You may ask yourself, “How can a game that, at its core, is nothing more than ‘chasing a ball around a field’ change MY business thinking?” Start with imagining the game of golf as your business and the golf course as your market. Even if you don’t know the game of golf, by the end of this journey I hope to give you a better look through the eyes of your business marketing caddy. In this journey we’ll take an insider’s look into my theory about how business can easily be interpreted through golf; the landscape and where to start, clubs and tools, your swing, and how making it pro takes millions of swings.
Today’s modern game of golf was first documented in 1457 in the country of Scotland, by James II, banning it, as an unwelcome distraction to archery. The ban was lifted in 1502 by James IV when he became a golfer. Golf clubs were then manufactured in 1503-1504.
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So, you’ve just walked up to the tee box for the first time. As you look around, you can hear the birds tweeting, the smell of freshly cut grass lingers in the breeze as you notice the flag and cup are tucked away in the distance behind a willow tree swaying in the air. You regroup yourself and ask, “What do I do before I take my first hack at the ball?” Just like starting a business, the overall questions can be overwhelming. Sometimes you need to take a step back and evaluate. “What do I have to do to make my first sale?” Similarly, “What do I have to do to put this ball in that hole?” With knowing this feeling, we can deduct a few things:
- The length and landscape of the hole will dictate which club to tee off with, identifying the area in which we “plan” on hitting the ball – It will take longer to close a sale using the wrong sales techniques
- Birds can be peaceful or birds can be noise – you choose – critics can be helpful or a hindrance
- Grass and wind, along with sand traps and water hazards, are just that, hazards – we can either try playing through them or learn to play with them; they are inevitable
The Clubs – Your Marketing Tools
Furthermore, let’s start with your clubs, the tools needed to close your sale and put the ball in the cup. Each club serves a different purpose, like each item in your marketing arsenal has a different job. If you only have a few clubs in your bag, it’ll be very difficult to sink an 8-foot put with your driver. Let’s name a few tools most people use for marketing:
- Google AdWords
Now, those are pretty vague examples, including Google Adwords, but all should play in symphony with one another, playing a significant role in putting the ball in the cup. Your website should be geared for online conversions and tuned up, being powered by SEO (Search Engine Optimization) keywords based upon the content of your site. Similarly, your blog should have fresh content to drive and influence visitors, focusing on industry trends and keywords. And, The AdWords package you purchased should be finely tuned to match those keywords used to help increase your rankings on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). That may seem like a lot to digest, but that is no different from the clubs in your bag (including the one with the goofy giraffe head cover). But, you inquire, “How do I swing them?”
Setting Up Your Backswing
According to Golf Digest the keys to your perfect swing are:
- Setup – how to approach the ball; getting set
- Takeaway – pulling the club back
- Halfway Back – 90° back arm; straight right arm; shifting weight to the back foot
- At the Top – Fully stretched in your backswing, ready for takeoff
- Halfway Down – Lead with your lower body
- Impact – Straighten front leg, keeping head on the ball
- Follow-Through – Arms fully extended, momentarily pointing the direction of the ball
- Finish – Keep back arm and leg moving as your shoulders move perpendicular to your waist
Plan, Do, Adjust, Repeat
As you can see, there are many parts to such a short, but critical process, of hitting a ball. Let’s identify how each of those processes can be applied to your business.
- Setup – your business plan (where do I want to put the ball and how many strokes to get there?), steps that need to be taken to monetize your company, as well as your short and long game goals – which could directly affect the club or marketing tools you use (Facebook, email blasts, knocking door-to-door, etc.)
- Takeaway – starting to put to motion the plan you have established; your first move directly effects the swing… but, you MUST want to SWING
- Halfway Back – now, you’re starting to act on your plan development; creating your social presence, website, business cards, flyers, etc.
- At the Top – your message needs to get out there as your tools rest briefly over your shoulder, anticipating takeoff
- Halfway Down – “Lead with your lower body” – get moving; your advertising should start to have legs at this point
- Impact – You found your first lead (or sets of leads); but, were you targeting the right crowd, was your message and branding refined
- Follow-Through – Were you using the right club, or did your ball go into the rough? – Is it easier to go get the ball or to take a penalty and get another swing? – Next time, keep your eye on the ball, not where it’s going
- Finish – Watching where your message went; follow and understand the metrics of your “swing” and, whether you hit your target, you still took a swing and you can try to correct it yourself or have someone help you along your journey
– REPEAT –
It may take you many strokes to make it to the cup on your first hole, and that’s alright. Take a few practice swings. Know that the more swings you take, the easier it will get, but the right club makes all the difference.
Using the RIGHT Club…
I know that my uncle doesn’t keep a driver in his bag. Why? He knows that he can use his 3 wood to hit the ball as far and, most importantly, more accurate than his driver.
This concept can be compared to a lesson learned when attempting to contact Gary Vaynerchuck of VaynerMedia via Facebook. I received a message back that Gary doesn’t respond to messages received through Facebook, and to contact him through Twitter or Instagram. Why? Gary knows that his quality of engagement is higher on Twitter and Instagram than his Facebook page. Those are his tools that he uses to drive his conversions (i.e. VaynerMedia, multiple books sales, Wine Library, et al.), and are usually planned months in advance. He has swung his clubs millions of times and has found the right club for each part of the course. So often, in fact, that he has become both the pro and the caddy. Like many other marketing companies, he instructs and helps businesses plot the landscape, tune in their swing, giving you a better impact on the ball, and track your continual progress through your follow-through and finish.
But, whether you’re one of the 20 Best Golfers of All Time or your ball landed in the trees, you still took a shot. And, like a professional golfer needs a caddy, a successful business needs a marketing plan. The key to the game is to put the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible – or, convert your sales with a systematic approach, utilizing the correct marketing tools that work in tandem with your conversion goals. Either way, know your setup and landscape, pull back, and go put the ball in the hole.