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Golf Company's $1.5 Million Giveaway Far From a Hole in One

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Callaway Golf is engaged in a new promotion where if you go out and try out one of their Big Bertha clubs at a participating retailer, you have a chance to win Phil Mickelson’s payday at Pinehurst, which could be as much as $1.5 million.

While the $1.5 million potential prize makes for a splashy headline, it’s another glaring example of how companies miss the mark on marketing and customer loyalty efforts.

Golf as an industry has been facing growth challenges, so for Callaway to increase its sales, it needs to either sell more to existing golf enthusiasts or find a way to convert new people to the hobby of golf.  A one-off prize promotion doesn’t really do the latter, so they should concentrate on the former.

Getting golfers to try out the Big Bertha is a good strategy, because it puts the club into the enthusiast’s hands. However, what they didn’t ask themselves -- or perhaps kidded themselves about the response -- is whether one chance to win some money which might be up to $1.5 million would be enough to get a golfer’s attention? The answer is, not likely.

Related: Want to Build Loyalty? Remember, Everyone Loves Free Stuff.

Instead of one big $1.5 million prize, Callaway should have broken that up into several hundred or even a thousand “priceless” prizes that appeal directly to their core target audience. They could spend the same money and offer a round of golf, a golf lesson on how to use the Big Bertha or a VIP dinner with Phil Mickelson instead. With improved chances to win and a prize experience that really resonates with the core audience that reinforces the brand, those types of promotions would have been much more effective.

The goal of any marketing promotion -- for large companies or small -- should not be participation in the contest, number of “likes” or some other advertising metric. The goal should be to drive revenue and customer loyalty (also, to drive revenue!). It does Callaway no good if people who have no interest in golf come out just to enter the contest. Millions of people participated in Warren Buffett’s billion dollar NCAA bracket challenge. How many of those bought insurance from the sponsoring company? Can you even name the sponsoring company without looking?

Going big doesn’t beat being relevant.

As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and to think about what will create the best long-term relationship and short-term call to action with and from them. That’s the real growth driver.      

Related: Lure Teetering Customers With Digital Coupons (Infographic)

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