Despite a downturn in onsite visits, interest in the private club life remained high in 2020, and golf communities that invested in digital marketing prior to the pandemic saw a record number of sales opportunities. It makes sense: digital media consumption last year rose 25%, so communities that had a smart digital presence had an automatic leg up on the competition. (If you weren't one of those clubs, don't assume you've totally missed the boat: That 25% increase is expected to stay there for the foreseeable future.)
If 2020 taught us one thing, it’s how important technology is to help keep us connected. A huge dip in travel worldwide didn’t prevent us from discovering new destinations from the comfort of our own homes.
One private golf community that positioned itself for what 2020 dished out was The Pinehills, a charming New England development. I initially discovered this hidden gem when I was doing some online research. Right off the bat, it was clear that The Pinehills was in a league of its own when it came to providing the kind of online experience most prospects are seeking.
Here's what I loved most about the whole package – and why I think it's my favorite example of golf community brand storytelling of 2020.
The Pinehills website is fresh, simple, and compelling.
The first thing that caught my attention was that it didn’t look like the typical templated private community website. The site navigation was very user friendly and easy to understand. The messaging across the homepage evoked emotion, and a pop-up CTA quickly offered an easy way to keep in touch without having to fill out a lot of forms.
They use video to engage prospects with life inside the community.
I don’t know if I've seen a private community that does a better job of showing prospects what life is like there than The Pinehills. The range of videos on their website highlight the community, history, amenities, golf course, and members with pathos and panache. I was particularly smitten with the Founder’s Story, told firsthand by The Pinehills developer Tony Green.
Their blog educates, spotlights, and inspires.
Pinehills didn’t skip a beat in 2020 publishing content on a consistent basis. Topics ranged from real estate to lifestyle and community stories – each crafted with a caring tone and in a plainspoken voice. One of my favorites is a video blog of a local artist putting his skills to a new use during COVID.
The Pinehills' email marketing strikes a balance between "consistent" and "valuable."
Of course, traffic is one KPI, but The Pinehills blog also serves as the foundation for a well-crafted email marketing strategy. In fact, I became an email subscriber the minute I read my first blog post not just because I wanted to know more about the community, but because I had to know how they were going to incorporate their content into their nurturing.
I was delighted to find a variety of emails in their workflow, like “new home” and “just sold” listings, community outreach stories, video features, and simple tips for making the summer last, to name a few. I received 4-5 emails a month (fueled by HubSpot’s marketing automation platform), which was just the right cadence to help keep The Pinehills top-of-mind without grating.
One of my favorite emails was the last one they sent in 2020: a real estate recap featuring an up-close-and-personal video conversation with onsite realtors talking frankly about The Pinehills' year in review.
The Pinehills' commitment to making each of these pieces (and more) work together to create a seamless brand story is rare in the world of private golf community marketing. They spent the time, effort, and resources necessary to develop consistency, authenticity, and creativity across their digital presence, and it paid off. No wonder their home sales activities in 2020 were up 54% over 2019.
It’s the first week of the new year. If you don’t have a marketing plan in place yet, perhaps The Pinehills can be your inspiration.
Photo credit: The Pinehills.