Last week, we posted an article that gave you a checklist and guide for things to make sure you've done before the golf season starts. Things like updating Online Booking, auditing your credit/balance liabilities, creating your calendar, setting up Online Specials, etc.
But back-office tasks aside, there are some other things you can (should!) be doing at this time of the year. Today we'll go through many of these things in depth.
Here's are the categories to expect:
- Spreading opening season news via website & social
- Preparing your email marketing strategy
- Planning and scheduling promotions
- Optimizing your website for SEARCH and BOOKINGS
Don't have time to read it all? Bookmark this article and come back later, because all of these tasks will save you a lot of time and frustration in the coming months.
Let's get started!
Spread The News
Are you open? Are you scheduling reservations? Are your rates the same as last year? When is the first tournament? Any pre-season sales?
If you rely on the things you set up in 2019, you’re missing golden opportunities to talk to the people who need to hear from you the most:
Loyal guests who are chomping at the bit to get some green therapy. These people need to know what they can expect, and the sooner you tell them the sooner they’ll start putting you into their schedule (and budget.)
Infrequent or new prospective guests who may not know you, and who are not actively checking to see when your tee sheet is open, what’s on the calendar, etc.
Your pre- or early-season marketing efforts need to address both of these groups, giving them the information and engagement they need.
The section below gives you some ideas for how to do just that!
(1) Update Your Website
Now more than ever it is critical that your website be a one-stop-shop for anything a visitor may want to know—and things you want them to know.
Below are steps to take to get your website ready for all the new web traffic.
Announce Opening Days / Hours
This can be done with a pop up on your page, a new banner, or—if nothing else—just some bolded text with 2020 dates.
Direct Traffic to Online Booking
Make sure the links (or Calls to Action, as we like to call them) on your site send visitors to an active online booking tool.
Refresh Supporting Content
Nothing says "don't care" more than outdated information on your website, but we’ve still seen many businesses with information posted about events from 2019.
This is a huge, flashing sign to people that you aren’t focusing on providing great guest experiences, which—as you know—is a huge need at this point in time for the golf industry.
(2) Use Your Social Media
If you’ve been using your social pages to keep engagement with your followers going strong even in slower months, it should be fairly simple to get your social accounts primed for rushing in busy season.
If your winter didn’t do much for your social presence, however, LISTEN: it’s even more important for you to set aside some time—plan on about 30 minutes—to update the most critical marketing tools a local business like yours has. Social media is free! Now is a great time to start.
- If you aren’t a social media fan, hire it out. Many golf courses we work with elect to provide discounts or free golf in exchange for someone who will build and/or manage their social pages.
If hiring it out isn’t an option, don't write it off. Simply set aside 30-60 minutes to set things up. Don't panic! They've made the process quite simple.
Once you’re primed for the season, it’s easier to manage the day-to-day of your social life.
- Start by updating your business information. Facebook frequently changes the ways you can customize your page, so play around and create a place for visitors to come find out about you. Because I promise, if you build it, they will come.
Here are the general things to be updated:
- Website URL
- About You information
- Hours of Operation
- Your calendar of events, tournaments, etc. can be included as an image and pinned to the top of the page.
- Check the links to your Online Booking. Enough said.
- Pick a social media owner. Whether it’s you or a member of your staff, it just needs someone to be accountable for it. Social media isn’t hard, it just requires consistency.
- Create a list of ideas for your social posts over the first month or two. Write them out, get pictures lined up to be posted.
- Update your cover photo to include important information, like the start of the season, or upcoming events.
- Start posting about what is coming. While the winter months should be spent posting about interesting things that aren’t about your course, now is the time to engage with your fans and build up excitement for the season.
Prepping Your 2020 Email Marketing
From the first-of-season emails straight onto the mid-season promotions, planning your email strategy now can only make you more effective.
(3) Keep your customers informed
The first thing to do is make sure you have emails set to announce important early-season dates.
- When does the tee sheet open?
- What are the rates for spring?
- Are you offering any opening-month promotions?
- Are you having any events to kick off the season?
- Are there initial tournaments to be registered for?
Create emails to give your readers all the information they need to plan their first day at your course. Your fans will be excited to see your name in their inbox; it marks the beginning of a new season!
(4) Create your email schedule
But now is not just the time to announce the season, it’s also time to plan the season. Marketing is a big deal, and emailing is one of the best ways to do it! A bit of planning and prep work now will make it a snap to send out emails later down the line.
Add important email dates to the calendar that are in relation to open-guest events. This often includes:
- Promotions or Sales
- Special Rate Days
- Club Events
- Other dates you want your guests to be aware of
If you send weekly or monthly newsletters or update emails, these announcements can go into them.
If possible, keep a calendar of these events on your website or in a blog post, so your guests can reference them any time. Add links and images of this calendar every time you send an email.
(5) Set an “Email” specialist for the year
Like social media, sending emails will be more effective if you have someone who is responsible for ensuring that email marketing works for your business.
Pick a person and review your strategy with them. Make sure they know how to use your email marketing tool, and that they have all the important things they need handy, like your logo and the links that should be included in every email.
(6) Create your templates
Having pre-created email templates will make sending emails a breeze. Consider creating templates in your marketing software for emails like:
- Tournament invitations
- Promotions on inventory
- Last minute deals
- Demo Days
Prep Your Promotions
If you did your due diligence in 2019 you should know what inventory sells well, but you should also know what you should try to get rid of.
Consider using your first promotion of the year strategically to help you clear out that inventory and jump start your revenue.
(7) Plan the Promo Calendar
Try the following ideas as you plan and launch first-of-year and scheduled promotions:
- Clearing our inventory
- Anything to encourage a busier spring
- Promotions to bring a friend
- Free bucket of balls during cooler hours
Make Sure You’re Findable
I’ve said it before and I will say it again (and again and again): if people cannot find you online, you cannot stay in business in this era.
The beginning of the season is a great time to do a wellness check and make sure you are in good health to start the 2020 season.
(8) Do a Google search for yourself
Here’s a quick exercise. Pretend like you don’t know you.
Imagine yourself as a prospective client and do some google searches using terms that you would use if you were looking for a place to visit. Then, check out where you fall on the list of search results. If you aren’t found, take it as a hint to optimize your site a bit so that Google thinks of YOU when someone does that very same search.
Not creative enough to guess what people may be typing into the search bar?
Start by understanding that visitors who find your website are looking one of a few things:
- Your contact information; they want to get in touch with you for some reason.
- Online scheduling; They want to make a reservation, and they’re hoping to do it online.
- “About Us” information for your course: They are using the Internet wisely and exploring their options. Which is great for you!
- Your Services: This includes anything that is considered a feature (# of holes, style of food service, products sold).
- Special offers: They are on a budget, but want to visit you.
- Resources: You are considered an expert in your field, and they are looking to you for help.
If your website has all of that 👆👆 information cleanly visible and easy to find, you score major Google points.
Which means, when someone types in a question related to any of that information, you’re the first thing Google thinks of (versus being 18th on the list of results.)
(9) Know the questions you’re answering
Here’s a secret: Google can tell if you are trying to give your readers what they want, so the best way to start is to know what they are asking.
Google WANTS Internet browsers to find the information they are looking for. Therefore, the more you can give your prospective website visitors exactly what they are looking for, the more Google will direct the right people to your website.
It requires putting yourself into the perspective of searchers:
Cheapest tee time in Peach Tree City
Golf courses near Santa Fe Residence Inn
Golf course with breakfast near me
The power of Google can be unsettling at times, but at the end of the day they are just trying to right the match INFORMATION with the right VIEWER.
Be the information people are looking for, and watch how many guests start finding you online.
(10) Optimize your website!
"Optimize" in this case means doing whatever you can to make it easier for people to find your website or business listing when they are searching.
Here are my top suggestions for getting your website ready to be found.
Start with content.
The details are obviously the most important; your address, your phone number, a link to make a reservation. Watch that you make this information as obvious as possible, so it’s easy to spot when their eyes graze quickly over the page.
Tell your story.
Ours is an industry that thrives on personal connections. We want to do business with people we trust, and we trust the people we know!
By using your website to tell your story, you’re giving Google the content it needs to see you as a great search result AND providing your viewers with a compelling picture of why they want to come visit you.
If you did some SEO work in 2019, it’s still a good idea to do a couple quick Google searches—just to be sure nothing changed during the off season and that people can still find your business easily.
If you didn’t get a lot of online traffic last year, consider making a few little changes to improve the effectiveness of your site. Things like:
- Making sure they don’t have to search to find your Call to Action
- Checking internal or external links
- Verifying that all your contact information is updated
- Updating the amount of content, or the flow of how people get where they are going.
- Adding images to showcase the best aspects of your facility
- Compressing images so they aren't so big
- Adding "ALT text" to all images
These things will all go a long way to making your website easier to find for potential visitors.
Open the Floodgates!
Checking all of these things off your list (or even just MOST of them) will do a lot of things for you.
1. It WILL drive traffic. There is no chance that doing all of these things will have no impact on your occupancy, website visitors, and revenue.
2. It will help you sleep. If you've been in the business long, you know how hard it can be to relax when you have looming needs for your "day job".
3. You'll do better all year. You can't believe how much easier the rest of the year's efforts will be just from taking a bit of time in the early or pre-season.
You're setting yourself up for a strategic year, and when you go in to the season with this mindset it's much easier to keep momentum as the season gets busier.
We challenge you to take some time to focus on the things you can do now to make the rest of the year more effective and peaceful.