Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

Marketing Your Operation

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Jay Conrad Levinson has built a multi-million dollar publishing franchise with his Guerrilla Marketing line of books.  A brief survey of finds the following titles:

Guerrilla Marketing Handbook

Guerrilla Marketing:  Secrets for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business

Guerrilla Marketing for Free:  Dozens of No-Cost Tactics to Promote Your Business and Energize Your Profits

Guerrilla Publicity:  Hundreds of Sure-Fire Tactics to Get Maximum Sales for Minimum Dollars

Guerrilla Marketing Handbook

Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days Workbook

Guerrilla Retailing

Guerrilla Marketing for the Home-Based Business

Guerrilla Marketing Excellence:  The 50 Golden Rules for Small-Business Success

Guerrilla Marketing:  Put Your Advertising on Steroids

He has a number of other titles for any conceivable enterprise or need and obviously has found a real hunger for marketing tips in the marketplace.

Having read several of his books, I would strongly recommend them to any business leader regardless of industry or profession.  Though not all ideas will apply to your particular situation, there are enough good tips to get your creative juices flowing no matter what your need.

While many of us in the club business think that marketing is the exclusive province of our membership directors, this is clearly not the case.  We all market ourselves and our ideas on a daily basis, often to our internal customers – our members.  Just think of the Activity Director, Golf Pro, or F&B Manager who is planning a fun event.  What is the best way to get the word out and ensure a good turnout?  We all use the member newsletter, flyers, posters, and word of mouth, but Levinson’s books will give you some great “outside-the-box” ideas.

While reading Guerrilla Marketing Excellence:  The 50 Golden Rules for Small-Business Success, I came across a chapter entitled:  Proving You Care.  The rule is:  More companies will fail than succeed in business, and the ones that succeed will be the ones that prove they care.

“You can say all the fancy phrases, spice up your offer with the proper words, and pepper your mission statement with statements of customer love, but your dedication to service does not come to life until you prove to your customers – and your prospects that you really do care about them.

To quote Levinson, “You can use some or all of these 20 ways guerrillas prove to their customers and prospects that they sincerely care:

  1. Have a written document outlining the principles of your customer service.  This should come from the president.
  2. Develop support systems that give clear instructions for gaining and maintaining service superiority.
  3.  Develop a precise measurement of superb customer service, and reward employees who practice it consistently.
  4. Be certain that your passion for customer service runs rampant throughout the company, not just at the top.
  5. Do all you must to instill in employees who meet your customers a truly deep appreciation of the value of service.
  6. Be genuinely committed to provided more customer service excellence than anyone else in your industry.
  7. Be sure that everyone who deals with customers pays very close attention to the customer.  Customers should feel this.
  8. Ask questions of the customers, then listen carefully to the answers.  Ask customers to expand upon their answers.
  9. Stay in touch with you customers:  by letter, postcard, newsletter, telephone, trade shows, and questionnaires.
  10. Nurture a human bond as well as a business bond with your customers.  Do favors for them.  Educate them.  Give gifts.  Play favorites.  Take them to a ballgame or the opera.  Your customers deserve to be treated this special way.  If you won’t do it, someone else will.
  11. Recognize that customers have needs and expectations.  You’ve got to meet the first and exceed the second.
  12. Understand why huge corporations such as #M define service quality as “conformance to customer requirements.”
  13. Keep alert for trends, then react to them.  McDonald’s operates under the axiom “We lead the industry by following our customers.”
  14. Share information with people on the front line.  Disney workers meet regularly to talk about improving service.
  15. Because customers are humans, observe birthdays and anniversaries.  Constant communication should be your goal.
  16. Consider holding mixers so that customers can get to know your people better and vice versa.  Bonds form.
  17. Invest in phone equipment that makes your business sound friendly, easy to do business with, and professional.
  18. Design your physical layout for efficiency, clarity of signage, lighting, handicap accessibility, and simplicity.
  19. Act on the knowledge that what customers value most are attention, dependability, promptness, and competence.
  20. When it comes to customer service, Nordstrom department stores may be doing the best job in America, though Disney is giving them a run for their money.  The Nordstrom service manual is eloquent in its simplicity:  “Use your good judgment in all situations.  There will be no additional rules.”

Levinson gives other important tips:

  • “Proving you care is paying attention to the details.  There are a slew of them . . .”
  • “Think in terms of educating your customers . . . “
  • “When things go wrong, prove you care by seeing to it that the customer comes out on top . . .”
  • “. . . smart companies prove their mettle in the way they treat complaining customers.  They solve the problem first and deal with the red tape later.  They also know that complaining customers can be assets to guerrilla companies . . . [they] pay close attention to complaints.”
  • “Be sure to apologize when something goes wrong . . . apologies don’t cost you anything.”

Reading this chapter puts me strongly in mind of two important things:

  • Hospitality Resources International’s Operating Standard that we recognize the ultimate value of people in everything we do.
  • The Golden Rule.

Following these two guides in the service business just about covers it all and are clearly essential components of successful marketing!

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!


Guest Blog: Shoestring Marketing — Cultivate Your Club’s Natural Resources

Monday, August 8th, 2011

The upside of working with little or no marketing budget is that it forces you to get creative.  Brainstorming is a great way to find an unusual solution, but don’t overlook your most obvious, readily available resource – your members and staff.  By nurturing relationships with these people they will, in essence, become your most effective marketing tools.  Their efforts will help differentiate your club in the marketplace, generate a buzz in the community, and help you build/retain value through Club pride in action.  These seemingly simple, and often inexpensive, options include and result in:

  • A culture of pride based on consistency and quality – in facilities, food/beverage, amenities and staff,
  • An environment which empowers staff to take ownership of their respective roles and rewards them in doing so, and
  • Informed and engaged members and staff who help spread the word.

These and other means are in your arsenal of natural resources awaiting your cultivation and utilization.

El Macero CC’s GM, Steven Backman CCM, says it best, “Hire for attitude; you can train almost anything else.”  Since starting from scratch isn’t usually an option, implement a Good Attitude=Good Hire policy, effective immediately.  In doing so, you and your fellow managers will strive to add only enthusiastic individuals to the team.  Among existing staff, look for and focus on positive actions, acknowledge successes and reward desired behaviors.  Provide a training program to insure consistent quality in every aspect of your club.  Empower staff to take ownership of what they do: “See it, Own it, Solve it, Do it” (read more:  The Oz Principle).  Engage and inform with timely information, and empower them by asking for help in building awareness of programs, services and events.   The results of implementing these practices may surprise you in the number of issues resolved quickly and inexpensively, increased pride among staff in having resolved issues on their own and increased satisfaction in working at your club through being empowered and trusted to problem-solve.    With your team of enthusiastic staff in place – providing consistent, quality service, promoting club pride and events – it is time to identify and engage your member partners.

The hospitality industry is all about relationships, and, while the importance of quality relationships with your staff is obvious, the quality of those you have built with your members is equally important.  Members feel pride in their club through consistent, quality service and facilities, as well as through a sense of belonging via their friendships with other members.  Looking to your entire membership, identify the most active and involved members, your “club evangelists.”   Invite them to get involved in sharing the Club’s message and provide them with timely, accurate information.  Encourage them to talk outside Club walls (even on social media like Twitter, if you dare!) about the last outstanding meal they had at the Club, or membership opportunities, keeping in mind that a message shared peer-to-peer far outweighs one from a traditional marketing method.  By doing so, you/they will have started the most effective marketing program available:  word of mouth.  Building and maintaining relationships requires consistent effort, working through your staff and members increases your marketing power exponentially.  Engaging and empowering these same folks, and recognizing efforts along the way, gives everyone a stronger sense of pride and ownership in their club or what they do at the club, and where they belong or work.

Hiring happy people and properly training them, nurturing relationships with your staff and members to build a strong network of club supporters, and harnessing the enthusiasm and energy that both groups bring will help market your membership opportunities, and your club, better than you ever could alone.  These efforts help you save precious marketing dollars for other programs and bolster feelings of ownership and pride among members and staff in their club.  While gauging marketing ROI is much more difficult when compared to tracking a response rate from an invitation to preview your club, having prospective members see the culture and pride IN ACTION does more to entice a prospect than any artificial meet-and-greet style event.  By conveying a feeling of pride in your club, an inside secret has, in effect, been shared which says, “Join XYZ Club, and you, too, can enjoy this exclusive experience!”

Now, ask yourself: What are you doing to harness your natural resources in your membership marketing efforts, and what is your club doing to share its “inside secret”?

jill-melbye3About the Author: Jill R. Melbye is a Principal and Certified Marketing Professional with MAI Business Services. She has worked within the private club industry for 15 years and conducts seminars and provides marketing support to the hospitality industry. She is also the publisher and author of “Membership & Marketing: From A to Z”, MAI’s quarterly eNewsletter. For more information, please contact Jill at, or visit the website Follow her on twitter!

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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21 Ways to Boost Your Golf Business

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Here are twenty-one ways to boost rounds at daily fee and semi-private golf courses.

  1. Increase benefits of memberships to drive # of memberships.  Increasing membership benefits may make them more attractive, causing more players to join.
  2. Target area businesses for an Employee Appreciation Day outing.  Prepare a letter and send to local companies proposing an outing.  Package the golf, prizes, and F&B to make it easy for companies to say “yes.”
  3. Target area business for a Company Golf Team League.  Each team would require 4 players.  Prepare a letter to local businesses explaining the league, format of competition, dates to play, package cost to sponsor a team.  Also, use display ads to market leagues.
  4. Interclub League play in various categories (seniors, men, women, and youths).  Sound out membership for players to play in matches against other clubs and golf courses.  Coordinate league play with other clubs and golf courses.  Establish pricing, prizes, and schedule of play.
  5. Work with competitors and local hotel to put together and co-op out-of-towner golf package – 3 days, 2 nights of golf.  Price package, coordinate with other courses and hotel.  Market during winter months in selected NE or Midwest golf markets to try to improve winter play.
  6. Beginners’ Golf Package – “Learn to Play in Six Easy Weeks” – Lessons, rounds, club fitting and sale, pairings with other beginners.  Set up package, market through web site and display ads.  An excellent promotion for spring; also works for youth golf during summer months.
  7. Free swing evaluation – with written evaluation from the pro.  Establish standardized form to use to identify the problems of a golfer’s swing and how to correct.  Focus on stance, grip, swing mechanics, exercises to address each noted problem.
  8. Go after County and City employees.  Special discount with ID card.  Establish a County and City golf team; include them in Company Golf Team League.  Or, simply set up a weekly time for such employees to play at a discount; could be a 9-hole round after work during summer month.
  9. Through benchmarking determine all times when the course is most empty and available for play.  These times should be discounted and marketed for price sensitive players.
  10. Package reasonably priced mini-outings limited to a dozen or so players. Market these for traditionally slow days.  Make the package all-inclusive with golf and cart fees, box lunches, beverages, and prizes.
  11. Build a mailing list of non-profits (churches and service organizations), businesses, core golfers, veterans, etc.  Start with phone book and query current membership.  Ensure that you are familiar enough with MS-Word Mail Merge and Mailing List functions to quickly produce and send flyers, letters, and other marketing material to selected mailing lists.
  12. Offer and advertise incentives to current members to bring in new members.  This should be part of our internal marketing effort to your membership.  Devise incentives and market them.
  13. Always collect email addresses of players and build a database of members and players to broadcast email announcements – “We still have Tee-times available this weekend.  The weather is forecasted to be great and we have a fun format event for Sunday afternoon.  Give us a call.” This type of last-minute marketing is used to fill empty tee times.  It can also be used during cooler or inclement weather to attract golfers at a discounted rate.
  14. Establish Competitive Flight Ladders.  Highly competitive golfers play to try to climb the ladder for bragging rights and a trophy.  Construct the ladder and prominently display it in the pro shop.  Results of all matches should be publicized in a newsletter, email blasts, and in the pro shop.
  15. Classify current golfers as “competitive” vs. “recreational” and design specific events for each.
  16. Use giveaways (inexpensive logoed items) for all first time visitors to course.
  17. Consider giving away rounds to try to build volume.  Free green fee, pay only cart fee.  This approach can be used at slow times of year, week, and days.  Establish guidelines, goals, and benchmarks to measure benefit.
  18. Build an annual calendar of events – “12-months of golf traditions” – one specially formatted tournament each month.  Most golfers use stroke play most of the time.  There are many other “fun” formats to be used.  Develop and schedule such “tournaments” for each month and market through emails, newsletter, web site, and display ads.  Visit for ideas.
  19. Offer “Weekend Golf” for a weekday price at certain times of the year.  Using past benchmarks, identify the times of year to offer this; market through emails, newsletter, web site, and display ads.
  20. Market to area hotels for “golf specials for their guests.”  Develop a list of local hotels and motels and establish a relationship with their management to allow their guests to play at a discounted rate and free rental clubs.
  21. Find a stay at home parent or someone looking for part time employment with clerical skills to execute marketing efforts such as direct mail.  Given the administrative burden on the Head and Assistant Pro, it may make sense to hire and develop someone who can quickly react to opportunities and execute a predetermined marketing effort – web site, emails, flyers, mailers, and display ads.

The two most important aspects of marketing excess capacity and open times on your course are to build an email database of players and to recognize your course’s use patterns through continual benchmarking.  The email list will become your most prized possession and can be used to notify players of events and periods of discounted play.  But to take advantage of the timeliness of open tee times, you must have a variety of promotional programs and messages ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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