Is Golf Too Expensive?

Golf Needs to Make Change

I recently read an article from AdWeek about the decline of golf and subsequently the strategies the PGA and other organizations are imploring to reverse that trend. The article went on to cite ways the golf industry is trying to market to millennials which simply aren’t playing the game like past generations. From using young, relatable celebrities on golf magazine covers (Jimmy Fallon) to G/Fore putting a sexy, stylish design on golf apparel, the golf industry is trying adapt to millennial desires.

AdWeek’s article touches on the opportunities through digital and social media marketing which is the industry I’m most passionate about, yet I don’t see this as the answer to golf’s problems. No advertiser or marketer worth their salt is going to tell you that they can’t improve your numbers through some sort of marketing strategy. With that being said, this is an industry that has seen Dick’s Sporting Goods get rid of their golf professionals this year and has seen TV numbers falter considerably since Tiger Woods’ fall from grace several years ago. Golf courses are closing their doors at alarming rates compared to new courses opening each year. The decline of golf is real and it’s here to stay if drastic changes aren’t made.

Golf has long been a game of those with money: exclusive country club memberships, fancy clothes, and older generations that have had time to save some money. Between a respectable set of irons, woods, putter, balls, and a golf bag, the start up price to get into golf is roughly $1,000. How many people (millennials, especially) are willing to put down $1,000 before they even step foot on a course? Now imagine paying $40 four Saturdays a month at your local public course (while there are cheaper options of playing during the week after work, not many have the time or opportunity to do so). That’s $160 a month to play FOUR times. For your first summer playing golf (4 months), you’re in $1,600 roughly for 16 rounds of golf. That doesn’t include any costs for time spent at the driving range, golf lessons, or any other extra clothing/apparel (which is very expensive in itself, just check out the G/Fore link above) or miscellaneous items. This is to be a casual golfer nonetheless. To take the game seriously, there is a much larger cost for better equipment, more practice, and more rounds of golf.

In addition to older millennials being hit by the high prices, other generations suffer as well as they try to introduce their young millennials to the game. As a commenter on the AdWeek article said, “My son is 11. I took him to play 9 holes at a nice public course. It cost me $60 for the two of us! Here is the future of the game, the kids who want to play with their dad, and you’re charging full rate for an 11 year-old?!!?” Simply preposterous to continuously pay $60 for 9 holes for a child just being introduced to the game.

Fresh attempts at digital marketing may bring a boost to some TV ratings (which is what organizations like the PGA are concerned with for the most part), but I don’t see anything short of reducing prices as a viable option to grow the sport on the course. The barrier to entry is simply too high for young men and women. There are great programs being run like The First Tee to get children more involved in golf, but they can only go so far. They can help mold younger players, but when they grow up there is a good chance they simply won’t be able to afford the game they’ve come to love. As someone who loves the sport of golf and has been playing for over 15 years now, I hope we see a change in the future, but I’m not holding my breath.

3 Reasons Starbucks Food Trucks Will Be A Success

Starbucks Trucks
Starbucks Truck via Bloomberg Businessweek

It’s February 1st. You exit your dorm room and are greeted by snowfall and subfreezing temperatures. The walk to your 8:00am class could not be more dreadful at this point. How does a piping hot, extra large (excuse me, Venti) coffee with a shot of espresso sound? Something to warm up your walk and help you not drool on your notes 15 minutes into the boring lecture you and 300 other half asleep 20 year olds are barely hanging onto sounds pretty good I’d imagine. It surely would have for me five years ago walking from west of campus to the northeast corner at Penn State. Starbucks is betting on it, too.

The Bucks is about to roll out (no pun intended) food trucks on three college campuses across the country to test the waters with hopes of expanding to other schools in the near future. While I don’t particularly understand the logic behind the three colleges they chose (Arizona State University, James Madison University, and Coastal Carolina), it will be interesting to see how everything unfolds. Arizona State has partnered with Starbucks to offer scholarships to employees for ASU’s online program. Other than that, I personally couldn’t fathom wanting to grab a coffee outside in the late August and September heat of the desert. I’ll assume iced coffees will be a popular choice in Tempe. JMU will offer the widest variety of traditional seasons which should be a better gauge of what can be expected for any campuses located in the top half of the country year round.

With that being said, I believe the food trucks will see success as they start their operations for these three reasons.

  1. Untapped markets – College campuses are an area where Starbucks has a shockingly small presence compared to their “every other corner” locations in major cities. There’s roughly 300 Starbucks located on 4,700 college campuses across the country. That is a lot of market share that Starbucks can encroach on in a short period of time. In addition to this, according to Aramark (the company operating the trucks), Starbucks is the preferred brand of coffee amongst college students from a recently conducted survey.

  2. Convenience – Students looking to grab a coffee outside their dorm room or on the quad rather than heading to the commons or a specific building on campus are the market Starbucks is looking to steal.

  3. Affordability – But wait, isn’t Starbucks notoriously expensive? Yes it is, but while the “broke college student” may not be able to afford Starbucks everyday, their parents probably can. Assuming the partnership between Starbucks and Aramark allows students to use their meal plans or student discounts towards menu items, I don’t see how this fails.

Only time will tell how this plays out for Starbucks. I expect to see more campuses with coffee toting trucks on them in the near future. Food trucks are all the rage right now, and their accessibility is a major reason behind that. Remember, Starbucks doesn’t need every student to gravitate to their new trucks, but they have an opportunity to tap into a market in which they are currently sitting on the outside.

Amazon and Twitter Bring Us #AmazonCart

Amazon and Twitter Bring Us #AmazonCart

Amazon and Twitter have partnered to bring us a new way to shop using the hashtag #AmazonCart on Twitter. Rather than me typing out and explaining the process behind #AmazonCart, I’ll let the video do the talking.

I think it’s a pretty cool concept to say the least. While #AmazonCart doesn’t immediately make a purchase for you, I think it serves it’s purpose, especially for mobile users. Rather than searching for the product, adding to your cart, and then logging into your Amazon account, this allows users to simply add it to their cart by replying with 11 characters straight from Twitter. The item will be in your cart next time you log into your Amazon account after you receive a follow up tweet from Amazon saying they added it. With it only being added to your cart, it offers a buffer for those impulse buyers by not allowing one-click purchasing.

With Amazon being the first major retailer to utilize Twitter in this way, it begs the question of “who’s next?” It seems like a no brainer for competitors to join the party. #TargetCart #JCPenneyCart and #LowesCart are just some of the similar style hashtags we can see in the near future should major retailers decide to hop on board. In addition to making online shopping easier, it gives users the opportunity to essentially share their purchases. And we all know people who love to show off their cool purchases and great deals which in turn can bring in more buyers through Amazon. It’s a brilliant word of mouth technique, turning your customers into brand advocates without them even knowing.

Social media has become so much more than a way to share your thoughts or connect with friends. Social media marketing produces some of the best ROI, customer service issues are increasingly being handled through Twitter and Facebook, and it can now make your shopping experience quicker and more convenient.

 

Can You Handle The World’s Toughest Job?

Can You Handle The World’s Toughest Job?

 

 
This was absolutely incredible. Nothing else need be said about it.

On a personal note, to my mother who I know will be reading this because she loves to read anything I write: I love you, Mom. While I may not say it or show it enough, I love you and I appreciate everything you’ve done for me and continue to do. Thanks for sticking by my side and putting up with all the crap I put you through (and will probably continue to put you through). You mean the world to me and I can’t wait to see you Wednesday night.

Love,

Kev

 

The Rise of Facebook Ad Prices

The Rise of Facebook Ad Prices

Facebook Ad Prices Rise

 

There was a reason that Facebook was valued at $104 billion upon it’s IPO almost two years ago. But there certainly were skeptics to that valuation. It had an unproven ad model. It was easy for companies to get relatively cheap advertising and reach a huge number of people combined with their organic efforts.

Well, the other shoe has dropped so to speak. First quarter ad prices in 2014 have increased 10% from Q4 in 2013. While that might not seem like a huge increase, it has been enough to draw complaints. The kicker is that organic exposure to people’s News Feed has dropped dramatically. Brands previously were reporting free, organic exposure reaching up to 25% of their fans. How does 5% or less sound under the new format?

I believe the higher prices and shrinking organic reach will hurt small businesses, especially individual enterprises, the most. While larger companies are seeing a four times return on investment (ROI), many small businesses and individuals simply don’t have the budget for ad spending on Facebook. They rely on their organic reach by pumping out free content and engaging with their fans instead.

With an ROI of four, the dollars will flow in and result in more ad spending further driving the price up over time. Paid advertising through social media is still cheap compared to other avenues. Facebook has positioned itself nicely, though. The reach is huge and the demographics are right. Companies need Facebook advertising. Unless companies find a creative way (which I’m sure they will) to make their ad dollars go further, that four times ROI is going to start shrinking as prices continue to rise.

Read more at AdWeek about Facebook’s ad prices.

 

 

Google Glass Welcomes Advertisers

Google Glass Welcomes Advertisers

Google Glass

As Google Glass continues its pilot program, brands are beginning to realize it as a potential avenue for advertising. While there certainly aren’t a major number of Google Glass users – roughly 15,000 or so – currently, testing different approaches now can prove to be extremely valuable for the future.

Kenneth Cole and agency Ready Set Rocket have collaborated to launch the first advertisements through a Google Glass app. With Google Glass still being a couple of years away from major distribution, Laura Nutt Bello, a partner at Ready Set Rocket, sees the value in using it now as an advertising platform. Bello said, “even though the technology is still in the pilot program, we want to be looked at as an innovator and early adopter.”

Through countless case studies in college and grad school, I’ve learned that the majority of the time it is better to be the first mover rather than being reactionary to others in your industry. Ready Set Rocket is positioning themselves as just that – a first mover. As Ms. Bello mentioned, this puts her firm on track to be an innovator with Google Glass advertising, and whether the campaign for a new cologne Kenneth Cole is launching ends up working or failing miserably, Ready Set Rocket is providing themselves with a wealth of early knowledge on a currently untapped platform.

I’m excited about the possibilities Google Glass holds for advertising in the next couple of years. Users will still face traditional advertising in some aspects through it I’m sure, but I believe there will be great interactive marketing opportunities for brands. Imagine a McDonald’s billboard and Google Glass recognizes the golden arches sending an alert to the nearest McDonald’s location. Another possibility is to have users document certain “challenges” through Google Glass and upload them to social media for discounts or free products at participating locations.

Mike Judge Does Silicon Valley on HBO (Trailer)

Mike Judge Does Silicon Valley on HBO (Trailer)

siliconvalley-cast

With credits to his name like Office Space, Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, and Idiocracy, I’m fully expecting for Mike Judge to deliver once again with his new show Silicon Valley. HBO has picked up Silicon Valley and it will debut the same night as the much anticipated season 4 of Game of Thrones on April 6th.

Silicon Valley follows a group of young, awkward software engineers as they try to hit it big. The trailer below hints at them hitting it big as we see them receiving multiple high priced offers for a stake in their company. If the trailer is any indication, we should be in for a treat with some high comedy. There have been comparisons to Amazon’s Betas which has a similar storyline, but I think Silicon Valley has more potential having a bigger budget with more established actors such as T.J. Miller (She’s Out of My League), Zach Woods (The Office, Veep), and Martin Starr (Freaks and Geeks, Party Down). HBO usually produces on the comedic front and Mike Judge has a solid track record. As I anxiously await season 4 of GoT, I now have another show to look forward to as well.