One year ago today, the PuttBANDIT website went live and we made our first sales of PuttBANDIT ball markers. It’s been an amazing year, full of Covid challenges, putting insights, learning new skills and building new customer relationships. Here’s a brief review of PuttBANDIT year one.
From prototypes to production
The PuttBANDIT had to conform to equipment rules. It took several R&A prototype examinations and subsequent design updates until the PuttBANDIT was “ruled to conform to the Rules of Golf.”
One of our promising multipurpose designs failed the test. The St Andrews examiners cleverly configured the detachable pitch mark repair tool, incorporated into an early prototype, to extend the PuttBANDIT beyond the maximum 2 inches in the equipment rules. Thanks to their expertise and ruthless testing, we adapted the design, passed the examination and the current PuttBANDIT was born. We still like that prototype though.
Lockdown videos and Astroturf
Our first ‘How it works’ videos were made during the COVID lockdown. Golf courses were closed. Real greens were off-limits. So we converted a stone courtyard into a golf green with a roll of Astroturf and brushed away the snow flurry. By April 2021 we were shooting on real greens and 44,000 views later those videos are still popular on YouTube.
PuttBANDIT goes online
It’s a mind-focusing moment when you switch on your first ecommerce website, even after you’ve tested, tweaked and re-tested numerous times. You watch over it all day and night, like a first-time parent with a newborn baby. And then suddenly the first orders appear. It’s a surprisingly emotional moment. Our new website launch is due very soon and those sleepless nights will be equally exciting.
Bunkered – in a good way
By the summer of 2021 we featured in the gear section of Bunkered magazine and website with the headline – PuttBANDIT: The ball marker that helps you putt better. This generated some great publicity and a strong response from the Scottish readership. The Scottish golf community, from Glasgow to Edinburgh and has since become, one of our keenest customer groups.
Asking all your customers to tell you what they think of your first product is a bit nail-biting. But research and customer feedback was in our DNA. Our August customer research survey provided some very positive responses. Better than we had predicted.
The vast majority of responders, of all ages, found it easy to use, good value for money, happy to recommend, and most important of all, they were lowering their scores by taking less putts. With the number of PuttBANDIT users growing fast, we are planning more customer research at the start of this season. Read more in our research blog.
The UK golfing season
I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that the UK golf business is very seasonal. The UK summer playing peak and Christmas gifting period all spike demand for golfing gear. A key reason to plan a future launch in the winter golfing states of the USA and southern Europe. However, by delivering some great offers supported by new advertising campaigns, we managed to beat our demand expectations and have delivered PuttBANDITs to golfers from Petershead to Penzance and Dover to Lough Erne.
Statistically speaking, the golfers of Great Grimsby are particularly focused on their putting alignment. Perhaps our new black and white striped model will prove popular with Grimsby Town F.C. fans. We hope so.
In our first year we needed to learn our trade with online sales to the UK. But when a product goes viral, good news goes global. We’ve had a surprising level of interest from golfers all around the world.
Although international exports are challenging, particularly in the EU post Brexit, we now have PuttBANDIT users on courses in the USA, Europe and as far away as Thailand and New Zealand. And with the Ryder Cup coming up next year, we’re looking forward to helping more golfers with their putting in many more countries.
The classic green PuttBANDIT was a natural choice for our first golf product. Definitely the most popular colour for grass and the second most popular colour in the USA, an important future market. In Scotland, Celtic fans were delighted with our classic green, Rangers fans, a little less.
In our August survey, customers asked for more colour choices, with red and blue in demand and black providing maximum white stripe contrast for line targeting. So red, blue and black PuttBANDITs will be launching later this month. It’s going to be a colourful golfing season.
So as we blow out the candle and eat a slice of cake, we send our heartfelt thanks to all our first year customers for their support, their positive reviews and development requests. Thank you very much. We really do appreciate your business.
Neil and Paul Hart are co-inventors of the PuttBANDIT ball marker.
PuttBANDIT Ltd is not affiliated, endorsed by, or connected to other brands or websites that we may mention or link to in our communications.