3 things marketers can learn from The Masters

This past weekend was one of the highlights of any golfer’s annual calendar: The Masters. This tournament is held every spring at the beautiful Augusta National Golf Club and features not just the best players in the world, but the best scenery. I was fortunate to experience this year’s event and see Phil Mickelson win his third green jacket.

As marketers there are three thing we could learn from The Masters.

1. Embrace tradition: CBS bills this event as “a tradition unlike any other” and with good reason. The winner is presented with a green jacket by last year’s champion. The scoreboards are low-tech signs. The caddies all wear white coveralls. The pimento cheese sandwiches cost a buck fifty. Everything is traditional, reassuring and totally unique. Coke tried to break with its tradition and launched New Coke. It learned its lesson and has not only accepted its traditional Coke brand but recognized that the shape of the bottle and the logo are traditions of which it should be a careful steward.

2. Embrace your champions: No other event I know of embraces its champions better than The Masters. It starts by including last year’s winner in the current year’s ceremonies. Past champions are invited to play in the tournament for the rest of their lives. Each year all the past winners gather for the Champions Dinner. Who are your past champions? Key channel partners? Most valued customers? Top employee ambassadors? How can you recognize them not just for one year but forever? How much good will would that create for your brand?

3. Protect your brand: The Masters organization could make more money in many ways. But it carefully limits itself and, in the process, makes the brand even more valuable. You can only buy logo-ed merchandise at the event. Attendance is limited. Other logo-ed products are highly restricted on the premises (I’ve had to take the wrapper off a bottle of water). But the impact is a highly cherished brand. While others “over-merchandise” their brands, The Masters protects and builds its. How can you make sure your brand experience is consistently outstanding before looking to expand it?

The Masters is not perfect. The all-male-member tradition of Augusta National has been attacked by women’s rights groups in the past, and the men who run it have been called stubborn. But despite this, millions of people around the world tune in to this annual rite of spring and long for the opportunity to participate in the experience first-hand. Isn’t that what you are trying to achieve with your brand?