Two of my passions are golf and marketing. While golf fans around the world (myself included) will be following the upcoming Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes, I recently noticed some very innovative marketing launched by the LPGA, the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
At their recent Wegmans LPGA Championship, the LPGA tour embraced social media in a unique way. They re-designed the caddie bibs to feature the Twitter handles of its golfers who have a Twitter account.
The LPGA’s marketing tagline is “See Why It’s Different Out Here,” and this creative Twitter promotion certainly embraces that spirit of innovation. Taking advantage of unused “marketing real estate” on the caddie bibs is a great way to enable LPGA Tour players to build their followers and fan bases.
No other golf tour has done this, and I think the LPGA will score a marketing hole-in-one with this idea. Here’s why:
The LPGA has 119 Tour players on Twitter. One of the biggest challenges it has is competing for the golf fan’s attention against the PGA Tour, the Champions Tour, the European Tour and even the web.com Tour. With limited TV broadcast opportunities and general media coverage, the LPGA Tour has to find ways to build stronger and more direct relationships with its fans. Social media platforms provide the perfect channel.
The LPGA Tour has over 1.2 million fans connected to its players and tournaments through its various social media platforms. Natalie Gulbis has over 116,000 Twitter followers, Paula Creamer (who SAP sponsors as one of our Golf Ambassadors) has over 90,000 followers and Michelle Wie has over 82,000.
When on the course, golfers are often faced with a “high risk, high-reward” shot. Taking advantage of the caddie bibs to build the social communities of all golfers is a low-risk and high-reward proposition…and it is low-cost as well.
This is also good from a competitive sense. While LPGA golfers obviously want to win tournaments, perform well on tour and be among the leaders in earnings, this social media promotion provides LPGA golfers with some off-the-course competition. It will motivate all the golfers to get to the top of the “Twitter Follower Leaderboard.”
Jon Podnay, Marketing Officer for the LPGA Tour said, “Everyone at the LPGA is working hard to get our message out and create more awareness for the Tour and our players. Our goal is to be forward thinking. We feel that our athletes are among the most accessible and fan-friendly athletes in sport.”
Professional golf has been a leader in terms of its sponsorship marketing efforts, from naming rights to tournaments to placing sponsor logos on everything from the player’s shirt and cap to the golf bag. But the LPGA is the first to take advantage of social media and do it in a natural and unobtrusive way.
But the LPGA Twitter initiative goes beyond the golf course, and social media marketing is not limited to sports or consumer-oriented companies.
This concept of Pull Marketing is becoming more and more important in all segments of commerce. Nothing builds loyalty and customer relationships like a personal, direct connection afforded by social media.
Our personal and professional lives are becoming more and more socially connected. People do not do business with companies or organizations; it is the interaction and personal relationships with the front-line people of those companies and organizations who will help determine who will be at the top of the “marketing leaderboard” at the end of the day.