There are 25 million golfers; some should be selling for me, thought Corky Newcomb, cofounder of Pick Point Sports, in Mirror Lake, N.H. That was in 1989, a few years after his now $10-million company introduced its Nitelite golf ball, the latest of its glow-in-the-dark sporting goods.
Back then retailers didn't believe anyone played golf at night, and wouldn't stock the ball. Newcomb needed to spread the word where it counted -- on the golf course. So he designed a campaign aimed at amateur golfers. The offer: persuade your club to sponsor its first Nitelite tournament and get a $100 reward. Newcomb promotes the offer through half-page ads in 10 golf magazines, which costs him about $150,000 a year, roughly 60% of his ad budget.
Pick Point has landed accounts with about 2,800 clubs through the grass-roots promotion, says Newcomb, who now counts 14,000 clubs as regular customers. Some 40,000 Nitelite tournaments have been held in 45 countries; exports now make up more than 17% of sales. Tournament sales (balls, tees, putters, hats, mugs, and light sticks to illuminate the course) are 30% of Pick Point's total revenues. Plus, the tournaments help Newcomb sell to specialty golf shops and mass merchants in all 50 states. "It's been an inexpensive way to expand sales," he says. -- Susan Greco