Branded Golf Balls “Invite” Stakeholders to Deeper Conversations, Stronger Relationships, for the Solar Energy Industries Association
Challenge: Building trusted relationships with association members, prospects and stakeholders.
Golf has been a quintessential business development tool ever since the modern form of the game took root in 12th century Scotland. What’s the attraction? A former executive director of the Executive Women’s Golf Association has been quoted as explaining it this way: “There are so many opportunities for emotional connection on the golf course that don’t exist when you are sitting around a conference table or having lunch. Emotion allows people to open up, to connect. Once you’re connected, you can have meaningful discussion and these meaningful discussions lead to good business.”
Something akin to “good business” on the green is what staff at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) seeks. SEIA, being the nation’s leading trade association for the solar energy industry, puts its considerable Washington, D.C.-based muscle into expanding markets, strengthening research and development, removing market barriers and improving education and outreach for solar energy professionals.
Slightly tweaking the “golf as a business development tool” model, the SEIA team uses golf as a relationship-building tool to forge and maintain connections with important members, prospective members, service providers, vendors, industry analysts, journalists and thought leaders. And in a clever use of golf-related promotional products, the SEIA team uses branded golf balls as invitations to the longer, more involved conversations that happen naturally during the game. SEIA representatives offer golf balls along with an invite to the tune of “Let’s play sometime” or “When can we use it?”
And the more relationship-building / golf meetings SEIA staff have with individual members of their audience, the stronger the relationship between them. SEIA ultimately hopes to build trusted connections secure enough that stakeholders and staff both feel comfortable picking up the phone when they need information or to speak frankly on sensitive or hotbed topics.
The challenge was to find the product that would be respected enough on the golf course to actually use, but also fit within the SEIA budget that would allow them to purchase a lot of them.
Solution: SEIA-Branded Callaway® Big Bertha golf balls.
ePromos’ Promotions Specialist Omer Cohen worked with members of the SEIA team, who ultimately chose for their unique “invitations” the Callaway® Big Bertha Golf Balls, a classic packaged and sold by the dozen and pad-printed in two to four colors. The redesigned Big Bertha, with a standard ionomer cover, is designed for distance, features a proprietary core that yields ultra-low compression and has a highly resilient polybutadiene core for a very soft feel. In other words, it is a golf ball of choice among discriminating golfers—the kind courted by the SEIA team.
Result: Stronger relationships, increased brand awareness and goodwill among audiences.
The SEIA team looks forward to reaping the full potential of the “golf invitation” program as they flesh it out over time. But they tell us that they believe it is already working, positively impacting staff-to-stakeholder relationships. Today, members of SEIA staff give “golf ball invitations” to important guests who stop by their office, as well as to key stakeholders they encounter in meetings around the country. The balls not only serve as keys to strong relationships; they also enhance brand awareness as recipients take the SEIA-branded balls back home and use them on their local courses. And because golfers love free golf goodies—one can never have enough golf balls and tees, after all!—recipients also take home with them a positive impression of SEIA as well. That’s an “ace” any day in our book!
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