Photo by Keith Allison By Jack Sims USGTF Level III Member – Miami, Florida It sounds too good to be true, right? But, I can assure you that while you may not be a big brand like Tiger, Ernie, Jack, or Arnie, you still are a brand! You see, if you give one golf lesson to one student, you are a brand. And, your brand is probably the single biggest financial asset that you have! The result of this one lesson can range from as far as “It was a terrible lesson,” to “It was a good lesson,” to “Wow, that was awesome. I have never hit the ball like that before.” But, the net result can be totally different because the whole process of branding is based around the total experience that your students have – it’s not only the lesson! It’s everything that you do before they show up, the way you talk to them before that first lesson, finding out who they are and what their expectations are, the care, support and enthusiasm that you share during the lesson, and the follow- up after the lesson. At the end of the day, you have to be good at what you do in giving golf lessons. That is your product, and you have to make it the very best that it can be. You cannot cut corners on this one! On the assumption that you have managed to become a good golf teacher (product) and that you accept that you are a brand; you are ready to take your brand to the next level, and to do that you need to have a clear understanding of exactly what a brand is: It’s your unique promise of value that results in a positive collection of perceptions in the minds of your students. Each one of these words is incredibly important if you want to grow your golf teaching business into a big brand, and it starts with the following: BE UNIQUE: What is it that makes you, as a golf teacher, unique? Why will people go out of their way to pay a premium price and get a golf lesson or series of lessons from you? If you can’t answer that question, I humbly suggest that you figure out a way that you can. You have to find uniqueness as a golf teacher that will make you stand out in the marketplace that, frankly, is a sea of sameness. It can be the way you communicate, the way you follow up with an e-mail of the things you went over on the lesson, keeping a case history on every student (I got that one from my wife who is a doctor), or whatever you can come up with that will differentiate you from everyone else that they do business with. This applies to not only other golf teachers, but businesses or products that they might use, because you have to understand it’s all about getting an incremental share of their wallet, and they only have one wallet. KEEP YOUR PROMISES: When you advertise or promote your golf lessons in whatever media that might be, you are basically promising the target something – a promise of a good experience, the fundamentals of golf, taking their game to the next level, or whatever…it doesn’t matter. The thing is that you are making a promise. And, I can tell you from 30 years of being in the marketing and branding business that many companies do not keep their promises. I don’t know about you, but my mother taught me to keep my promises. Why is it that we forget this when we go into business? You must remember you are in a business. DELIVER VALUE: Value is what your students want, as much as they want great results. And, the one thing that you have to know is that it’s not about price, despite what people might tell you. Think about this: you have probably paid $4.50 for a latte from Starbucks and felt really good about it. In fact, when you are walking down the street with that cup of Starbucks in your hand, you say to yourself, I am special, I am worth it, I deserve this cup of Starbucks coffee. You could have gone to your deli and paid $1.50 for a cup, but you didn’t. You see, it’s not about price, because price is what you pay and value is what you get. Make your students feel special by coming to you, and make sure everything you do before, during, and after the lesson make them feel special. Give them a good reason to perceive that the value that they get when they come for a lesson far exceeds what they are paying for it. DELIVER A POSITIVE COLLECTION OF PERCEPTIONS: Every time you put an ad in the local paper or the yellow pages, answer the phone or your answering machine kicks on, greet students at your facility, etc., it helps add to the perception of who you are and what your brand is! Yes folks, “perception is reality,” and you have to make sure that every “touch point” with your students reinforces your brand position. Consistency is an absolute must when it comes to building your brand, and you have to make sure that your communications are delivered with “consistent and multiple quality impressions”. YOU HAVE TO GET A PIECE OF THEIR MINDS: This is exactly what products like the Apple iPod have done. Let’s face it, you can go to eBbay and buy an MP3 player for $120, but no, we go and buy an iPod for $300, because they have a bigger share of our mental real estate. You can do the same with your golf teaching if you deliver your communications with memorable and outstanding words, and with promotional marketing that features the benefits that the recipient will get by taking lessons from you. Be sure to deliver these messages consistently! That’s it. Please again remember the following, and start growing into a brand: It’s your unique promise of value that results in a positive collection of perceptions in the minds of your students. Jack Sims is not only a five-year member of the USGTF, but is also an expert who speaks on marketing and branding. You can visit him at www.jacksims.com and e-mail him if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.