The Product: Online Golf Lessons
Having discovered what he describes as the secret to the perfect swing, David Nevogt of PurePoint Golf is attempting to master the art of recurring revenue. His Scottsdale, Arizona, company, which is on track to gross $1.3 million this year, sells books and instructional DVDs that teach golfers how to lower their handicap. Lately, PurePoint has begun to push Web-based tutorials. For a monthly fee of $15, users can upload video of themselves playing, compare it with slow-motion footage of pros, and pinpoint areas for adjustment. They can also e-mail with the company's golf pro. Nevogt believes this subscription-based model has the potential to eclipse his DVD business. So far, 2,100 subscribers have signed up, meeting PurePoint's initial goal. But Nevogt is still figuring out how to market the offering. A recent e-mail campaign that targeted golf magazine subscribers bombed, yielding a conversion rate of less than 1 percent. How can PurePoint more effectively sell the subscription service? We asked four entrepreneurs to take a swing at it.
Pitch no. 1: Partner Up
Tom Cox, CEO of Golfballs.com, a golf retail website based in Lafayette, Louisiana
"It's going to be an uphill battle selling this. The service is competing against golf pros, who can provide their customers with a better experience through face-to-face instruction. What's more, YouTube has trained the world that online videos should be free, and you can find a ton of golf videos on the site. PurePoint should connect with a good, solid lead generator, such as an online tee-time company or a golf e-commerce site. The partner can display an offer for PurePoint's product on its website after a customer checks out -- a discounted 12-month subscription package would make a nice Christmas gift."
Pitch No. 2: Raise the Price
Chris Hurn, CEO of Mercantile Commercial Capital, a commercial property loan company in Altamonte Springs, Florida
"I think this has the ability to disrupt the golf instruction model. You can access it whenever you feel like it and get one-on-one feedback from an instructor at a fraction of the cost of hiring a pro. Nevogt needs to play up that differentiation. What he's charging is way too low for the value the service has. I would raise the price to $99 a month. He may very well cut some subscribers in the process, but he'll have more dedicated users, who will be more likely to talk up the service among their friends."
Pitch No. 3: Teach a Celeb
Ed Sattar, CEO of 360training, an Austin-based company that provides online career training courses
"To distinguish PurePoint from the competition, Nevogt could offer free lessons to a celebrity, a former athlete or an actor, and post videos of that person playing golf. He should also try to earn a ranking in Golf Magazine's annual list of the top 25 golf schools. And he should partner with traditional golf shops on a program that allows the shops to give their customers coupons or discount codes for PurePoint's online tutorials, while PurePoint could offer special deals to its subscribers who patronize these retail stores."
Pitch No. 4: Personalize the Offering
Smita Pasumarthi, co-CEO of Ultimo Software Solutions, a software and IT services company in San Jose, California
"There's a lot of golf instructional material available for free, which means the experience of each user needs to be personalized even before he or she subscribes. To accomplish that, the site should collect information on what, exactly, visitors are looking for. What aspect of their game do they want to improve most? Then PurePoint should direct prospects to content that specifically matches their interests. That one-to-one feeling will get people excited about the product. Even if visitors don't subscribe, their contact information should be collected so that an instructor can follow up personally, by phone or by e-mail."
Feedback on the Feedback:
Nevogt likes the idea of increasing the monthly rate, although $99 seems a bit steep to him. "I'd have to add some more functionality if I was going to charge that much," he says. Nevogt also agrees that it makes sense to explore partnerships with other websites, and he has thought about striking an endorsement deal with a celebrity; he's less inclined to pursue the idea of posting videos of a celebrity taking lessons from PurePoint, on the theory that few celebrities would be game for that kind of commitment. And seeking the imprimatur of Golf Magazine does not appeal to Nevogt. "We don't need to be a Golf top 25 school," he says, "to prove our product works."
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