Our partnership with one of Scotland's top inland courses has proved the importance and value of embracing digital marketing.

Crieff Golf Club was founded 1891 and is located in the beautiful Perthshire countryside, just thirty minutes from Perth and an hour from Edinburgh and Glasgow. The club boasts a wide range of golfing facilities, including the 18-hole Ferntower course, the 9-hole Dornoch course, as well as practice areas and putting greens. It offers a wide variety of membership packages and at the time of writing had over 800 members.

Caddie Marketing has been fortunate to work with this established and respected club since 2017. We have successfully helped the club promote membership offers, Society Day packages and green fee deals using digital marketing. 

We recently sat down with Anna Mclean, General Manager, to talk about her experience of working with Caddie Marketing.

Anna McLean
General Manager, Crieff Golf Club

Could you describe the general opportunities and challenges the club has in attracting golfers?

“As with all golf clubs we have a number of opportunities and challenges when it comes to attracting new golfers. Crieff Golf Club is located in a very competitive area for golf and we are surrounded by a number of other fantastic courses. I personally want to see every club do well, and I would hate to think there are any clubs that are struggling. That being said, every club needs new members, and we therefore need to make sure we stand out from local competitors. We are also seeing an opportunity to attract golfers from other local areas as golf clubs fill up there.

Of course, recently we have all been affected by the COVID crisis, which presented the club and its members with many challenges. It has, however, provided an opportunity to attract new members due to the restrictions on other outdoor activities. Caddie Marketing worked with us to develop targeted Facebook Ad campaigns, and we were able to reach out directly to these people. Thanks to this, we have had a tremendous increase in our membership numbers, and I am still receiving new enquiries daily. (On the day we spoke to Anna, she had nine potential new members coming to visit the club). 

Crieff Golf Club ad results from May-Nov 2020

We have launched a new Flexible Membership category, and Caddie Marketing was able to target those ads at a very particular demographic. This campaign was extremely successful with over 40 sign-ups, one of our most popular ever. A number of Flex members have already upgraded to Full Membership too so it is proving to be a genuine pathway towards people joining the club as full members.

This year alone, our digital marketing campaigns have attracted over 100 new members, including a welcome increase in the number of new members who are aged 25-29, an area of great need within our membership.

The challenge for the club going forward is to retain these new members, and we are currently working with Caddie about how best to focus our internal marketing alongside our external campaigns.

Due to Covid, we also lost out on a lot of visitor and Society Day bookings, which is usually a huge source of revenue for us. Again, thanks to a 2021 Society Day ad campaign, Caddie Marketing have helped us to secure a number of Society bookings already for next year, which is very comforting.

An increase in our Junior Membership has also been a particular highlight this year. When I started working for Crieff, we were losing junior members. Over the past few years, we have seen a significant increase in juniors joining the club. It’s a notoriously difficult demographic to attract, but Caddie Marketing have helped us reach out to parents and families with ad campaigns, and we are enjoying an increase in this particular category, which is terrific.”

Previous to working with Caddie Marketing, what was the marketing strategy for the club?

“Before I arrived, the marketing strategy was solely focused on print media. I knew from my previous experience that print media lacked the ability to target audiences and didn’t offer a clear ROI. I also knew that digital marketing was a much more effective option for promoting the club. It not only gave me the ability to target my audience, it also required a smaller amount of spend. I started running my own digital marketing campaigns but wasn’t seeing the returns I had expected.

Digital ad spend vs advertising in a well-known golf magazine

Not only does digital marketing require a very particular mix of experience and technical know-how to manage it effectively, but also my role as general manager didn’t allow me to dedicate the time necessary for it to be successful. Working with Caddie Marketing has really taken the pressure off me and has provided us with real, tangible results. It’s really comforting to know I have a team of experienced and helpful professionals on hand.

Going forward the club’s marketing strategy will be 100% digital and we will be continuing to work with Caddie Marketing to promote our Membership, Society Days and visitor offers. We had also previously relied on another provider to promote our Open Events, but can now see that Caddie Marketing will provide far better results for a lesser spend.”

What attracted you to working with Caddie Marketing?

“I was approached by Caddie Marketing through LinkedIn. It was around the same time I was starting to realise I needed help to run the digital marketing campaigns in order for them to be as successful as I knew they could be. As General Manager, I am used to receiving a tiresome amount of sales calls. However, I liked the open and honest conversation I had with David, and I really liked the ethos of the company.

I also liked the fact that Caddie Marketing were looking to develop an ongoing relationship with myself and the club. After a couple of discussions, I realised there was an opportunity to work together effectively. They started running targeted Facebook Ads and the returns I had previously hoped for came through very quickly, and continue to do so.”

Were there any challenges or opposition to bringing Caddie Marketing on board?

“The only real challenge was changing the mindset within the club away from relying on print media to using digital marketing. Thankfully Caddie Marketing has provided results that make any such conversation very easy: we have clear facts and figures on the ROI for the club and the increase in new members and bookings. This has been so successful that key decision makers within the club, who used to rely on print media, are now requesting that we use Caddie Marketing to promote future events and packages.”

What benefits have you seen as a General Manager from working with Caddie Marketing?

“Working with Caddie Marketing has allowed me to focus on simply converting the leads – which is a very effective use of my limited time. It feels as if we are a cohesive group working towards the same outcome.

The team clearly have extensive knowledge of digital marketing but for me the relationship is about much more than that. Within the team there is an excellent understanding of the role of a general manager and the challenges faced by the golf industry as a whole. 

Not having a background in golf like other general managers, I am able to use them as a support mechanism and a sounding board. I am only able to do this due to the relationship we have developed and really appreciate the conversations we have together. In what can be quite a lonely role, working with a company that is not only extremely good at what they do, but also willing to listen to my questions and concerns is invaluable. I look forward to working with them for many years to come.”

What would be your advice for any general managers considering using digital marketing or working with Caddie Marketing?

“Absolutely, 100%, it is the way to go. You would have to have a lot of extra time in your working week to be able to sit and do it. I am under a lot of time pressure.  Even if I had the time, I wouldn’t have the expertise to get these outstanding results. I can access my own Caddie Dashboard and can see how much I’ve spent, how many golfers we reached and which offers are working best. I can quickly see how many leads each campaign has got, and I can easily access that list of  interested leads, saving me loads of time.

I know there are some general managers who have fears about using social media to market their clubs as they have had negative experiences using Facebook as a communication tool. Others will understand the value of Facebook but won’t realise the amount of time required to use it effectively.

This is why I believe working with Caddie Marketing has been invaluable. They are able to invest the necessary time to ensure your promotions are a success. They also work with you to help you to better understand digital marketing and the benefits it can have for your club. I would be more than happy to recommend Caddie Marketing to anyone.”

Especially nowadays when people are doing so much more online. Everything is more instant. They want a tee time now. Boards want to see the figures now. I don’t think you could do that yourself.”

If you are a general manager of a golf club and interested in learning more about how we can work with you, we would love to speak to you. 

At Caddie Marketing, not only are we experts in digital marketing, we also have a deep understanding of the golf industry and the challenges it faces. We have brought these two sectors together seamlessly to provide excellent results for our clients.