Since its incorporation in mid-2015, Performance54 has evolved into one of the golf industry’s success stories. Responsible for marketing some of world golf’s best-known brands and destinations, the business operates in 23 countries and has recently announced an expansion programme, adding to its Asia-Pacific team. GBN spent some time with Managing Director, Jed Moore, to take a closer look at the business.
How would you assess the business’s development over the past three years?
I think we have a made solid progress and justified our decision to create a business dedicated exclusively to golf. We work with an exceptional client base and have managed to attract some of the most talented people.
We work in 23 markets and employ 35 marketing professionals, from a broad range of backgrounds and with unrivalled experience.
We are on an exciting journey and are proud of what we have achieved thus far.
What is the vision of Performance54 and what does your service scope cover?
The business was founded on our belief in being specialists. We had seen first-hand the challenges of focussing on multiple sports and wanted to invest in dedicating our efforts to an area we were each passionate about; golf.
We also felt the industry was transitioning and ready to embrace new ways of thinking and working. We wanted to be part of the game’s future and applied ourselves to be part of new initiatives.
With this, advancing the sales and marketing function by injecting new energy with a direct focus on performance was at the heart of where we wanted to exist. By drawing on our experiences in the industry, framed with a healthy dose of modern thinking, we set about building a business that could cover all elements we felt were pertinent for delivering successful campaigns.
For this reason, one of our earliest investments was in a creative division. We wanted to ensure our work carried a distinct look and feel and allowed us to bring to life our creative thinking while also allowing us to build exciting content for our clients.
In the same vein, we integrated a production team within the business, giving us the ability to stage, manage and produce high-spec video content.
All of this was designed to stimulate the digital component of the business and frequently populate modern channels with compelling content. This has all been in an effort to keep pace with modern day society and shifting consumption habits.
Our business divisions include; Strategic Consulting, Trade and Tourism, Content & Production, PR & Comms, Advertising, Sponsorship Sales & Activation and Event Management.
What is the background of the team?
The collective experience spans many years in the golf business and includes some remarkably talented individuals.
My fellow Directors, Matt Selby, Gary Davidson and Matt Brookbanks each specialise in their own sectors.
Matt S worked with the Abu Dhabi government and was responsible for the development and management of multi-million-dollar sports events. The insights into, firstly, the rights-holder space and the correlation between destination marketing and economic impact makes Matt one of the most dynamic and knowledgeable people you could ever wish to meet.
Gary has been a fixture in the golf business for over a decade and has seen the industry from every angle: managing players, tournament promotions, rights holder activation, brand marketing – you name it, Gary has done it. He is logistically orientated and will task the teams with thinking through every aspect of all our client initiatives.
Matt B is coming up to ten years in the industry and has been responsible for managing multi-million-pound investments in golf. There are very few people who can match his knowledge base and the skill with which he approaches the creation and delivery of commercial partnerships.
We are also very fortunate to have Scott Peddie as our Head of PR & Comms. He joined us from VisitScotland in January 2017 and is the bedrock for the team.
The wider team plays a pivotal role in bringing creative ideas to life and striving to deliver the highest standards. It sounds like management cliché, but our team is the heartbeat of the business and we are constantly looking at new ways of working and embracing modern tactics.
How has marketing changed in golf?
The speed with which technology moves, creating an abundance of new touch points for consumers, has increased the importance on delivering engaging content and has created a very challenging market place, elevating the requirements on marketing.
I think we are probably in the eye of an ‘experimentation storm’, where some brands see the onus falling on volume rather than quality when it comes to introducing marketing initiatives.
The rush to populate channels with something has, for some, come at the expense of being relevant and creative. It is an area we invest a great deal of time in and refuse to do something for the sake of it.
From a media perspective, we are seeing positive advancements from some of the major players. A better understanding of their audiences and utilising trusted and modern distribution strategies allows us to be more prescribed with our marketing programmes.
I think Rick Shiels (pictured) is a clear example of how things have changed. When you look at the giant strides he has made in leading the way with new forms of content, resulting in incredible levels of instant engagement globally – you realise we are in a very different world than we were even just a few years back. When you see the influence his partnership with The Open Championship has had on their channel views, you can’t help but feel we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
Another general trend is the constant requirement for ‘live’ marketing nowadays. The real-time and ‘in the moment’ requirements have certainly shifted traditional marketing strategies and meant the resource requirements have increased tenfold.
How do you view the general health of the game today?
I think golf is wrestling to find a comfortable slot in this transitional period – but you feel there are some exciting times and considerable new potential just around the corner. The industry is facing some difficulties in a time of rapidly changing consumer habits and, with so many stakeholders in the game, it is hard to strike the perfect balance. We are blessed with some exceptional thinkers in this industry, so am confident we are embarking on a strong new era for the game.
From our personal experience, we are seeing the game find its feet in major new markets. Our experience in Saudi Arabia and watching major groups embrace the sport and recognise its domestic merits was inspiring. It is a similar story in Vietnam where the game is experiencing rapid growth.
However, we must recognise that the game’s uptake in more traditional markets such as the US and UK will determine its sustainability in new frontiers, as well as its ability to find economic equilibrium. Without that, there is no sustainable model for growth.
I do think the game can be better represented in some cases, whether that is through offering guidance to emerging markets on best practice or through better communicating the positive traits that the game can instil in individuals, correlating to societal and behavioural benefits.
I feel strongly about the opportunity of integrating golf into the national curriculum but appreciate the effort and organisation required to achieve this, and that there are currently a number of organisations doing very good work in this space.
We need influential members of the industry to lobby media owners to portray the best aspects of golf more frequently in the back pages, in order to convert people to or bring people back to the game.
There is a challenge to keep brands engaged and we really need to champion new ideas to ensure partnerships remain relevant and attractive but, most importantly, connected to results.
When it comes to tourism, we need to better educate stakeholders as to the wider value that investment into golf brings. We spend a lot of time providing insights on economic impact to show where the value of the game lies and how best to unlock it.
Is golf tourism a major part of your business?
It is an area that has distinguished many of our careers. Abu Dhabi was one of my earlier experiences starting back in ’05 and a time that myself and Matt S had a chance to collaborate on a major project; Golf in Abu Dhabi.
We are working with governments, sovereign wealth funds and major development and hotel groups, in many countries, developing new critical pathways on best-fit strategies.
From here we are helping to formulate connected sales and marketing functions to ensure we have the right product, a compelling story and effective marketing programme to grow demand among members of the trade and customers.
What lessons have you learnt over the last three years?
A few years back I was told something that has stuck with me; “It wasn’t meant to be easy.”
I have been fortunate to learn from some great people over the years and acknowledging that hard work is required to make a success of things has instilled a real sense of determination.
We’ve also all come to appreciate the importance of team work, trust and dedication.
Finally, it has been important to embrace different ways of working as we continue to grow and to learn from those you work most closely with.
What do you think the future holds for the golf industry?
Golf in some markets suffers from a certain stigma. The game carries an abundance of positive traits that are often glossed over.
I have witnessed the impact of initiatives like the Evans Scholars Foundation – watching youngsters benefit from being outdoors, surrounded by upstanding members of the community, enjoying the game but with a focus on education. We need more initiatives like this that bring youngsters closer to the game, so they can fully appreciate it.
There are some great initiatives in play, but the industry needs to continue to offer its support and promote the benefits of health and wellbeing and the community spirit that golf and golf clubs foster.
I can see progress being made and get a sense that certain areas of the industry are beginning to wake up to what these programmes mean for the future, but you can always do more.
Jed Moore, thank you very much
Performance 54 www.performance54.com