Golfing for Marketers

by: Doug Michaelides

I found myself on the links for the first round of golf of the season a few days ago (actually, it was my first time in 3 years which tells you a whole lot about my game…).  Since golf is a thinking person’s game, while hunting for my ball I got thinking about the many parallels between golf and marketing.

I started to relate the 18 holes in a golf course to the series of marketing campaigns that a typical company might run over the course of a year.  A successful round of golf is the accumulation of many effective strokes just as a good marketing campaign is the sum of several tactics.  Each stroke, requiring a different club, is like one of the 3-5 marketing tactics that should be part of a campaign.  We “tee-off” with a press release or editorial coverage, play the fairway with social media and blog posts, chip onto the green with a webinar or event, then putt for par with an email blast that brings the prospects back to our e-commerce website or sales team to make the sale.

Serious golfers know that spending money on a good set of clubs will lower their score (as does hiring a pro for lessons now and then).  Effective marketing requires money be spent on good marketing tactics too.  So ask the CFO, does he want to play golf or go bowling?

Obviously technique is important as well.  A small change in your swing can have a big impact on your game.  That’s why good marketers track metrics and adjust their tactics.  Sadly however, in golf, as in marketing, there are many factors that you just can’t control.  Your swing may be perfect but you can still land in the bunker.

Even in a friendly game, someone is keeping score.  So you need to take the time to plan your strategy for every hole and carefully execute each shot, checking your grip, your stance and your swing. But, if you’re progressing too slowly, there’s always the risk that the marshal will pull you off the course.  Many a CMO has spent the summer practicing his swing after not delivering results fast enough for the CEO’s liking!

Can you think of other analogies between golfing and marketing?  I’m convinced that golf is popular because it’s a metaphor for many other things in life.  It’s frustrating, infuriating and just often enough, when everything comes together, elating. I find I get enough of that excitement doing marketing, which probably explains why I’ve only golfed once in the past 3 years!

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