Client Engagement: Why Agencies Need a New Form of Golf

Golf Creates Frustrations.  But It Can Also Ease Them Between Agencies and Clients.

Golf Creates Frustrations. But It Can Also Ease Them Between Agencies and Clients.

Most ad people would consider an agency head taking a client out for an afternoon of golf a charming anachronism at best, and more than a few would view it as a disgusting display of expensive self-indulgence.  Golf is so…white male.  Imagine, ducking out of the office and spending five hours out on the course without cell phones or meetings or e-mail?  It’s almost unthinkable, which probably hastened this old pass time’s demise.  Who can work that into their schedule?

And that neatly sums up the issue: we no longer value getting out of the office and connecting on a personal level.  In our  “One Minute Manager” obsessed world, where curt Blackberry conversations masquerade as communication and most lunches happen at our desks, we can’t indulge that sort of inefficiency.  

But let’s be honest: connection planning and one-to-one interactions and social networking happened on the back nine long before the Department of Defense started building the whole internet thing.  Out there, away from the office and the distractions of the day, people open up about what’s really on their minds.  They talk about their backgrounds, their dreams, the politics in their offices.  And they give you warnings about problem areas and frank assessments they would never offer if it were merely an agenda topic.

If agency people are to weather the storms of musical chairs at their clients’ offices, they need to know their business.  And since marketing is a people business, that means knowing the people.  Deeply.

Believe it or not, you can get to know them by chasing a little white ball for five hours…  You can take them sailing…  Or skeet shooting, hiking, commuting between cities–any of a number of activities will work.  The key is to make it fun, keep it away from work, and spend enough time to get below the surface.  That’s where the real revelations always are…

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79