Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

I was flipping through the Wall Street Journal today (Heaven forfend! I'm still reading print!), ready to fold it up and toss it in the recycling bin, when a 4C full page ad on the back of the Marketplace section caught my eye.

It was an ad for Titleist featuring 20 golf balls with different logos sitting on newsprint. The headline was "Excellence is the best investment" and the golf balls had logos from a wide variety of well-known brands such as Fidelity, Marriott, Lexus, EMC, Ocean Spray, Timberland and FedEx. In an effort to entice readers to associate their own brands with Titleist, the ad encouraged readers to go to titleist.com/customball to create logoed golf balls of their own.

It may be an old cliche, but there's still a ring of truth to it: a good deal of the business world uses golf as part of deepening relationships. Prospects, customers, employees, board members - essentially any constituency that matters - can be drawn into the conversation and engaged on a more personal and human level while on the golf course. But what does that have to do with the Titleist ad and social media?

This is a great example of an old-school company adapting to the world of new marketing and new technology as part of its branding efforts. Titleist gets the benefit of being able to run an ad with 20 well known brands that have created custom logos, thus strengthening their own, and they get wider exposure by encouraging what is essentially consumer-generated content (i.e. your own logo on a golf ball).

Here's my take on how their service delivers.

The Good
I had never before thought of or desired to visit the Titleist Web site. Golf balls are very nearly a commodity (or should be, the way I golf!) and in my mind don't offer much in the way of differentiation. Even though they aren't marketed this way, I think all golf balls are pretty much equivalent. For my money, the clubs (and the lessons) make the difference.

So I give Titleist full credit for getting me to visit their site based on a nice piece of creative with a compelling call to action.

Once there, you can select from event-related balls (birthdays, launches, etc.) or simply design your own ball. The interface is very smooth with - its Flash-enabled - and it allows you do quickly navigate through the steps.

  1. Choose the type of cusomtomization - name, logo, name & logo, etc.
  2. One, two or three lines of text in your choice of 4 colors
  3. Your logo
  4. Type of Titleist ball you'd like
  5. Standard or customized packaging
It's as easy as drag & drop, and you can resize and crop your logo so it fits on the face of the ball.

Room for Improvement
Here's where Titleist falls down on this otherwise cool site:
  1. Logo balls require a minimum order of 12 boxes (144 balls). That may be fine if you're going to a lot of shows, have a lot of customers, or you lose a lot of balls. But if you're looking to do something on the small end, it's not really an option. An example of a company that does it right with small orders of highly customized material is Moo.
  2. There's no pricing information.
  3. Once you're done with your design and are ready to place your order, it's not as simple as clicking "order now." You need to physically print out your order, gather a high-res file of your logo and track down your nearest "authorized Titleist golf shop or promotional products distributor." At least you can go back to the main site and click on their Golf Shop Locator to find one near you.
All in all, this is not a bad service. And like Moo, it's an interesting and unique way to brand yourself at smaller events like unconferences.

Note: I am in no way affiliated with Titleist nor was I paid or approached by Titleist to write this post. I'm simply a social media expert with golf on the brain as spring rolls around.

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