Have You Herd? – November 2018

By: Rich Katz, Founder & Managing Director

Lessons Learned

One of my favorite golf companies on the planet is GOLFTEC.

So, it’s with honor I’m delivering a “State of Golf” presentation at is annual conference next week.  That’s followed by my moderating a “Future of Golf” panel featuring Callaway Golf and Golf Channel leadership.

Like many businesses, GOLFTEC started in its founder’s basement.  Joe Assell conducted golf lessons with rigged-up apparatus camouflaged as technology.  Hard knocks rippled through the young entrepreneur’s world.  He was a PGA Professional with an idea to create an indisputable swing-improvement methodology that would serve golfers at scale.  But he had little money and nary a background in anything electronic.

Heeding business advice of others, Assell persevered.  His first golf instruction center in a Denver strip mall was slow early on, but picked up relative steam.  A vest strapped onto golfers was aesthetically ugly, but better than instruction au natural.  As revenue rose, so did investment in third-party developers of data-driven, motion-capture technology.GOLFTEC Instruction | Lessons Learned

Slowly, other golf instruction centers were born, a corporate infrastructure was mapped and modest investor capital followed.  Golfers were coming back for more lessons, coaches learned to teach the GOLFTEC way, and corporate-owned and franchised instruction centers were constructed and promoted.

Flash forward to today, GOLFTEC is the world’s largest provider of premium golf lessons and club fittings at nearly 200 GOLFTEC centers internationally.  Adding to the excitement, Golf Digest Online (GDO), the largest online / offline golf conglomerate in Japan and owner of 12 franchised GOLFTEC “studios,” recently expanded its partnership with GOLFTEC.

As such, GDO’s US entity acquired majority interest in GOLFTEC with plans to merge the strengths of both companies to further grow the business globally.  GDO (unaffiliated with the Golf Digest magazine) employs 550 and is traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

In addition to GOLFTEC, its retail holdings include GDO Golf Shop, the largest online retailer of new and pre-owned golf gear, and Golf Garage, a five-store brick-and-mortar golf store that buys and sells new and pre-owned golf equipment and golf accessories in Japan.  The company also operates the largest online tee-time booking service in Japan with over 2,000 courses, and publishes multiple golf news websites.

GDO resources will prompt openings of more GOLFTEC centers.  Enhancing operational excellence is also a given.  As a progressive, results-oriented teaching force, GOLFTEC’s comprehensive analysis of swing mechanics, as well as a complete club-fitting service, helps students of all skill levels shave an average of seven strokes off their games.  And when they play better and enjoy the game even more, the golf industry at large is in sustainable place.

Moving Pictures

No wonder Kodak is ostensibly out of business.

Modern storytelling doesn’t stand still.  Buyers relate to subjects with movement.  Personalities, passion and zeal shine.  Authenticity and, therefore, engagement and believability rise.  There’s no need for $100,000 cinematic productions when filming with iPhones is acceptable quality.  Cost effectiveness at its finest leads to a library of entertaining, educational and interesting video.

Canned and curated content aside, live streaming via Facebook Live and Instagram Stories is the rave.  Sharing serious, goofy, viewpoints, news and behind-the-scenes looks build rapport with audiences.  Video blogs bring facts, figures and how-to assistance to life.  Video production must be part of a pre-planned editorial calendar that projects a consistent image across all marketing channels and aligns with business goals.

  • Video views are expected to account for 80% of all Internet traffic next year
  • iPhone with golf videoFacebook generates an average of 10 billion video views daily
  • Mobile video consumption on YouTube increases more than 100% annually
  • 55% of people watch videos online daily and 92% share them with others
  • Social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined
  • Video on a landing page increases conversion rates by an average of 80%
  • Video posts on Facebook hold 135% greater organic engagement than photo posts
  • Companies using video enjoy 54% more web traffic from search than those without it
  • 60% of senior executives watch video over text when on the same web page
  • People spend three times longer watching lives social video than pre-recorded video
  • 80% recall a video they viewed within the past 30 days
  • Video in an email leads to 200% to 300% increases in click-through rates
  • Top three most effective video types – customer testimonials, tutorials, demonstrations

Buffalo acquired a creative services company a few years ago, bolstering our capabilities to produce exciting and purposeful video content for clients.

Slammin’ Sam

When the all-time leader in PGA Tour wins is involved, people should listen.

That’s why ownership of Poplar Grove Golf Club near historic Lynchburg, Virginia tabbed Buffalo to manage public relations.  Our team is crafting and telling the story of the club’s rich history and PGA Champion Sam Sneadits golf course’s architectural significance.  We’re also promoting the upcoming $3 million renovation that includes re-building bunkers, tees and greens; updating irrigation and drainage; replacing cart paths; remodeling practice areas and a new golf-cart fleet.

Sam Snead’s final design vision before his passing at 89 in 2002, Poplar Grove has hosted multiple professional, NCAA Division I and amateur competitions.  The World Golf Hall of Fame member was inspired by courses he played during a record 82 PGA Tour victories, including seven majors over four decades.

Poplar Grove’s storied centerpiece, the historic Manor House, will also be restored as part of Phase I and ultimately expanded for larger groups and events.  A 100-seat indoor-outdoor dining space, several member-exclusive areas and overnight accommodations are among the planned additions in Phase II.

Course architect Ed Carton and Snead teamed to design nearby Spring Creek in Charlottesville, one of Golf Digest’s “100 Greatest Public Courses in America.”  Poplar Grove, a Golf Digest “Best New Upscale Public Course” in 2005, is poised to return to its heyday under the close watch of Carton, the man who initially brought Snead’s blueprint to life.

Located in Amherst, Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Poplar Grove is 20 and 45 minutes from Lynchburg and Charlottesville, respectively.  The surrounding Blue Ridge foothills are alive with breweries, distilleries and wineries, constituting the perfect getaway for both couples and buddy groups.

Getting Younger

Our Buffalo team is in the thick of generating qualified leads for developers of golf communities.  While average ages can be in the 60s and 70s, new members and residents are as young as mid to late 40s.

Being on top of trends like this is second nature for us.  You may find this interesting:

Boomers will soon take a back seat to Gen X that’s almost ready to reside in golf communities in droves.  These 38- to 53-year-olds currently represent 26% of recent home buyers.  The safety and security of living in a golf course neighborhood is quickly rising among families’ priorities.Creighton Farms Home on Golf Course

Smart residential real estate marketers are targeting Gen X with a smattering of direct appeal to millennials.  This is because the 18- to 34-year-old set will be the largest adult generation next year and, by 2020, comprise nearly 35% of the global workforce.  They’re poised to be richer than their parents at an earlier age and ready to move into golf communities before we know it.

The common thread is Gen X and millennials have iPhones glued to their palms.  And it’s changing how the developers and brokers connect with them.

Millennials account for 14% of all home buyers and more than 70% use mobile resources to “significantly” help make one of life’s biggest decisions.  Gen X has comparable research stats.  With online search origins dominant, is the human touch really required to see what’s behind the front door?  Estimates show 12% of Gen X and millennials buy homes based on digital viewings without first stepping foot in them.

Making the home purchasing process even more efficient and instantly gratifying are on-demand services for local agents, home staging, streamlined mortgages, personal home showings, cross-country moves, rental applications and payments.

The real estate market is simply following apps like Magic, the text service whereby anyone can request anything and (theoretically) have it delivered with relative immediacy.

So much for real estate being about one-on-one personal connections.  Accommodating needs for speed is the future of residential real estate marketing.

Jobs (Not Steve)

Political wrangling, mid-term elections and substantial Wall Street declines aside, there’s no denying the booming labor market.

Job GrowthU.S. employers added 250,000 new jobs in October, far more than economists’ expectations.  It’s an exclamation point to a monthly average of 213,000 in 2018, the strongest pace in three years. Growth comes in every major sector, including manufacturing, construction, professional and business services, wholesale and retail trade, utilities, information systems, financial management, education and health, leisure and hospitality, and government.

Wage increases are also at their highest since 2019 with an annualized rate of 3.1% in October, the most since 2009.

Even with inflation at 2.3%, job strength gave rise to consumer confidence that reached an 18-year high.  It climbed to 137.8 in October from 135.3 in September.  A Consumer Board survey shows 45.9% believe jobs are “plentiful,” the most since January 2001.  It’s no wonder:  business expansion is in its ninth consecutive year while tax cuts and deregulatory policies have Americans thinking optimistically about their financial outlooks headed into 2019.

Based on these positive signs, we see marketers increasing their budgets.  Even while the going is good, sales don’t happen by accident.