BN Branding golf industry marketing case study (GNL Golf — Lady Lake, Florida)

Golf industry marketing and advertising (a case study)

Let me tell you a success story from the golf industry. Not a rags-to-riches thing, but a success story, nonetheless.

It began back in the golden age of golf, when Johnny Miller and Jack Nicklaus were battling with even older greats like Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead.

Back then, golf industry marketing and advertising was a much different proposition. It all revolved around the golf pro at the country club.

John S. Ford was a young, hippy prodigy who worked in the custom club department at MacGregor Golf. He made clubs for Nicklaus, Palmer, Snead and many other top-name pros, and made a name for himself in the golf industry.

Fast forward 35 years…

John Ford’s still making hand-crafted golf clubs, but for the average, retired golfer out of a shop in Central Florida that he called The Golf Institute.

When I met Ford he was running an inefficient, old-school operation.

No different than most golf industry marketing and advertising. He relied entirely on word-of-mouth, and he spent at least 45 minutes pitching every person who walked through the door. His closing rate wasn’t bad, but he also scared off a lot of people. It was not an efficient system.

He knew he needed a better system, so after interviewing a bunch of golf product marketing companies we went back to the drawing board. Together.

The first step was to discover the heart of his business. Show me your soul and I’ll show you your brand. It’s a proven process that appealed to Ford’s analytical nature.

While Ford studied marketing I studied his business. I witnessed the miraculous work he does with lousy golfers. I went through his process myself. I felt it all… Skepticism, curiosity, hope, and finally, my own ah-ha moment.

Then I wrote the book on Ford’s brand.

We narrowed his audience. We identified the key storytelling elements, the archetypes involved, and a pyramid of marketing messages.

It was a crossroads, both for Ford’s business and for his golfing customers. They could stay on the common path of frustration, or they could take a more direct route to lasting improvement.

Our insight proved that it’s not about club heads, shafts, or even Ford’s engineering prowess. It’s contentment after every round of golf. It’s hope, preparation the payoff of better play.

The name “Golf Institute” didn’t jive with the core brand concept, so step two became a quest for a new business name.

That’s where Ford and I disagreed.

“Golf at the Next Level” was not my first recommendation. Nor my second.

It ranked low on our “memorability” scale. And it didn’t have a nice ring to it.  (Also low on the audio quality scale.)

But it’s very literal, which he liked. And the tag line, “Up you go,” sealed the deal for him.

While our design team was working on the brand identity, I was showing Ford how he could transform his selling process from a time-sucking nightmare into a money making proposition.

“Why don’t you do classes,” I suggested. “Get 10 or 20 people at a time and have them pay you to hear the sales pitch. Wouldn’t that be a lot easier?”

That’s how the “See Putt Sink” putting workshop was born.

Ford wanted to keep the classes simple, so we came up with the minimum viable product… For just $29 Ford would change your perspective on putting forever.

That’s a value proposition that resonates.

We built a website that pushed prospects to the putting workshop and enabled them to sign-up and pay online.

Then we did direct mail and local newspaper advertising to push traffic to the website. Everything is integrated, with the same messaging and the same graphic style.

Anyone who contends that print advertising is dead should talk to John Ford. Every little ad that he runs in the local paper fills up weeks worth of workshops. The ROI is indisputable.

The biggest challenge with the advertising was the amount of information, and the process of elimination. Ford wants to say everything, in every ad. We prefer brevity.

He wants to explain. We want to entice.

Today, 93% of Ford’s revenues come directly from the workshops. His sales pipeline stays as full as he wants it to be, and he doesn’t have to spend time making individual sales pitches.

Not only that, his closing ratio has improved.

The people who attend his classes are more informed because they’ve been to his website. Their expectations are set, they ask better questions and they’re more primed to buy.

So in a nutshell, Ford has an efficient new sales pipeline that’s constantly full of well-qualified leads. They pay him to listen to his sales pitch, and he closes 80% of those who attend a class.

Wouldn’t you like to have that business model?

It’s easy, and it costs a lot less than you might think. In fact, the first meeting is free.
Just click here to schedule a call. 


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