Lessons in Social Media: What's the ROI of Golf Umbrellas?


Over the years, I’ve worked with a number of professional services firms – and in the past, as their marketing consultant, I’ve had too many discussions around golf umbrellas. Don’t get me wrong, I have my own collection of golf umbrellas, in fact, I probably have about 5 or 6 of them in the boot of my car. Every now and again, one comes in handy – particularly when loading up the boot in the rain and I need extra shelter.

Where did I get them from? Who gave them to me? These such aspects, I’m afraid aren’t so memorable. I just know I’ve got a stash, that live there, until required.

I’m not a golfer – and perhaps if I was, I would have more of an affinity with the value and worth of these, often discarded to the boot of the car, resources.

And this brings me to a key point – I’m not a golfer, (a miss when it comes to hitting the target audience) – and yet I have 6! I have attended golfing events as part of corporate hospitality and no doubt this is where I acquired a couple of said umbrellas. However, I have about 6 – and I could easily have more - (I now actively refuse them).

Golf umbrellas seem to be a staple go-to marketing promotional resource – particularly in professional services. But it’s not just professional service firms that succumb to the promotional golf umbrella frenzy. I’ve attended workshops, roundtables, exhibitions, networking events – and I’ve been offered a not inexpensive to produce, branded, promotional golf umbrella on many an occasion.

Coming back to discussions around golf umbrellas from a marketing standpoint, I’ve often been asked my thoughts on golf umbrellas, and my retort has always been the same. ‘What’s the objective’?

- Are you just floating in the sea of sameness because that’s what everyone else is doing so that they can end up as an unmemorable pile in the back of one’s car – or is it that you’re inviting some key influencers, clients, stakeholders, partners to a golfing event (because you know they love golf) – and the umbrellas are just part of the story.

- Or is it that you tune in to your key audience regularly and when you notice that a few mentioned they were out playing golf on the weekend – as part of your nurture, business development, partnership development, you send them an unexpected, and relevant, gift.

- If meetings at your office are a regular occurrence, when guests leave and it’s pouring down, your reception team or you offer them a bit of meaningful wow factor – ‘It’s now raining outside – here’s a complimentary umbrella’.

If you can justify very clearly WHY you are doing something, the relevance to the business, the relevance to the audience and what the likely return is, then we’re all good – we’re being objectively aligned. And of course, the ‘return on investment’ doesn’t always have to be direct ‘bottom line’ new business financial desired outcomes – it may be good will, client nurture, brand awareness – depending where you are in the relationship.

Of course, these simple lessons from golf umbrellas, around being objectively driven, relevant and meaningful, cut far deeper within organisations.

  • Are you starting with the end in mind?

  • Are the decisions you’re making strategically aligned?

  • What process are you using to check in with core objectives to sense check and steer decision making to stay on track?

When talking to audiences, organisations and leaders about objectively driven social media, I often see parallels in thinking and activity to golf umbrellas. Someone thinks social media is a good idea, let’s do social media because everyone else is doing it – and then let’s get surprised or annoyed when we’re not getting the return from it.

When it comes to social media – start with the end in mind. Be clear on what it is you’re looking to achieve and how it aligns. This clarity determines, your why, your what, your who and your how.

Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against Golf Umbrellas, I'm sure for golfers, they are a marvellous resource. What I do have an issue with is 'relevance' and organisations being objectively drive and relevant to their audiences.

After all, if you can’t justify why you’re doing something and who it's benefiting, then you really should be asking, why you’re doing it at all.

Michelle Carvill - Digital Educator, Social Pro, 3 x Author Author of recently published, ‘Get Social – Social Media Strategy and Tactics for Leaders’, Educating leaders and thought leaders how to #GetSocial. Founder digital agency, Carvill Creative. Highly experienced Strategic Marketing Consultant. Professional Speaker. Find out more via www.michellecarvill.com .