Olympic Ins and Outs: London 2012

There is a plethora of sporting disciplines coming together over the next 16 days and its enough to confuse and flummox the most ardent of sporting supporters however, worry not – all you ever need to know about the London Olympics in 2012 is here in this handy desktop viewing guide.

What will brands gain from London’s Olympics?

Author: Ross McGuinnes @ Metro

Sponsorship has become ubiquitous and nowhere is this more evident that in the world of sport. But does aligning your brand with a big event reap more benefits for global brands than simply plastering their advertising everywhere? As next year’s Olympic Games in London loom, we look at what both sides get out of the relationship.

In millions of households across Britain, the same music blares out from the television on Tuesday and Wednesday nights: ‘THESE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!’

Although the catchy lyrics of the UEFA Champions League theme song refer to Europe’s best footballers, they could also be used to describe the various brands backing the event.

But can anyone name the main sponsors of the coverage? Just how much attention does the average football fan pay to who the ‘proud’ sponsors are?

To those big-money backers, though, simple advertising is seemingly not enough to get their message across. They have to be part of an event that is cherished by millions.

‘Sponsorship now is about how you get your brand ethos, how you connect with the fan worship and how you’re smart and how you own the story that surrounds the sport,’ PR guru Mark Borkowski said

He added that a full partnership with an event such as the Champions League, the World Cup or the Olympics offered so much more than simply taking out some adverts.

‘It gives you an opportunity to craft your story, to be involved at the foundations of these activities,’ he added.

‘Buying advertising gives you spots; you know what you’re getting but we’re all beginning to understand that people probably move out of the ad breaks to actually make a cup of tea, so you’re not connected with it.

‘The emotional connection is absolutely in the sponsorship packages, the PR, the marketing, the advertisers all bound together as one idea, rather than just slapping your logo on a shirt.’

One of the main sponsors of the Champions League is Ford, which last week extended its partnership with the competition, which already stretches back to 1992, until 2015.

Ford’s European chief executive, Stephen Odell, said of the tournament: ‘It is about the best-of-the-best on the ultimate stage, and that’s why Ford wants to be part of it.’

But there is no bigger sporting event next year than the Olympics. The eyes of the world will be on London in the summer – and the sponsors know it.

The 2012 Games has 55 sponsors, including Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Visa. ‘For those sort of brands it’s a case of keeping you up there,’ said Borkowski. ‘How would it look now if McDonald’s weren’t part of some of those big events? They will be trying to push into grass roots sport.’

This sense of corporate social responsibility means McDonald’s will showcase the produce of British farmers providing its food during the Games in London. It is also helping to train 70,000 volunteers for the event.

McDonald’s has been an official sponsor of the Olympics since 1976.

‘Sponsorship is essential to the successful staging of the Olympic and Paralympic Games,’ a spokeswoman for McDonald’s said.

This view is echoed by Locog, the London 2012 Organising Committee, which manages the money contributed by sponsors to ensure the Games run smoothly. ‘Without our sponsors, the Games simply wouldn’t happen,’ a London 2012 spokeswoman said.

For their investment, Olympic sponsors receive exposure but also legal protection. A government act prevents brands which are not official sponsors from getting in on the act.

Borkowski said the biggest brands were increasingly opting to back events rather than individuals because stars can find themselves embroiled in scandals.

‘Brands have felt a lot more troubled about getting the hottest talent – they can misbehave, get injured or do something stupid on tour,’ he added.

He thinks brands tread a fine line between overexposure and success: ‘I think we’re all very cynical about sponsorship now.’

There is another factor that brands are keen to exploit – good old-fashioned word of mouth. Steve Barton, of the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association UK, said sponsors were always looking for ‘added value’. He said IBM’s deal with the Wimbledon tennis championships was a good example of two partners working together.

‘IBM sponsors Wimbledon but then it gets involved with serving up information in real time about the tournament and actually turns it into a demonstration of the brand proposition,’ he added.

Golf Consulting: Value in Technology

While many golf clubs, resorts, facilities, their owners and management teams are embracing technology in its many guises, many golf facilities still operate as if they are in the dark ages.

Those who have embraced the technology, the early adopters, and those who have been convinced have all understood the potential to engage existing customers and attract potential new ones via the web, social networking, data capture, CRM and better marketing. Not just for the pro and his shop but for all areas of their business.

Despite what some of the old school brigade believe, embracing this new technology is not just a short term fad, nor does it necessarily mean buying expensive gadgetry. Technology and its frequent use is widely adopted in the most cutting edge, profitable and best customer facing industries around. What does it make you think?

I am sure that most people, even PGA professionals, have heard of Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn – and probably even have their own pages. I am also sure that they have also heard of iPhone applications, online tee booking, loyalty schemes, CRM and perhaps had even thought about collecting customer data. My guess is that you will also have heard of video analysis but never quite thought about pulling the jigsaw of all of the above together for full commercial (and most importantly your customer’s) benefit.

The question should then be why should I use technology?

Technology, and in particular, the web, ensures that you are always open for business. As “google” is generally the first point of search reference for anything (buying a woollen jumper, searching for a restaurant or looking to play golf) make sure you don’t lose out by not putting your business online.

Don’t be narrow minded – putting your business online means anything from marketing and promoting your retail offering, tee time booking, offering conference and banqueting, or providing an online brochure for events and to attract packages for the corporate or group market.

This simple search function is strengthened by a simple, but effective strategy of social media, blogging and development of relevant, interesting, trusted information – exactly the sort of thing that

Use of technology, also means a simple, efficient and quick means to collect data. Do not overlook the value of this data either. It is valuable, important data that will quickly provide means to add dollars to your bottom line. (Look out for future posts on data and its value here at Fettes Management).

What is generally important (at an absolute minimum) is customer name, customer address and the cheapest means to communicate with them – an email address. And as a golf facility, you probably have a decent starting database in your membership list.

However, this is data in its simplest form – technological solutions can cheaply allow you to add valuable customer information to this – overlaying buying activities to an individual, group, club or section in order to make assumptions for future marketing interests. Information can come from EPOS systems, retail sales systems, online membership, newsletter subscriptions, smart card membership systems, loyalty schemes and use of promotional codes and marketing vouchers.

But steady on – one step at a time!

Technology also makes marketing your golf facility easy and effective.  The simple capture of an email allows you a quick, “free” means to communicate with your database – with planned messages that are of interest to the recipient.  Again don’t think small – work together – ensuring your bar, food outlet, Club secretary and pro all work together to market appropriately to this database, and equally devise a plan to capture more data each and every day at every customer touch point. As a basic rule – this will stand you in good stead.

Technology ultimately allows you to stay in control. Whatever the blazer brigade tell you about big brother, data theft and the capture of personal information – it is illegal to use it for anything that you do not have permissions for.

Technology does, undoubtedly, allow you to do many things, and as with developments to technology on the golf course, behind the scenes within golf facilities it helps make doing business far quicker, far easier and with greater success than with the old fashion methods. It would be strongly advised that any golf business that has not yet embraced what is out there to help you – to reconsider as otherwise you will fall behind.

For further information, email me via the Contact section.

Selectabet: The Walker Cup

Date:                     10th – 11th September 2011

Competition:     The Walker Cup

The Professional games impressive little amateur brother for the best players from the USA and Great Britain & Ireland. Contested by male amateur players in teams of not more than 10 players and a Captain. Much as the Ryder Cup, the Walker Cup is contested every two years, alternately in the USA and Great Britain and Ireland.

Venue:                 Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, Aberdeen, Scotland

Founded in 1780, Royal Aberdeen is the sixth oldest golf club in existence. For the first 35 years, the club was known as The Society of Golfers at Aberdeen, with membership being determined by ballot. The Aberdeen Golf Club was formed in 1815 on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, and its members continued to play on the Queen’s Links, a strip of common land between the Don and Dee Rivers, until 1888 when they migrated to the current links at Balgownie.

More recently it has been Richie Ramsay’s training ground – a wild and windy frontline for whatever the North Sea wishes to throw at the Scottish mainland.

Yards:                   6,873 yards

Par:                        Par 70


The Americans look stronger on paper. But the Great Britain & Ireland have the home advantage. But the US are always favourites but….and it’s a huge but, the weather is set to be wet and windy. It’s a tough links and I know from recent personal experience that they have tightened the course in a little and while the greens are relatively slow for this standard, 10.5 (or so) on the stimp, they will most definitely be tough in these conditions.

Ones to watch:

Patrick Cantlay – Cantlay has had a stellar freshman season at UCLA, winning three events and being named Golfer of the Year, first-team All-American and first-team All-Pac-10. He was recipient of the Jack Nicklaus Award (NCAA Division I player of the year) and the Phil Mickelson Award, presented to the freshman of the year.

He was the low amateur at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club, tying for 21st place. He shot 60 in the second round of the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour, which set the record for the lowest round in a PGA Tour event by an amateur. He went on to finish 24th in the event. He also had a top-25 finish at PGA Tour’s AT&T National at Aronomink outside of Philadelphia and tied for ninth at the RBC Canadian Open. He claimed the 2011 Southern California Golf Association Amateur and was runner-up to Ethan Tracy at the Western Amateur, losing the final match, 1 down.

He currently is the top-ranked amateur, according to the World Amateur Golf.

Tom Lewis – Lewis announced himself to the world of golf at Royal St George’s this July when he became the first amateur since Sir Michael Bonallack in 1968 to lead The Open Championship. Lewis compiled an opening 65 to share the lead with Thomas Bjorn, and went on to finish joint 30th to take the silver medal as leading amateur. He won the St Andrews Links Trophy in June.

He finished 59th in the Dubai Desert Classic, his first European Tour event. He ended the 2010 season with two outstanding performances on the Australasian Tour, finishing 12th in the Australian Open and losing a playoff to Peter O’Malley in the New South Wales Open.

Ones to win:

As there are only three possible outcomes – it’s a surprisingly hard one to call. Essentially, its better “big event” ready players (US) versus the links friendly home advantaged. 

The available odds tell the full story: the US being offered at 8/15 with Betfair while Team GB & I, are at 9/4 with Ladbrokes and SkyBet.

The odds of a tie (where the US retain the trophy) are valued at 10/1 with practically everyone including William Hill, Stan James and BoyleSports.

I’m going with my gut instinct on this one and saying that Team GB & I will dominate (courtesy of the wind and rain) day one – much as the Europeans do in the Ryder Cup and while it will be a close call at the end, the Americans will eek out a vital win (again).

Jenks out.


View From the Spire: The Walker Cup

“The Walker Cup wont be won on paper”

Author: Stephen Gallacher, European Tour Pro @ Pressandjournal.co.uk

The United States may be overwhelming  favourites for the Walker Cup this weekend, but don’t write off Great Britain and Irelands chances just yet. I am quietly confident our boys can overcome the odds and pull of a remarkable upset. The United States arriving as favourites in nothing new. They are always the favourites. This year their team looks particularly strong on paper, but what is it that they say about games never being won on paper? 

The GB&I team has got plenty of talent as well and there is also the Royal Aberdeen factor. The Balgownie links is a phenomenal course, one of my favourites, but it will be tricky for the Americans to master no matter how many rounds they have played this week.

It is a traditional links which our players will be used to playing. Most of the big amateur tournaments in this country are on the great links courses, so they are well schooled. It will be even better if there is a bit of a breeze. I know from experience how much of an advantage it can be to be at home.

There is nothing wrong with giving yourself an edge with the venue. The Americans do it when they are hosting, often taking the Walker Cup to the warmest parts of the country. No matter the location, the US team is generally regarded as the stronger. The United States were favourites when they pitched up at Porthcawl in Wales in 1995. They had a certain Eldrick Woods in their ranks, who at 19-years-old brought with him plenty of hype he would go on to justify. Not that we were overawed.

My enduring memory of the Walker Cup week was the laughs we had. Our team included Padraig Harrington, Mark Foster and David Howell. Had great camaraderie – which I believe is key to success. It is important to stay relaxed and stick to your own game. Most important is to enjoy it.

I take great pride in having the Walker Cup on my CV, and even more at being on the winning side. It is easy for it all to go past in a flash. I am sure the current crop will not be overawed in the slightest. These guys are more professional than amateur and are used being involved in big events.

When we played there were players in our team who still worked full time and were amateurs in the traditional sense. It is all changed now and everyone involved will be looking towards the professional ranks. The Walker Cup will be one the highlights of their careers, as it was for me. It will be even more so, if they can get their hands on the trophy on Sunday night.

Golf Consulting: Marketing Your Golf Facility

There are a lot of people who want to own a golf club and for many different reasons. Some for kudos; some for the association; for friends, family and or business reasons or simply just for fun.

However, whatever the reasoning behind your investment into golf, why throw good money away if you don’t make a decent go of it as a business – and one of the keys to its success is then marketing. Golfers taking the time out of their day to come and pay to play your facility will enjoy the experience far greater provided your business is one that has taken the time to undertake a few simple marketing practices.

·         Research the market – know what business you are getting into, it’s current situation and understand what, at core, your offering is.

·         Understand its segmented customers – customers are the lifeblood of your new facility. Take time to understand them, what makes them come back and be open enough to understand what new opportunities may exist.

·         Develop its competitive strategies – know your competition as well as you can and develop ways and means to work with this for the benefit of your facility. Know what the competition does, how well and at what price. Also have an understanding on the areas competitor’s falls down and look to consider a focus in these areas if you know it will benefit your business.

·         Develop its unique offer – and work hard to ensure that you have a unique offer! Unique offers can take many forms – price, audience, theme, membership, corporates – you decide what will work best for your facility given location, level of facility and price points sought.

·         Price the offer appropriately – one of the most important pieces of marketing research involves pricing. Many clubs price to high and then get crushed by 2-4-1 offers that are currently very hot (and well used by golfers) so be sure not to fall into this trap. Do consider though offering a price point that is sensible across all areas of your business including food and beverage.

·         Choose the correct routes to market – whatever market you set your heart on – work to understand how people in that market receive their news and information. Work to plug your facility into this targeted network through online, printed advertising, flyering or by whatever means you need to use to get your message across to your market.

·         Communicated that offer effectively – less is more – especially in advertising, marketing and promotion. Focus on simple offers that entice customers not confuse them. Offer incentives – as repeat business is easier to deliver than new business every time.

·         Manage the physical environment correctly – what environment they come into is key – much as it would be in a restaurant. If it’s empty with no atmosphere – you will struggle to consistently drive footfall. Make it interesting, with some background noise and warm and welcoming. This will be the pre or post round ambience that they appreciate and enjoy spending time in. It then becomes an easier sell to get them to stay there for longer.

·         Manage the service and customer contact element – the correct staff and the service element will be key. Get the ambience right and train, engage and empower your staff accordingly and these close, reliable and friendly touch points will be sure to get whatever marketing messages you need them to deliver to each and every one of your members and guests.

·         Manage customer satisfaction – as with all things – it’s about quality for the price. Manage, meet and exceed customer expectations on the course, with food, customer service and everything you possibly can to make sure that they have the best possible experience. It will then be likely that they tell their friends which only works to driving yet more traffic to your facility!

·         Don’t be tempted to busk or take short cuts on any of this important marketing work – take time to consider and work up, ideally with marketing experts from within the industry and formulate a proper marketing plan before you contemplate executing anything!

For further information, email me via the Contact section.

View From the Spire: The Good, Bad, the Ugly

IMG Worldwide – the most global of giants, have defined cornering a market. In fact – not just one corner – it has fought in all available corners – and it seems that every market is one that they can lay claim to ruling.

Take the business of sport, they exist everywhere no matter what sport and no matter on what basis. From consulting, venue development, event management to talent representation, training/academies, sponsorship and media distribution – they do it all, they are very good at it and they are the undisputed world beaters at it. Then take the other industries involving celebrity, media, advertising and property development. They “own” all of these too.

If we look at almost any sporting event – and let us say golf. They “own”, through having developed, or managed, the golf courses and resorts. They deliver, and subsequently, manage many of the biggest and most high profile events using and promoting that venue. They manage, and therefore, bring the highest profile talent that plays in that event, to the course that they also promote. They manage, and therefore deliver the sponsors, gaining benefit from the profile and exposure their talent delivers by playing in their own events at the venue that they gain benefit from owning or managing!

IMG deliver the media relationships that drive the awareness and creates sponsorship that drives the talent that benefits the venue that bolsters their revenue to make them more powerful that drives the opportunities. And so the cycle continues. Endlessly. The cradle to grave delivery clearly delivers great revenue and creates some of most interesting and highly watched spectator sporting events the game of golf has.

So with that approach, is it good for a company to own and manage every element in a particular business vertical? I guess financially it is – if you are IMG. What could be bad about taking 20% out of every step in the process – and taking a sizeable consulting chunk on top where you can appropriately?

In golf, they also have a unique relationship with the European Tour and the PGA Tour, running many of their now global events – one might question be who is the governing body and which one tows the line in support? With IMG and the European Tour is it a question of the tail wagging the dog? Which one is really in control? Heaven forbid, is IMG powerful enough to have a bearing on who plays as picks in a competition like the Ryder Cup?

And what if you are high performing talent. Should you be with IMG as they will cut you the best and biggest deals and ensure your participation in the  biggest events. If not, what does it mean for you? (Though I guess Rory, GMac or Darren Clarke are not currently suffering with Chubby Chandlers ISM stable!)

In golf course design and management – read the IMG brochure, it is about creating the best golf courses in the world. To me – that’s a niche, but limited market. Not every course can be the best, not every course can host a top end tournament and not every course is a property development where multi million pound houses are suitable – especially in this financial market. Although is that where everyone else has tucked in behind IMG and found their own niche?

At a time when, barring the elite’s unique position, the golf industry is suffering, clubs and facilities are closing across the globe and the governing bodies should be exploring ways to develop the next generation of golfers – to support the facilities, the equipment and apparel manufacturers and to ensure a future for our sport. I would ask what are IMG doing in this regard? Where is its legacy for the sports it reigns supreme in?

However, does what makes Mark McCormacks (RIP) IMG commercially great at the elite level also make it bad as a business? Does it make it irrelevant? Out of touch? Too big to be flexible? Too inbred and set in its ways with its many departments, pigeon holes to adapt to the ever changing world we live in? Could it could be too corporate – and therefore really quite ugly and cumbersome?

And considering that, does it actually allow for the smaller, more nimble and ultimately cuter boutique organizations, like ISM, Bounce Sports Marketing, Braemar Golf or even G3k Consulting to cut their cloth, make their mark and work to corner that particular element of the market be it talent representation, events, course design and management or sponsorship and events underneath the might of the IMG brand?

Think Jerry McGuire’s fewer clients, better “management” and you might be almost there. Also look at Chubby Chandlers ISM stable that currently holds 3 of the 4 majors and you see it competing with the big, bad, ugly boys in real life!

Which ever way you look at it, IMG have done well, and others have positioned themselves to slip into their wake and so it just seems to work. Either way, there is an interesting series of questions that would have some interesting answers.