At a golf tournament a while ago, I happened to be on the same foursome and share a cart with one of that tournament’s major sponsors. This fellow was a marketing manager for a car dealership. His rather enviable job description included playing in tournaments that the company sponsored, which through the summer months amounted to about two or three a week. Of course, he had some other responsibilities like making sure the cars from the dealership were displayed properly and the gift bags his company sponsored got to every golfer. So it was a long day for him, showing up well before the tournament started and leaving long after the last after dinner speech was made. But even so, he still got to golf as major part of his job. He had a hard time garnering any sympathy from our group.
As we talked throughout the day, I learned that his job of playing golf had not come about by accident. A few years earlier, he had done some extensive research and analysis of the company’s advertising budgets, their media exposure and the cost effectiveness of the various types of promotion they were undertaking at the time. This analysis resulted in the very conscious and deliberate decision to drop their media advertising and focus their budget on event sponsorship.
In other words, they found that the caps and shirts they gave away at each golf tournament, the cars they had on display at hole-in-one and other contest holes, their logo on the program and on signs located around the golf tournament, and their name on the sponsor list in the paper and on the tournament website, and so on, resulted in more exposure and more people showing up at the dealership when shopping for a car, than the ads they used to run in the paper and on radio and television.
He would not divulge any numbers, but I can imagine what a major car dealership in a city of over a million would spend on advertising in a year. It would be millions of dollars. To divert this budget to sponsorships was a major decision. Given the money involved, I believe him when he talked about the homework they did before making the decision and the research they did on an ongoing basis to monitor the effectiveness of their expenditure.
He believed the strategy of sponsoring golf tournaments and other events was effective for a number of reasons. They appeared to be more a part of the community if they were associated with local causes and organizations. This elevated the perception of trust in the minds of consumers. The prizes and gifts they gave away, like caps and shirts, displayed their company logo to far more people for far longer, with that positive association, than any form of media advertising. And they could target their audience very carefully and specifically.
So when a charity calls asking your company for sponsorship of its golf tournament, think about supporting the cause, but also think about the win-win that can be accomplished by strategic placement of some of your promotion budget into golf tournament sponsorship.
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Article Added on Monday, October 2, 2006
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