Golf, much like marketing a business, forces you to make a decision and allows for you to instantly see the consequence whether good or bad. Here are six valuable marketing lessons your business can learn from a professional golfer.
1. Invest in Coaching (or Consulting)
In golf, and in business, you can accelerate your growth by hiring outside experts. As a golfer, whether you're a pro or a beginner, bringing on a coach to work on your drive, irons, sand shot, chip shot, or putting is the best way to improve your game. Trying to learn by yourself and work on your game without guidance can take a long time and lead to bad habits or poor mechanics.
Even Jack Nicklaus, who is widely regarded as the best professional golfer of all time, had Jack Grout as a coach. Similarly, when marketing a business, it's important to strategically invest in outside help to fill in the biggest gaps or find where the biggest opportunities for growth exist. For example, hiring consultants who can add their expertise in the areas of marketing, sales, or product development can help a company grow much faster than it could without the extra help.
2. Study the Course
Courses are designed to reward smart decisions and punish rash ones. When talking about golf course strategy, pro golfer Jack Nicklaus explains that by studying the course you are able to carefully plot your plan of attack. Marketing a business is no different. Know your customer. Why are they buying at that moment? What do they think about your category? How do they view or consume social media? What is the customer's opinion of your competitors? Walking the course is the business equivalent of focus groups, social listening, and ethnographies alike.
3. Make Smart Choices
Measurement and tracking is just one side of the coin. The key is learning from your data to make better and more informed decisions moving forward. Professional golfers play practice rounds for a reason. They want to understand every possible lie and shot that could come up in competition. In business we don't get many practice rounds, so learning in real time and being able to pivot business models is a must.
Every educated marketing decision increases the probability of a safe lie on your next shot. It is imperative to know when to pull out the driver and swing for the fences and when to play an iron to lay up.
4. Track Every Swing You Take
Create a measurement plan for every initiative and action that you take on. In the game of golf, tools like Arccos Golf use an automated system to track everything you do when you play the game so that you can reference the data and optimize your game based on core pieces of your performance. There are many business tools, like Trello, Google Analytics, Hubspot, Buffer, and Percolate to name a few, that can help your track your performance so you can make better marketing decisions.
5. Don't Blame the Clubs
Every golfer has done it at one point or another. When marketing a business you can't blame your clubs for your failures. You've assembled your team and it is imperative you invest intelligently. Too many people with the same skills create too many holes in the bag. As pro golfer Phil Mickelson explained, you need the right club to hit a proper shot; similarly with marketing a business, you need the right person for specific marketing roles.
6. Personalize the Leader Board
Golf is all about incremental personal growth, measuring your round against the last round you played. Who you choose as playing partners is a great way to push you, but ultimately the idea of the handicap is to level the playing field. Businesses should be self-aware and have the ability to handicap themselves so they know how they are performing within their own game, not compared to the overall market.
All too often, owners and execs plan their marketing strategy by targeting only the largest companies as their competitors. It's important to look inward for success measurements and focus on individual net gains (in revenue, market-share, etc.). Only measuring yourself against the "pros" is a great way to fall into poor playing habits.