There has been a huge cultural shift with the invention of the smartphone. Like any new technology, it takes some time to be fully absorbed into a society. The numbers grow each year and don’t lie. Look who is using smartphones:
- 90% of US Adults (18 – 29 years old) making more than $75,000
- 87% of US Adults (30 – 49 years old) making more than $75,000
- 43% of US Adults (65 + years old) making $75,000
Overall, 61% of all Americans own a smartphone. The higher the income, the more likely they are to have one.
The reason smartphone numbers are important to reference is because they are directly linked with social networking platforms therefore being directly linked to the importance of a content marketing strategy.
The Content Marketing Institute defines ‘Content Marketing’ as:
A marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
It is the art of getting your story to your customer without selling them anything. Almost nobody watches their favorite TV shows when they are actually on, we all DVR them – which means we fast-forward through commercials. The networks understand this, so now they are doing product placements and ads throughout the show. Whether it’s a character drinking a Pepsi or driving the new Cadillac, you are exposed to this form of marketing everywhere.
We had the good fortune to interview the legend himself, Gary Vaynerchuk (listen here) earlier this year on our podcast The Big Golf Show and he talked a lot about this type of marketing. He had an example of telling the story about your 12th Hole through pictures, videos and articles. It’s about engaging people and retaining those customers that want to be a part of the culture your business is creating.
We highly recommend listening to the full podcast at http://www.thebiggolfshow.com/gary-vaynerchuk – it will change the way you look at marketing yourself or your golf course in 2014.
As an industry we need to shift away from the “pitching” of our products and services to an “educating” of our customers. This is called “social proofing” – the idea that people are attracted and follow others they deem as experts. If a golf course is building stories around their history and their current customers then it becomes more attractive to new potential customers. Current customers want to invest more in your message because they are now a part of it!
The more that the general public sees Randall Oaks Golf Club engaging with customers, sending videos, sharing images and embracing “pull marketing” the greater the rewards are for that club. This all happens on a subconscious level for the consumer – they don’t feel interrupted or that their privacy has been invaded.
That’s where the “secret” of content marketing can be found – in the idea that it’s not invasive.
Shifting from a push marketing culture to a pull marketing culture is a challenge for many businesses. They are slow to accept the change that has already taken place. Being a relevant business in today’s market means understanding your customer more than ever. Those that accept we are living through a cultural shift are going to succeed and be ahead of the game when compared to the businesses that are going to be forced to play “catch up” in 5 years (if they haven’t lost their core customers by then).
Here are some real world examples of Content Marketing for golf courses and professionals to use and hopefully spark some original ideas specific to each club.
Example Content Marketing Campaign 1: New Memberships Available at Your Club
Suppose you want to make a push to drive more memberships at your course. Maybe you are a private club looking to increase it’s core golfing membership or a public club looking to sell your golf discount card. The overall goal is to increase the number of memberships purchased. So let’s start with a content marketing approach. For the purpose of this example, let’s say our current online platforms are: your website, Facebook, and Instagram.
The goal is to attract new members, so let’s play up how great being a member at our club really is. So we’re going to create some content directly from current members. We’ll conduct a series of five interviews with current members. We’ll sit down with them for 20 minutes each, and ask a few questions about how they like being a member. Then we’ll put those interviews on our website (great for SEO) and then push those articles to our Facebook page. After that, let’s take a few pictures of them out on the golf course having a fun time. We’ll put those pictures on all three platforms, starting with Instagram. The reason we start with Instagram is to make those photos look really nice with a filter. I’m also going to use a few hash tags on every photo I post to Instagram – something like #golf, #golfing, #membership, #clubname, #city, etc.
We’re then going to take this a step further and perform a quick video interview with each member. We can do this with our smartphone and even edit it directly on our phone! I’ll then post the videos to our YouTube channel, and post them on our website and Facebook. The videos can be embedded directly on our website, so I’ll make sure to include them with the original articles we wrote for our website.
Remember that we interviewed 5 people – and each person we interviewed had a different story to tell. This is great news, because it gives me plenty of content to share with our audience! Each week, we can release a new series of articles, pictures and videos about a specific member. This will give me content to release every day of the week. And this is the most important key to any social campaign – consistency!
Example Content Marketing Campaign 2: Increase Rounds Played
Of course, every golf course wants to make more money. For most courses, the easiest way to do this is by increasing the amount of rounds played. That’s a pretty broad goal, so in order to create an effective content marketing campaign to increase the amount of customers coming through the door we need to focus on something specific. In this example, we’ll pretend we have a stretch of 4 really tough holes at our golf course. We’re going to create a story around these four holes in order to create interest and possibly some sort of “challenge” for potential customers.
We’re going to say that the golf course has 4 online platforms: a website, Google Plus, Facebook, and Twitter. The first step is going to be taking pictures of each of these four holes to use for our content. We’re going to take pictures of the tees, fairways, greens, bunkers, hazards – anything that makes each hole unique. Maybe one of them has an island green, or an incredibly tight fairway, or super thick rough. We’re going to take some detailed pictures that can really inject some life into the story.
From here, let’s interview some golfers after they come off the course to get their opinion about those four holes. Let’s ask them what their score was and what they thought the biggest challenge was. We’ll get about 10 quotes from different golfers and take their picture to go along with each quote.
To start things off, we’ll write a blog article for our website that describes each hole and what makes this stretch of four holes unique. We’ll add some photos of the course that we took to add some visual interest. Let’s share this blog article on Google Plus, Facebook, and Twitter. The next day, let’s post a question on each platform asking our audience to tell us what they think is the hardest thing about this stretch of four holes. We’ll also ask our audience to tell us what their best score was on each of these holes. Make sure to answer any questions your audience may be sending you through each platform – the more engagement, the better!
After our initial article has been posted and we have received some feedback, let’s start posting the quotes we originally collected at the course. These short quotes are perfect blurbs for each platform: Google Plus, Facebook, and Twitter.
This technique of focusing on one small aspect of your golf course is a just a simplified example of how to take something ordinary and turn it into an interesting piece of content for your online platforms. The goal here is get some social interaction from your fans.
A great next step would be to create some kind of “challenge” promotion. You could offer a gift for anyone who pars all four holes. Or maybe on the weekends, you could have an intern in a cart monitoring those four holes, offering a gift certificate deal – pay $10 and receive $20 in golf shop credit if you shoot no more than +2 on those holes. The goal of this promotion is to create some type of “hype” around these holes and give golfers a fun challenge that makes them want to come out and play. The options for promotions like this are limitless – all it takes is persistence and a little hard work.