7 'Caddyshack' Lessons to Make You a Better Content Marketer

February 17, 2018

Caddyshack and Content Marketing

Editor’s Note: This guest post was contributed by Steve Goldhaber, Founder and CEO of 26 Characters.

Content delivery can be done in a number of styles. Educational and inspirational are the standard approaches. However, if your brand isn't interesting, or people aren't paying attention, you may want to consider comedy.

Let's do a little experiment in this post. Since we're talking about comedy, I'll change my usual straightforward, educational approach, and attempt to have a little more fun.

One of my favorite movies is “Caddyshack.” I caddied for three Summers at Old Elm Club and Onwenstia Club in northern Illinois, which is why I can relate to the movie. I've watched it more than 100 times.

“Caddyshack” may be the most quoted movie ever — it’s got that going for it, which is nice. Even after 37 years since it debuted, we still hear references today. Here are some of my favorite “Caddyshack” quotes, along with lessons on how to be a better content marketer.

Lesson #1: You Need to Focus to Have Success

The best advice Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) gave to Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe) in “Caddyshack” was when he said, "There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball." This quote is from the beginning of the movie and is repeated in the climactic scene when Danny is putting for the win. Another way to say "be the ball" is "focus." There are so many things that can get you distracted when you do content marketing. Technology. New formats. New metrics. Don't get distracted along the way. Focus on what matters most to your content marketing plan.

"Be the Ball"

Lesson #2: Set Aggressive Goals

In “Caddyshack,” Mr. and Mrs. Haverkamp are an older couple who are still golfing even though their days of 300-yard drives are behind them. By the way, here's some trivia... these characters are based on a real couple from Indian Hill Club (where Bill Murray caddied). In a scene from the movie, Mrs. Haverkamp takes a swing and hits the ball about 15 feet right into the pond. Mr. Haverkamp takes notice and responds with the now classic line, "That's a peach, hon." The lesson here for content marketers is this: don't set your goals too low. And don't be impressed when you're doing something that isn't that impressive. Here's an example. One thing that marketers have been fortunate about over the past 10 years is the rate at which social media channels have grown. Even if you were doing the same quantity and quality of content, you would grow about 15-20% per year. Be aggressive with your growth. And resist the temptation to call something a peach when it’s obviously not. 

"That's a Peach, Hon"

Lesson #3 - Don't Overbuild Your Technology Stack

Over the past five years, the martech industry has exploded with the number of providers. This trend has created an abundance of technology. Some of it is essential. Other times it’s overkill. In “Caddyshack,” when one of the caddies, D’Annunzio, carries the golf bag of Rodney Dangerfield’s character, Al Czervik, it's so heavy that he puts it down and asks, "What you got in here? Rocks?" The lesson for content marketers is make sure you don't buy technology you don't need. There's always a salesperson who will tell you why you need to invest in it. But if it doesn't solve a problem for you, or give you something new, you don't need it.

"What you got in here? Rocks?"

Lesson #4: Know What Really Motivates Your Team

What motivates people to do their best work? It's not just about a paycheck or a bonus. Or in this case, getting a tip at the end of a loop with the Dalai Lama himself. If you don't know Bill Murray’s famous speech as Carl Spackler from “Caddyshack” already, here's how it goes... "And I said, ‘Hey, Lama, how 'bout a little something, you know, for the effort?’ And he says, ‘There won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed you will receive total consciousness.’ So, I got that going for me, which is nice." People work for more than a paycheck. Make sure you know how to make your staff’s work fun and challenging. A big part of this is building the right culture. If you can focus your team on genuinely helping your customer, everything else should fall into place.

"So I got that going for me"

Lesson #5 - Know When to go Off-Script

In the most quoted scene from the movie, Murray imagines a story about how he's playing at The Masters and comes out of nowhere to win the tournament. This scene fits the character and movie perfectly, and it was entirely improvised by Murray. The only direction in the script read “Carl cuts off the tops of flowers with a grass whip.” And from the imagination of Murray springs: "Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become The Masters champion. It looks like a mirac...It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole." The most effective content marketers have a documented content strategy, but always keep an eye out for great ideas that may not have been in the original plan.

"It's in the hole!"

Lesson #6: Don’t Get Distracted by Freebies From Technology Partners

Al Czervik was right when he said, "You buy a hat like this, I bet you get a free bowl of soup." He, of course, was referring to the hat which Judge Smails (Ted Baxter) was wearing. There's a parallel here to buying technology. My experience has been the best tools have straightforward pricing. When salespeople throw in things you don't need, something is wrong. If they can be flexible on contract length, or if they want to offer a discount for more users, that makes sense. Just make sure they're not throwing in the equivalent of a bowl of soup.

"It looks good on you"

Lesson #7: Great Content Marketing Begins and Ends with the Customer

How obsessed are you with your customers? Do you know all their challenges? Do you know where they get their information? Murray’s Spackler, in a deranged and brilliant moment, plots his revenge on the gopher he's been asked to kill, because the animal is tearing up Bushwood Country Club. In his shack, Carl starts speaking about his plan: "To conquer an animal, I have to think like an animal, and whenever possible, to look like one. I have to get inside this dude’s pelt and crawl around for a few days. Who is the gopher's ally? His friend? The harmless squirrel and the friendly rabbit. I'm going to use you guys to do my dirty work for me." Carl's rant is actually genuinely insightful when it comes to the essence of great content marketing. Be obsessed with your customer. Think like your customer. Find what motivates them. Uncover those insights that will lead to great content.

"Think like an animal"

Lessons for content marketers are everywhere, but they're especially plentiful on the LinkedIn Marketing Blog. Subscribe today!

Photo: Shawn Carpenter