The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a part of Journal Communications, is a 203,000 circulation newspaper in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We have been featuring deals on DealWatch, our deals site, since 2011.
In 2013, my fellow Account Executive Jennifer Bartelme and I decided to put together a golf card featuring discounts at area courses. We worked together through every stage of the process, from planning and prospecting to selling and launching.
Since the golf courses have to water the grass and tend to the holes whether 5 or 50 people are playing, their top goal is to fill their tee sheet and make sure as many people as possible are out playing.
A golf card is a great way to get people to the courses, so Jennifer and I were ultimately able to sell the card to 12 area courses and offer it as a $99 for $450 deal (that’s a 78% discount!) to our customers. We launched the card at the end of November and plan to run it through the end of June.
When we were preparing to sell our golf card, we put together a promotional package that spoke to the needs of the courses. Since the recession, the price per round has decreased, so golf courses want to get more people out golfing without having to discount their rates even more. Participating in a golf card promotions allows them to do exactly that, because a one-time free visit over the summer will expose their course to a new audience without degrading their standard pricing.
Furthermore, golf courses have limited ad budgets – often only a few thousand dollars a year. Running a deal with a trade model allows the courses to increase that budget while also benefiting from all of the promotion around the deal itself. To make the most of this benefit, approach courses in September and October when they are doing their planning for the year.
When we were pitching this package we kept our presentation short and simple in order to focus on actually having a conversation with each course. There were, however, a few points that we were always sure to hit on.
- We told the courses that they would be featured alongside others of the same level of quality – we wouldn’t be cheapening their brand.
- We explained that golf card buyers are serious golfers, so a higher price point for the card is actually a positive for them.
- We showed off the potential for gathering valuable analytics from the promotion. Courses love seeing that the card buyers are coming in from across the entire region!
To ensure that our card was a high-quality offer, we did a lot of online research and read reviews of the courses we were considering before we actually went out and started selling. We ultimately targeted full-length (6,000+ yards) par 70 courses with green fees ranging from midrange to high-end (between $40 and $90).
In exchange for their agreement to be listed on our golf card, we offered the courses an advertising menu with 12 options – including banner ads, emails, and listing in our regular golf section – that they could use anytime in 2014. These options were very flexible for the courses, as there was no co-branding involved and they could use the credits just as if they had actually purchased the advertising.
In addition to these ad credits, all of the courses were included in the promotion for the card itself. The promotional value of this campaign was $77,000, and it included the following elements:
- Print Ads
- AM & FM radio ads on our sister station
- Online Ads
- Facebook ads (We saw spike in sales immediately after posting these ads!)
- Push down ad
- ROS banners on JSonline.com
- JSOnline Golf Card Promotion
- Email geo-targeted to counties closest to the golf courses
- Press Release on PR Web
- Sales at local Golf Shows in February and March
We launched the card toward the end of November, and have already generated over $80,000 in gross revenue from customers in 6 different states. There’s plenty more revenue to be made, since we have no caps for how many we can sell and we are not planning to discount the card at all as the season progresses.
Why It Worked
- Golfers like the physical card.
- Golfers will travel up to 2-3 hours to visit a great course.
- We turned down some courses that weren’t high-quality enough to include on the card.
- We pitched and priced the card as higher-end in order to attract the right courses and clientele.