How Golf Courses Should Market to Millennials

Last week, Trent Anderson, Director of Business Development at Youtech & Associates, shared an article on LinkedIn about how millennials “killed golf.” He added some social commentary, too. It really served more as a rant than anything else, but to his surprise, nearly 50 people chimed in with their own thoughts. Another 50,000 viewed the post. Some of those folks currently work in the golf industry, and a few even private messaged him, challenging his position.

This post comes directly from Trent, and its goal is to show the EXACT blueprint he’d use to increase membership at his club if he owned or managed one.

Step 1: Invest in a Digital Team

Who: Graphic designer, Videographer/Video Editor, Social Media Manager, Community Manager, Content Writer/Editor

What: Blog, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube content production

When: Immediately after an executable strategy has been established

Where: On-premise, trade shows, community events

How: Content/editorial calendars,

Why: 86% of millennials are on social media. YouTube overall, and even YouTube on mobile alone, reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S. 90% of young adults (ages 18 to 29) use social media. Thirty-five percent of those over age 65 do.

Everyone knows what social media is, but so, so few understand how to properly leverage each platform. The flavor of content you post on Facebook should be different than Instagram, which should be different than Snapchat, and so on. So, how can courses and clubs take advantage? First, start by building a team. All the channels listed above require video to be a cornerstone of any strategy. Let’s reverse engineer this, starting with the end in mind. The end goal is to acquire new customers, right?

Okay, so what would a millennial want to see? Beautiful grounds, pristine course conditions, unparalleled customer service, and people who look/sound like them having fun. YouTube allows for unlimited length footage, so let’s review that first. A kickass drone flying over of each hole would serve as evergreen content (meaning it’s relevant to everyone, always). Instagram allows up to 60 seconds of video footage, so hyper-lapse the drone video of the 18th hole and have your PGA pro talk about the best ways to approach the hole. Facebook’s main advantage is engagement, so encourage user generated content (UGC) by asking people to share how they would attack the hole by commenting on the video. [PRO TIP: post the video natively to Facebook. Don’t just share the link to YouTube.]

Want more content from that one video? Cool, turn the best Facebook responses into a blog post on your website. Aggregate the best posted scores from that hole and create a leaderboard for the 18th on your website, too. Whoever has the best score for that hole (or course) over the course of a month gets something cool, like a free caddy next round, or $25 credit at the bar, or $50 gift card to the pro shop, or free driving range session, or 1-hour session with your PGA pro, or even a free sleeve of course-branded balls. I guarantee the recipient will take a picture of that and share it, thus amplifying your reach, getting their friends talking, and adding more potential members to your pipeline.

I have a great idea for Snapchat.

One person alone can’t create/curate all this content, however. It starts with the videographer, moves to social/community, involves graphics, and of course content. When every member of the team knows their role inside and out, you’ll produce content that millennials crave.

Step 2: Invest in Hardware

In my post, I mentioned hardware a couple of times because keeping millennials connected remains paramount. They can’t create UGC with a dead phone battery, can they? I know nothing about Gimme Charge, nor do I have any affiliation with them whatsoever, but $50 to make all your electric carts phone charger friendly seems like a cheap price to pay. Another $20 to put in a smart phone holder/mount, and you can retrofit your cart fleet for less than $100 per cart. Just showing that you’re tech-friendly will go a LONG way in winning over the millennial mind.

Virtual Reality (VR) isn’t just for elite athletes anymore. Now that it’s gone mainstream, VR training could provide a huge bump in interest at a relativity low cost. Pitching mental training, hand/eye coordination, and practice rounds through the VR platform will, at the very least, earn you some buzz with local publications.

Want to go next level? Send out each foursome with a dedicated drone pilot that will film the entire round and do flyovers of the longest drives, closest to pins, best shots, worst shots, whatever. Clearly, this package would require a premium price tag, but as I’ll discuss in Step 3, millennials are willing to pay for the experience.

Check out our golf course case study

 Step 3: Invest in the Experience

More than anything, millennials crave experiences. According to Eventbrite, more than 8 in 10 millennials (82%) attended or participated in a variety of live experiences in the past year, ranging from parties, concerts, festivals, performing arts, and races and themed sports—and more so than other older generations (70%). But millennials can’t get enough. 72% say they would like to increase their spending on experiences rather than physical things in the next year, pointing to a move-away from materialism and a growing demand for real-life experiences.

This is a generation of people who know what they want and are committed to getting it. So, if courses want to sell a product to a millennial, they must focus the marketing around it as more of an experience than a possession. Golfing, in particular, should be positioned as four hours spent with friends in a beautiful landscape that provides a fun, challenging experience.

Eventbrite found that 69% of millennials believe attending events makes them feel more connected to other people, the community, and the world. It’s not just the experience itself. It’s sharing with one another that’s important. Not surprisingly, research found that millennials tweet, share, and post more about the events they attend than any other age group.

Golf courses and country clubs across the world shouldn’t view millennials as a challenge. Rather, millennials should be embraced as the ultimate opportunity. As a millennial, I know for a fact that even a meager investment in the experience would drive significant interest from my peers.

As a marketer, I want to know why courses haven’t jumped on digital. Hopefully, at the very least, this sparks some ideas for golf courses. If not, golf won’t survive.

Want to learn more about digital marketing for golf?

 Step 4: Implement A SEO Strategy

SEO also is known as Search engine optimization refers to optimizing your website to make them reach a high position in the search results of search engines.  SEO focuses on improving the rankings in the organic search and is split out into a couple of sections

On-page SEO factors

On-page SEO ranking factors can have a big impact on your website’s ability to rank. The biggest on-page factors that affect search engine rankings are:

    • Technical
    • Content
    • Title tags
    • Meta descriptions
    • headlines
    • Header tags
    • Image optimization

The ranking of your website is partly decided by these on-page factors. Succeeding past your competitors in organic search today requires optimizing for a combination of factors that Google and other search engines find important.

Off-page SEO factors

On-page SEO factors aren’t the only thing search engines look at when ranking your site. Another big side of SEO is off-page SEO factors. These factors include links from other websites, social media awareness, and various other marketing objectives outside your website. The most important of these off-page SEO factors are how many quality links are pointing towards your site. The more backlinks and the higher quality links you get from relevant sites, the higher your position in Google will be.

Step 5: A Responsive Website

Having a responsive web design in today’s world may be one of the most important factors you company needs. A responsive website creates a system for a single site to react to the size of a user’s device. So if you’re viewing on a desktop, tablet, or phone the screen should adjust and the content should fit your screen for ease of use. Since the launch of Google’s Mobilegeddon Google has been pushing towards mobile-first indexing. Since these sites have seen an increase in of 50%+ website traffic coming from mobile traffic.

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