Understanding What Business You Are In and Who Your Competition Really Is
Last week, to prove a point to a Legendary Marketing partner, I called my neighbor from my office. I said, “Alan, remember that great tournament we played in at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Manassas, Virginia? Tell my client about it.”
”OK,” he said. “It’s hard to know where to start since everything was so fantastic. The food was great, the entertainment was great!”
”Stop!” I yelled. “Tell him about the entertainment.”
”You remember,” he said. “That magician at the event … he was unbelievable! The best I have ever seen!”
He went on to describe some of his tricks in detail for another two or three minutes. Finally, I prompted him to talk about the course. “Best course I have ever played,” he said casually!
My point in case if it’s not already clear is that the golf course was the 3 or 4th thing he mentioned about the actual event!
Perhaps the most profound breakthrough I made in the karate business was the discovery that, unlike any of my competitors, I was not in the karate business. Nor was I in the self-defense business, health club business or the more generic, service business. I was in the personal development business helping people “Maximize their potential physically and mentally.”
That meant that our ads were different, our look and feel were different, and of course, our curriculum was different. While 21 other schools in the city of Irvine, California battled it out for the karate business, I was the only school competing for the personal development business by using karate as the delivery method!
Too many people in the golf industry have lost sight of the business they are actually in, which for most golf clubs is the entertainment business.
That’s right; the entertainment business NOT the service business, and not the people business and not the golf business.
Golf is merely the vehicle by which you entertain your members or guests. Your competition is not just the golf club down the street it’s the NFL, NHL, NBA, Soccer, movies, video games, bowling alleys — in fact anything that can distract people from spending their entertainment dollars with YOU!
So how are you doing in the entertainment game?
Having a good course, good conditions and a friendly staff are entry level in this game. Every course claims these things and remember it’s not just courses you compete against it’s every other form of recreational entertainment.
How do you entertain your customers in the golf shop?
Do you have a putting carpet set up for players to try out a new putter right in the shop if the weather is poor? Do you have a simulator for teaching or for winter months? Do you have a library of golf books? The areas best selection of sunglasses, golf socks or cigars? Free coffee, a sofa, and big screen TV? Anything that will give you an entertainment edge?
How do you entertain them in the restaurant?
Is there a theme like the thousands of theme restaurants thriving around the world typified by the Hard Rock Café, Rainforest Café, Outback Steak House, Olive Garden and hundreds more. They thrive because the meal offers something more than just a ten-dollar hamburger, a steak or some pasta. It offers entertainment. The ambiance, uniforms, menu items and food descriptions all create something bigger, better and more memorable than just the food!
In the bar?
Do you have the latest in large screen TV’s with picture in picture technology so your sports addicts can watch Tiger Woods and the Red Sox at the same time?
Are signature drinks or microbrews only available at your golf club?
Your locker rooms?
How about a massage chair to soothe those muscles after a round?
Showers with giant rainforest heads?
Free car wash?
Free cart ride to the clubhouse, first tee or range?
Amusing signs for each parking spot like birdie, shank, top, and slice
Extra putting green, for big and little kids alike?
Do your golf carts have any entertainment factor?
If your customers are taking pictures and frequently sharing aspects of your golf club’s experience on social media you have created a WOW factor! If not you’d better start doing something soon…..
I bet that sign generates lots of FREE social media!
How do you entertain them on the course?
Do you have attractive cart girls or an unusually friendly ranger who provides guests who lose a ball with another one for free?
Signage that amuses rather than repels players?
Cool towels on a hot day at the turn?
A barrel of apples on the 10th tee?
Family holiday fun in Port Macquarie at Target Golf gives mum, dad and the kids a great chance at winning prizes. It’s easy.
On the range?
One range I know has an abandoned van in the middle of the range at about 180 yards. It looks like hell, but 40 people are aiming at it and the occasional squeal of delight and loud bang confirm its entertainment value.
A ships bell or gong can do the same thing at a higher end golf club.
Goal posts and archery like targets also work, I don’t care how hokey you think it sounds, it increases enjoyment and participation. Even tour pros love to clown around with this stuff. I have seen it.
A bucket full of free swing aids to try out during a practice, golfers LOVE gadgets.
Same thing with clubs. Could it be demo day every day? Golfers love to try new equipment. Might it be worth buying a dozen of the latest drivers just to use as demos and increase range traffic?
In the restrooms?
In the restroom – sure why not? It could be as simple as pinning the Sports pages from today’s newspaper to the wall of the Men’s Room or a more sophisticated approach with custom graphics that draw a smile.
Or you could take it to a whole new level.
How do you entertain your guests on their drive home?
The Great Golf Stories for Your Drive Home audio CD has been a huge hit and is a great way to entertain guests long after they have left the property. We did a whole series of these one-hour audiobooks, with ads for the course in between each story. They had a great shelf life and great pass around. For under $2 each, but with a retail value of $15, it was a great added value for any destination course for about the same price as a bag tag!
How do you entertain your guests daily with your social media?
Unusual golf pictures?
Stories and anecdotes from the history of the game?
Golf travel ideas and advice?
If all you do is post things about your golf club, you are completely missing the opportunity on social media to build your brand and connect with a large number of players daily!
What most golf clubs fail to understand is that the total entertainment package doesn’t begin on the 1st and end on the 18th
Once you understand and accept that your job is to entertain your members and guests at every level, it creates a radically different mindset that attracts people to your doors!
If you are to be successful, your golf club must not only be more entertaining than any golf club in its market segment, but it must also be more satisfying than the bowling alley down the street. It must be more entertaining than the baseball game on ESPN, the Strawberry Festival, Chili Cook-off or whatever 101 other events are listed in your local papers activities section this week!
Take a look at your club as an entertainment business and brainstorm with your staff how you can increase the entertainment level at every touch point of your club from the parking lot to the restrooms and everywhere in between!
Specialize in creating WOW moments, if players are taking pictures with their cell phones of your amazing burger, cool restrooms, or awesome golf carts and sharing it on their social media with hundreds of their friends then you are on the right track!
All The Best,