Something for everyone at the PGA Expo

We were fortunate to join the PGA of Australia at the inaugural PGA Expo this week, and enjoyed an interesting couple of days.

Fans of golf gear were more than looked after at the Expo, and speakers presented on a range of topics from the intricacies of a swing plane to mastery of golf retail management. Some consistent themes came though across topics, with customer engagement and a customer-first approach being a big focus.

What does this mean? Well, Ian James from RetailTribe captured it well with his analysis of how to sell a driver. Too often we focus on selling the driver itself: the technology, the brand or the price. The benefits might be extensive, but what if the customer isn’t looking for a driver, even if they ask for one?

Huh?

Well, unless the customer happens to be an ultra-low handicapper (and often even if they are) it’s far more likely they are looking for hope. Or, more specifically, they hope to hit their drives a few more yards. Sure, they might ask for a driver (hey, no-one wants to sound crazy and ask to buy some distance) but we need to understand what they want to achieve. You don’t get better just by owning a new driver, just like that gym membership doesn’t get you fitter if you don’t go.  So sell them that: sell them the best chance to hit those extra yards off the tee with lessons, a driver or even a few free tips. The point is that a customer-first approach is all about really listening, asking questions, and making sure you understand what they want.

Ian told us that the challenge we face in golf retail is all about leveraging our advantage, especially for PGA Professionals: we’re the experts, so get out from behind the counter and use that expertise to really engage with the golfer. The better the golfer gets, the more they improve, the more engaged they are and they’ll do the selling for you.

On that topic, Shannon Walker, Executive Director at the Australian Sporting Goods Association, shared his big tip for tackling the forthcoming Amazon behemoth: leverage your advantage and own the customer relationship with great service. Add value: don’t try and win on price.

We also heard from Dawes Mallet, Master Professional at the PGA of America, sharing some great stats on the US market including the phenomenal success of the PGA Junior League and the need to reach out to people, to understand what makes them want to play golf. Also direct from the USA, and for watchers of the Golf Channel, PGA Coach supremo Michael Breed offered some powerful insights such as the first question he asks any student: what’s your goal?

So we took the chance to ask the PGA of Australia’s new CEO, Gavin Kirkman, what his goal was - and you can check that out in the video.

Of many interesting suppliers in the Expo, one that jumped out at us for offering a customer-first idea was Birds of Condor with their innovative golfer-focussed street-wear range (Guy caught up with the guys behind Birds of Condor in the video). Wondering where they got the name from? Well, we didn’t know it, but turns out a condor is a hole-in-one on a par 5 (otherwise known as a triple-birdie). Bear that in mind next time you’re teeing off on your favourite long hole!

Events like the PGA Expo are a great way to connect, engage and learn more about our industry so well done to the PGA of Australia in putting this together.

Andrew DaviesComment