The Pro Shop opened its first store in the heart of Johannesburg’s CBD in 1976, today this iconic sports brand represents South Africa’s largest golf superstore offering sportsmen and women a full range of professional golfing equipment.
A focussed approach to its brand marketing and an understanding of its core target market has seen continued success for the brand following a decision to embrace programmatic marketing with the support of digital media buying agency Atmosphere Orange.
Today it continues to hold its position front and centre as the biggest golfing website in the country. The Pro Shop’s Marketing Manager Trevor Rebello discusses their campaign and the process which took them to the top of their game.
How did you first come to understand programmatic marketing and initiate the campaign with Atmosphere Orange?
We engaged Atmosphere Orange a year ago, around the time of our annual August sales and we saw immediate results. Since we had never used online campaigns of this nature before we have no benchmark to measure against but I can say that the company is doing better than it has compared to results of the past five years, while the industry as a whole is down over the same period.
At one stage, we did dabble with online advertising but found we had to think hard about which websites would work for our products and where our market would be visiting. We looked at sites such as Golf Weather, Super Sport or Golf Digest assuming golfers would be online there, but the CPMs we were being quoted were too high for the number of visitors they were seeing. We were spending the money but we weren’t able to track the results to leads or sales and so the pricing was too high.
Teaming up with Atmosphere Orange has definitely shifted the way we think about marketing. The Pro Shop has been in operation for 40 years. We were stuck with outdated thinking which focussed mainly on traditional forms of media and on an older LSM as we felt this was where spend was. We had never considered either our website or an online presence as part of our total sales turnover. Our main product, golf clubs, are also a high ticket item transaction, so The Pro Shop typically sees less online purchase averages than other types of online stores. Our target market likes to be able to try their golf clubs out before they purchase, so they come in store to get a feel for the clubs and see if they match their swing. The budgets from online couldn’t compare to our in store retail levels where clubs are custom fitted. Working with Atmosphere Orange, we moved away from a static product information focus to new product launch initiatives instead.
We now have 30 000 – 40 000 unique visits to our own website each month and are probably one of the biggest golfing websites in South Africa. When customers want to buy golf clubs they come directly to us. As a result, we currently set aside monthly budgets for our online advertising. Atmosphere Orange finds the golfers for us.
What was different with Atmosphere Orange and why did you decide to try them?
Atmosphere Orange reversed the approach. Instead of us advertising on a few websites where visitors were seeing our ads on TV and in magazines, they said they would find us golfers over many websites who weren’t already our customers, they would be unique views. I was impressed by their scientific approach. They were able to reduce the CPM and at the same time increase the number of impressions and all their claims were validated.
Were there any surprises in the process or in the results?
There were no surprises in the process. From the first meeting I was able to gain a good idea of how it was going to work. They would define the target market for the individual campaigns and the final pricing invoices matched the figures quoted in our initial meeting, together with the guarantees being met of a higher click through rate and a lower CPM.
Has it changed the way you think about your clients, branding, advertising or your business?
Prior to this, The Pro Shop was spending almost zero on online advertising. We were focussing on TV coverage at events and in magazines and paying massive amounts of money for a magazine circulation of about 40 000. Now we spend R20 000 per campaign over a two to four week period and get a million impressions. There is no guess work. For R20 000 we are getting at least 8 000 customers clicking through to our website, searching for information or making an online purchase.
Online spend now makes up about 8% of our total budget and we realise that even this is a low figure. We were very clearly shown that for less money we can target more golfers across all age groups. Our budget spend has to continue to increase in this direction. We are also putting more focus on our social media profiles and all have grown as a result, in just one year. We realise digital is the way forward – we definitely see the results.