Emotional Marketing Tees Off

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Now, dont go all emotional on me.
 
Or maybe you should. Golf, as we know, is an emotional game. Anyone who has gone bogey-bogey-birdie to push a match into extra holes understands this. Even the little bit of redness in a drive on the hole after a three-putt green qualifies. And most of us have memories, those most emotional things, of excellent golf days with fathers, mothers, uncles, friends, etc.
 
DRIVE Marketing
DRIVE Marketing hopes this direct mail piece will fill tee sheets.
So it makes sense that advertisers and marketers would want to appeal to our emotional side.
 
Golfers have incredibly strong emotional connections to the game, says Tom Meyers, chief strategy officer for DRIVE Marketing, an Atlanta-area firm that is trying to use emotion to make golf marketing more effective.
 
These connections influence every purchase decision they make, from what kind of clubs they buy to where they play, Meyers says. Most golf courses are missing this emotional connection in their marketing. Theyre wasting a lot of advertising dollars.
 
Meyers has a point. Open the sports section of the newspaper in most cities, page to the back, and youll find a handful of three-inch ads, each touting a track with well-used nuggets such as championship course, challenging greens and available for your next golf event.
 
Sixty-seven hundred yards and bent greens are nice, but it doesnt really resonate with people, says Dave Nies, Meyers colleague at DRIVE. Most every golf course has a photo that looks nice that they can put in an ad. But so many of them look and feel the same. We can help them stand out.
 
DRIVE is driving a new nail with an old hammer: direct mail. By targeting golfers within a 30-mile radius of a course (surveys show that most people will drive no farther than that to play) with an effective direct mail piece, DRIVE hopes to help courses do a better job of filling tee sheets. And to be fair, that new nail has an even sharper point: personalization. Modern printing technology allows each recipients name to be featured in an arresting way within the direct mail presentation. For instance: the recipients name appears on a tournament leaderboard, strokes ahead of challengers, or on the bib of a tour caddie.
 
Remember the movie Minority Report, in which Tom Cruises character enters a mall and a holographic recording plays a personalized ad suggesting products he might like (based on a database of his buying behavior, of course)? DRIVE is proposing the same thing, only without the sinister Big Brother overtones. Meyers has been around the golf industry and with Russell Athletics; he and his partners have assembled what they call a robust database of golfers who live within that magic radius of many potential golf course clients. The personalization plus the database yields a more saturated (ad speak for likely to respond) target.
 
You can put an ad in a newspaper and get a lot of eyes on it, Meyers says, but not all of those people are golfers. With what were doing, you can be sure that every person who sees this thing is a golfer.
 
Hard to argue with that kind of saturation. But golf course operation, especially below the multi-course, corporate-owned level, has a reputation for a sizable population of stick-in-the-muds. Their avoidance rallying cry: cost. But at about 99 cents per piece plus postage, with the entire service provided by DRIVE, Meyers figures the cost is manageable, especially in light of the geographical spread data and the saturation of golfers in the target group.
 
This kind of marketing is not entirely new. For years, major brands such as Coca-Cola, Apple, General Motors and scores of others have downplayed product and worked up feeling and emotion as a way to motivate consumers. Beer ads are a perfect example. The emotion there is good times and humor; very few beer ads discuss product features and benefits anymore (light beer may be an exception). Bottom line is, emotional marketing can pump the bottom line.
 
The DRIVE program is in its early stages, but American Golf Corp., the largest course management company in the United States, is giving it a try. Geneva, Ill.; Sunbury, Ohio; Riverhead, N.Y. and Annandale, N.J. are test markets. And even though quite a bit of equipment marketing is already fairly emotional, Meyers sees potential there too.
 
Our product would be perfect for, say, a driver introduction, Meyers says.
 
Youll have to excuse me. Im getting a little bit emotional here.
 
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