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The end of the golf day

Ten things to cut in the recession, before you cut your marketing no.7 – golf days

Mark Twain once described a game of golf as “a good walk spoiled”. Now, it’s not my cup of tea but I know a lot of people do enjoy whacking a few balls around a bit of countryside and being a believer in freedom, I would die for their right to do so. Well, maybe not quite but you get the point.

However, when it comes to the corporate golf day my mind clouds as the red mist descends.

No 7. Golf Days

Peter Woolliscroft, chair of the Construction Clients’ Group, and former head of Procure21, said at the recent CIMCIG conference that ‘the days of procurement decisions being based on golf days were long gone’. Why then do they still happen?

It’s often the first thing on the sales manager’s calendar, as it gives him “time to talk to his best customers”, and of course time to work on his approach shots. His lack of creativity and thought wastes money that could be used for proper marketing.

The sales manager’s problem – let’s call him Dave – is that he’s so focussed on selling, he finds it difficult to visit or call his customers without doing so. This means if he’s on the phone – the customers know they’re about to be sold to.

Dave needs therapy. He needs to understand that sometimes he should call customers just for a chat, to find out how their business is going, to learn about their goals and objectives and crucially to try to help them for no particular immediate reward – especially in these trying times.

You can help him by providing him with interesting bits of information and useful material, about the sector your customers are working in. Are they involved in schools? Prepare him a briefing on the primary capital programme that he can talk them through. You’ll make him – and your company – look good and different to your competition.

The companies that exit this recession in the best shape, with a greater share of smaller markets, will be those who most successfully differentiate themselves. Anyone flogging a commodity is in big trouble.

And to look different, you need to act different. The golf day is possibly the single least differentiated piece of marketing you could employ. Differentiate your business through clear and useful communications, your actions, and your delivery. Play golf for fun with your friends.

Ross Sturley is a Principal of Chart Lane, a strategy consultancy and a member of the CIMCIG organising committee.

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