ASGCA, a 30-year client comprised of the leading golf course architects in North America, was enjoying a boom in golf course construction; however, the organization and its members faced two threats. First, several leading indicators foreshadowed a slowdown in new course construction. Second, the building boom in the 1990s led numerous less qualified people to enter the golf course architecture profession, even though these individuals had not met the ASGCA’s rigorous membership criteria.
The ASGCA needed to stimulate demand for architectural services in markets other than new course construction. It also sought ways to establish its members as the premier practitioners of golf course architecture.
A 1999 benchmark survey of ASGCA members showed that while new course activity was declining, great long-term opportunity existed in remodeling of existing golf courses. Secondary research and interviews with other industry experts substantiated this notion and, further, that the decision-making process in these situations was changing. Club leaders, general managers, owners and professionals were becoming increasingly important decision-makers and influencers.
Publicis Dialog worked with the ASGCA to plan an integrated communications program that incorporated all aspects of the earlier research. Knowing that we needed to preach “outside the choir,” we targeted the growing ranks of new decision-makers who, despite controlling the “purse strings,” possess a limited understanding of the remodeling process. With only 150 individual members, the ASGCA is by far the smallest golf industry organization, but it has long positioned itself as the industry leader and innovator. Knowing that the budget was limited, we developed partnerships with organizations whose members we wanted to reach. These included regional golf associations whose members belonged to private clubs, and associations representing golf course owners, professionals, superintendents and managers.
Based on further research, we defined our objectives to include:
- Primary: Stimulate demand for the services provided by golf course architects
- Secondary: Underscore the professionalism of ASGCA members
Created “Remodeling University: A Short Course to a Better Course,” an integrated marketing communications program, which featured a series of day-long educational symposia designed to provide golf course decision-makers with a basic knowledge of the remodeling process.
Planned and implemented events in Chicago, New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles. Each event featured presentations by four ASGCA members.
Developed full slate of educational materials, including educational handbooks, PowerPoint presentations, speech outlines, exit surveys, and diplomas.
Developed full slate of marketing materials, including ads, registration forms, and fliers.
Conducted media relations campaign targeting trade and regional press.
Developed Remodeling University section on the ASGCA Web site that provided information on the symposium series and remodeling in general.
Handled all registration on behalf of client.
Because the 2000 ASGCA budget had already been set and did not include the costs of staging the program, Remodeling University had to be self-sufficient. Therefore, we identified a corporate sponsor that paid for food/beverage and printing costs. Golf organizations agreed to underwrite many marketing costs in exchange for the opportunity to provide this innovative symposium to their members. And a $99 admission fee defrayed the remaining costs. Overall cost to ASGCA was approximately $50,000.
Remodeling University was conceived in July, 1999, and the events were conducted from January through April, 2000.
600 people attended the four symposiums. 90 percent of which were golf course decision makers who were considering or working on a remodeling project. Three of the four symposia were sellouts.
Numerous ASGCA members have indicated that they have won work based on contacts made at the symposia.
Hits to the ASGCA Web site increased more than 20 percent during the months in which Remodeling University symposia were held.
ASGCA developed relationships with the influential regional and national golf associations. Having heard of Remodeling University, several additional associations have approached ASGCA and requested that we stage the program for their members.
Millions in the trade press read ads and pre-symposia publicity.
Feature stories describing the events and their content appeared online and in several influential trade magazines and regional newspapers. Feature stories highlighted the professionalism of the program and its members.
Exit surveys of attendees were overwhelmingly positive. Follow-up surveys distributed in November, 2000 indicated that 96 percent of respondents would recommend the program to peers in the industry.
ASGCA President described Remodeling University as “the most exciting and effective promotional program” in the 55-year history of the association.
Boardroom Magazine, a leading golf trade publication, recently named Remodeling University as its “Golf Advertising/Promotion of the Year” and also named Publicis Dialog “Golf PR Firm of the Year,” based in part on our creation of the program.
What began as a simple pilot series is now growing into a sustained, ongoing program. In October, 2000, Publicis Dialog signed a major corporate sponsor, which has committed more than $100,000 to the 2001 program. Events will be staged in Chicago, Orlando, Dallas, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. National organizations, such as the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and the National Golf Course Owners Association will co-sponsor events at their annual trade shows in 2001. Others have indicated they will schedule Remodeling University in 2002. Remodeling University has become the branded resource for remodeling information in the golf industry in less than two years.