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Guests attending the Marketing and Golf Seminar at the Beavercreek  Golf Club on Feb. 24 gained many new tools to help bring attention to their club or course.

Attendees were joined by a collection of panelists from the marketing, web technology, and social media world that told the crowed conference hall how to best use technology to add members and tee times.

Event facilitaor and Exectuvie Director of the MVGA, Steve Jurick, set the tone for the meeting by declaring that the golf industry, which usually moves very traditionally, needs to change the way it operates.

"We've got to stop looking from within, we've got to be open to all sorts of ideas," he said.

Speakers stressed that technology and social media are tools that can be used alongside traditional means of marketing, such as newspaper ads, direct mailings, and automated phone calls.

For example, the printed word is still a very valuable asset. Josh Mandich, of Cox Media Group, said newspapers are still a viable way to communicate a message, but if the paper isn't a good fit for your product, he would suggest other avenues of communication to you, such as online, radio, or TV advertising.

Other concerns raised at the conference involved the use of social networking Web sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Some in the crowd were worried the Web sites would consume too much time.

Nate Riggs, of Social Business Strategies, eased guests minds by saying that social media is something that shouldn't be done an hour a day, or two hours a day. Instead, it should be something you monitor five or six times a day for five minute intervals.

Panelists also stressed the importance of data collection and advocated online tee times as a way to collect information.

Speakers told guests, who came as far as Chicago to participate, to embrace Web sites as an extension of their business.

"You're pro shop may close at 8, but your Web site is open 24 hours," one panelist said. "If someone wants to book a tee time at two in the morning, give them that opportunity."

Scott Merchant, of Fore Reservations, said the the biggest advantage to collecting tee times online is that valuable marketing information, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses can easily be collected. He added that getting this data through an online connection is a whole lot easier and more efficient than doing it at the club pro shop counter.

Overall, guests left the event with several new marketing streams to explore. Taking chances and not being afraid to fail is something industry professionals need to do according to McRedmond Morelli, of Box "[When it comes to marketing] be wrong," he said. "but not for long. If you're not making. mistakes, you're not trying.
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