We spoke with, Jess Nickerson who leads marketing at GolfForever about the eternal struggle with messaging, making a big impact with a small team, and the cannibalization of the Amazon Marketplace.


MA: Can you tell me a little bit about your background? How did you get into marketing?

JN: My whole career has been pretty much in marketing. I studied PR at college. A year out I came across a marketing coordinator role at Beach Body, which kind of led me to start looking more into marketing. And I realized that there’s a ton of crossover between public relations and marketing. So it seemed natural. I was there for eight years. 

MA: Wow, you must have seen a big shift in marketing – over eight years with a high-growth company…

JN: Yeah. So I started when DVDs were still a ‘thing’. We were doing a lot of infomercials on TV as the prime way to market, and then that since pivoted to going digital, so all of those programs then launched to a fitness streaming service. And then, right after I left, we had just launched the live class tier to compete with more of the Pelotons of the world. So I got to see that evolution, which was very cool to be a part of.

MA: Definitely. So what appealed to you with this role in GolfForever?

JN: I just am very passionate about health and fitness. And what I was focused on at Beach Body, was driving growth of its fitness subscription platform. And what I’m focused on at GolfForever, which is a golf fitness company, it’s driving growth of the golf fitness system for its app. So there were a lot of natural crossovers. Being part of a small startup environment is something that I have always wanted to do.

MA: So, tell me a bit about your strategy in pushing growth with GolfForever.

JN: First of all, ‘golf fitness’, in general, is newer to the golf world. There’s never been this idea that you need to be fit to play golf. So I consider us as trailblazers within the golf industry, and I think we really have some powerful partnerships at play that helps amplify ourselves so we appear bigger. For instance, in 2022 we signed Scotty Scheffler, who is now the number one golfer in the world. So we signed him when he was an up and comer. Right now, we have the number one golfer behind our brand. This past January, we signed a deal with the PGA Tour partnership. So we’re now the official golf fitness system.

MA: So that’s where your PR background comes into play. Wow, that’s really impressive. 

JN: Yeah so we have these big athletes, big companies like the PGA Tour behind our brain, helping add credibility.

MA: So, how do you leverage these partnerships? What’s the messaging involved?

JN: Yeah, I think there’s a couple of things. Number one, it’s adding credibility to a small startup brand. Then, when you see actual PGA Tour players using it and benefiting from it, which is what they were doing and then plugging that into Scottie Scheffler, number one golfer in the world, that immediately gives you exposure. 

MA: I see

JN: Now, to be ‘candid’, the struggle that we face is we found our core audience is the older golfer, male, 50 plus, and they’re very much focused on, sometimes, playing better, but playing longer. And that’s a benefit of GolfForever. 

However, by featuring these tour players constantly, who are a lot younger, and they’re also very performance based, we fear that there’s a little bit of disconnect. Disconnect because the older golfer is intimidated in a way, by like, oh, these are Scheffler’s workout. Am I really going to do that? I just play golf and go that way. 

And then, because we use Scotty Scheffler, or have in the past, so much within our ads and everywhere, people think of us as the Scotty Scheffler brand, which we’re so much more. So we’re in the process now of trying to get back to our core audience, continually test and learn different approaches, especially with, you know, a person who aligns more with them, versus Scotty Scheffler. And use more variety within our marketing assets than we have done previously.

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MA: Okay, so your theory is more varied messaging = the potential for the messaging to resonate with your audience?

JN: Yeah, as well as testing out different demographics in our campaigns, also another messaging standpoint of: ‘Hey, you’re going to play your best golf with GolfForever’, versus the pain messaging, like the longevity angle…‘You could play pain-free doing the thing that you love so much.’

Then we see what’s resonating more.

MA: So, would you say that’s kind of your biggest marketing pain point at the moment?

JN: I would say simplification is just, or complexity is, a problem that I continuously struggle with in that we struggle to understand what initiatives are going to make the biggest impact. We have a very small team, so we can’t do it all. So figuring out the best way to simplify what our focus is a struggle. And the other thing, too, is we do run a lot of media. I think there’s always questions of, like, what channels, what type of campaigns, how much should you spend on each? That’s just a constant question that I have.

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MA: So, is there a brand that you would liken GolfForever to? Do you take inspiration from your competitors?

JN: Peloton for sure. Their branding is very premium and simple. Although they have a number of subscriptions and options compared to when they were at their peak a couple of years ago. So I take inspiration from the fact that I (and the team) really try to keep the GolfForever options simple. Especially for our demographic, we don’t want to overwhelm or complicate the process.

MA: Amazon now. It’s a whole other beast. You obviously sell on Amazon and you sell wholesale and you sell on your website. 

JN: Yes. And we’re seeing a shift. We launched Amazon in December 2022. And now we’re starting to see the shift where Amazon’s making up more sales than golfforever.com, which historically, you know, golfforever.com was our prime sales driver.

MA: You basically have to be on Amazon as a US DTC brand, right? 

JN: When you have an audience, it’s a marketplace that you basically have to be on. And when people see your brand, what we see like a tv commercial, while that will direct people to golfforever.com, what they’re doing is going Amazon because they want the fast shipping and they know the Amazon purchasing process so well.

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