Organizations with limited budgets face significant challenges when attempting to build awareness of their brands, products and services. This is especially true of business-to-business clients who need to reach a highly targeted but geographically disparate audience. One solution for this problem is a well designed and executed sports marketing program—specifically, the sponsorship of Professional Golf Association (PGA) TOUR players—which can bestow instant credibility upon the sponsor for a very reasonable cost.
It goes without saying that few companies can afford Super Bowl sponsorships, naming rights or luxury hospitality boxes at major tournaments and sports arenas. Only a handful can arrange for Tiger Woods or LeBron James to meet their customers and not many have the budget to sponsor such superstars to wear their clothing or endorse their products. However, viable promotional options are available for clients who do have a restricted budget and the services of an appropriate PGA TOUR golfer are not only possible, but can also be remarkably cost-effective.
The most obvious benefit of a PGA TOUR golfer sponsorship is the media exposure a sponsor’s brand will receive from television and press coverage of professional golf. Every week for almost the entire year, PGA TOUR events are televised nationally and internationally. An attempt to advertise through traditional paid media channels in all those events would exponentially exceed the cost of the sponsorship itself.
In addition to the media presence, professional golf sponsorship offers regional geographic targeting because the TOUR moves into a new market every week. It is possible to arrange corporate and client events around a golfer’s presence in a specific market. Events such as these provide an ideal recreational setting within which clients can cultivate important business relationships while also presenting a positive image of their brand.
Our approach to golf marketing may be unique. We believe that the actual sponsorship of athletes and athletic events—while of tremendous value to a client—represent only part of the benefit to be derived from the investment. Much greater value can be realized through programs that enable the client to leverage that sponsorship far beyond the limited relationship with a given athlete, or the sponsorship of a specific event.
Here are the seven steps to secure sports sponsorship success:
1. Consider the player’s marketability, playing ability and personality.
When you secure sponsorship with a golfer, they will become an extension of your brand. Therefore, it is crucial that you select a golfer whose personality is a good fit with your image and will be of interest to your target audience. Think about the type of media attention the player attracts, the amount of exposure they get and whether or not there will be an opportunity to create a joint marketing campaign with other sponsors of the golfer.
2. Ensure a good fit with your customer base.
It is very important to be aware of the golf audience and note that it will not be perfectly aligned to every company. You want to ensure that the brand exposure you gain from sponsoring a player will reach the right people.
3. Carefully consider the logo positioning and size.
There are numerous positions within which a logo can be placed: The front of hat, side of hat, collar, left or right chest, golf bag, yoke, etc. It is not sufficient to simply stick a logo on a player and believe that your sponsorship is evident. You need to think carefully about where you position the logo and how large the logo will be.
4. Create a watertight deal.
Try and formulate a sponsorship package that is structured and robust. Ideally you should look for a long-term deal that guarantees you brand exposure, regardless of how the player’s season transpires and which competitions they win—you don’t want to be downgraded in the event the player has an amazing season and is offered more attractive deals.
5. Ensure the golfer knows your company and business.
As a representative of your brand, the golfer needs to understand what you do as a company and what your unique selling points are. Take time to educate the player on your business and offerings and ensure that they are able to speak confidently about what you do. If relevant, consider putting in place a referral agreement with the player, whereby they are rewarded for successfully promoting your products and services on your behalf.
6. Be prepared for additional costs.
Over the course of your sponsorship with a golfer, many additional opportunities may arise for promoting your brand, products and services. Ensure that you have sufficient budget available to meet any costs related to these opportunities, which could come in many forms:
- Internal and external communications
- Additional media investment as a result of a tour win
- Mention/advertisement on the player’s website
- Video vignettes
- Promotion or contest for lead generation/employee incentives/rewards
- Promotion on the player’s social media platforms
- Tradeshow attendance or sales support
7. Educate internally.
Ensure that the aims and objectives of the sponsorship deal are communicated throughout your organization and that all members of staff can talk intelligently about the sponsorship deal and how it relates to your aims, objectives and brand intentions. Announce the sponsorship deal internally once it is fully secured and try and create internal buzz and excitement surrounding the opportunity.
By Andrew Smith, President of initiate-it, a fully committed, fully prepared, full-service agency in Richmond, Virginia. Andrew has recommended and implemented PGA TOUR sponsorships of a variety of players, including John Rollins, Jason Dufner, Woody Austin, and others, for a variety of companies.