Influencer is the buzzword of 2019. In product marketing circles there is a desperate pursuit for engaging content to intersect with brand and product promotion. It’s an age-old concept, take a “spokesperson” with influence/following and have them pitch a product. So how can golf brands most effectively connect with consumers through today’s influencer model?
Note: I am committed to helping golf brands navigate this emerging form of marketing, this is the first in a series of articles I intend to write on the topic.
We’ve worked with influencers for many years now - trusted partners that have worked hard to build an audience. They understand the golf consumer and are focused on the integrity of their content versus their potential for revenue opportunities.
The emerging “influencers” are essentially Instagram stars most of whom you won’t hear about until they break the 50K follower mark. Let me be clear. While I think it takes an incredible amount of work (or incredible amount of flesh or talent) to reach the level of influencer on Instagram, does having a social audience make you an influencer?
To understand the potential for influence you need to break apart the mechanism that leads to influence (going into marketing nerd mode in 3...2...1. There are a few camps that golf influencers fall into 1) Instructors 2) Golfers 3) Models 4) Tricksters.
Qualifications aside, the instructor seems like the most genuine influencer to introduce products. These guys & gals are in the trenches of game improvement and are best suited to test and review golf products. Instagram was a godsend for golf instructors who never really got the hang of running their own websites effectively, save a few. Instagram allows instructors a platform to show their expertise, grow an audience around their methodology, and become the agents of product acquisition for golf brands. This is something the PGA should recognize, fully embrace, and empower their instructors in. Proficiency in social media marketing is a new era of business for the golf instructor.
Golfers are phenomenal influencers because their success is most likely the foundation of their audience. These are the guys YOU follow and could be an aspiring pro with a knack for social banter or the professional golfer who has earned a reputation because of their work inside the ropes. The top-tier professionals are really hard to reach and could cost you a small fortune for what ends up being a fleeting 15 seconds of brand fame. Influence from the top golfers can be a stroke of luck or maybe just persistence. We’ve been fortunate to have the likes of Tommy Fleetwood and Phil Mickelson take our client's products and put them to use. This was the most organic influencer marketing we could hope for; endorsement by use, not a paid story.
We all know why you have a million golfers ogling you but is that really influence? There is this crazed obsession and objectification of female golfers with a half decent golf swing and less than half of their body covered. It’s as if we are shocked a woman can swing a golf club… or is there something else? Either way this type of influencer is a dime a dozen and can create a slippery slope for brands in light of the pressing social issues that are now part of a brands DNA.
Social media has become the go-to source for golf entertainment. Outside the stuffy commentary of network media there is a burgeoning community of trick-shot golfers who have amassed legions of followers with amazing feats. While these golfers are certainly praiseworthy serious brands may face a challenge squeezing business out of these influencers because of the nature of their content. A serious product should be taken seriously. It’s hard to get the same credibility from a trickster that you would from a renowned golf instructor. However, product placement should not be ruled out. If you can naturally integrate product placement into a trick shot you are bound to find new audiences.
Social influencers are often strong at marketing themselves so it’s no surprise that products benefit from their efforts. The benefit of influencer marketing is that it takes a traditional product pitch and transforms the message appropriately for the audience. The messaging comes from a trusted and respected source and it breaks the norms of traditional advertising. This is compelling but as we explore Influencer marketing over the next few posts, ask yourself, your business or your business partners - How can my brand become its own influencer?
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Ed Sanchez | CEO & Founder | Golf Pulp Media | firstname.lastname@example.org