Monday, February 27, 2006

Of golf stores and bears

What a great day to be at a trade show! It was a rainy day, so you knew vendors were pumped.
The show was double the size of last year, with more golf course destinations filling in the auditorium. Booths from Georgia to the Dominican Republic, and everywhere in between. I filled out more sweepstakes forms than I care to admit, hey, a man can dream!

My friends from LMTT were there. They had the most traffic because they were giving away loads of logoed merchandise. I remember the day when a bag of ball markers is all they had to promote how times have changed!

The informal poll I conducted was about what I had expected: the majority I talked with try golf stuff out in the stores, then go online to find a better price for it.
Now I REALLY see why there is a push to custom-fitting vs off-the-rack clubs......customer retention.
From a retail standpoint, as a parallel, I guess that's why Build-a-Bears' are so successful, you pick out the bear carcass and customize it by stuffing it and, oh-by-the-way, dress it up in one of a million combinations of outer wear.
The Golfsmiths-of-the-world see customization as a way to keep customers in their stores, and at the same time build loyalty, all in-store. And-oh-by-the-way: If you want to shop's a 10%of coupon when you shop at They got it covered.

I see it very difficult for a small company trying to break into the golf market. My take is they will have to be satisfied with small market share, and eventually (if the product is excellent) grow from referral marketing, with eventual prize being that one of the brick-and-mortar folks giving you shelf-space.
One way referral (or viral, or buzz) marketing can gain ground is through us...yes, us bloggers! Talk about defining your market! I see specific-catagory blog sites as the first step in getting a new product to market. Obviously Google is way ahead of me on this with there adsense and adword campaigns to blog-writers. But you see my point.

At the show, I found two companies that fit into this category, and I want to see where they might go with it. Already, one of them has given me the product in the hopes of me loving it and spreading the word. His actual words to me were..."so you're media!....viral marketing....MAN!'re who I want to talk to!" That was pretty cool.

It's a fun time to be chased by wanna-be bears.

Thanks for reading, keep it in the short-grass.


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