direct mail, Marketing, Media, Sports

How the USGA Got My Attention, Fast.

My walk to the mailbox this morning was rewarded by an irresistible offer from the U.S. Golfing Association. A FREE hat!USGA 2014-09-15 505 hat

How can you say no?

Their generosity gives me hope, too. This may be the re-emergence of the direct mail gift premium.

Once there was a time when any subscription offer came with a free gift. A calculator. A tote bag.   We even received a world globe from Macleans Magazine.


A worldly gift with every subscription.

USGA 2014-09-15 504

The USGA wants me. They actually want me!

This kit begged to be opened. Not because there was a hat, but because the USGA had enclosed a card. For me. An official USGA card for a horrible axe-wielding duffer who scores a rambunctious 108 on a good day.

My handicap is so far off the chart I get a special space to park the golf cart.

USGA 2014-09-15 505 card

I am keeping this close by until my real card arrives, with my hat.

Nevertheless, I am moved by the card. I want it. Opening the kit, I am further thrilled to see that I can join the USGA and get a FREE USGA Open 2015 hat.

USGA 2014-09-15 505 slogan

A great slogan. But they don’t know me well.

At this moment, we have approximately 30 hats on the coat rack, all emblazoned with someone else’s logo. I don’t need another hat. But truly, I want this USGA hat.

USGA 2014-09-15 505

A compact offer, with color, balance, and readable content.

It’s like they recognize me. And how I have toiled to write “single-bogey” on a par 3.

Economics: Does This Kit Pay For Itself?

USGA 2014-09-15 505 benefits

All this stuff comes with the hat. How can you decline?

As thrilled as I am, and I am sure countless thousands of other golfers are thrilled at a Free hat offer, will the USGA lose its shirt with this offer?

No way, and here’s why:

All in, the postage and production for this piece was probably 40-cents. Let’s say they mailed 100,000 pieces. That’s $40,000 out of pocket. Now imagine that 2% of the readers sign up. They each pay $10 to join USGA. That’s 2,000 new members, for $20,000.

But the hat probably cost USGA $10, so the USGA ends up with 2,000 new members, each with a new hat. And a $40,000 bill.

USGA 2014-09-15 507Imagine now that the USGA direct marketing manager goes into the president, and says, “Chief, I just got 2,000 new members. They cost us $20 each!”

He replies, “Awesome– because at least 1,000 of these members will renew next year for $25 each. And 50 of these members will come to the Open and drop about $250 a day sipping coolers in the Club at Chambers Bay between strolls along the course to see the pros.  We pretty much break even.”

Second Thoughts About The Hat

USGA 2014-09-15 505 email

This microscopic email form has just enough room for “@”.

I have mailed my reply, and am quietly excited about my new hat.  And the free golf rules I get, and all the other stuff.  But really, it’s the hat.


The thrill of mail order is waiting for the merchandise.

And then I start to think, what happens when I wear this hat?   First off, it’s yellow– school bus yellow.   So I will be easily identifiable on any golf course, or in any bar, as the duffer who went for the $10 hat.

Some earnest, scratch golfer will ask, “Are you going to the Open in Chambers Bay?”

“No, not really.”

“So why the hat?”

Or some hopeless hacker like myself will see the hat and ask, “Can you help me with my swing?”

“No. I’ll make your helicopter swing look like Blackhawk Down.”

So the hat is on its way, but I am not exactly sure I can wear it.

USGA PhilAnd that just might be “For the good of the game”.






Thanks for reading.   If you are a direct marketer, perhaps you should test out some gift premiums.   And make sure you put me on your list.


6 thoughts on “How the USGA Got My Attention, Fast.

    • Great to hear from you Al. Please leave a stone with Sally from Jane and me. My golf game is much improved, even though my score would not indicate that. Give Hedi, Nancy and Margaret -each- a big hug from me. I wish I was there to join you!


  1. Allan Gross says:

    Hey Phil, particularly enjoyed your precise analysis on this one as Billy and I worked on USGA for many years. I’m guessing about 8 years if the number of “open” hats I have is correct. Had to join every year, no free-bees. Also interesting to note that the Statement of Benefits acquisition package we developed is still active. Hard to beat a proven cost efficient, benefits driven appeal…especially one that offers a FREE HAT! Best regards, Allan.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s