I was over at the Business Golf Country Club recently enjoying the online discussion being held on Why There Are Not That Many Golfers Online and I came to realize after reading some of the data provided that golf maybe making the change, but Golfers may not be.
My friend Walt Goshert offered up some outstanding stats on how Golf is coming online. But now, here lies the problem…golfers do not know how to use the internet so they avoid it. Since Walt states his case so well, here is his full remarks for his side of the debate on Why There Are Not That Many Golfers Only.
Golfers not online?
That’s simply hard to believe and would seem to defy the research.
According to a 2009 report from Pew Research on Internet usage by Generation demographic, a majority of Older Boomers (62%, age 60-64… even, 57% ages 65-69) :
If we can believe the Pew Research information,the question isn’t are golfers online, it’s how are they using the Internet. Again, the Pew Research study leaves clues. It appears that the various age groups use the Internet differently to research and obtain information, shop, and engage in social networking.
Regarding golfers, or any target market a business pursues, the Internet is simply a media. It offers a way to reach and communicate with your target market.
(Others) comments illustrate the issue regarding golf and the Internet. Too many marketers regard "golf" and "golfers" as a target market. It’s often said, that the game of golf reflects the game of life. Golfers of all different sizes and shapes, young and old, man and woman, play golf and have an interest in golf for a variety of reasons. So, you gotta dig deeper into your chosen slice of the golf market and really understand why they play golf, what they want out of golf, and where they go to find golf information.
So, perhaps the question isn’t why aren’t business golfer online, but first, exactly who are business golfers, how do they obtain golf and golf-related information online, and what messages emotionally appeal to them. Yes, golfers seem to trust offline information, especially golf equipment and instruction, however,case in point, plenty of golfers do go online to research and book a golf vacation.
With the Internet, we have a new media outlet that’s constantly evolving, while other media such as radio, TV, print newspapers and magazines are relatively static in comparison. Why? No doubt the interactive nature of the Internet.
So what’s the answer?
1. Study the Pew information and relate it golfers in your chosen target segment.
2. Blend both offline and online communication and relationship building tools and media to get your target market of golfers to know, like, and trust you. You gotta have "know, like, and trust" before people will spend a dime with you, especially in today’s tighter economy where consumers are looking for value.
How do you blend your offline and offline marketing and client relationship- building efforts?
Here’s another clue… John Jantsch’s, of Duct Tape Marketing, recent thought-provoking post:
When Highly Networked Meets Highly Engaged
As John points out, those who strive to become the "Highly Preferred ‘Golf’ Business", will understand how to "Engage" their market offline, and efficiently and effectively build a "Network" online.
So, what does this mean in practical application?
1. If you "network" with a golfer online, let’s say a Facebook Friend, Blog commenters, Twitter Followers, you gotta figure out ways to "engage" them offline. In-person Golf Tweet Meet-Ups, find a reason to get their snail mail address and mail them a physical DVD or audio CD,or even a personal hand-written note or card, or clipping of a relevant golf article, talk to them on the phone etc.
2. If you "engage" them offline, you gotta give them a reason to join your online "network". To do this, focus on building the relationship and point them to information they can trust and help their golf experience, rather than luring them online and into your "network" to sell them something.
Scot, here’s where I agree with you. I think lots of golfers feel, or have felt, exploited online,(and to a large degree, offline as well…) so they tune out the Internet as a media source. Golfers as a catch all demographic, since they tend to be upper-middle, and upper income, have been bombarded with the latest and greatest equipment, game fixes, luxury golf vacations and home sites. It’s been a marketing feast, with little real effort made to develop the relationship.
Yep, I see signs that the tide is changing, but because of the golf industry’s "status quo" thinking, change is gonna be painful.
Case in point: Cleveland Golf’s recent Facebook and Twitter social media campaign online.
(Humm, went to Demo Day at my Club yesterday. The range was packed… at least a couple hundred avid, serious golfers… some guys came from over an hour drive away. Anywho… I hit a bunch of Cleveland drivers and wedges, asked the Cleveland rep a bunch of questions, expressed interest, but not yet ready to buy. You would think the guy would ask for my email address, get my contact information, make some kinda effort to put me into their online "network", especially since online Cleveland does have contests and discounts. As a matter of fact, not a one of the equipment guys or the Club, made ANY attempt to gather golfer contact info… no drawings, no giveways, no contests, not a one of the reps… Cleveland, Nike, Mizuno, TaylorMade, Callaway, Titelist, Adams… they were all there… None of them asked me or any other golfer for contact info during the three hours I was there. Paid $10 to attend and got a lame-ass $10 pro shop discount certificate. (Good for merchandise only…can not be applied to playing golf or driving range). All I heard was if you’re interested in buying these irons, this driver, this wedge… Chip, the Head Pro, can fit you and give you a discount today. Simply amazing!)
So, we see signs of the golf industry poking around the Internets…
But, by and large, it’s a non-integrated clumsy approach.
So we are seeing how Golf is trying to make a change but still struggling with getting their frontline forces,… sales reps, account managers, executives, and old school golf instructors…, to use the internet and other great technology, including the Business Golf Country Club.
Golfers are people also, and most people have to work, which in the economy today is a daunting task. This lends to a need for business to come first and golf second for the vast majority of the world’s golfers. It would seem that more golfers who are in business and more golf professionals would look to the internet as the biggest club in their bag. Maybe it is and they don’t know how to use it effectively.
Even so, the mystery is…
Why are there not more golfers online?
I’ll keep digging into this issue and if I get more information like Walt provided, I’ll let ya know.