How a B2B Marketer Ensures Return from Sponsorship and Hospitality Investments
Andy Bosman is the CMO of one of the largest accounting, tax and consulting firms focused on the middle market in the U.S.
In his All Access Interview with host Jim Andrews, he explained the strategic approach the company takes toward its title sponsorship of the RSM Classic PGA Tour event, from establishing objectives and success measures to continually improving the client entertainment experience. Below are edited highlights of the conversation.
Jim: You were telling me that when you took the job with RSM, one of the early decisions you had to make was renewal of the RSM Classic and you questioned the value of whether this significant investment was delivering a return. What did you find when you looked into that?
Andy: Sponsorships are difficult to evaluate because it’s hard to determine the ROI. When I joined the firm, we were just finishing our first number of years as title sponsor of the RSM Classic and had to decide if we were going to continue in that role. So we had to look at why we were doing it. Was it a brand exposure play? If so, it’s an expensive way to get your brand out there, particularly when you look at the reach of the PGA Tour and the small portion of that audience who would be buyers of what we do. But when we looked at it as a client engagement event, it changes the perspective. When we evaluated the revenue growth from every client who attended the event, we found the CAGR on revenue was 2X for those clients. That doesn’t mean that just because they came to the tournament we generated that revenue, but it showed we were getting the right people there, creating the right experiences and deepening our relationships.
Jim: One of the secrets of your success is ensuring you don’t invite the same clients to come back to the tournament every year. How does that work in practice?
Andy: To keep getting the value out of it, we have to keep bringing new clients to the event. We set a target of 85 percent of guests each year were not there the year before. As long as you explain to clients up front that you can only entertain 200 clients a year and set that expectation that it’s a unique experience, they understand that it’s not an every-year occurrence. Also, by doing that, you avoid them taking it for granted and instead really looking forward to potentially coming back in two or three years.
Jim: There won’t be spectators allowed at the tournament in 2020 thanks to COVID, but even though that means none of the traditional on-site engagement, it also creates an opportunity in that you can expand the reach through virtual experiences. Can you talk about this “silver lining”?
Andy: We have a unique opportunity—because of an unfortunate situation—where we don’t have the 200-person guest limit. Thanks to technology, we can touch 30,000 clients all across the globe.
We have shifted to a series of virtual experiences. Some are pre-recorded videos that will, for example, take our clients behind the scenes of a PGA Tour event, showcase technology and innovation in the game of golf, and explore the local community around the Golden Isles in Georgia and profile the Sea Island resort.
We also will have some more exclusive live events such as sit-down discussions with players, an interview with the champion on Sunday night, and in place of our charity putting event that would typically take place Wednesday afternoon before the tournament with participants from the local Boys & Girls Club and Special Olympics joining the pros, we have put together five teams of two pros each, with each team having a corporate sponsor and playing for a local charity. We will stream that event on Facebook Live and donate $35,000 to the five charities based on the teams’ order of finish, in addition to the $10,000 each organization will receive from their team’s sponsor.