UT NEWS & Updates

LPGA Online Marketing Initiative

Posted by bmckamey on July 15th, 2009   Advertising, Interactive, Sports Marketing

This week a contingent of players on the Tour led the ouster of commissioner Carolyn Bivens in hopes of finding a new leader that will lead them to the promise land of more events, more sponsors, more TV coverage, more earnings, and more overall sporting relevance.

One of the things we hope the new commissioner does is lead the players to a new level of marketing – individual marketing online to be specific – because the players and their reps either don’t get it or don’t want to put in the time to make it work.

CNBC’s Sports Business reporter Darren Rovell, recently wrote that unless the big names (Gulbis, Creamer, Wie, Pressel) start winning more events that the Tour will always be destined to play second fiddle. We counter that ALL LPGA Tour names need to start marketing themselves and the Tour more in the most cost effective way, and on the only 24/7/365 marketing channel – online.

Official Website Program
The Tour should start an initiative (possibly with an overall technology partner) to ensure every single member has some form of official website to help in promoting their own brand, the Tour, the Events, and Sponsors (Tour and Individual). Within that official site strategy should also be complimentary social media components (Blog, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, Downloadable Widgets).

You would think at least the top-tier players would take this step on their own (how many have national TV commercials or ongoing marketing campaigns to maintain the spotlight) – but going back to Rovell’s column, of the big four listed only Gulbis has an official website (we worked with Nat for years and she’s still our girl, but the site is nothing more than a reskin of one we did 7 years ago – you deserve better).

Granted all but Creamer are on Twitter (Paula’s supposed real account was recently suspended), but Twitter is nowhere near the overall marketing tool that an official website is. If Paula, Michelle, and Morgan don’t see the value to themselves and the livelihood of their Tour – then the LPGA needs to step in and develop & run sites for them.

LPGA Diversity
Much is also written (complained) about how diverse the Tour is and how many non-Americans win the events and that they aren’t media-friendly.  Another benefit to all the players having official sites is the ability to offer multilingual options so media and fans can get a better sense of all the foreign players.

Case in point the most recent US Open winner Eun-Hee Ji needed a translator for her post-win interview. A fan & marketing-friendly solution would have been the ability to goto her official website and read a statement or Open recap from Eun-Hee that is viewable in English or Korean. A simple solution to help in breaking down the diversity barriers with so many foreign players on Tour.

First Step
We’re not claiming that an official site initiative will bring the LPGA to the popularity level of the NFL. For sure there are any number of components that need to be worked out:
-Better TV & programming deal.
-Better marketing campaigns around the players (think Gillette Young Guns).
-Consideration of going to 54-holes for all none Major events.
-Better scheduling (and promotion) of the Majors – Make them Major!.
-etc., etc.

The sports marketplace is what it is, you can’t control which players win, you can’t wait for an LPGA version of Tiger Woods to carry the Tour. Online is the only 24/7/365 marketing channel the Tour will ever have to market the players, events, and sponsors.

The Tour should mandate the initiative, offer website tiers with an overall coordinated strategy, and the players need to make the effort to promote their brand and the Tour’s brand online.

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