SBJ/June 12 - 18, 2006/SBJ In Depth

Branding consultant shares her strategy on working with LPGA clients

Wendy Newman has answered her share of late-night phone calls, text messages and e-mails. As founder and developer of Person-Centered Branding, she’s pretty much on call 24/7 for her clients. That client list now includes the LPGA Tour, which enlisted Newman to help interested players work on their individual branding and marketing strategies. About 50 LPGA players have hired Newman, who says her approach is simple: Keep it real and make money only part of the overall equation.

How is your approach different from other marketing advisers?

I kind of call it “therapeutic marketing” because I’m working with each person individually and focusing on who they really are, their personal lives and their business lives both on and off the golf course; what they’re doing now and what they’re going to do when their careers end. We’re looking at shifting their belief system and anything that’s stopping them from having everything they want. We then look at what they want to accomplish and from a place where it becomes a real win-win for everybody.

What kind of relationship does that create with your clients, particularly golfers?

I’m kind of like their swing coach, except it’s business and personal. I’m a different type of coach. Every week we do sessions on the phone and then follow-ups with e-mail. If I’m at a location, I meet them in person or if we’re near each other in a certain city. … A lot depends on the support system they have in place. I like to pull everybody in. It’s really creating a team. Golf is such an individual sport, but this helps them actually utilize who they currently have as part of their team and how it’s their support system.

Do you demand or ask the players to change their behavior, to be more colorful or subdued?

What I do is I first work with them and find out who they really are. Now there are times when a player has a really fun, funky personality and really loves fun, crazy clothes, but hasn’t really put that out there yet because they were afraid. They feel like they should stay with traditional golf clothes. But if that’s who they are, then absolutely we go in that direction. But I never say to somebody, “You should wear this.” It’s all based on 100 percent what fits to who they are, not, “Oh, this will get you an endorsement.” It’s got to be real, got to be authentic. They’re not pretending to be somebody they’re not or having to create an image that doesn’t sustain itself long term.

Do you ever use athletes in other sports as an example or model?

A lot of times we will look at different athletes and the opportunities they took or didn’t take. It’s interesting, because you’ll never hear me say, “You have to win a tournament” or “You have to do this” because no matter where they’re at, we can absolutely make something happen for them. And the other part of it is, which I think a lot of people miss, is that everybody assumes all 144 players out there are working hard to be No. 1. That’s not true. There are players out there that have a really full life; there are a lot of women out there that have kids. They’re doing this because it’s their passion and they think, “How lucky am I that I get to travel with my family and be out on a golf course. This is the best life in the world.” They know if they gave up time with their kids, their family or side business, then they could play better. That’s their choice. Not everybody is on the course just to be No. 1. So we look at them and ask what is their goal.

What are some of the obstacles that players — especially younger players — face when it comes to getting endorsements?

The only obstacles in my mind are the limited beliefs they’re walking around with — that’s my attitude. I start working with these players and they’ve been told, “You can’t make any money until you do X, Y and Z. So get on that course, work really hard and until you’re in the top 10, sorry I can’t do anything, but call me back.” There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s one way to set up endorsement deals and that’s fine. I’m just saying there are so many other ways. There’s so much we can do.

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