7 Ways Country Clubs and Golf Courses Can Attract and Retain Millennials
There are now more millennials than baby boomers…what are you doing to entice them to try your country club or golf course?
Millennials have surpassed baby boomers as the largest generation in America and they are showing to be extremely brand loyal (just look at how many Instagram Influencers there are). This means that many country clubs around the U.S. are now struggling to figure out how to position their clubs to appeal to the younger yet influential millennial generation.
I think most Club general managers would agree with the following statement: If your country club is not able to make necessary changes to start appealing to and attracting the millennial generation, then your club is at serious risk of closing its doors in the next 5 to 10 years.
The truth is, if you do not have a strong digital presence or are active on social media, and if you are not reaching out to potential members through events and email marketing, then you’re already way behind. Fortunately, there are some strategies that you can put into effect today to start generating more business.
Here are 7 ways to start attracting millennials to your country club or golf course:
1) Evaluate and Enhance your Club’s Digital Presence
The best way to reach your ideal audience is to meet them where they already are, and everyone- especially millennials- are online. But unfortunately, the golf industry lags when it comes to being competitive in the digital marketing and technology space. Maybe it’s because clubs don’t see the value of digital marketing or even know where to start when it comes to building brand awareness using the internet, but you can get more Membership leads and spend less money when you have a digital marketing strategy done right.
The best digital strategy tells the country club’s story across all forms of digital media, from a clubs website to social media channels, from email marketing to offering a responsive and easy-to-use mobile app. It’s a combination of all of those that make digital marketing one of the most efficient and successful ways to target millennials.
Millennials are the first generation to grow up in a completely interactive digital world and they expect the companies and brands that they spend money on to be as digitally savvy as they are.
TIP: One place to start is to do an analysis of your website…how does it look on a mobile device? Since most millennials look up information via their smartphones, you want to make sure your website loads properly so that web users can quickly find the information they need.
2) Improve Your Social Media Engagement
When analyzing the social media profiles of country clubs, we mostly see a basic rotation of only three types of posts:
- Images of event flyers (usually identical to the ones they send out in their monthly newsletters)
- Club lunch specials (often just text with no supporting images)
- A few golf course photos
While these types of content are okay and we commend clubs for trying, we urge clubs to get more creative!
Every country club is unique, so a social media strategy that works at one club might not be a good fit for another. Tell your story and show what makes your club different so that millennials can easily see what sets you apart from the crowd.
To take a step in the right direction, have your social media manager incorporate some more in-depth and creative content into your club’s feed such as:
- Sharing community events and other things going on in your area.
- Post glimpses of some behind the scenes action on your what your club is up to via an Instagram Story (We wrote a step by step tutorial on this >> HERE ).
- Help your followers get to know your staff by sharing photos and short introductions of them so that they can put a face to the name when they visit your club.
- Share info about your junior golf programs and don’t forget to include photos.
- Mention family-focused amenities that appeal to more than just an individual member.
- Post videos about the course. You can also post educational and informative content such as how to choose the best driver or how to maximize your swing speed.
- Share testimonials and quality club photos of members having a good time and all the amenities that they are taking advantage of. (Tutorial on capturing great course photography >> HERE ).
TIP: Don’t be afraid to boost posts that are performing well and getting large organic engagement. The average organic reach for any post is going to be less than 15% of your total audience, so throw a little money at it to further the reach! If you want to really increase your membership leads, check out what we’re doing to help country clubs attract millennials via Facebook ads.
3) Automate Your Emails
The easiest, most affordable way to attract new members and keep them engaged with your country club is through email marketing since these are the people who are familiar with your brand and they’ve indicated that they want to hear from you.
According to a recent study put out by CMAA (Club Management Association of America), email communication was the preferred method of how millennials want to be contacted that are interested in joining a club. But if you feel like you don’t have the time or resources to regularly communicate with your members or leads, don’t worry- there are now great automated email marketing tools available.
What is email automation, you ask?
Simply put, it’s a sequence of emails that you create ahead of time that are delivered based on a defined action or trigger.
Most country clubs have a website with a form integrated into it where interested candidates can request more information about memberships. After collecting this data, it can then be used to implement an automated email sequence. For instance, a “3-email drip campaign” can be put together to automatically deliver emails to the prospect on day 1, day 2 and day 3…all with different content that drives the lead further down the funnel. You’ll be able to see which candidates have opened the emails and what they clicked on, arming you with more information when you contact the prospect to set up a tour.
TIP: One benefit to implementing email automation is that it saves your membership director time, allowing him or her to focus on signing deals with those new millennial members.
4) Implement Text Messaging Into Your Marketing Plan
Most millennials don’t even use the “call” feature on their mobile devices anymore…it’s all about text messaging these days because it’s quicker and easier than talking on the phone (there’s also so many spam calls going around that people are less likely to pick up a call from an unknown number).
Fortunately, text messaging also gives businesses and country clubs an opportunity to connect with future millennial prospects. Because let’s face it, who can resist checking a text message? It’s noncommittal for them, and it allows your country club to stay top of mind to those who are interested in getting a membership.
TIP: On the data collection form that’s integrated into your website, be sure to collect the prospect’s email and phone number so that you can text special offers, promotions, and events to them.
5) Post Videos and Virtual Tours to Your Website and Social Media
Millennials don’t have a lot of time these days in between juggling family, friends, and trying to get ahead in their careers, which is why they want to quickly and easily find the perfect country club that allows them to bond with like-minded individuals that share their same values and interests in their off-time. And as an upscale country club, you are in the perfect position to provide that in-person offline interaction.
However, since millennials are more likely to search online and visit your website before scheduling a tour, it’s great to give them a visual preview of your amenities through a quick virtual tour or video. When millennials can get a sense of what kind of people are hanging out there, what the culture is like, and what there is to do from the comfort of their computer screen, then that may be all it takes for them to sign up for a membership.
TIP: Grab a co-worker and your iPhone and practice walking around the club while shooting a 3-minute video describing the place. Like what you came up with? Then upload the video to YouTube and share the link to your website, social media, and email newsletter.
6) Start a Blog…and Keep It Updated
Reaching millennials in this day and age is all about shifting more of your marketing dollars from traditional advertising to digital methods and getting to the top of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). The best way to do this is to implement a solid SEO strategy that allows prospects to quickly and easily find you when they search for a country club that fits their needs and is closest to them.
Getting to the top of the SERPs comes from a combination of investing in Pay-Per-Click advertising, being active on social media, and generating organic content that you share to your website. Every so often, Google crawlers find this organic content and if they find it valuable, it strengthens the validity of your website thus helping boost your website to the top of the SERPs.
Starting a blog and updating it every so often with new, interesting, and informative content related to your country club is a good way to get noticed by prospective members…and Google.
TIP: Do you have a new amenity or product that you want to tell your current and future members about? Write a blog about it! Shoot for one around 400-1000 words and post it to your website, then share the link to your social media.
7) Host More Events for Current Members (and invite your prospects)
As stated earlier, people like to hang out with like-minded individuals and have a reason to get together and have fun. This is exactly what you offer to your members all the time, but what about the prospects?
One way to bring new blood into your country club is to host events that appeal to members and prospects as a way to give prospects a real-life glimpse into what it’s like to belong. Maybe offer a special get-together just for members but allow them to bring a guest, or host a prospects-only event with some key star members so they get a chance to see for themselves if your club fits within their lifestyle.
TIP: Is there a holiday coming up? Host a Valentine’s Day Golf Tournament or singles party where members have to bring someone who’s never been to the club before. The possibilities of what you can do are endless.
Just to summarize, the 7 best ways to reach millennials are:
Enhancing your club’s digital presence including web, social, email and mobile marketing.
Learning to speak their language by amping up your club’s social media efforts.
Implementing email automation to help turn leads into members.
Text your prospects any upcoming offers, promotions, or events.
Post videos or virtual tours to your website and social media.
Posting regular blogs about anything that’s interesting and relates to your audience.
Have more parties!
If you need further help on how to reach millennials, feel free to contact us at Long Drive Agency. We have tons of ideas about how to help your country club generate more profit.