LOVEMARKS LEADERSHIP: Creating “loyalty beyond reason”

“When dealing with people, let us remember WE ARE NOT DEALING WITH CREATURES OF LOGIC. We are DEALING WITH CREATURES OF EMOTION.” – Dale Carnegie

In the next couple of months, I hope to share my takeaways from the game-changing book called Lovemarks by Kevin Roberts. In his book, Roberts was focusing on marketing, but I hope to share my insights on how it applies to our golf businesses (no matter what type of facility).

Robert’s Lovemarks concept stated that the era of brands is over. Replacing it is the idea of creating emotional connections with consumers. In the 70s – 90s, we were taught to “build a brand.” This wasn’t only in marketing, it was a focus for golf clubs and courses too. In the book Roberts claims, “Brands are running out of juice”. He suggests that love (creating emotional connections in an environment of high respect and high value) is what is needed to rescue brands. I agree and believe we can apply it to our career field.

Think of the facility/club “brands” we used to think had it so good. But, then think of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort (BDGR). Yes, they are a brand, but it’s so much more. Every “bandonista” you can find will tell you a story (an emotional connection) they have with Pacific Dunes, Bandon Dunes, Bandon Trails or Old MacDonald or maybe The Preserve. BDGRs courses are truly amazing, and they’re in great shape for the amount of play they get, but the players are not there for the conditions, the lodging or the food. Even though each of these is memorably good (and our PGA colleagues there work very hard on creating a great customer experience) we bandonistas return for the emotional connection(s) we have with the place, to create more experiences and deeper connections with the friends we go there with, etc.

Other brands that are now lovemarks enjoy the benefits of being (see love/respect axis image at right) “highly loved and highly respected” include Apple, Subaru, Ping Golf, Southwest Airlines and Bandon Dunes. While these brands may not all be lovemarks for you, I am confident you can see how each has many customers who are “loyal beyond reason.” As the graphic says, these customers pay them back with loyalty, consistent spend and loving support by spreading positive word-of-mouth about the brand. (Conversely, when the golf experience is about price, because the customer has low love and low respect for the facility, it falls into the dangerous position of being a commodity. As the graphic says, “You do not want to be here.”)


How you may ask? I can’t say exactly how for you, your team and your facility, but I can share the principles I’ve gleaned from the Lovemarks book.

As a golf professional/club leader, look for ways to create emotional connections or LOVE:

  • Cary Cozby, PGA (Head Professional at Southern Hills CC in Tulsa, OK, 2016 PGA Professional of the Year) shares his take on this. He says that he and his staff look at merchandise choices, event choices and similar, asking “How will this item of merchandise, or this member event, help us make an emotional connection with our members?” If they can’t answer that question easily, they look for better options or tweaks that will accomplish this goal.
    • Which events at your facility no longer “cut it” when it comes to creating an emotional connection? (Maybe they need a significant tweak…or they need to be sunset for something that does?)
    • Who in your customer/membership base is not being connected with? What new social event could be the “connection” event they are looking for? (Remember, they don’t know what they’re looking for in terms of an event; they only know what they want to experience…it’s our job to figure out what will help them get that experience they are seeking.)
    • Instead of seeking to get your customers’ attention, seek to inspire them to participate!
    • Don’t sell a driver, sell them the yards and the fairways they want so they can lower their score.
  • Did you know the average public facility that does 35,000 rounds only has between 1600-3000 regular customers? Based on that, it would seem very smart to take time to understand your customer better. What do they want out of their golf? How far do they want to go as a player/golfer? Based on their answers, do you have:
    • Social playing experiences on the course where they can enjoy golf right now with players/people who have similar ability, similar schedule and are seeking the same amount of competition? (If not, you’ve got the chance to make it happen this fall/winter for 2018.)
    • Learning and skill development experiences where they can enjoy being with (interacting) their friends, or making new friends, while learning how to play better? (If not, you’ve got the chance to make it happen this fall/winter for 2018.)
    • If you are missing these experiences, don’t despair. This is an opportunity for you to show your value as a golf professional and leader. (Get after it!)

As a golf professional/club leader, look for ways to reinforce (and where rebuild, where necessary) RESPECT:

  • Relative to creating emotional connections (helping our customers love us), earning their respect is much easier for a PGA professional. Thoughts that line up with this idea for
    • Are you a PROMISE KEEPER? When you say you’ll order something, it gets ordered. When you make a commitment to do something, it gets done. In other words, you’re reliable and efficient in delivery of your promises…you stand behind your promises and say what you believe, not what you think about important topics related to the facility.
    • Are you HONEST? Your yes means yes, and your no means no. When you don’t have the answer, you state you don’t have it but you will get it quickly for the customer. You can be trusted with information, with valuable things and with
      • You’re the kind of leader, committee member and colleague others want to be “in the foxhole with.”
      • You apply the rules of golf, the club’s policies and similar consistently across the board. You don’t make applying them personal or confrontational either. You assume no ill will by those who break rules, and you gently coach them on why the rule, the policy should be adhered to.
      • If you’re a supervisor, you lead your staff fairly. You apply discipline, policies and similar in the same manner.
    • Do you take RESPONSIBILITY for your actions?
      • When you realize you’ve made a mistake, made an error in a task or just said the wrong thing, you own it, say you’re sorry and learn from it (hopefully avoiding it in the future.)
      • If you’re a supervisor, you don’t blame the messenger, blame your team and you allow them to feel safe and secure working for you. Instead, you take the heat for them, and you seek to create a “circle of safety” for them.

I could go on here for a long time with examples of how to create emotional connections (love) for your customers/members and earn respect from your customers/members, but I believe you’re getting the point.

Realizing every professional in our Section is in a different facility, has a unique role and context from which to be a “lovemark leader,” I hope this article has given you enough pause to consider contacting me, or even one of our Section colleagues who exhibits “lovemark leadership” in their daily effort as a golf professional. Developing the skills necessary to be such a leader could be a significant step in enhancing the quality of your position and maybe even your income for 2018. (So don’t put it off.)

If there’s anything I can do to assist you, your team or your facility with these concepts; or in adding value to your PGA career, through coaching on applying player development and/or professional development principles, please don’t hesitate to reach out at your earliest convenience.


Monte Koch, PGA Certified Professional/Player Development | Career Consultant

PGA Career Services | PGA of America

Serving PGA professionals, employers in the Pacific NW & Rocky Mountain PGA Sections

Email: Cell: 206/335-5260