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Golf Course Survival Tips During a Recession

How To Maximize Profitability For Your Golf Course During a Recession

We all know the golf course recession was here way long before the current global economic crisis we hear about everyday.

Have you second guessed yourself over the past 6 months?

Are you just trying to survive? Is cutting Greens Fees/Membership Dues the answer?

Golf Course Facilities should bear six factors in mind when making their marketing plans for 2011:

1. Research the customer. Instead of cutting the market research budget, you need to know more than ever how consumers are redefining value and responding to the recession.  Price elasticity curves are changing.  Consumers take more time searching for durable goods and negotiate harder at the point of sale.  They are more willing to postpone purchases, trade down, or buy less.  Must-have features of yesterday are today's can-live-withouts.  Building a segmented golfer email database is a good start.  Knowing your golfers playing habits, geographical area, age group, and other demographics should be the foundation of your marketing plan.

2. Focus on family values.When economic hard times loom, we tend to retreat to our village.  Family Golf Sundays and bring your kids to the course are just a couple of ideas to get the family involved with your golf course.  It's proven that today's parents are spending more on their kids than treating themselves.

With duel income familys being more prevelant than ever, time is one of the most determining factors when spending discretionary income.  When developing an action plan to target the family segement, make sure Time, Cost, and Course Difficulty are addressed.

3. Maintain marketing spending. This is not the time to cut advertising. It is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, you can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times. Uncertain consumers need the reassurance of known brands.

If you have to cut marketing spending, try to maintain the frequency of advertisements by shifting from 30-second to 15-second advertisements, substituting radio for newspaper advertising, or increasing the use of direct mail and or email marketing, which gives more immediate sales impact and is the most cost effective form of marketing.

4. Adjust product mix. Most golf course facilities' product mix are Open Golf Fees, Outings/Tournaments, Memberships, and in some parts of the country, Leagues.

Daily Fee/Semi Private Facility Operators must reforecast demand and re-evaluate which product lines yield the highest margin.  Should you go after more outings in 2011, or more members?  Every action has an opposite re-action.  Increase your outing business, Open Golf revenues will drop.  Add more leagues, twilight golf will drop.  Grow your Open Golf, and your members start complaining due to slow place of play.  The hard part is knowing which mix yeilds the highest return.  Every course is different, but creating a revenue plan for 2011 is a good start.

5. Adjust pricing tactics. Customers will be shopping around for the best deals. Golfer loyalty is not what it once was.  You have to work harder at building relationships with your customer base.  You do not necessarily have to cut list prices, but you may need to offer more temporary price promotions, reduce thresholds for quantity discounts, and price smaller pack sizes more aggressively.

The key is "No one wins in a price war".  You lower your prices, your competition will follow.  Now what?  You cut again, and then they cut.  It's a vicious cycle that is already running rampant throughout the golf course industry.  Adding more value/quality and setting your facility apart from the competition without gimmicks is the best long term approach.

Quick Tip:  Most courses post coupons on their website.  Posting coupons on your website is not a bad thing, but require them to fill out an online profile first before they get access to the coupon is the way to go.  Your email database will grow significantly.

6. Emphasize core values. Although most facilities are making employees redundant, Course Operators can cement the loyalty of those who remain by assuring employees that the company has survived difficult times before, maintaining quality rather than cutting corners, and servicing existing customers rather than trying to be all things to all people. Course Operators must spend more time with customers and employees. Economic recession can elevate the importance of the controller's balance sheet over the marketing manager's income statement. Managing working capital can easily dominate managing customer relationships. Course Operators must counter this. Successful companies do not abandon their marketing strategies in a recession; they adapt them.

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7 Tips for Succesful Email Marketing

Tips for Successful Email Marketing

Many courses around the country are finally starting to catch on this email marketing thing-a-ma-gig.  Courses have started growing their own email database.  Some of these databases are very simplistic and some are more robust.  Just the fact that Courses in the US are harnessing the power of the web is a great thing.  I am writing this article not as a Golf Course Internet Marketer Expert, but as a golfer. Every day I get an eblast from a golf course that I sign up for on their website, and every day I see emails that are destined to fail.

7 Tips

1.  Analyze your tee sheet’s weaknesses and promote though email.  I have a client in Georgia tell me a few weeks ago that they were not going to send out an e-blast that week because it’s supposed to be 95 degrees all week.  I would say that is a tee sheet weakness. (keep reading to find out what we did)

2.  Be Creative and the offer has to have value.  Just because you’re in the golf business doesn’t mean you’re not creative.  Start thinking outside box and come up with an idea that will make a golfer play your course for the first time, or play your course more than they normally would.  Back to the course in Georgia , we came up with an email campaign that promoted the specific tee times that were going to be affected by the heat.  Beat the Heat promotion, which entailed a free 6-pack cooler of beverages of their choice for free, with purchase of foursome. (One cooler per cart).

3.  Branding, Branding, Branding….just like location is with real estate, all marketing materials, and outgoing emails need to have your course’s name and logo.  Brand identity is the one asset no one can take or borrow from you.  You will also want to include your website, phone number, and online booking link (if available) on all outgoing email campaigns.  You want to make it as easy as possible to get golfers to book a tee time.

4.  Create a Sense of Urgency and you will see a difference in revenue generated from your email marketing efforts.  Every email promotion will need either an expiration date or a deadline.  I would avoid sending an email promotion that expires in a month.  What is going to motivate that golfer to act fast?  5 days….5 days is the magic number that creates a sense of urgency.

5.  The Rule of 3 is a rule that most courses are aware of, but don't follow.  The rule is that if you are trying to promote a new clinic, new tournament, or just a Friday Fish Fry in the restaurant, you will need to send it out 3 times.  Not twice, and not 4 times.  The human brain remembers things in 3's.  You might ask yourself, "But won’t I be spamming my customers".  If the emails blasts are properly spaced and you follow the "Segmentation" step below, your customers will not feel spammed.

6.  Segmentation….one of the most important components of email marketing, and most courses do not have the capability.  Email segmentation is the ability to send emails to only golfers who are women, seniors, juniors, play in leagues, outing planners, families, members, golfers who are local, commuter golfers, tourists, and so on.

If you send email targeting Seniors “e.g. Senior Tuesdays”, non seniors will start disregarding your emails.  The key is to be able to send emails to only the people that will benefit from the email.  This will prevent email saturation, and your database won’t disregard your emails.

7.  Tracking is key to determining your marketing efforts.  Some email marketing systems can track each eblast campaign, and tell you how many golfers received the email, and who printed, sent it to a friend, or booked online.

If you follow these 7 steps above, you will see a 300% improvement from your email marketing efforts.  If you are interested in learning more about Course Logix, please call us at 800.599.6310 or visit us

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At CourseLogix, we pride ourselves with offering our partner golf course & resort properties with the highest level of support.  We understand that the industry demands more out of their internet marketing solution providers.  We stand by this commitment, and WE DO NOT REQUIRE LONG TERM CONTRACTS that force you to stay with us.  If you are not happy, simply tell us and you are not obligated to pay anything.