I really enjoy how we live in a world where so many resources are available to us digitally. Of course, it is a double-edged sword as there are billions of ways to get distracted. If you are dealing with this issue having a negative effect on your productivity and efficiency, let me direct you to check out a previous article I wrote for the Foreword Press: Pay Attention to What Gets Your Attention.

Back to the resources we have available where, in golf alone, they are amazing. If I want to learn about the newest equipment, the newest teaching tools and how to use them or about how to be a better player through course management, the resources are available.

But there are many more resources outside of golf, in the business, leadership and community management spaces. In the past, I’ve highlighted many of these including Start With Why (Simon Sinek), Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands (Kevin Roberts), Good to Great (Jim Collins) and many more. (Note: the hyperlinks above are to videos about the books, or talks about the book by the author.)

Each of these examples were not aimed at a golf audience, but many of our colleagues found their principles about very easy to apply to our purpose and role in the golf industry. Specifically, howthese concepts apply to the customers/members we are seeking to influence, inspire and build loyalty-behavior with.

Why? Remember this tenet: In golf, our success in pinned on people who act and think like consumers. They think first of their experience, their demand-decision, their relationships, their enjoyment, etc. And they have every right to do so (it’s their money, their time, their investment and their choice).  Thus, as business-minded golf professionals, we will be more effective when we build our experiences, programming, pricing and our operation based on this understanding: “We’re not dealing with creatures of logic, we are dealing with creatures of emotion” – Dale Carnegie. (Regarding consumers: I am one and so are you. Think about it.)

Growing up in a faith-based family, I have also found some great tools that are aimed at helping church leaders inspire and motivate their “flock of believers” to be more engaged, more committed, etc. to the group they are part of. This should sound very familiar to you. Based on the thoughts above about consumers, I see very little difference in the behaviors we see between a “flock of believers” and the home clubs at a public golf course, or a membership at a private club. In all three cases, the “loyalists” at the church, the muni and the club have common beliefs that connect them to other loyalists. These stakeholders also have a strong desire to be part of “something,” ideally something that is “bigger than them” and is a “community they want to be a part of.” In each type of community, consumer behaviors are the rule of the day and intentional engagement activities (to drive activation, retention and recruitment) are the tactics for leadership.

With that understanding, I submit the following principles from the book, The Church Growth Flywheel (Rich Birch). I see how these can be applied to your operation, your community engagement and revenue enhancement efforts next year. In a high-level view, the five “spokes” of the flywheel are:

Note: The overarching concept of the Flywheel concept is: “Like spokes on a wheel, all five systems must be active or your wheel will go flat.”

Spoke 1: Big Days are a Big Deal

  • What are the three or four “big days” that occur every year – and are critical for the long term growth of your “golfer community?” (The first thought are holidays, or big golf events…but maybe not.)
  • At private clubs, the classic member-guest invite seems like an easy one, but I don’t think so. Very often, the same members play each year and they invite the same guest. While that says a lot about the experience and the memory of it, it doesn’t help grow the club community in terms of new/newer people in the member community.
  • Instead, would a “Spring Invite Field Day” style event work well? Possible keys to success should answer: 1) How do we inspire the “loyalist” to invite the “loyalist prospect?” 2) How do we ensure new people get invited to join as a prospect? [Let’s think differently about these questions, and keep our focus on the purpose of this “Big Day” example. (Hint: it’s to grow the community, so it should actually prove out that it works, right? If it works, an early summer version with a different format, maybe for couples would be a logical next big day option?)
  • One quote from Rich Birch really sticks out to me. He says, “We need to ensure that we’re crafting experiences on those big days that are set up to encourage invitation, especially to those who may have never attended (or been to the facility) before…”
  • And then Birch says, “(we need to)…get visitors from these Big Days to return for all the other days.” This takes an intentional plan for assimilating these “loyalist prospects” and converting them into loyalists and stakeholders.

Spoke 2: Series/Events Rollouts

  • Why not copy this concept and create “education series” for your loyalists and stakeholders? Maybe a “Ten Yard Challenge” month or similar to help your loyal golfers “hit more yards, and more fairways” in 2019? The purpose, though instruction based, is not to create instruction income, but to deepen engagement and grow revenues caused by increased activation. Think about it: if your average “recreational golf customer” were to hit their drives better (including more yards and fairways) they will 1) play more, 2) bring more friends and 3) spend more in every outlet of your facility. (Note: we have statistical data to prove these.)
  • Other ideas for “educational game improvement series” could be:
    • Wedg-U-Cation – take the title, then define what it could mean for you/your facility
    • Ten Putt Challenge
    • Par 18 Short Game
  • Ideally, the “education series” is not hyper-focused on one portion of your stakeholder community, but actually has application and value to all members of the community (no matter their skill level, experience, age or gender.)

Spoke 3: Social Media & Content

  • There are some really good takeaways in this “spoke.” The first one Birch mentions is Share behind-the-scenes content. Did you see Tiger’s recent Tour Championship win? If you’re like me, you got more emotionally connected to him as it unfolded. He showed emotion as to what the win at East Lake GC really meant, and so did so many others. I remember the ‘fist bump’ that Roger Maltbie gave him coming off the 18th That bump and that look was a great behind the scenes look into Tiger and Maltbie’s feelings in the moment. Maybe there are ways you can show the inner-side of yourself, your team and your facility when you’re experiencing your students’ successes, or taking part in local events, supporting charities. If the event has meaning for your audience, and for you too…don’t be shy about showing what it means to you.
  • Repurpose the existing content you have. An obvious one, from Spoke 2, if you have a developed set of education series, (with the why for each, the programming, etc. all figured out) you now have some really great content to share with your loyalists. (And guess what, they’ll likely reshare it on their digital platforms too.)
  • The Q&A Format (i.e. what 3 questions do you want answered via videos or blogs). When you plan to make a material change to the way you operate, in terms of policy, or activity, this is a great tool. Did you know a main reason for conflict in these kinds (our kinds) of communities is a “lack of context?” How many times have you been questioned, criticized or even felt accosted because one of your loyalists disagreed with the decision, the new policy or whatever? Hundreds no doubt. But, when you gave them the context, the purpose and the related information for why the change was made, they said, “Okay, I get it.” Why not save the headaches and provide the context upfront?
  • For new or newer customers, create and deliver “What to expect” content (for those who have never been to your facility before.) We can assume that a large majority of our customers visit our “online presence” before they physically set foot on our property. . We know that our course signage and related needs to be welcoming, provide the right info the new customers need (or we should know that,) but how many of us have a “here’s how to enjoy our facility” or “what you can expect when you arrive” videos or digital bullet lists on our sites. (The likely answer is none. Maybe this is a great way to provide positive differentiation?)

Spoke 4: Community Engagement

  • Over the last 15 years, we’ve seen an increasing trend that shows people are more likely to join a club, a community group or a church because the group they are considering makes a positive social difference in their community. I know that several facilities in our Section already do some of these things, (like host an annual “run for water fundraiser” (eg. the Global 6k for Water by World Vision.) Other facilities work with their local Parks & Rec to bring PGA Junior League to kids who wouldn’t normally have access to golf, (while using the PGA Reach funding available to greatly help underprivileged children and children of military families.) We could go on, just thinking about the number of charities we support through our events and through donated rounds that are central to successful raffles and auctions.
  • The question we must ask is: Are you letting your stakeholders, and those who might be interested in joining your “golf community” know about what you’re doing (and what they are supporting?) You might be…but what can you do to “take the earned credit” at a different level in 2019?
  • Birch says as an encouragement, “ Rather than pushing back on this trend and saying that your (golf community) isn’t involved in social justice issues, I want you to consider how you can encourage your community to work together for improvement and ultimately see that as a front door for people connecting with your broader (golf) community…”

Spoke 5: Internal Communication (Help Your Believers to “Don’t Stop Believing”)

  • Finally, we need to think differently about how talk to our “believers” who are currently strong and committed to our golf community. How can we get these people, the right message at the right time so that they’re able to tell their friends everything that’s happening at and within our golf community that will stimulate their interest to learn more and ultimately get them plugged into our golf community?
  • Now is a great time to think differently about new messages aimed at your core stakeholders. These messages can then be the new ways your stakeholders can start to more easily engage people on the fringe of your golf community. Try starting with just one message. A catchy, easily remembered message that your stakeholders can deliver with pride and enthusiasm. With it, they will be capable of drawing new “believers in your golf community” into the fold.

Like I suggested in my previous article – What if? What if you, your teammates and your core customers got together to consider how to improve in just one of these spokes? Just one. Choose the right one and you might just create enough momentum in the flywheel to take on another one. Once you have momentum, it will get easier for all five of the spokes.

This fall, or winter, if you’d like to get together with me to consider these questions (or lead a group “self-discovery” experience at your facility) let’s get together on how we can make it happen. As always, I am here to help you with your career and I hope you’ll give me the opportunity to partner with you on your career.

 

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Monte Koch, PGA Certified Professional/Player Development | Career Consultant
PGA Career Services | PGA of America
Serving PGA professionals, employers in the Pacific NW & Rocky Mountain PGA Sections
Email: Mkoch@pgahq.com Cell: 206/335-5260