Back in the 90’s to mid 2000’s I frequently attended industry and charity golf outings where the price of my ticket was paid tenfold by sponsors’ generous donations and fat raffle pots from golfers’ deep pockets. A surplus of clubs, bags, and Titleist logoed balls found a home in the basement storage room and being generally lucky, I left several outings with more cash then I came with.
Fast forward to 2011 where the last outing I attended upped my lip balm, magnet, golf towel and hat collection plus one. Additionally, attendance barely covered 18 foursomes down 30% from the previous year.
What’s the R.O.I. ?
Attendance and sponsorship are the two driving forces behind a successful outing both of which have taken a hit by the economy. Subsidizing event operating costs must happen to keep attendance up with affordable registration and surplus contributions during the outing. For the local business community sponsoring a $1,000 hole taps into marketing budgets where every penny is measured against ROI. Golf outings like most sponsored events do not offer defined formulas to measure ROI success making the challenge difficult to argue validity.
Whether the event is for a charity, chamber of commerce or an industry outing, planners need to rethink strategy starting with swapping the term “sponsorship” with “PARTNERSHIP” when approaching funding sources. The term partnership creates the aura of a strategic relationship where potential investors visualize long-term results rather than logo branding on yard signs. Secondly, define what services and industries can benefit from relationship marketing with the influencers of the business community. And thirdly, offer a benefits package with exposure pre, during and post event.
Find a Good Partner
Financial advisors, insurance agents, CPA’s and consultants are good examples of industry professionals standing to benefit from exposure to the local business community. A golf outing is an ideal setting for casual conversation and opens the door for potential customers in a relaxed environment outside of the office. Branch offices have discretionary marketing budgets available for local opportunities but the appeal is only as good as the benefits offered.
Partnership packages should be designed to equal the investment value with the long-term goal of securing funding for future events. In addition to the customary signage and branded premiums, other benefits can include:
· Offer exclusive category status to promote loyalty in the partnership
· Create titled partnership levels increasing the status appeal
· Include partner’s logo and messaging on pre-event printed and electronic marketing materials
· Include partner facilitated one-hour business panel discussions available to event guests prior to registration with current, relevant topics
· Provide up to 10 complimentary tickets for partner’s employees to increase networking opportunities and promotion of the firm
· Support the partner’s business with podium messaging praising their affiliation with your outing and deliver soft sell promotional plugs
· Offer space and time for partner’s own random prize drawing to capture audience information for post event follow-up
· Extend the exposure of the partnership beyond the event with other business social functions offering lead generation
Desperate times call for creative measures. Changing the face of “sponsorship” will make the task of funding your event with three to four strategic partners a better use of time then selling one-off hole sponsors and in the long run cement your organization’s function as a valuable marketing tool to write business.