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Get in the hole

Most sports organisations aren't run for profit. In fact, “not-for-loss” is often a more appropriate term for many New Zealand sports clubs, primarily because any surplus is usually channelled into maintenance or improvements. So can strategic marketing help make these clubs more profitable?

Associate professors Ron Garland and Roger Brooksbank from the Waikato Management School’s marketing department and Wayne Werder, chief executive at Sport Bay of Plenty, conducted a study to see whether golf clubs affiliated to national associations in New Zealand and Australia with more than 100 members and income exceeding $50,000 used strategic marketing as part of their long term strategy and whether it contributed to profitability and operational effectiveness.

They received 307 responses to the web-based survey and found that, overall, the answer is yes, but only for golf clubs in a reasonably sound financial position.

Despite this, the researchers say most golf clubs have a long way to go to develop comprehensive marketing strategies, with only 19 percent of the clubs surveyed placing much importance on situation analysis in their planning. “But 43 percent of the higher performing clubs [those that claimed to achieve most or all of their business objectives and outperform their competitors] reported such an emphasis. They went through the key stages in the strategic marketing process – strategic situation analysis, developed marketing objectives and marketing strategies, organisational activities and implemented strategic control.”

The majority of clubs surveyed acknowledged the importance of strategic planning and marketing, but that didn't mean it was present. “The clubs often have a mix of professional and volunteer workers and sometimes a tension exists between board and management,” says Dr Garland. “They don’t always see eye to eye on how things should be run.”

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