Marketing Gone Bad


By Harvey Silverman, Contributor, Golf Business | Silverback Golf Marketing 

Thoughtless? Heartless? Mindless? Just plain stupid?

All of those words came to mind (and a few others not allowed in this publication) when I pulled out from my mailbox the junk piece seen here ⤵ 

Now, that’s a pleasant image of a loving couple holding one another as they gaze upon the ocean waves. It made me pull up Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea” on my phone. I’m sure they weren’t thinking about cremation at the moment. They seem fit, healthy, and happy unless they’re bemoaning the loss of their boat that just sunk offshore.  

So, do they seem like possible targets for a pizza luncheon to discuss cremation? And how does a free lunch correspond to “your lasting legacy?” Will your legacy be defined by whether you had pepperoni or veggie pizza? But is it not insensitive to discuss frying your remains in a big oven when your lunch is doing just that? Would you like pepperoni with your urn? 

The personalization with my first name is a nice touch, one I recommend if you have an accurate database and an email program capable of this function. But if you are not confident that every name is correctly spelled, don’t do it. You don’t want Donnie to receive an email, “Dear Bonnie.”

It is sobering to consider one’s demise and where we’ll end up. I prefer a humorous approach inspired by some fabulous celebrity headstones, proof that humor never dies. There is the simple humor of Jack Lemmon:

A grave stone with a basket of flowersDescription automatically generated

Or one’s final sign-off, like Jackie Gleason:

A close-up of a stone staircaseDescription automatically generated

And the self-deprecating type, like Rodney Dangerfield:

A close-up of a grave stoneDescription automatically generated

Since I’m a firm believer that climate change is warming our Earth, I’ve asked my loved ones, if they choose to bury me, to inscribe on my headstone, “It’s cooler down here.” 

In your own marketing efforts, make sure you review and think twice before hitting “Send.” Have one or two other sets of eyes review the content and to ensure it’s not offensive, especially if you use humor to make a point or stimulate engagement. With images, inspect both the foreground and especially the background. You don’t want to end up on one of those “pictures gone horribly wrong” sites. Use plain, simple language that’s easy to understand. It’s hard today not to offend someone, but if it happens and you receive a hostile complaint, answer it respectfully and with attrition – the high road, if you will. 

I like using ironic or self-effacing humor, if it is used at all. Share it with a couple of people first to make sure it’s as funny as you think. The timing of when you send can be sensitive, too. Be mindful of current events.

And finally, I suggest that if a local cemetery comes to you to rent your restaurant and conduct a free burial planning luncheon, kindly decline. After all, you put holes in the ground, too.

Harvey Silverman is a contributor to Golf Business and the proprietor of his marketing consultancy, Silverback Golf Marketing, and the co-founder of, golf’s only pay-by-hole app. Harvey authored NGCOA’s “Beware of Barter” guide and has spoken at their Golf Business Conferences and Golf Business TechCon.
** The views and opinions featured in Golf Business WEEKLY are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the NGCOA.**