectations, ability to pay, on how or when they are most likely to use your club – seasonal peaks & troughs, weekdays & weekends.
Once segments are identified, they must be evaluated for their potential. Not all large segments are profitable and not all profitable segments are worth the hassle of marketing to! There is always likely to be a trade off between value and volume.
One overall marketing plan, perhaps with slightly adjusted communications programmes may suffice but vastly diverse market segments can often merit the production of entirely separate marketing plans. No matter how many plans you have, your original vision, mission and values should remain consistent.
Thoroughly examine your existing (and potential) competition – both direct (golf clubs) and indirect (leisure or business venues).
Consider what & how your operation is doing relative to theirs.
Sales and profit figures, price, product attributes, customer service attributes, market position, reputation etc.
Explore the competition’s strengths and weaknesses to determine how you might position your own
products and services to compete most effectively.
Are you a leader or follower? Are you a mass market or niche player?
In addition to looking at external factors that impact on your business, you also need to explore internal factors.
Gather information about your existing products and services, their sales volumes, profitability, customer mix (who buys which products), review customer complaints and customer perceptions, talk to staff and suppliers.
Evaluate your resources – land, buildings, people – forecast your budgets and assess (honestly) your capabilities (experience and expertise) in all relevant areas.
Pay adequate time and attention to these vital analyses – the work you do here will provide you with the solid information and background needed to make sound and appropriate decisions about the marketing strategy that will drive your day to day marketing tactics. They will give you a clear picture of where you are now, where you could be and what realistic chances you have of getting there.
A PEST analysis is concerned solely with the key external environmental influences on an organisation. It summarises the key drivers establishing the context within which an organisation must strategically plan and operate. Identifying PEST factors is a necessary pre-cursor for deciding strategically, how an organisation should respond to these influences. Consider the trend – analyse it’s impact. For instance:
Political– big society and emphasis on volunteering.
Economic– continued stagnation.
Social– increased focus on community and business networking.
Technological– increasingly online, on demand world.
Your SWOTanalysis should be the culmination of the previous detailed analyses, highlighting the strengths & weaknesses of your operation, and the opportunities & threats it is facing. It provides the starting point for the identification of specific objectives: the basis of your strategy/tactics. Focus on identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats relative to the task of marketing from the broadest perspective – use product, place, price, promotion & people as prompts. This model is not only good for identifying the strategic opportunities & challenges that face your business but also for evaluating their importance & relative priorities given finite resources.
Plan For It
Probability of Occurrence
Probability of Success
Having completed various background analyses, you can move on to evaluate alternative marketing strategies. One of the most common tools is the Boston Box which uses market dimensions (share and growth) to suggest the approaches most likely to succeed in providing an optimum return on investment.
Stars– maximum return for minimum investment, keep doing what you’re doing.
Question Marks – likely to become your stars or cash cows of the future but may involve risk and drain cash flow.
Cash Cows – income generators that fund the rest of the business.
Dogs– likely to be an unprofitable drain on resources better targeted elsewhere.
Market Growth Rate
Relative Market Share
more of the same
same folks, different strokes
Market Penetration Strategy
Market Development Strategy
same strokes, different folks
Where are your offers – products and services?
Don’t confuse successful marketing with increased profits. Things aren’t that simplistic. One should follow the other but often, strategic marketing plans make the most significant contribution to an operation during the introductory phase – appropriate selection, creating awareness , ramping up demand – and during decline when reputational risk is at its greatest.
Sales & Profits
Essentially all commercial organisations fall into one of four generic classes:
They have the largest market share, dominate industry thinkingand are a role model (double edged sword).
Can be large or small, attack minded or collaborative in approach.
These operations make similar offers, respond more slowly to change and form most organisations’ competitive heartland
Focused, specialised, occupying single or multiple niches bringing potentially greater rewards (higher risks).
Within each group, in each sector, there will be dominant controlling players, strong independent thinkers, average competitors, weak but capable operations and non-viable businesses.
Ask yourself, honestly, where are you now? Is it where you want to be?
Realistically, could you ever be anywhere else (link to objectives)?
Should you invest in, maintain, shrink or exit operations (link to life cycle)?
Finding New Users
Attract the unaware.
Combat the resistors.
Leverage the influencers.
Finding New Uses
Create new opportunities to expand your market.
Discover alternative uses for the same resources.
Allow customer to shape your development.
Derive More Usage
Drive increased breadth of usage – get customers to use more (core and ancillary).
Drive increased frequency of usage – get customers to use more often (repeat purchases).
Protection Against Challenge
Typically, market leaders distinguish themselves through premium quality, premium pricing, efficiency of systems, benefits of scale, superior service.
Attack Market Leader
An aggressive strategy like this brings with it higher risks but also higher rewards.
Innovation is often the key to a successful attack – first mover advantage.
Attack Fellow Challengers
Compete with those in your own league.
Focus should be on small increases in market share & profitability.
There will be a requirement to increase differentiation (or at least the perceptions of difference amongst customers).
A strategy like this gradually reduces your direct competition.
Buy or crush small fry.
Emphasis is generally on the negatives.
Amongst the followers in a market, products, prices, service levels and customer experiences are often very similar but it can be a successful tactic, especially if the market is large enough for everyone to carve out a reasonably sized slice of the pie.
Emulate bigger/better operators wherever possible (same product, more personal service).
Live off the scraps – pick up what others turn down.
Follow At A Distance
Maintain some differentiation.
Mirror general trends but perhaps wait a while before adopting new ideas.
Follow closely where it’s advantageous to do so.
Emphasise differentiation where advantages are apparent.
Don’t be frightened of controversy.
Typically, market challengers achieve greatest success through detailed market segmentation, research and development, and a focus on profits rather than market share.
To be worth the time money and effort invested in creating and executing a niche-oriented strategy…
Must be of sufficient size & potential profitability.
With growth potential.
Of negligible interest to major competitors.
They must require some specialist skills or experience to be served most effectively.
Customers must be bothered about being different (rather than just happy to accept a mass market offering).
Niches can be based on differences in markets, geography, customer types, product offers, service levels and even the marketing messages communicated to your audience.
Could you appeal to a business audience rather than a domestic one?
Could you appeal to children rather than senior citizens?
Could you cater for people’s broader desires for a leisure/social club rather than just providing golfing facilities?
Could you appeal predominantly to the time poor, rather than those with hours to kill?
Could you establish a reputation for the innovative use of technology rather than stuffy traditions?
Once opportunities and challenges have been identified, products and markets defined, you need to develop goals.
Your objectives – not necessarily your ultimate endgame but milestones that you’d like to achieve along the way to fulfilling your longer-term strategic aims – conclusions to specific phases in your development, where you can review and refocus efforts, should take into consideration where you are now and where you want to be so you can focus on closing the gap.
Thinkabout your specific goal.Visualise it and what it will mean to you. Whatare you going to do about it? A helpful acronym, that you can use to evaluate the appropriateness of your objectives (one that is used to develop the kind of goals that are most likely to achieve results) is SMART.
A specificgoal is one that clearly identifies an end point - raise consumer awareness of a products is not a specific goal but raise consumer awareness from X% to Y% is.
A measurablegoal with explicit targets provides a way for you to know if you have succeeded or not.
Goals need to be attainable- you may wish to grow market share by 25% in the next year; that’s specific and it’s measurable but if your market is saturated and growth potential is limited, the goal may not be attainable.
Even if your goal of 25% growth in market share is attainable in your market, given the competition, market environment and consumer demand, it still may not be realistic- maybe you’re unable to work enough hours to meet that level of demand.
And all objectives need timescales– weeks, months, years, if they are to be evaluated.
With each layer of information that you add, your objectives become easier to specify in detail.
The more detailed your goals, the easier it will be to plan and prioritise your tactical marketing programmes; manage, adjust and evaluate them in order to achieve your desired outcomes.
As each layer is broken down into more and more detailed options, once theoretical plans become practical, achievable projects.
With your analyses complete and your goals explicitly stated, it’s time to concentrate on exactly how you are going to face up to the challenge of meeting them.
Not just a textbook marketing theory but a very practical way to break your strategy up into manageable components, Kotler’s Four Ps has become the foundation of marketing plans the world over, for every kind of organisation imaginable.
It provides an excellent planning framework, focusing the mind on the most important elements of your marketing mix going forward.
The Ps in question are:
(I would always add in a fifth P as a reminder to take account of the subjective vagaries of People when planning your marketing campaigns)
Under the product heading, based on your analyses, think about ‘the what’.
What do you offer that someone might value…products, services, emotions?
Begin by concentrating on broad statements of strategic intent - tactics are more specific statements of activity.
Can you be all things to all people?
Do you alienate some potentially valuable customers by appealing to others?
Core Products & Services vs Ancillary/Added Value/Bolt On
Aside from being a golf club, what else do you do?
What value could you offer existing and prospective customers?
Is there a demand for it?
Not every club will be able to (or indeed want to) offer the same products and services and not every club will have the same kind of customer base. Where are your points of difference? What could you do in order to capitalise on the available market opportunities to achieve your stated goals?
Does it meet a real need?
Is the concept clear and easy to understand and are its claims/benefits believable?
Are there any distinct benefits over competitive offerings or is it a me too?
Will this concept be better liked?
Who would be the target market?
Would those people buy it?
How frequently would they buy it?
What price would they pay?
Could it replace a current product or would it complement an existing offer?
For successful new product development and introduction to occur, simply knowing your business is not enough – your experience and expertise have to go hand in hand with a thorough understanding of your market.
Because businesses need to survive, most prices set are to reflect either the underlying economy, short-term profit maximisation, a grab for market share or premium quality positioning.
Each price will lead to different level of demand from a different section of your target market.
The key to optimising your return is to test pricing wherever possible – know your costs, know your competition’s prices (direct and indirect), price ceilings and floors.
Cost plus pricing – add a standard mark up (vary by customer type/channel).
Break even target pricing (start with your desired profits and work back to a price based on sales expectations).
Perceived value pricing (set your prices according to the buyer’s perceptions and willingness to pay).
Going rate pricing (what the portion of the market you are targeting will bear from your sort of operation).
Generally, pricing strategy is based on one of these four approaches, modified it to take account of…psychological factors, company policies, the impact on other parties – not just customers (partners/suppliers), geographical demand, channel policy (expectations and margins) and discounts (based on functional, quantity, billing, seasonal and time factors).
Commercial organisations also adjust prices for market skimming (price high to maximise profit) and for market penetration (price low to maximise market share).
High Medium Low
Low Medium High
Perceived Rip Off
Distribution or channel strategy is concerned with moving a product from creation through to consumption and as such includes not only the physical delivery of a product or service (round of golf at a golf club) but also how (where) that product is conceived, researched, promoted, experienced and paid for. Your distribution strategy might involve a single or multi-layered approach.
For instance, you might offer cashless payments or online booking which means your operation is interacting in different ways, at different times of the day, to the traditional golf club. You might partner with a games developer or physiotherapy business to take the on course experience a stage further.
In some cases, your chosen strategy might make you an originator or producer, in others you might just be one of several intermediaries.
Selecting Channels – One Key Set Of Criteria To Consider – Business vs Consumer
Implications for products offered and market characteristics.
Significant implications also for branding & pricing models.
A consumer-friendly offering might involve low cost web delivery, fixed menu pricing and a reliance on volume.
Targeting corporate entities is more likely to warrant costly face to face contact, involve complicated bespoke negotiations and be concerned with value.
When considering the merits of alternative channels, think about how you’ll motivate partners, add value/enhance offers, whether the opportunity exists for a quid pro quo or commission based payment system, how you’ll create effective sales promotions and the type of communications most likely to be well received.
The sexy bit of marketing concerned with translating your offer and its benefits into a coherent set of messages, that establish your reputation, create, build and maintain satisfying exchanges and relationships with your target markets.
Essentially all promotion is about basic communication involving the same five elements:
Sender Message Medium Receiver Outcome
In the marketing context, communication starts with your brand and your objectives.
Your ultimate marcomms aim is to proactively shape your reputation rather than have it shaped for you – reputation will determine results in the long-run.
Most organisations find that their promotional mix is often a trade off between what they’d like to do and what they can afford to do – finite budgets limit activity rather than imaginations – but promotions should be viewed as an investment rather than a cost, to be reviewed in terms of a tangible return just like any other investment.
There is such a thing as bad publicity!
In terms of effectiveness, research shows that successful promotional outcomes are determined roughly 93% by style and format and just 7% by the content of any messages.
The potential outcomes for your promotional tactics to achieve may include…
Disapproval (rejection of alternatives).
Each of the following elements could be relevant in communicating your offer, directly or indirectly, to a target market. Each has the potential to enhance or detract from your offer. And each could be your competitors’ most successful promotional tool or biggest marketing failure. Keep a keen eye on the communications produced by the organisations with whom you choose to compete.
Corporate branding – imagery, style, values, emotions.
Exhibitions and trade shows.
Conferences & seminars.
Speeches & white papers.
Word of mouth & testimonials.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) & charitable links.
Coupons & vouchers.
Point of sale merchandising.
Packaging – tangible & intangible (finance).
Public relations, media relations & lobbying.
Sponsorships (inbound and outbound).
Print, broadcast (tv and radio),online and cinema advertising.
Outdoor media – mobile and static.
Direct marketing – off page, print, sms, bluetooth.
Website, e-zines, seo, ppc, apps, webinars, blogging & social media.
Networking & directories.
Ambient & guerrilla marketing, flash mobs, experiential marketing.
Customer care, customer relationship management systems and loyalty programmes.
Are your promotions targeted directly or indirectly – are you targeting end users, decision makers, or those with an influence over your ultimate customers?
What can each tactic help to do/which outcome(s) can it generate?
How quickly can it deliver them?
How much will it cost?
What are its relevant rates of return?
Will it work best in isolation or in conjunction with other elements of the promotional marketing mix? objective
How accurately can the intended audience be targeted? What will be the reach (the proportion of a target population exposed to the message)?
How frequently will a tactic deliver the message that targets are exposed to within a specific time period?
Ultimately, what impact (qualitative and quantitative) or value will that tactic deliver in terms of your overall marketing programme?
All too easily overlooked when you are cocooned away in planning mode is the subject of resourcing. Budgets are normally front of mind – sometimes too much so, constraining creativity – but other resources like time, people and external sources of support can be easily neglected.
Time needs to be set aside for proper planning and programme reviews.
You need be aware of exactly how much work each person can handle (physically & mentally) in a week, a month, or a typical year (which means knowing how long things take).
If you’re going to need to recruit, allow sufficient time to find the right person and for them to get up to speed.
How much do things cost?
What kind of discounts/commissions/in-kinds/rebates are available (especially if you make a point of asking).
How much do you need (not necessarily want)?
How much have you already got (that can be used or diverted)?
What else can you get and where can you get it from (marketing/training grants)?
Who have you got?
Who do you need?
Who can you get?
What skills/experiences do they have?
Where can you go for help (collaborative partnerships, outsourced expertise and help)?
Turnover Is Vanity
Profit Is Sanity
Cash Is King
When planning, know specifically, your annual budget – break even point and target margins, average (and actual) debtors and creditors – it may shape your priorities and supplier choices but shouldn’t constrain creativity.
Be aware, generally, of your profit and loss statement, balance sheet & cash flow forecasts.
Think about who you can approach for additional sources of funding where marketing activity is concerned – domestic and European grants are available to help with marketing training and, in particular, moves to the online environment.
Balance revenue generation with cost management, not necessarily cost reduction.
Shop around and compare rates from marketing suppliers but remember, you generally get what you pay for. Every marketing decision you make will in one way or another involve a trade off between the best quality, best price and best timescales – for each activity you can only ever hope to achieve two out of the three.
Ask for discounts/in-kinds/rebates based on the novelty factor, your continued loyalty, volume etc. For example, it’s standard practice for many media owners to offer agencies commission of 10%-15% off their spend but rarely is the same discount offered to clients booking directly. Ask and (generally) you will receive.
Evaluation is crucial to the effective management and ultimately the outcome of any marketing or communications campaign and is a complex issue, potentially involving a raft of objective measures as well as subjective inputs. It is inextricably liked to goal setting.
For your operation, what does success look like?
How will you know when you have got where you are going?
Have target milestones been set?
Are hard financial measures in place - absolutes & relative costs per?
What about softer measures (often tracking emotional and intangible beliefs and feelings)?
Formal and informal customer feedback, awards, benchmarking, supplier audits, staff appraisals etc.
Are targets and evaluation set out as contractual obligations (with staff and suppliers/partners)?
As with everything, there will be a balance to be struck between the amount of formal evaluation you conduct and the time and money it costs to complete.
When evaluating your results, be conscious not to confuse volume with value. Remember the lesson of a great work of art. You wouldn’t value a painting purely on the size of it’s canvass. Indeed some of the world’s most priceless works are housed on the smallest canvasses. You’d take into account the content of the picture, the tools used to produce it, the reputation of the originator and the lasting impression and pleasure it provides the viewer.
T: 01457 869 477
M: 07957 143 450