Golf Marketing University

#1 Reason Why Golf Membership Packages Aren’t Selling

I attended a marketing conference recently and during a break in the presentations I went off to check out some of the stands in the exhibitors hall...see if anything caught my eye or looked interesting. 

Among the many stands were a few "startup" companies hoping to break into the market and make a name for themselves. Start-ups create a lot of energy at events, especially when they're a little bit "tech" related - their eager founders hoping they'll be the next big thing.

One such startup was operating in the golf industry, so I went over and introduced myself. I didn’t catch a name, but I did catch a full-on, 5 minute rehearsed sales pitch on why what they were launching was the best thing since sliced bread, with all the features and benefits and "USPs" that their service could offer.

Unfortunately in all the time he was speaking, the guy didn't ask me 1 single question and if he had listened to me for just 10 seconds at the start, he would have heard, when I introduced myself,  that I was kind of in the same business so I wasn't a potential customer. When he'd finished, I politely wished him luck with his new venture and walked away.

I couldn't fault his enthusiasm but, boy, was his energy pointing in the wrong direction.

There's a kind of desperation in that sort of sales pitch that doesn't make you want to buy even when you're in the market.  

I do get it though. At these events, people pay a lot of money to exhibit and there's only a short amount of time to meet as many people as possible and get your message across. However, these energetic young companies are often committing the same mistake even mature golf businesses make all the time.


I’m not here to point the finger at anyone. Marketing isn't easy especially with all the shiny tools and gurus in the industry. It’s easy to get distracted from what marketing actually is…

At it’s core Marketing is… Finding out what your customer wants and then selling it to them..

So when it comes to marketing Golf Memberships, what's the most common flaw?

99.9% of golf clubs focus on their own product instead of listening to the customer to find out what they need / want.

And that makes the "SELL" often come across as a bit desperate. Just like our startup friend at the exhibition.

For example, what's the difference between a golf club website setting out the "features and benefits" of their same-old, generic membership packages - their "products" - and the 10 minute sales pitch at an exhibition stand?

Neither draws out any information from the visitor and both assume that the product is the solution to everyone's problems. And occasionally it is. But declining membership sales in golf would indicate that actually, it probably isn't the solution for an increasing number of people.

So keeping on with the same membership sales messaging is the equivalent of waiting for the next poor visitor to the stand for the rehearsed sales pitch. 

Identifying your market's "problems" is the first step in really being able to give them what they want and in turn being able to really increase your membership sales.

Let me explain.

I worked with a golf club recently which was struggling with declining memberships. They had the usual membership offerings...7 day, 5 day, driving range, junior memberships etc. They even introduced a Flexi, points-based membership as it seemed to be what was trending in the market, but they weren’t getting any real sales traction with any of them.

So they went back to the drawing board and asked their current members and lots of non-members too a number of strategic questions in an online survey which revealed some interesting insights into what people actually want.

So instead of trying to shoe-horn potential members into an existing product, they created a range of new packages to appeal to the different customer types they had identified. Packages entirely focused on the customer. 

For example, they renamed and re-packaged what was essentially their Flexi membership and now call it the "Work Hard, Play Hard Membership”, completely focused around the time-poor golfer with a busy work life.

BMW, for example, might have 9 or more models of their 3-series car but underneath it's still the same chassis, interiors and engines. They're just pre-packaged in different bundles to appeal to different market segments - those who like a sporty look, those who like space or those who want comfort etc.

You don't need to re-engineer your systems, that would be the equivalent of manufacturing a whole new model of car. No, just think about the packaging and messages - the wrapping of your products if you like.

Just remember, the key is to think about your customer, not about yourself. Find out about their problems and issues and once you understand these, groups them into "segments". Once you've done that, you can start creating your own targeted product to appeal and resonate with each segment of your target market.

And then, you'll be like the enlightened exhibitor who, when you arrive at his stand,  listens to you and when he knows what you want, will match his specifically created product to your needs. And you'll willingly buy. Sure as BMW sell cars, you'll buy.

If you're looking to attract more customers, increase your revenue and improve your overall marketing performance then take a sneak peek at 3 actual lessons from The Golf Marketing Masterclass. I promise you it will be the best decision you've made for your golf business today! 

John King

John King is the Co-Founder of Golf Marketing University, a dedicated marketing training platform for commercial golf clubs. After spending nearly a decade marketing facilities and venues within the golf and hospitality industry, John has harnessed how to effectively guide his clients to increased sales in today's competitive and ever-changing market.

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