Getting on the Green
Golf is the sport of stuff. Big stuff, little stuff, expensive stuff, cheap stuff, shiny stuff, fuzzy stuff, flying stuff, stuff you push into the ground, electronic stuff, divoted stuff, even tiny hexagonal pencil stuff (which is maybe one of the rarest kinds of stuff there is).
While all this stuff has an inherent coolness on its own, if you happen to be in the business of selling stuff, cool and fun stuff even, then all this stuff has a whole extra meaning for you. Whether it's providing promotional gear to tournaments or corporate rewards for employees who enjoy a round or two, the sport with the most stuff can translate into a lot of stuff to sell. Read on for seven great tips on moving enough golf stuff to keep you earning the green stuff for a long time to come.
1. When First Selling Golf Items, Stick to the Basics
"Keep it simple," said Kyle Thacher, corporate sales program manager for St. Louis-based ProAm Golf. "Know your product, arm your customers with as much specific information as possible (pricing, options, specials), and keep your product mix to a minimum," he explained.
2. Avoid Pro Shops
"A lot of distributors try to go get golf course pro shop business," said Ken Kennedy, president of SportCover International, Oakville, Ontario, Canada. "Don't waste your time. I can't put it any other way," he said. Instead, he suggested targeting tournaments, which can be far more lucrative. "We do more volume on one tournament on one day than we would at a normal pro shop in a year," said Kennedy.
That said, Kennedy did mention an instance where working with pro shops can be profitable. "Go and knock on the pro shop's door, find out when the tournaments are coming up on courses and work out some kind of revenue split with the shop," he said. He explained that pro shops don't often bother with pursuing tournament business on their own, so it can be a great source of untapped business for them. For the distributor, Kennedy noted that besides the income, your partnership with the pro shop can be a great source of leads.
3. Brand Matters
Learn the brands that matter to your clients and the ones that are valued by the sport. "Brand recognition is an important aspect of the golf industry," said Thacher. "The name carries a sense of tradition and/or quality."
4. Fundraisers Are Your Friend
"We are seeing more and more fundraising groups get involved with golf," explained Thacher. "Club soccer teams, schools and churches are using golf as a one-stop, one-day fundraiser." He suggested starting the day off with a lunch, followed by a tournament with on-course games and raffles, then closing with an auction and dinner.
5. Beat Tight Budgets with Quality Over Quantity
"There's a big difference between being willing to spend $5 to get a nice gift versus spending $3 and getting something the person will never use again," said Kennedy. "We position it that way, saying we can't send the wrong message regardless of the economy, and that's resonated quite well with people," he explained. "So you may not give as many items, but the items that you give, try to give good quality ones."
6. Interactivity is a Plus
Like trade shows, concerts and other live events, marketing that requires end-user participation can prove very effective. As an example, Kennedy described a promotion where if tournament participants were seen using a specific club cover by spotters at the event, they could win a prize. "It's a great way from an advertiser's standpoint to ensure that its product gets used," he said.
7. Provide Gifts, Not Tools
"I've always believed the best sort of golf gift is something they would want, but not necessarily buy for themselves," said Kennedy. He elaborated, explaining that sometimes the best way to make an impression on an end-user is to provide an item that is not only practical, but perceived as a luxury. Kennedy stated that purely utilitarian products, like golf balls or tees, are too disposable and uninteresting to make much of an impact on end-users.