Cost > Benefits?
When you’re considering if you should continue participating in marketing program (exclude charity donations) that requires you to give them tee times for free, consider a few things:
- To whom is the program marketing? If their audience looks very similar to your core or ideal audience, it’s a red flag.
- If you sold those same tee times for 50% off and used the revenue on paid marketing, could you generate the same reach? Consider your time to manage the paid marketing, too.
- How big is the audience you’re being exposed to?
- What are you getting in exchange? Services? A marketing partner who understands your course needs?
- What is the life time value of a customer acquired through a free tee time program?
- What is the opportunity cost of giving away this inventory?
- What is the opportunity cost of not participating?
Who Really Wins?
As with any exchange, you’d want your free tee times trade to be balanced and fair or in your favor. When you analyze what you’re giving away versus what a marketing program is giving you in return, is it fair?
More often than not, we’re seeing free tee time programs heavily favored towards the marketer. They can combine multiple, free offers from courses then sell it for hundreds of dollars.
Who spends hundreds of dollars on golf deals? Your core audience. And they now have access to free tee times at multiple courses = less rounds at your course.
Who wins? The marketer, the golfer, but not your course.
“Exposure” marketing in exchange for free tee times can be a dangerous proposition where the costs far outweigh the benefits, especially when you consider the “who” of exposure and participation.
This isn’t to say that all exposure marketing is bad, but a true marketing partner will help with your courses’ needs, not just their own.
Examples of bad programs that we’ve seen
- A longstanding marketing program that sells out in a short time frame. No exposure to be had and your core audience is cannabalized.
- Only has courses in your area so all participants would be in your core audience
- Unrestricted tee time requirements. Free golf during peak hours?
In Conclusion: Be Careful
In our eyes, there are very few marketing programs in which we would participate for the purpose of exposure. The intent of the marketer and purchaser rarely align with your course’s needs.
Charity donations are one of the few good options. Large audiences, multiple opportunities for exposure throughout the year, and a grateful donations team who also books tournaments.
In fact, if you’re a savvy marketer, you would seek out charities to see when and where you could donate free rounds.