A Hole-istic Approach
Event planning is a field well-suited for promotional product use, but for golf tournaments and events, this is especially so. Not only do you have all the sales opportunities of a regular event, like T-shirts for volunteers and staff, you also have a multitude of golf products available to bear your client’s logo. From clubs and balls to sunscreen and umbrellas, what follows below are a few tips and tricks to picking the right items* for each part of a golf promotion.
Though integral to the sport, using golf clubs in an event promotion can be tricky nonetheless. Variations in end-user height and play style can make giving everyone the “perfect” club difficult. There are, however, a few decisions you can make to work around these differences.
A route recommended by Judy Starling, customer service manager for Pro Golf Premiums, Burlington, Wis., is providing gift cards ahead of time, as opposed to a set selection of clubs. “The recipient at the event ... can go to a designated site, and then they have the ability to order right-hand or left hand, or if it’s a tall guy, get the longer shaft, or get the angle of wedge that they want,” she explained. Starling noted as well that not only do gift cards offer another opportunity to get your client’s logo in front of end-users, some gift-card vendors will offer favorable cash incentives to distributors, like charging $70 for a $100 card. “You’re making your money up-front, without having to deal with product,” said Starling.
If you decide against the gift card route, it’s best to chose items suitable for the widest selection of end-users possible. “Try to use products that don’t require specific lengths, flexes and lofts,” said Todd Field, corporate sales representative for Callaway Golf Company. “Putters are a good club to use for tournaments, as they are only offered in right or left hand and typically two lengths.”
An unfortunate fact of planning outdoor promotions is that sometimes it’s going to rain. Instead of letting a little precipitation wash away your event however, why not turn it toward your advantage and bring some umbrellas for backup? “We don’t want to think about a golf outing with rain, but when it does rain, you become an instant hero,” said Richard Meth, vice president of sales for Rainkist Umbrella, Edison, N.J.
Besides their large imprint areas making them, as Meth described, “walking billboards,” golf umbrellas have a high perceived value and are also one of the few items attached to a golf promotion that can see use outside the sport. “I think when you’re talking about golf umbrellas, it doesn’t always have to be for that golf event,” said Meth. “It could also be used or kept in your house for that rainy day.”
From ball markers and divot tools to golf towels and even water bottles, there is a host of small miscellany available for branding at golf tournaments. Such items can be sold separately, but it is also possible to bundle them together as a gift bag or kit.
John Ratliff, vice president of national accounts for Crown Products, Mobile, Ala., provided some advice on using this bundling tactic. He recommended knowing your customer’s budget, who the attendees are and the intention of the product in a quality versus quantity sense. “For example, do you need a Titleist name brand ball or will an import ball suffice?” he asked. “Obviously, if an import ball is included then maybe the budget can accommodate an additional item or two.” Ratliff explained that these choices can make a great difference in the cost and the perceived value of the kit, which is why its important to know the end purpose of the items. A kit intended to be a gift for every event participant should be structured differently than singular “award” packages, like something meant for a hole sponsor or winner of a “best shot” competition.
You would think that selecting golf balls would be a much more linear process than picking clubs, but this is not the case. “There are golf balls for maximizing distance, ones made to spin faster, some made to spin less, ones made to simulate a ‘soft feel’ and others are a combination of all components,” said Mark Hobbs, president and CEO of Pacific Coast Golf LLC, Los Angeles. He compared the process to selecting a car. There are good sports cars, good luxury sedans and good budget minivans for new families, so what works best for your client is really up to their needs and preferences. Hobbs explained that understanding these needs and preferences, as well as the different types of balls available, is critical to making sure that you’re serving your customers well.
“There are many solid golf ball models in existence today but finding out what the customer wants most or, better yet, understands the best, is key to ensuring that their expectations are met,” he said. Hobbs also emphasized the importance of defining the end-buyer’s budget and pairing the best quality ball to it. “Let’s remember that we are in the business to make a lasting impression and retain our customer’s business and trust,” he said. “Don’t be cheap unless their budget dictates it. And if one does go the lower budget route, ensure your customer understands the possible outcome of this decision.”
As a sport that requires substantial time to be spent outdoors in the absence of shade, usually in mid-spring or summer, the risk of sunburn while playing golf can be high. “In a case where you’re golfing 18 holes, there is no shading on the golf course, so it’s very easy to burn in areas where you’re exposed,” said Kathy Vichakchon, national sales manager for Leashables by OraLabs, Parker, Colo. She further stressed understanding the long duration of golf events when planning to incorporate sunscreen into an event.
“These events normally take three-four hours, depending on how big it is, and how many holes you’re playing,” she said. “Make sure that you select a product that gives enough for re-applying at least two or three times in the course of a day.” Vichakchon recommended providing at least a full ounce of sunscreen, and also mentioned that kitting similar personal-care items with the lotion, like SPF lip-balm or hand sanitizer, is also worth considering.