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2020 was a wild year for everyone. Golf courses were no exception. But since golf is played outdoors, things started to come back a little faster. 

No one knows what the new year will bring, but there are several lessons you can take away from this year to make 2021 the best year yet for your golf business.

In this episode, I discuss the importance of a marketing plan (even if you can’t stick to it) and the best way to use Google and Social Media to maintain your customer’s peace of mind and trust.

Show highlights include:

  • Why the popularity of golf skyrocketed in 2020 and how to keep that momentum in the new year (4:02)
  • The single most important skill your golf business needs to survive any economic condition or crisis (9:04)
  • Why updated website information is more important than ever for maintaining customer trust in your facility (12:09)
  • How to use social media to keep your customers coming back to the course for more rounds (14:34)
  • A free Google tool that helps you build credibility and keeps your customers informed (16:18)

If you enjoyed today’s show, make sure you head on over to www.tapsandtees.info and download your free report of ‘No BS,’ game-changing marketing tips and strategies that show you how to blow up your brand online.

Read Full Transcript

You are listening to the Taps and Tees Show, weekly conversations for people passionate about marketing, golf and craft beer. Marty is the cofounder of Bad Rhino, an award-winning digital marketing agency helping golf and craft beer brands get real results in social media marketing. Here is your host, Marty McDonald. [00:21.7]

Marty: Hey everybody, and welcome into another episode of Taps and Tees. And today winding down 2020 and talking about the golf industry and marketing. And you know, if you listened to the podcast yesterday called you know, the big 2020 that nobody wanted, right. And the golf world, just like everything else we saw with other clients, you know, everybody got massively shook up, right, right at the beginning. I mean, who didn't? You know, let's just be real people are getting sick. Stuff's going on out there that you don't really want to, you know, think about at times, but in order to keep everybody safe, everyone just shut everything down. And whether that's right wrong or not, we're not here to discuss that. We're just here to discuss how it's impacted everything and what it did in the golf industry and what we saw from a marketing perspective and getting ready for this. I went through some presentations that we did at the beginning for a couple of groups, golfing and PGA sections, and some other stuff then went through, you know, kind of like the middle of where golf started to come back, where they let you know back on the course, and then just looking over some numbers for the second and third quarter and overall, you know, pretty positive stuff, which is interesting. [01:39.4]

So let's just go back to the beginning and, you know, we were focusing in, on, you know, as an agency, at Bad Rhino focusing in on, you know, normal things that you do in January, February, getting ready for, you know, updates to products for golf e-com stores, getting ready for new product ideas and launches that were coming out, getting everything ready, whether it's website redesign or social media campaigns or page strategies, et cetera. And just getting in line in January, February is kind of quiet, you have, the PGA show, you have some other stuff, but you know, it's relatively quiet during that time. And, you know, as February loomed, you kept hearing about different things, but you didn't know, you know, how's it going to impact an outside game, right. But, you know, we were later shown that, Hey, this stuff's gonna impact everything. So, you know, March and April, we're in Pennsylvania and the, you know, they shut down everything. [02:34.8]

And the interesting part is when things started opening up, like the increase in rounds, which was really interesting, you know they've increased right from the get-go, you know, as soon as they opened the course, there wasn't anything else to do. I remember thinking to myself here, wow, they're going to shut everything down. Well, I might take a day or two just to clear my head and go play golf, right. You're thinking outside, you know, thinking its not an indoor activity, it’s got to be well within the guidelines, et cetera. And what was itt, so they shut down everything and I'm like, they shut down the outside, you know, what else could they shut down? So as he started, you know, coming back to it, you know, in April, when things start to open up, you saw an increase in May and June and then talking to people, they're like, well, we kind of always see an increase in May and June, it's a touch higher than normal, but we don't know if, what we're seeing here in end of April and May, as we open back up, if it's just a little bit of a spike or not. And then June was up considerably year, over year, July and August. And you know, it was pretty crazy, you know, just in looking at everything like a lot more places started, you know, having packed tee times, which is regular golfers. You're like, Oh man, where are these people coming from? [03:54.9]

But it's a good thing for the game, right. You know, as everything kind of moved forward and the PGA tour started up again, being the first sports league, you know, interesting golf started taking, you know, a little bit bigger in everybody's mind. New golfers were coming, existing golfers were like, I can't do much else, but I can't go to the golf course. That's awesome. You know, you bring in new golfers in, people are getting better. The one thing that is down is obviously golf tourism, people traveling to specific places. So that's down a bit, but overall, you know, from articles, I've read as well as talking to people in the industry on both, you know, the facilities side, as well as the equipment side, you know, things weren't all bad. You know, everyone wants to stay healthy of course, but as you got through the restrictions and people were not just on separate carts, they weren't with these funky, weird dividers in there that made everything a little bit different and a little bit odd, you know, everything, “went back to normal.” [04:55.1]

You know, what we were advising was working with facilities, trainers, instructors, all the people that we work with on a regular basis in the marketing areas, they were just trying to figure out like, how do you put something out there that's not, you know, insensitive to somebody that might be sick or dealing with family members. That was probably the biggest, the biggest piece that was like the question mark. But as things started moving, you know, people would just really, really wanted to get out there and play. And, you know, golf is reaping the rewards of that, which is good. And as I said, as you saw the PGA tour, come back, everything sort of increased just like normal. When people start seeing it on TV, they want to get out and they have that itch to play. The other one, the thing that was interesting is having, you know, a later US open and a later masters, what you saw is those increases in September and October, you know, cause people like to get fired up over those events, obviously the majors, and then that bleeds out onto the course. [05:57.7]

And, you know, finally, just to kind of wrap up this general overview, you know, what we've heard, not only from our own clients, but then just in general, is that July, August and September, you know, toped a billion, which was the first time the U S market achieve that height in the third quarter. And I think that had a lot to do with pushing things back, obviously with the opening of the season, some uncertainty in a lot of different areas in walks of life, but then also just having everybody come back to the game and, you know, it was really pretty cool to kind of see like, Hey, these things are exploding and doing some research on SEM rush and looking at tools around keyword searches, you are seeing golf items being searched a heck of a lot more in the past three months, four months. And that's really cool to see and all that kind of blends into, you know, golf's in a decent spot right now. We'll see where the future brings. But what we saw, you know, at the very beginning was a little scary and a little crazy, and you had to adjust on the fly in your marketing. [07:01.1]

And now the nice thing was, is getting calls with current clients and future clients about adjusting everything going into the future, going into 2021. I will say this like the interesting part about the travel aspect for all this, has been fascinating. So a lot of people have, you know, their annual buddy trip or they wanted to go see a place like Pinehurst or Bandon Dunes or, you know, a real place that was on their “ bucket” list. And they didn't get a chance to. So now those places are starting to see a little bit more of inquiries and searches and people asking about what's going on for 2021 and, you know, sitting here at the end of the year in December, it looks like going into 2021. Things are not going to be quite back to normal the first half of the year. And we'll just leave it at that. No one has a crystal ball, we'll see where that goes. [07:54.4]

But overall at the beginning of the pandemic, we had people asking us about how they market in a pandemic and you don't want to be, you know, sending out like here's the COVID discount and things like that. So we were working around, around those things. And you know, it's been a wild past, you know, eight, nine months in the whole year, you know, wrapping it all up is kind of crazy when you look back on it and what I saw and what my agency saw at Bad Rhino. And by the way, if you want a copy of these notes and everything else, just send an email to golf@badrhinoinc.com just with a podcast notes in the subject line and we'll get them out to you right away. So it's golf@badrhinoinc.com badrhinoinc.com and we'll get those to you right away. [08:44.0]

Hey, if you're enjoying what you're hearing on the show and want more, head on over to TapsAndTees.info and get our free report with game-changing tips and strategies straight to your inbox. Just enter your info and stop being stuck with no marketing plan. [08:57.2]

Oh we saw were people that were able to adjust where the most successful. You know, they were sitting there going well, we had this marketing plan and the same things that we were working on for them in January, February and you know, that all of a sudden March was like, whoa, what is actually going on? But they were just preparing, you know, all the new launches that they had for products, everything else that was going on for instructions and ups schedules, golf courses, setting up, you know, tournament's and then kind of coming out with a schedule to kind of balance out some of their slow times or traditional slow times so that we could tie in, you know, the email marketing, social media marketing, and paid marketing. And what we saw with the folks who had a plan going into the year, they came out better and were more comfortable in making a shift. The ones that didn't have a plan really were shuffling around until August with everything. They just couldn't catch up. [09:54.0]

You know, it was just a lot of work to let people know that, Hey, it's safe. It's this it's this. I'm not saying they did bad. It was just in it from a marketing perspective, they were scrambling and it took them a little bit longer to kind of get everything booked a hundred percent or make sure that everybody didn't call a million times with questions. And I think that's one thing with marketing is, you know, you're doing it for sales, right? But you also need to communicate, especially in this day and age with, you know, your, your customers. And they're used to seeing it on social media. They're used to seeing in an email and if they're not coming in on a regular basis, they're inquisitive in terms of, Hey, I'm older, I have a health condition. What are you guys doing at XYZ club to make sure that we're safe because I see the bars open, its outside, but what's going on. So you can do those things and just tie them into your marketing plan. And that's what we saw was the people that had a plan going into the year, they were able to shift on a dime whereas the other ones, I didn't, it took them a little bit longer to get the play catch-up. [10:53.3]

The good thing is, is, you know, there's a lot of things that you can do right now to prep for 2021. And I'm just going to rattle through them really quick. I don't want to have this be a long episode. But the first thing is, if you haven't done so, update your website. You know that your website's a base of your marketing communications. You want to make sure that everything there is up to date your hours, don't forget to update your hours everywhere else, they may be listed, whether it's on Golf Now, if you're still using that or any other app where people can book tee times and make sure they're set up on all your social media accounts, Google, you know, any other apps that you're using as well. Make sure any services that are offered, so if the restaurant and bar close or snack shops close, or other things, you don't have water on the course, just make sure those things are mentioned really quick in the COVID update. I saw a lot of companies do this early on, but you also want to make sure it's update and current going into the New Year. Don't forget like stuff that has happened back in April, doesn’t necessarily apply in December and people do take that into account. [11:57.0]

Like when they're looking like, Oh, they don't have any updates as of, you know, June 1st, 2020, and it's January, you know, do I want to go there a little weird things are really skewing consumer behavior and rightfully so at this time. So you just want to make sure you have everything updated. So make sure your services are offered that are, are listed, make sure that anything in terms of restaurant or snacks or anything, there pro shop, whatever is there is make sure that's just updated and ready to go in terms of hours as well. Any pricing specials or discounts, I'm not a big discount person when I advise anybody on marketing, but right now I think a time is a good time for a discount. Make sure that things you know, money's tight for everyone, even in the golf world. And money's tight just in general and even people that do have it, they're a little skeptical maybe of where they're going to spend it a little bit. And that's going to affect everybody a little bit differently in the golf world, because some people just, you know, that's not what they worry about, but others, you know, that might be just getting into the game and things like that. You might be able to offer something and have somebody taken up on it, like a, you know, a 10 round special that you can offer to beginning of the year to use throughout 2021. [13:13.8]

People are looking for those things right now. And they still, you know, are not completely concerned, but what we've seen in across the board and all our clients, you know, has been, been interesting to say, least of spending habits. So if you're using social media, just make sure that you're communicating with them on a very regular basis. What we seen in the past eight, nine months with this whole pandemic in golf world and among other industries are people are, they want to be a little bit entertained. They also want to know that everything's okay if I go to your establishment. So social media is one of the most effective ways to communicate that with consumers build brand awareness. But especially now that people are a little more stuck at home and relying solely on their computers, mobile devices for any sort of social interaction. You know, getting pieces of information about your golf products, your golf instruction, golf training, golf course, and facility driving range, et cetera. You want to make sure that you're educating them on what's going on at your establishment and what you can offer. [14:18.5]

Then you also want to make sure that, Hey, you are open, but we have some changes and educate them a little bit. And photos work great, videos awesome right now. And people are really engaging with video, you know, both short and even some longer videos. So don't be afraid to put that in there and say, Hey, this is our facility. You can check it out. Here's our safety precautions. Give them a mini tour, but definitely goes a long way. Definitely post the content that shows everybody that you're open for business, if you are and that they can safely come there and work with you or play golf there or enjoy a beverage after a round. They just want to know that that's really one of the big keys and, you know, good intentions, good vibes go a long way on social. So, you know, try and make them laugh, make it upbeat, but don't forget the seriousness of the situation. [15:10.6]

And last but not least, there just don't forget to sell. You know, don't forget the links to the course where they can book a tee time or a time for, you know, a lesson. You always want to include the link to your website. You want to make offers that gives the customers a chance to learn more about your facility or product. Then, you know, fun stuff is always good, but you always want to be selling because you want to stay in business. And that's even more fun than just, you know, having some great vibes out there and some good intentions. And last but not least, if you're not using this, probably one of the most important steps here and use Google my business, it's first off, it's free. Second of all, you can use it to manage almost every aspect of your Google listing and the customer's going to see the, see that when they find your facility or your training place on Google. So they're going to say, Oh wow, this place has the right hours. I can do this. We can make sure that it's safe because business owners on Google my business, the features they can use are updating your business hours, list of services that you have. [16:12.9]

You can offer that or put that out there all the offers that you do have in a COVID-19 update post. If you have any discounts, you can actually create an offer from there. So there's tons of things you can do, including creating events. So people know you're open for business, you're clean and safe, and this is what's going on, if they find it there, cause they're looking for a place to play. And honestly it really is Google my business right now is very key, just getting that information out there. And the winners, you know, of everything here, like I said, had a plan, but they're able to connect with their customers easily because they already built an email list and they, they started emailing right away. The updates then they use texts in terms of getting people, you know, let them know that tee times were available. And then they were leveraging a little bit in paid ads. And really just going back to what you said at the beginning, the winners there actually had a marketing plan where they were developing a lot of these things on, you know, digital marketing platforms, where they were gathering emails for new potential customers and text messages. [17:15.8]

Mostly the text I'll be honest with, not cold people. People have been there that would say, Hey, if you text, you know, give us your number, text this number for updates on our course, whether it's opening and things like that, putting a program like that in place. It was really really neat to see that our clients, that we advise them, they're like, why are we building an email list? Why are we building a text list? And they didn't want to, you know, bother people. But nowadays, you know, with the pandemic especially it’s not even that intrusive anymore because there's so many updates and there's so many other companies. And if they feel like they're getting more messages than they want, they'll opt out of the text, like that's easy. You know, email, you can email them once a week and that probably won't bother them at all, but it's getting their attention and making sure that you stay top of mind so that if they are going to play around and they're not a member somewhere, they just want to go pick a daily fee course there that you're there. And top of mind, they know it's safe. They know your hours, they know everything. [18:12.7]

So those are just some highlights, we have some other details. And again, you can just send an email to golf@badrhinoinc.com Be more than happy to send you over some notes and take a look at those. And if you need more help, we'll, we'll be here. But on these episodes of Taps and Tees this year, you know, we've interviewed some marketers. We had some other things come on, just so that we can get more and more information out to everybody about what is going on and what is working. And I decided to use the podcast this year to do that. And we'll get back to all the fun stuff that we had planned. And we have a lot of neat things that we're actually re-recording and some interviews that were very fun, but they just weren't appropriate, let's just put it that way to kind of blast out there during this pandemic. So we'll get those out there with some great golf conversations and some great beer conversations in early 2021. But that's just a quick overview of just doing the marketing stuff that we saw in the golf world. Some high-level stuff, some positive stuff about the industry overall and some marketing tactics that we're working in. We'll definitely work going into 2021, so if we can help you out, let us know if not, I'll see you on the next episode of Taps and Tees. Thanks for listening. [19:22.2]

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