By: Rich Katz, Founder & Principal
In the event you missed it, there’s a lot of buzz around Buffalo’s latest development.
Our fully-integrated marketing firm representing golf, sport and lifestyle brands globally has spun off from its parent entity, golf course management company Billy Casper Golf (BCG).
The move comes after a recapitalization of Buffalo that includes a round of outside investment to accelerate expansion plans.
John Watson joins the new Buffalo Groupe, LLC as Executive Chairman. He was most recently President of Hallmark Retail, helping spearhead a significant transformation of the specialty retail group. Previously, John was President and CEO of Edwin Watts Golf Company from 2008 to 2014 and also directed worldwide brands HSN / IAC (President and Chief Operating Officer), Sunglass Hut (CEO) and Reebok (Global Chief Marketing Officer).
A longtime admirer of Buffalo, John will guide all aspects of strategy, fundraising, organizational development, governance and shareholder value. BCG remains Buffalo’s largest shareholder.
Adding to our “super-charged” chapter is Kyle Ragsdale who previously split his responsibilities between the BCG and Buffalo businesses. In his new role as CEO, he will now devote 100% of his time to Buffalo. The former top revenue and marketing officer with Vox Media, Kyle is responsible for development and execution of Buffalo’s vision and strategy. This encompasses accountability for all day-to-day business operations, including recruitment and management of talent, fundraising, acquisitions, client services and financial results.
As the creator of Buffalo in 2001, I maintain a leadership role on the agency’s executive committee as Founder & Principal. My focus is on strategic growth areas, notably new business pursuits, entry into adjacent industries, formation of major partnerships and other initiatives. I’m not going anywhere, will be as active as ever with a client-centric mindset and look forward to leveraging a network derived from nearly 30 years in the golf business.
In the words of Peter Hill, Chairman and CEO of BCG, who, with longtime business partner Bob Morris and golf legend Billy Casper, founded BCG in 1989:
“Buffalo’s next phase would not be possible without the blood, sweat and tears Rich has and continues to pour into the business. What started as an idea and a few journalists’ names on the back of a cocktail napkin 18 years ago has grown into
the world’s leading golf, sport and lifestyle marketing and PR agency. For that we remain perpetually and immensely grateful.”
It’s just the beginning. In coming weeks and months, more executive appointments and further developments will be shared as we aggressively build the world’s first marketing platform designed to efficiently connect brands to the “golfing life.”
Despite political finger pointing, the government shutdown, Wall Street volatility and other White House activities taking center stage, America’s economy is in fine shape:
- Labor Love – Extracting furloughed employees who stopped clocking in, monthly jobless claims recently declined 13,000 to 199,000, the lowest level since 1969. Additionally, the U.S. economy added 304,000 jobs in January, the largest gain in almost a year. In turn, consumer spending on packaged goods is especially strong.
- Gift Giving – U.S. shoppers spent a record $126 billion online during the 2018 holiday season. Taking advantage of early discounts on Amazon and other websites, purchases were 16.5% higher than prior year. Mobile comprised 51% of traffic to retail websites during November and December, and was responsible for nearly 33% of all online spending. Nearly $3.7 billion was spent on Thanksgiving, $6.2 billion on Black Friday and $7.9 billion on Cyber Monday.
- Paying Less – Wholesale prices fell by .2% in December, led by a deep drop in gas prices. This suggests inflation will remain in check during Q1. The opposite occurred in 2017 when wholesale prices rose by 2.5% over prior month.
- More Output – Industrial production is up 4% from a year ago, led by growth from automakers (4.7%). Capacity utilization at factories increased by an impressive .7 points, signaling manufacturers’ needs to invest in more equipment and facilities.
Our Buffalo team is laser focused on marrying brands and buyers. Telling compelling stories on powerful platforms is our approach.
As such, we believe successful marketing relies heavily on access to hyper-targeted audiences. You can build, borrow and buy these targets. This holds true across the entire marketing spectrum, be it owned, earned or paid assets and channels.
By way of example, Buffalo markets an extensive list of active, transactional golfers, many of whom are obsessed with all
aspects of the sport. We’re talking about an organically acquired and a much more engaged, consumer-oriented set than average fans and enthusiasts with lower play avidity. It’s proven that if you play more, you buy more.
To provide access to brands, we turned to publishing: “Morning Read,” the Monday-Friday digital golf newsletter, features famous golf writers covering often-uncovered topics affecting the sport. Its weekly companion, “Where to Golf Next,” presents golf travel and destination content with a Fun Meter guiding and influencing readers’ course selections.
Impressive performance metrics showing views, click-throughs and direct sales have advertisers returning for more. Chris Van Duyne (email@example.com) directs these golf newsletters.
Around the Horn
Three of countless reasons our 55-person team is jazzed daily:
- Youth on Course – The non-profit organization providing kids with subsidized golf, college scholarships, caddie programs and paid internships extended its multi-year partnership with Buffalo. We spearhead internal and external marketing strategy, public relations planning and execution, and organic and paid social media strategy. Industry introductions also provide Youth on Course with access to Buffalo’s longstanding, extensive and tight network.
- Golfoholics – Here’s to the 70,000-person strong Facebook community of golf junkies. Buffalo is managing an aggressive paid social media program – replete with super-fun campaigns – to convert these fanatical players and fans to free and eventually paid memberships. We are also driving them online to buy Golfoholics merchandise that features its distinctive tee-and-olive logo.
- Mississippi State University – Its professional golf management program is one of the most recognized in the industry. Notwithstanding, MSU realized the need to modernize recruitment materials provided to prospective students. It subsequently enlisted Buffalo’s creative and copywriting brains to breathe life into its existing collateral.
A few weeks ago, our herd hustled (and then some) at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. With more than 40,000 golf-industry professionals in attendance, it’s the world’s largest and most influential golf trade event. Features included product presentations from top brands, the golf world’s largest “Demo Day,” multiple fashion shows, teaching clinics, education seminars, career workshops, industry awards and networking receptions.
Each year, Golf Channel broadcasts live from the PGA Show. Our team secured features about six Buffalo partners on the acclaimed “Morning Drive” program:
• GOLFTEC – CEO and Co-Founder Joe Assell chatted with host Damon Hack to explain how golfers unlock and maintain their best golf games with new technology and training.
• WE ARE GOLF – Executive Director Steve Mona was interviewed about where the golf industry is heading in 2019. Two of many positive words he used: “solid” and “evolving” with participation stats showing impressive growth.
• Under Armour – The “Morning Drive” team showcased the brand’s latest high-tech and stylish sunglasses – including the Under Armour Glimpse – with a proprietary tint designed to eliminate glare while playing outside.
• Global Value Commerce – Founder Ed Byman highlighted the success of the U-try club trial program on GlobalGolf.com. Customers order new clubs online and test them for two weeks without having to commit to purchasing the club at face value.
• ECCO – The “Morning Drive” team raved about the brand’s new, super-comfortable and stylish BIOM G3 and the BIOM Hybrid 3 models, both the rage of the PGA Show.
• Golf Life Navigators – Founder and CEO Jason Becker explained how its “eHarmony meets Zillow for golf” approach helps golfers find the right golf clubs and communities for their unique lifestyles.