Emerge as a Champion

Winning Sponsorship Strategy

This week, the small Wisconsin town of Erin will see its population explode from 4,500 to over 45,000 in just a few days.  The driver of this massive shift?  The Erin Hills Golf Course is hosting the 117th US Open Men’s Golf Championship.    

Experts contend Erin Hills creates a unique tournament as the skills that win at Augusta or Quail Hollow may not at Erin Hills. To emerge a champion at Erin Hills, the winner must have a wide variety of shots to master the course terrain, mental toughness to masterfully select each shot and physical endurance to prevail over its size and challenges.

 In fact, the USGA is rumored to have chosen this course for it’s difficulty, as it believes that challenge is the best way to determine a true champion.  The tournament will be fantastic to watch. Yet, what does this Wisconsin Golf Course and a successful sponsorship strategy have in common?  More than you may realize.

 Evolution of Sponsorship

Undoubtedly, sponsorship is changing.  It’s no longer enough to depend on the goodwill of sponsoring an event or great onsite advertising  to convey your brand’s message. With the advent of social media, digital, and data, sponsorship possibilities exploded.  How do you emerge as the champion is this ever-changing landscape?

 Much like the US Open Golfers, focus on three core areas: 

  1. Wide variety of skills - As the terrain changes, do you have the right skills on your team to nail each shot on the course?  You may have a strong print advertising game.  How is your social media strategy?  Are you leveraging the data you collect to personalize VIP event experiences?  Assess what skills you need and then ensure they are on your team or outsource.

  2. Mental toughness - Tournaments are won by knowing the course, understanding where you are and playing shot by shot.  It takes mental toughness to hold your overall sponsorship strategy, understand how each event fits into it, and to execute flawlessly on each daily task.  

  3. Physical endurance - If a tournament win comes down to the 18th hole, a golfer must play as well as s/he did on the first hole. Major sponsorships can be grueling and incredibly demanding. If your team is exhausted from planning / set up, what experience will that create when your VIPs arrive?  Know and monitor your team’s energy levels to ensure the best experiences for your event guests from the first day to the last.  

 As any seasoned pro will share, sponsorship is not for the faint of heart.  The landscape will continue to change.  However, a strong strategy, agile skills and tenacious team are keys to success.  Like Erin Hills, the best way to determine a true champion is through challenge. Enjoy the Open!