PGA Tour Brings DM to the Fore to Target Golf Fans

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The PGA Tour has turned to direct marketing to collect data about participants in the booming sport of golf.


PGA Tour Direct, launched in conjunction with Glen Eagle Marketing, Irvington, NY, is developing an initial database of 600,000 active golfers this year and has plans to reach 7 million golfers by 2001. The database will be used by the PGA Tour's tournament organizers and corporate sponsors to sell tickets, merchandise and related offers to a highly targeted audience of golf lovers.


"Our tournaments don't have turnstiles to keep track, but it sure appears that attendance is at an all-time high,'' said Mike Mueller, manager of consumer marketing for the PGA Tour. "The demographics of those fans are pretty desirable for advertisers, and we want to be able to reach those people and have their backgrounds right at our fingertips.''


The database will be built this year through telephone interviews and subsequent mailings of golf-themed packages in 12 markets that host PGA Tour and Senior PGA Tour events, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Philadelphia.


Robert Abshire, managing partner of Glen Eagle Marketing, said the database will grow by 20 markets each year, reaching all 70 markets that host the two tours within four years.


Glen Eagle starts by calling households in each market area. Although some of the calls are targeted from lists of past tournament attendees and magazine subscriptions, most are cold calls. Those who express an interest in golf then are sent a direct mail piece.


The mail piece contains ticket information, a viewer's guide and merchandise offers for each tournament, but the key to the program is a six-page golf and lifestyle questionnaire. Participating advertisers can place custom questions in the surveys, and each tournament can design its own inserts.


"[Tour officials] have never really had a handle on who were their consumers,'' said Dave Kempton of the Kempton Group, Cincinnati, which is handling marketing and sales of the mail piece for Glen Eagle. "And if we were going to build a database, why don't we get as much information as possible.''


Tournament lists generated from the PGA Tour Direct database will be available to participating advertisers and sponsors for solo campaigns. Response rates to the questionnaire are running between 20 percent and 25 percent from the first tournament of the year, the Phoenix Open.


The PGA Tour also has a membership program called the Tour Partners Club, which costs $24 per year and is geared toward the individual rather than particular tournaments. Because PGA Tour Direct is location-driven, it holds much greater potential for targeted marketing than the Partners Club.


"For local tournaments, the questionnaire gives them exposure to new people,'' Kempton said. "In the future, they can build their own database.''
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