The number one provider of golf experiences for Fortune 100 companies, the GolfTec Events blog provides marketing and branding expertise for this exclusive group.
A long time golfer and sports enthusiast, I was excited for the opportunity to marry my passion for the game with my passion for writing to provide blog content for GolfTec. The posts were geared towards teaching Fortune 100 executives how to utilize golfing experiences to build brand recognition and customer loyalty.
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(Warning: All Fans Are Not Created Equal!)
There are few things in the world that wield the power to bring people together like sports. Fans come together and rally behind their team, players, and nation in a friendly display of athletic prowess. It may be something as grandiose as the Olympics or the World Cup, or it may be your AAA baseball team taking on the cross-town rivals. Whatever the case may be, fans are a passionate and important part of every team, and fueling fan passion goes a long way when it comes to building your brand.
In this month’s article, GolfTEC Events brings you the latest research supporting (a) how connecting with passionate sports fans builds your brand, (b) how all of your brand loyalists are not created equal (and which ones you should be targeting!), and (c) how to create content that pours rocket fuel on your brand loyalists’ passion to positively impact your brand.
“The Passion Project,” a comprehensive study across 15 countries and 14 different sports conducted by the Octagon Group has shown, across the board, that when your potential clients are actively involved with a sporting event by way of social media, they are much more likely to make purchases influenced by the sponsorship once it has ended. Therefore, you should be creating opportunities to connect with passionate sports fans.
With golf in particular, they discovered that a full 30% of fans between 18 and 54 are actively tweeting during any given event. They share what they see, what they experience, what they feel, who they relate to, and, perhaps most importantly for you, the brands that sponsor the outings.
GolfTEC Events is about creating experiences that connect these passionate fans with your brand. Think about it – when you empower fans to actively participate in a sporting event, your brand unleashes that fan’s passion while connecting your brand to all of those positive emotions. Instead of merely watching an event, fans are firmly entrenched within an event experience – and now your brand is associated with all of this feel-good mojo.
The Passion Shift: Are all fans created equal? No! Which fans have the most impact on your brand’s bottom line?
Golf began as a regal activity, with the rolling greens of St. Andrew’s setting the stage for discussions of business and land ownership, teaching the elite how to spoil a good, long walk with a gentleman’s game. As with most everything in life, there has been an evolution. Players like Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia came on to the scene and brought with them the youthful exuberance of a new generation of players. Pair that with the technological advances of the last decade, and you are now targeting a much different group of fans.
There always have been and always will be avid fans of the sport. They are the ones who settle in for a long day of watching walked fairways across the screen, the ones who buy passes for the Open the day they go on sale.
These fans are the ones you respect and admire for their dedication to the sport, but they are not the fans you are targeting when you fuel fan passion.
You want to target the ones who talk about the sport as it is happening. You want the interactive fans. You want the fans who are sharing updates in real time, who are talking about how great it is that “@YourCompany” is involved with an amazing experience.
The way a fan interacts with both your brand and how they use the content you provide have been shown to have much more of a causal effect on their future buying decisions than the avidity that same fan reports to have in regards to the sport or event. In other words, the more the fan includes your content, the more likely they are to have a positive association with your product and the more likely they are to invest in your company in the future.
As a consumer, you go through life seeing the signs of business all around you, from the first coffee stop of the day to your evening business meeting over dinner. Each company you choose to spend money with is branding themselves to appeal to you, and the better they do with the branding opportunities, the more likely you are to become a repeat customer. You choose a specific coffee shop because of the atmosphere and attitude of the baristas, the same way you choose a restaurant for a dinner meeting because of how it portrays you and your company as a whole. Along the same vein, clients choose to do business with you based on how you appeal to them and how you make them feel.
The most important rule in branding not only your company but branding golf events is to embrace every available opportunity, beginning in the pre-planning stages and ending with post-event engagement. How you do this determines how people view your business. When it comes to event marketing, you want your potential clients to feel like they are aligning themselves with a company that cares, that can enhance their bottom line, and with whom they can build a lasting relationship. You want to show them that the amount of attention to detail you show with an immersive and social experience like a GolfTEC Events outing is the same as you would give to their wants and needs in the business realm.
What you are trying to do with your event marketing is build yourself as a recognizable, trusted partner. This is easily accomplished by taking the right steps and approaching events with your brand in mind. As identified by Stinson Brand Innovation, there are four core tenets to follow when branding an event:
- Build Anticipation – Start early and ensure you have a rapt audience when it comes time for branding golf events. Appeal to the curious side of the human psyche by giving enough information to keep them wanting more and build on that until the event. Hint towards contests for longest drive, hole-in-one, or closest-to-the-pin, offering up prizes that are – in and of themselves – another branding opportunity for you.
- Engage Your Audience – Your event has been put in place for a specific reason, whether to reward an existing client or build your current base by appealing to a larger audience. Golf is one of the rare sports that allows you the space and time to delve deeper into what they want, and it should be seized with fervor! Make your engagements meaningful by being attentive, asking the right questions, and ensuring them that your company is the solution they have been looking for all along.
- Extend the Experience – Engagement is not just about the outing itself, but about the long-term assets acquired from that promotional experience. Extend this beyond the day-of by including a custom website in your event marketing plan. Allow clients to see how you present yourself day-to-day in the lead up, get them involved in facets of the event by asking questions that show you value their opinions, and brand your company as one that seeks active involvement and enriching ideas from those they work with.
- Magnify the Impact – Move beyond the idea that you can only reach who is in front of you by building something bigger around the event. Take that same website and expand on it! Live stream keynote speeches for those who couldn’t attend in person, post real-time stats about player performance, and showcase action shots of each player that can be downloaded once the event has finished. The longer you can get a client to engage with your company and your product, the better the chances you will see a return.
The measure of a successful event is different for each experience, depending on what you hope to garner from it. Is it more clients? Is it happier clients? Is it higher returns on current business? The decision you make in regards to your outcome will be the decision that guides the event marketing plan from start to finish, as well as determining the direction your event branding as a whole will take. Regardless of the angle, there are certain steps that can pilot you and your company through a successful event:
– Make the experience authentic: You have your goal in mind and what your event is providing is, ostensibly, a way to sell this goal. The key is not to treat it like a sales pitch. Make your client comfortable, make sure they understand what it is your selling, but don’t make them feel as though the only reason you’re walking them down the fairway is to get them to buy.
– Involve your whole group in the strategy: Every good executive knows that it is the people who work for them that make the company. No man is an island, and that includes the team you assemble for the event. Make sure each team member knows why they are there, what image you want to present, and what the goals of the event include. They are the face of your entire event marketing plan, the sum of your branding opportunities, and the key making the outing successful.
– Develop talking points: This goes hand-in-hand with involving your group and addressing the point of assembling the event. You are presenting this opportunity as a means to an end, and every question a client has should be met with a well-informed and thought provoking answer. If your goal is to get clients to try out a new product or service, then every member of your team should be intimate with the ins and outs of that product or service. If your goal is to grow business with a current client, then your team should know what services you provide that will help them with their specific needs.
– Devote an appropriate amount of staff and money: Through the course of years in the business world, every one of us has attended an event that was lackluster or disorganized, most often a result of inadequate staffing or insufficient funds allocated to said event. When your goal is to make a client feel important and valued, this can be detrimental. Make it a point to devote the kind of man power and money to make every part of your event nothing short of amazing and you will see the returns that prove your investment was worth it.
The design and execution of your event marketing plan culminates in the event itself, and here you are presented with myriad opportunities to brand your company and highlight your goals face-to-face. Start early by mailing out welcome bags to key individuals within the group prior to the event, sending the message that you are invested in their upcoming involvement. By the day-of, they will likely have shared and spread the excitement you incited, making all of the attendees more receptive to your overall objectives. Build on this momentum throughout the day with more subtle, but tasteful branding. From the signs at the parking lot entrance to the polo shirts seen on the event staff to tee gifts and sleeves of balls, there is an opportunity at every turn to ensure that the clients associate your name, your logo, and your brand with an extremely positive interaction.
In the end, what you want to know is: How effective was this event? Did we achieve the goals we set out to achieve? Use some of these metrics to determine the ROI from your event:
– Did this generate new leads for your business?
– Did this event increase the volume of sales from the client?
– How many meetings were scheduled as a direct result of business discussed during the event?
– How much post-event traffic has the event website or the company’s website received since the conclusion of the event?
– How has our presence on social media increased as a result of the event? Additionally, it is always a great idea to send out an e-mail to all participants after the event has concluded, which should include a heartfelt “Thank You” for attending, as well as a short survey to determine the effectiveness of your campaign. What did they enjoy? How likely are they to do business with you as a result of what they learned and experienced? Could anything be done differently to ensure a more enjoyable event in the future?
Questions like these provide a rubric for prospective events, determining which pieces of your event marketing were successful and which pieces need to be swapped out.
GolfTEC Events’ goal with each and every experience we produce is to ensure that you can engage clients in a fun and approachable way, something that normal business interactions are generally devoid of. We provide the kind of comfortable and inviting environment, whether that is a one-on-one swing analysis in the courtyard or a full-scale weekend tournament, that allows you to communicate with and concentrate on your business relationships in a way that builds lasting returns.
Ready to put GolfTEC Events to work for your brand? GolfTEC Events offers a wide variety of branded solutions to help you make the most of any upcoming event. Whether you’re hosting a small golf group or have a hospitality suite set up at a PGA TOUR event, GolfTEC Events has a solution to achieve your marketing goals.