What golf teaches us about advertising

July 11, 2017

By John Foust
Ad Libs™

I love golf, but I’m a terrible golfer. I’m the only golfer I know who has lost someone else’s golf ball. On a best-ball round, I mistakenly hit the wrong ball—directly into a lake.

Regardless of skill level, golf holds plenty of lessons for the business of selling and creating advertising. Let’s take a look:

1. Club selection matters. Each club has a specific purpose. Drive with a driver, hit long, approach shots with a fairway wood, chip with a wedge, putt with a putter.

In advertising, there are tactics for different marketing situations. Image ads are designed to build brand identities and response ads are used to generate immediate results.

2. Pre-contact is important. A golf swing starts with lining up the shot, having the right stance and grip, then taking a proper backswing.

Any experienced salesperson will tell you to prepare in advance for an appointment. Learn your prospect’s marketing objectives, study their previous ad campaigns, and research their competitors’ advertising.

3. Follow-through is equally important. A swing doesn’t end after contact. And neither does a sales conversation. When you return to the office, there are “thank you” emails, additional facts and figures to research, and campaign recommendations to develop.

4. Every hole has a goal. And every ad campaign has an objective. At the completion of a particular marketing effort, your client wants to generate x-results. Along the way, there are interim goals, such as weekly and monthly targets.

5. Every hole has hazards. Obstacles are part of the game. There are bunkers, creeks, and out-of-bounds areas. Some are visible from a distance, but others seem to appear out of nowhere.

In advertising, there are sales objections, high-maintenance clients, fickle target markets and deadline challenges.

6. Play it where it lies. You will make some shots from level ground, where the ball sits nicely on top of the grass. But on others, you will have to hit from tall weeds or sand or behind a tree.

Whatever the lie, concentrate on the goal and choose the right club.

7. Grain and dew affect putting. The surface of the green can be compared to market conditions, which are beyond your control. Read and respond to those conditions correctly, and you’re on the way to a successful campaign. Read them incorrectly, and the ball will veer off course.

8. Close doesn’t count. A score can’t be counted until the ball is in the hole. Likewise, a publication can’t build its business on sales that are almost made.

9. Divots should be repaired. It’s important to keep client relationships in order. If something goes wrong—in a conversation or in a campaign—take immediate steps to put things back on track.

10. A tournament can be won by one stroke. It’s crucial to pay attention to details, because little things make a difference. A sales conversation can turn quickly on one perceptive question. A typographical error can make or break a marketing proposal. And one word can determine the success of a headline. © John Foust 2017. All rights reserved.

 

John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training videos to save time and get quick results from in-house training. E-mail for information go to john@johnfoust.com.

 

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