Delighted to share the following article “Dare To Be Different” by Marc Potter, CEO at P4M Golf
Last month I gave a presentation to the NGCOA in Denmark on a subject that I’m passionate about, a theme that is important to golf clubs and holds intrinsic value to the success of many facilities. It applies not only to golf but to a myriad of industries and can easily help shape their future. It was simply titled – Dare To Be Different.
Working in the golf industry for 20 years, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with some of the industry’s most powerful people, work at leading clubs and in general, done some really cool stuff. One of the most satisfying things I have accomplished has remained my desire to be unique. Not entirely unique where we are reinventing the game of golf within each project or each club, but different enough to realise what works at one facility does not necessarily guarantee success at the next. Understanding this difference is one of many keys to a bright future for a golf club, and a much better alternative than replicating the work of another. If you spend time copying what others do, you are always going to be behind.
Whilst plagiarism is frowned upon, it should not be confused with sharing. Involving others in your work and the circulation of knowledge is beneficial. It can help you grow, increase efficiency, keep you motivated and even help generate new ideas. Copying another club is a different story. It doesn’t benefit anyone. If club A introduces a new idea or concept that is successful, maybe Club B chooses to adopt it, modify it even, but that doesn’t mean club C, D, E and so on, should implement the same thing. Clubs need to differentiate; clubs needs to build something that signifies their golf course, their offering, their experience. Clubs need to be able to create their own ideas and have the passion for them. As is often quoted “You can never imitate your way to success”.
In your endeavour to be different, I have compiled 5 basic tips to consider.
1. Understand your business.
First and foremost, you need to understand who you are. Without this knowledge it is difficult to move in any direction, least of all forward. Clubs need to understand their market, existing customers, potential customers and of course which path they wish to follow. A vision is imperative. We are currently here and we wish to go to there. Without that vision, all the ideas and marketing money in the world is unlikely to help.
2. Embrace change and innovation
Change is everywhere around us. It happens all the time, in every industry. Golf clubs however, are often stuck in conventional thinking and take much longer to adapt. Golf has changed, it will continue to change, and there are many initiatives trying to make the game more popular. These do not need to apply to everyone, but recognize the golf customer has changed and you can no longer group all of them together as one. Change and innovation is one thing that will help you grow, change forces you outside your comfort zone and outside this area is where great things can happen.
3. Embrace technology
Highlighted above is the notion that many clubs become stuck in conventional thinking. This is true. But we live in the digital age and whilst I feel it unnecessary to deliver statistics on smart phone usage, and other technological advances it is somewhat necessary to highlight that as Millennials take over Baby Boomers as the largest population generation, and as Generation X is expected to overtake baby boomers in the not so distant future, it is these technology driven people are at the forefront of your business. What is your club doing for these generations? Are you prepared? Embracing technology is much more than posting on social media; it is about streamlining processes, using tools to understanding the needs of the customer and making their life easier and more enjoyable.
4. Look outside of golf
Changing traditions can be hard, sometimes unwelcomed; change in a very traditional game can be slow and often met with opposition whether it be Members, Boards or even staff. Greater innovation is required in golf and often the questions arise. Where do I find change? Where can I gather inspiration? One answer could be to look outside of golf. Study other industries and businesses; identify changes that have been successful, seek motivation from them, try something new and challenge yourself.
5. Customise and personalise the experience.
Golf is an experience, Membership is an experience and people want an experience to remember when they visit your facility. They want to cherish this experience, they want to tell their friends about it and they want to share and document it on social media. This experience is what keeps them coming back, time after time. The experience needs to be unique, memorable and requires emotional attachment. Don’t be afraid to customize the experience or have a membership of one. Golf has changed, people have changed and people’s needs and wants continue to transform. It is no longer possible to throw a blanket over your entire membership; their experience must be customized from how they play the game, all the way to, how you communicate with them. Millennials represent a generation that value experiences. Subsequently they are prepared to spend money and time on them. Your experience must WOW each and every one.
This list is by no means exhaustive; it exists purely as a place to begin for many clubs that are struggling to adapt. It is not rocket science, but these are important concepts that clubs and people quite often overlook. The game has its traditions, it always will, some may even come and go, but we are in an industry that is loved by millions, one that has the ability to offer an experience unlike many others.
The future of golf is not scary, it is opportunistic. Clubs and business adopting a specific strategy that centers on doing things different to the competition has a much greater chance to succeed than those whom remain stagnant. It is not necessarily about being better, it is about being different.
By Marc Potter – CEO at P4M Golf