As a business, it’s important to step back at times and ask yourself the question: who am I talking to?
When it comes to local marketing, clubs can easily get caught up in getting their message out without really being aware of who they are aiming to reach. Sadly, this can amount to hurling words into the abyss in the hope that they will find someone relevant.
The fact is, it’s impossible to craft a truly compelling message if you don’t know who you are talking to. The key to effective messaging is targeting, and the key to targeting is thorough market research.
Internal Market Knowledge
Knowing your market starts with knowing your own club.
The first step in this discovery process is to build a clear picture of your current club members. Better understanding who and where your club is right now will help you to visualize who and where it could be the future, as well as tuning you in to areas of opportunity that exist around you.
This type of information from your members can be sourced from surveys, focus groups, suggestion/comment boxes, informal meetings with management or staff, or operational metrics tracked as part of a broader business plan.
What insights should you be looking for?
- Demographic profiles (age, gender, family composition, ethnicity, income level, other club memberships, political leanings, religious affiliations, etc.)
- Home addresses (zip codes, secondary homes, distance from work, school districts)
- Contact information (names of family members, email addresses, phone numbers, social media habits)
How Members Use the Club
- Rounds played by segment and month/week/day/hour
- Revenue by type
- Amenity utilization metrics (fitness, dining, tennis, event attendance, etc.)
Understanding the habits, preferences, lifestyles, wants, and needs of existing members is invaluable, because it will enable your club to identify and target individuals with similar profiles to existing members.
This is the “low-hanging fruit” for clubs, and it is the first place you should invest your energies. If you have successfully sold to people of a certain demographic in the past, then there is a good chance you will have success selling to similar prospects in future. People are also prone to associate and identify with likeminded individuals, so these prospects will be drawn to your club if they see that they can relate to your existing members.
The next step is to use this data to build a picture of who is missing from your club. What market segments are you not connecting with? Is it female golfers, Millennials, fathers with young children?
Understanding who is missing at your club will teach you a lot about where your messaging may be letting you down. Depending on the demographic around your club, you may find that some of these missing segments are on your doorstep, and it is just a case of reaching out to them in the right way.
External Market Knowledge
Once you have learned all you can from within your club, it’s time to turn your eyes outward: who are your neighbors and who are your competitors?
What data should you be looking to gather?
- Demographic and income data
- Details on lifestyle groups in your area (psychographics)
- List of all competitors in your market area
- Summary of service and amenity offerings at each
- Collect data to quantify demand (golf participation rates, studies, visitor information etc.)
Local Market Data
- Demographics on public websites like governmental or municipal agencies
- Customer and demographic mapping through Google
- Comprehensive reports available through sites like Tactician or Environics
Putting a ‘face’ to local market areas will provide pertinent insight to help define your targeted message. If the profile of certain local market areas doesn’t match that of club members, then you may be faced with making bigger changes to your messaging than you expected. Armed with this information you can adjust your communications strategy accordingly, or else decide that you could invest more fruitfully in membership recruitment elsewhere.
The club must also know who its competitors are – what they are offering, their strengths and weaknesses – in order to create a message that differentiates your club’s offering.
This type of external information can be sourced anecdotally from calls to neighboring club managers or through online reviews, backed up by qualitative data sourced through competitor websites.
By gathering the right market knowledge from both internal and external sources you will be equipping yourself for growth. Not only can you identify the “low hanging fruit”, but you can also target demographics that your club is missing out on. Your message will become stronger by understanding what separates you from your competitors, and also, most importantly, by knowing exactly who you are talking to.
This article was authored by GGA Senior Manager and Market Intelligence expert Michael Gregory.