Corporate golf tournaments are my new favourite thing.
Today, I got to go to my first ever corporate golf tournament and let’s just say I’m a pretty big fan. I’ve never done Oil & Gas, heck I have not even done corporate really. So, the fact that everything was “taken care of” was quite a treat. Not only did I get to golf a prestigious course for free, I got to see just how these things go down.
As we played our 18 holes, had some after round cocktails and eventually an amazing mid afternoon meal two things really struck me.
B2B marketing is a totally different can of worms
I remember when I was taking the B2B marketing class as part of my commerce degree and how our teacher even pointed out that it was a little ridiculous how much time we spend on B2C considering how much larger B2B is. All the same, one course is all we really got in terms of diving into the matter, which really was a shame.
The event spend today had to be something ridiculous like $25k which on the face of it seems a little ludicrous - IT’S A GOLF TOURNAMENT! Then I thought, it doesn’t seem that far fetched to see a $500k deal come out of a day like this and bingo bango everything is clear. This isn’t just an event - this is marketing in a way that I have been so out of touch with.
This is probably sounding dreadfully naive and juniorish, (like really Aaron, you’re describing networking), but it’s a reflection I don’t think enough marketers actually reflect on, especially in this time of much hyped social media. SM and the literature that explores these days have this huge B2C connotation and I think the overall social media B2B market is quite untapped. Or, maybe I’m just totally unplugged from the whole situation, either it is something I will be pondering.
In any event, it brings me to what I really felt was missing from the whole affair:
Organizational ambassadors need to be agents of interaction
I got my invite to the event via a personal connection who knew there would be openings due to cancellations and considering that it was already paid for, there was an opening for me. So, that was my story, but everyone else’s story was client or vendor as it related to the host company. Like any industry this one was full of domain specific language and I did my best to ask simple questions along the way to stay in the loop, to show I was listening and engaged.
At most opportunities I asked my playing partners about their families or jobs or golf history or whatever didn’t come across as completely contrived, in the hopes of generating friendly discussion. The truth is, I do this ANYTIME I play golf and yet I found that overall conversation was extremely laboured. However, to be fair to our group, it was me (no vested interest), two employees from the host company and one client representative which made what happened after the round was over even worse.
Over the course of drinks on the patio and then a delicious buffet where tables were sat in groups of 8, awkward silences ruled. Picture 8 grown men sitting at a table trying hard to make sure they are eating or drinking at all times to avoid it looking like they are avoiding conversation. It was painful, and I fault the organizational ambassadors - no matter their role at the host company. It is their job to be agents of interaction, and, to be brutally honest, if they can’t be they, shouldn’t be there.
For 5 summers I worked at a corporate resort that provided salmon sport fishing for clients of an international organization. Each trip was 8-12 guests with 2-4 divisional sales reps. The whole point of the reps being on the trip was to be agents of interaction and if they weren’t, they weren’t coming back the next year.
Ultimately, this hypothetical $500k deal I am talking about, that could validate this event, will only happen if the conversations are being facilitated to get the necessarily interaction that makes the deal possible.
In a B2B setting, these organizational ambassadors must be agents of interaction and not seat warmers for real value to emerge from such events.
Posted on Monday, August 22nd 2011