Niche marketing is interesting..or at least it should be. However, in the Golf arena it could be more frustrating than profitable if you use traditional methods of marketing especially on the internet.
Usually the first thing that comes out of during my initial meeting with a new client is…
How do I get people to buy my golf service or product?
Naturally, this should be the first thing on a business person’s mind. However, in golf, unlike other markets, you are dealing with a consumer base that is squarely seated in reality and not like other markets where product buying frenzies are easy to started. Golfers are a more sophisticated breed of shopper and in this failed economy they are very selective in where they spend their money.
Oh, this is not to say golfers do not jump on the wagon to buying the latest and greatest piece of golf equipment because Tiger is using it. Fortunately, on the most part, many golfers look for quality first.
What takes time to get across to many business people marketing online a golf service, gadget, golf course or golf anything is getting them to realize not everyone out here is a Golfer. Compounding this problem is the large numbers of the people on the internet who say they are golfers are not. So, traditional internet marketing efforts for golf just will not work.
Golf on the internet is still a niche market…and for the most part it probably will remain a niche. Why? Well, it is obvious that golf cannot be played on the internet. Yes, you can play simulators and there is play-like golf that gets close to the golf experience but I have yet been able to take my mouse out on the teebox outside my backdoor and smash a 335yd drive with a slight draw that cuts the corner of the fairway. So, the real golf experience cannot translate to the unrealities of the internet. So, why attempt to use broadcast time billboard advertising to a niche market?
So How Do You Market to a Niche?
The first thing golf businesses have to realize is how golfers think and use the internet. Too many people with some very interesting golf products jump out on the internet using traditional internet marketing principles. This is where their frustrations starts. Golfers come online for different reasons but on the most part they come online to get away form the onslaught of advertising.
The internet for over 80% of the golfers is a place to do research on their golf interest. They come online to find validation to a products claim..does what someone pitched to them really work?..what are others saying about something?
So, using the old “Hey, Check this out’” method if internet marketing will never work in capturing a golfer’s attention.
The first thing a golf business has to do is evaluated the competition. Too many times what is being offered by a golf business that comes in red is already being offered by another golf business in blue, and other business offers it in green, with another serving the same market but their product is striped. They all do the same thing. What does the consumer do…checks out blogs, or does a search for a review to see if the striped model they like does better than the red, or the purple they heard was coming on the market next year.
Golf is probably one of the most saturated markets in any industry.
What many business people with golf products or service will do is take the bull by the horns and go out and hammer every golfer they find about their product…I call this the Russian Rolette method of marketing. In the traditional marketing world these is only a 1 in 5 chance of selling anything this way which makes using it in the golf niche more suicidal than profitable. Taking the time to hit hundreds or thousands of people who say they are golfers does two things.
First, 90% of the time whoever uses this method online of dropping comments or getting someone on the phone to pitch their product is labeled a Spammer. This usually result in a large number of the people they contacted to blog about the person which will amply the resistance to their marketing efforts.
Secondly, the remaining portion of the golf market has already now heard about the product from others and will avoid contact.
So, taking an aggressive method of marketing to a niche just will not work, especially in golf.
So the market narrows down even smaller for most golf products. So how do you break the mold and get attention to a new version of an old product or even something that is totally new to entire golf market? The only way to approach a niche market is more or less the best way to market anywhere online. Let people get to know the person running the business first. Studies show that over 86% of personal contacts a person has represent their customer base. This means, more people are buying from people they know or trust first before going out to buy from a stranger. This method of marketing is a growing and is forced on by the state of the economy.
Golfers want to see or feel not just the product but the person who is running the business. Why do so many people want to see or talk to Tiger Woods? Because they want to get as close as they can to knowing the person that they are interested in. The same goes with a golf product. Not only do they want to know more about a popular product but they want to know more about the person who is making it.
Need an Offline Anchor
Any product or service marketing to the golf niche has to have a larger offline connection than an online connection. This means that for whatever effort is put forward online there has to be an even larger presence offline to anchor the legitimacy of what is promoted online. To market to a niche online the business has to be part of a gathering where consumers can see and touch the product.
Digital electron methods of online marketing like video cast, and product reviews are part of the effective method of marketing to a niche. However, without their being an offline connection then the marketing online quickly becomes hollow to the golf consumer.
Currently, GOLF and its supporting industries are struggling. The golf consumer is in control of the survival of many golf businesses. What will have to take place in the industry before things turn around is there will have to be a broad scale pull back of treating the golf consumer as a number and instead getting to know the consumer personally. This may seem to be a daunting task, especially for those businesses who profit margins are based on large volume sales, but it will have to be done if the business is to survive.
Get to know your market by getting to know who it is in the market. In a Niche market this is the only way to successful. Let me know how I can help.