It was 2016 when Danny Willett won the Masters, the first Englishman to do so in 20 years.
In that same tournament, Jordan Spieth held the lead for seven consecutive rounds. In his own words, he stopped following his game plan and started playing too conservatively at #10. He lost six shots in three holes and ended up tied for second.
What marketing lessons can we learn from the game of golf? Here are seven to get us started.
1. Keep your eye on the ball
You can hit the ball well when you can clearly see the ball at every point in your swing from start to finish. The second your gaze shifts from the ball during any part of the swing problems occur. So, from the top of your swing until you hit the ball keep your eye on the ball.
Your marketing program needs the same kind of focus. Create your accounting firm marketing plan. Capitalize on your niche specialties. Write your marketing goals and strategies so it’s clear who is responsible for doing what by when.
2. Be consistent in your follow through
According to PGA pro Pete Styles, a nice-looking, balanced follow through in your golf swing isn’t just for show. It has an important role, linking the start position and the finish position together so that your body can train itself to run that same sequence every time. If you start at position “A” every time and finish in position “C” every time, you’re probably going to go through position “B” (i.e., the impact position) every time. If your follow through position is out of balance and inconsistent, then what happens before that is likely to be out of balance and inconsistent, too.
Your accounting firm marketing program requires the same consistency. Your marketing plan should include a timetable or calendar, providing a snapshot of your marketing programs throughout the year. Also, follow up with those you meet at firm mixers or networking events. Call the prospects who indicated interest in your firm but weren’t ready to meet you. Contact the leads generated by your inbound marketing campaigns. Consistent execution and follow through will result in strong relationships and referrals, while a start-and-stop marketing program is difficult and ineffective.
3. Execute your plan
Every golfer must manage the course and execute a plan for each hole. The length of the fairway; the locations of the bunkers, trees, and water; the wind, and the hole placement on the green must all be considered.
Not everyone is a Phil Mickelson fan, but he is a fun player to watch. You never know what will happen! He makes decisions on the course many other golfers would not. He has one of the best short games in golf. He can control the trajectory and spin of the ball depending on whether he wants the ball to spin back or run up to the hole. He’s willing to take risks.
Have you gathered the information necessary to create your marketing plan? Your client analysis? Competitive analysis? SWOT analysis? Growth trends? Have you determined the goals of your plan and the action steps necessary to achieve each goal? Are you willing to make yourself uncomfortable in order to achieve uncommon results?
4. Bring the right clubs
According to the USGA, a golfer is allowed to have fourteen clubs in his bag. This may include three woods, eight irons, and putter. These are the standard twelve clubs in many golf bags. The last two clubs are the choice of the golfer and depend on the golf course. You may want a hybrid driver for use on the fairway and a wedge for the short game. Or you may choose to use two wedges, which can include a lob wedge or sand wedge. The lob wedge provides better lift, while the sand wedge may help with bunker shots. You need the right clubs – or tools – to help you shoot a low round.
You need to consider a variety of marketing tools to execute your plan. You may want to send an enewsletter to communicate with all of your clients and contacts – and you may want to create separate enewsletters for your target markets (niches). You may want to have your team attending networking events in your marketplace – and you may want to host smaller mixers to further those relationships. Don’t forget about the importance of your website, thought leadership, and social media.
5. Keep an accurate score
Players are responsible for making sure the scores are correct before signing their scorecard. Not doing so has consequences as Colin Montgomerie experienced at the 83rd PGA championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club. He was disqualified for having signed for a last-round 71 when he had had a 72.
Your scorecard is your pipeline, which tracks leads, proposals, sources of referrals, estimated fees, wins and losses. This will keep you focused on what needs to happen to close the deal. It enables you to thank your referral sources. It allows you to recognize the efforts of your team. Your pipeline – your scorecard – is vital to manage your firm’s growth.
6. Seek advice
Caddies do a lot more than carry the golf bag and clean the golf balls. They help their players assess yardage, select clubs, and determine the lie on the putting green. They are a voice to help their players make smart decisions on the course.
Players are also known to spend time with the sport’s greats like Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. These legends can provide advice not just on the technical side of the game but the mental side, as well.
Which accounting firm marketing programs do you admire? Who are the famous people in your niche markets? Who is in your network that you need to spend more time with? And don’t forget those in your accounting firm association or network, state society, Association for Accounting Marketing, and other organizations.
7. Enjoy the 19th hole
The newer generation of golfers – Scheffler, Spieth, Zalatoris – are friends. They cheer for each other and offer congratulations for victories.
Do the same. Celebrate your successes with your team. Recognize their efforts. Communicate information about new clients. Share how a new client was obtained, a referral received, or a speaking engagement secured. Remember, your accounting firm marketing program is ongoing and will evolve as your growth, goals, and skills develop. Celebrating your successes will enhance education, motivation, and morale.
Jean Caragher is president of Capstone Marketing, providing marketing consulting services to accounting firms including Brand Surgery(SM), marketing and strategic planning, Advanced Pricing Methods®, outsourced CMO, merger integration, client satisfaction programs, inbound marketing, and retreat facilitation. For more information contact her at +1 727.210.7306 or firstname.lastname@example.org.