Be a Pro
CEO, VPs and senior level management will all tell you one of the top spots to get business done is on the golf course. It's on the green that you can see the true colors of the man or woman standing next to you. Do they throw their five iron when things don't go their way? Or are they a pro, even when they are losing? With character revealed in such a way, it's no wonder that everyone from big budget corporate entities to smaller community businesses are hosting golf events to build business and their brand.
"The corporate world has been steady in working with larger golf budgets in recent time," said Gabe McGraw, director of golf, Gold Bond Inc., Hixson, Tenn. "The largest uptick comes from the distributors working with local companies that want to have their company around the community they work around," he explained. Tim Hanson, MAS, president, Ball Pro Promotional Group, Eden Prairie, Minn., explained further. "According to one of our golf ball manufacturers, corporate was up 6 percent in 2011," he said. "Golf tournaments are an excellent way to raise money, and we think businesses and nonprofits are catching on. Remember, do not focus on the participants to raise money. Think sponsorships."
If Not You Then Who?
Sometimes it's befuddling trying to figure out who to call to reach the decision maker. When swinging for that golf promotion, there are a few places to start. "Typically, you'll contact the marketing manager or VP of sales," said Hanson. "More importantly, you'll want to find out what their golf needs are—golf tournaments, stock items, employee incentives or for personal needs," he continued. But there are other invaluable resources as well. McGraw recommended calling local golf courses and getting a list of tournaments that the course did the previous year. "They will not give the contact info but it should get you started in the right direction," he said.
Fake It 'Til You Make It
"The golf world can be very intimidating for those who do not play golf, but this should not be a reason for passing up an opportunity to make money," noted McGraw. To help non-golfing distributors, Gold Bond Inc. created an "Ask the Golfer" question-and-answer page on its website. "This provides a direct link to me for the individual who has a quick question either pertaining to our golf products or a general golf question," McGraw explained.
Hanson concurred. "Be the expert. [Even] if you are not a golfer yourself you can still be very successful in this market," he said. "Ball Pro also hosts a variety of educational materials from webinars to case studies and tournament planners to help get distributors up to speed."
Expect the Expected
What's in store for 2012? The answer is simple: continued growth. Both sources noted an increase in sales for 2011. As far as the markets position for 2012, it has gotten off to a great start. "Activity is way up this year and [this activity] significantly affects sales. The amount of large-volume quotes we are already seeing before golf season really starts is very encouraging for the upcoming months," McGraw stated. Hanson mentioned an increase in accessories and kits, which offer a larger margin for distributors, an increase that is indicative of a strengthening market. "The future is bright, look forward to a successful market," Hanson said. "If you are not selling golf to your customers, start." "In years past, the week after the Masters tournament signifies the start of the golf season, but due to the amount of projects that we are working on I would easily say that the golf season has started," McGraw added.