A Little Help From My Friends?
In a week I’ll be going to the annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, the industry’s big trade extravaganza. I realize that this will be my 30th straight January excursion to this event, and I’ve seen lots of changes in that time. When I began going, it was a pretty small event, and the tone of the industry was one of very friendly competition. It was not uncommon to see top executives of major competitors having a friendly visit over a morning coffee, in the aisles or even at the nearby hotel cocktail lounges after closing each day.
Then, when the “golf boom” was fabricated in the 90s, the show blew out the walls of the Orange County Convention Center, exhibitors built these massive exhibit booths with 30’ high video walls, booming sound systems and floor plans of 2-3,000 square feet! Competition became nasty and unfriendly. But it didn’t take long for the reality to set in that golf really wasn’t “booming”, but rather enjoying simple, stable growth. So everyone came back to earth.
My 30 years in the golf equipment industry has also seen a huge shift in how the industry interacted with its consumers with regard to advertising. When I was Director of Marketing at Hogan in the mid-90s, our dollars were allocated to television golf broadcasts and about a half dozen major magazines. There was Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, Golf World, GolfWeek, PGA Magazine and a trade magazine called Golf Shop Operations, which is long since gone. The internet wasn’t even on the radar screen in media planning.
My how the world has changed. EIDOLON Golf has built a solid business foundation without ever reaching out beyond the confines of the world wide web. We communicate with golfers through this blog, various other blogs and online columnists who have reviewed our wedges and spread the word. But mostly because of the loyalty of our customers, who are more than willing to share their EIDOLON experience by emailing their friends, engaging into dialog on the hundreds of golf forums out there, and by word of mouth “endorsement” with the golfers they encounter on the golf course or driving ranges.
As we enter 2010, EIDOLON is planning for accelerated growth, so that these fine wedges will not be such a “secret” anymore. We’ll be expanding into retail stores and golf course pro shops, and we’ll be increasing our public relations and media outreach efforts. And that’s where I’d like for you guys to help us. We’re still a small company, with a marketing budget that wouldn’t cover the break room expense at a major golf brand.
So, where do you get your information about new golf products? How do you investigate the new market offerings and evaluate them for your own play? Do you participate in any forums or blogs? Where do you purchase most of your equipment?
For the first time since I started writing this blog over two years ago – 200+ articles – I’m asking for you to help me. I’d appreciate you chiming in with your input and insight as to where today’s serious golfer is going to gather information, and make decisions. Tell us your favorite golf news websites, magazines, etc. Share with us the golf forums and blogs you like to read. And tell us your preferred golf magazines and newsletters. Just click on the “Ask The Wedge Guy” link below and send me whatever you will share.
But I’m not asking this for free, of course. Every email I get with ideas as to how EIDOLON can successfully build an “underground” communications plan will be put into a separate file, from which I’ll draw one winner to get a FREE EIDOLON wedge of your choice.
So, please guys, help me out by sharing your insight into how you communicate in today’s golf equipment marketing environment.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
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Terry, I mostly get my information from the major golf publications (Golf, Golf Digest, Golf World, etc.). However, I also have a close friend who is a Titleist rep and I speak to him often about new gear. Also, my wife works at Golfsmith and I can glean a lot of information there as well. I am always in the "putzing" around.
Tim Horan says:
Since getting properly fitted through the TWGT (Wishon Golf) program, I have great difficulty in looking at "off the rack" equipment. I look more at components now especially shafts, grips and secondhand equipment that can be used to accept the aftermarket shafts that suit my swing profile. I have started reading (on-line) Dave Tutelman articles on club building. Some of the techie stuff sails loftily over my head but mostly I can identify something that I wish to follow. I then discuss this with my local TWGT agent and trial something over a few weeks.
Tim Horan says:
I would add that a lot of information that is necessary for an informed decision to be made is not available from manufacturers websites and they are rather reluctant to release the information to Joe public. All the more challenge to eek out a specification and find a real gem.
ABOUT 95% VIA THE INTERNET. OTHER 5% ARE A MIX OF conversations with golfers, pro shops, dicks sporting goods.
As a short (5'2") left handed female golfer of modest means I have very little opportunity to try golf clubs before I buy them, so I rely on other golfers' experience,especially as shared on the 'net. When I was looking at wedges I searched some of the forums (GolfWRX and the SandTrap come to mind) and after comments on Eidolon piqued my interest I did a Google search for Eidolon reviews,resulting in my being the happy owner of two Eidolon wedges.
In the information age, the Internet is indeed your friend.
Trevor Spring says:
I follow golfwrx a lot. if i'm thinking of tinkering with my clubs be it drivers woods, shafts, shoes, wedges etc. there is usually forums there where good knowlegable golfers share their opinions. Also just from general conversation with people i play golf with hot list is usually good for off the shelf stuff. Also the clubfitter at the golf shop wher i bring my stuff really knows his stuff.
FYI I play titleist vokey 48, 52, 56 and 60. I have played cleveland but u can't beat a vokey, not saying i wouldnt give yours a shot....hint nint, as far as i'm concerned vokey is as good as it gets its technique determines how well you do getting up and down knocking it stiff from 100 yards. Would you agree?
The internet, primarily. Aforementioned golfwrx.com and thesandtrap.com. Typing in "product name" review into google and pouring over the results. While I read the magazines I really can't trust a review staff member who depends on the golf manufacturer for their rent or gets payola'd w/free swag, especially with the way the magazine industry is right now.
I sometimes ask other golfers but that conversation gears towards the quality, build, and price of an item rather than it's playability (especially w/wedges and putters as it's more of a feel than anything).
I'm surprised more companies don't make youtube videos. Other than being cheap, completely free advertisements they can easily explain and show-off new technology.
GolfWRX, The sand trap, Golf digest, Golf, and golfreview.com are usually my sources for new equipment or reviews.
Two things: Millennials and Social Networking. Move over boomers, make way traditional advertising. oobgolf is a good example of each. The Da Vinci Code was delivered free to 10,000 carefully selected influencers with online "connectivity" before it went on sale. It went viral via facebook, bookclub sites and other online communities and the result was monster sales. That was a few years ago, before social sites were as well-established as they are now. Accdg to a benchmark 2006 study, socially networked consumers were 3-5 times more likely to choose a product endorsed by a co-member of an interest community than *a baseline target group "hand-chosen" by the best practices of the firms marketing team* That's huge. I think I'm preachin to the choir here - you see these trends and that's partly why you have hammered out those 200+ articles. (Glad you did - keep 'em comin!)
www.4gea.com Golf Equipment Aficionados
Get on the Golfdigest hot list. Not sure what the process is for submissions but they claim it is unbiased, independent review of 32 players, teachers, golf retailers and scientists which sounds good enough for me.
Look at a company like Scratch Golf. They started making wedges in a garage 5 years ago, they made a good product with lots of customization (sounding familiar?), word spread among good players, and now they are on they have a Golf Digest Hot List Gold Medal in the wedge category.
Terry,mostly research purchases via the internet. This often leads to various forums like those found on OOBgolf, WRX etc. where lots of comments/reviews can be found.
When I first found your wedges it was through a club fitter nad he had only great things to say about them)that I use. While I have not yet purchased an Eidolon wedge(mine were/are still in good condition)I did plenty of "net" searching for reviews & they were all positive and I am sure my next wedge will be an Eidolon. Even though I did not make a purchase the positive "web" comments made me recommend that your wedge brand to several local players that were looking to upgrade their wedges.
Golf Digest is the only true golf publication I read.
Golf, Golf Digest, SandTrap, GolfWRX on line sites and forums for equipment information, ratings, and testing. Here in Canada a company called Golftown is building large brick and mortar stores and essentially carrying "everything", and putting a lot of pressure on pro shops, independent dealers and other smaller retailer chains. We do not have retail Golfsmith, or Dicks or similar large sporting goods retailers that carry lots of the better golf equipment. If you are thinking of Canada as a market, I would look at trying to get into the Golftown chain.
I agree with Nick... I like to see product demos and use Youtube heavily. I also depend on TheGolfChannel.com and use Google to find specific information about clubs. I prefer reviews by professionals who use more scientific methods of testing than the amateur forums that seem to be more opinionated.
GolfWRX.com, Golf.com's "Shop Blog".
I agree with the fellow posters about GolfWRX. Is a great one stop site for any golf related questions. Seems like a great place to get the name out, as many are "materialistic" golfers and know more about clubs than the standard golfer.
I mostly use the 'net forums and articles for "further" information. I decided on an Eidelon 56* SW because of comments on the Rankmark.com site. I'm VERY happy I did and as soon as I can, there will be more Eidelon equipment in the bag. :) I usually learn of new equipment from the major publications, and store sites.
4GEA.com is where I get most of my info on new clubs, etc.
I like seeing how one club performs against others. If you put up on your website some numbers from a launch monitor showing how Eidolon wedges have a higher spin rate than "other leading brands", I'm sold. I also found the wedge shootout on the Hackers Paradise very helpful. I believe Eidolon did pretty well in that shootout.
I read Golf and Golf Digest, but put more stock in golf websites like The Hacker's Paradise, the Sand Trap and the Deep Rough. The forums are a great way to get answers to specific questions one might have about a product.
I receive catalogs and emails from websites such as TheGolf Warehouse and GolfGalaxy. I also speak with friends and family who look on various other websites to get their information.
Golf as you know is a game of feel. At the end of the day I have to try the club out before I am going to part with my money. Demo days are nice especially if you have done the research and narrowed down your choices to just a couple of different clubs. The most ideal situation is having a golf pro or friend who will allow you to demo the club in action on the course.
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