Driving impact: Four ways to amplify your sponsorship investment

Jack Blog

May 23rd, 2024 By Valerie Calderon

Sponsorships are powerful. They build connections between brands and the things we’re passionate about, whether that’s sports, entertainment, or unforgettable experiences.  Sponsorships can help you connect with your audience in authentic ways. 

So, you’ve tee’d up your sponsorship, making sure you’ve done your homework to ensure the relationship is relevant to your audience and overall brand goals. Now you’re ready to follow-through for that hole-in-one.   

Honestly, just having a sponsorship isn’t enough, you must generate chatter and make a lasting impression, not to mention deliver results. We found that paid media can accelerate your ROI through amplification of your sponsorship beyond the traditional integration and activation points. We’re unpacking four key tips to help you score with your sponsorship, with examples from enterprise software company, Hyland, a leading global provider of intelligent content solutions, and its sponsorship of pro golfer Xander Schauffele.  

Be Relatable 

’22 X factor Campaign

Today’s fans crave authenticity, and what better way to connect with your audience than letting your talent shine. Talent have unique stories and by highlighting their journey in relation to your brand, you can create a more impactful and memorable message.  

For Hyland, we produced content and relevant messaging that leaned in on Xander’s story in relation to the company, to create a cross-channel “X factor” campaign.  

Xander brings game-changing strategies to his golf game, which he calls his X factor. The campaign messaging connected Hyland’s X factor, how they improve business, with Xander’s unique golf strategies. By focusing on Xander’s team, which includes his father, the campaign included relatable elements instead of a typical business approach to messaging. While promo videos incorporated Hyland branding, many took an informal Q&A approach allowing Xander to talk about how his team supports him, pushes him to perform at the highest level, and maintains his competitive edge. This campaign, which ran across a variety of channels, saw strong media performance and fan engagement linking Hyland to Xander in a relatable way, a true ace! 

Boost Reach and Impact 

From Hyland’s ’23 X Vision Campaign, with Xander Schauffele

Sponsorships by nature will boost your brand reach and impact, by allowing brands to connect to key audiences in an environment we know they’re comfortable in and passionate about. In this space, where competitors are few and far between, is where fans take notice, especially when your messaging is tied to their passion and creates a strong emotional connection. Having talent integrate your brand into social posts is one way to boost that engagement in an unexpected place. Beyond an #ad sponsored post, the content should feel organic to the talent while leveraging their voice to deliver your brand’s message.  

As a child Xander’s dad used to have him practice blindfolded to get a feel for his swing and build trust in his instincts. This inspired the X Vision challenge, taking this idea a step further to test the power that his team brings to the game. We challenged Xander to play a hole on a golf course blindfolded. He tried hitting the hole twice. Once by himself, and another time with his team guiding him. As expected, when working with his team he performed better, but unexpectedly with his team he scored a BIRDIE (1 less shot than par)!   

This amplified Hyland’s teamwork message in a fun way connecting to their c-suite audience. The challenge was teased on Xander and Hyland’s social pages with organic and paid media delivering 3.7 million impressions. The campaign drove 192 million earned impressions and was picked up across publications like Forbes, Golf, Fox Business and Sports Illustrated. This is one way sponsorship can create connection by integrating seamlessly with company messaging, that’s creating more than “fore”-tuitous impact. 

Extend the Brand Journey 

2020 X factor show promotion

It’s time to think beyond the typical marketing playbook and weave your brand across the consumer journey. From in-person events or across media channels like streaming video, audio or social, the opportunities for sponsorship integrations are endless. The more the audience engages, the more they will remember, and that’s the true goal of our long game – to extract more value out of these partnerships. One way to create those engaging moments, and intimate opportunities for fans, is with talent Q&A sessions, behind the scenes content, or contests. 

During the pandemic, when there were limitations on in-person events, Xander and his team were featured on a PGA Tour Network Special presented by Hyland, which was then followed up with a Facebook Live Q&A session conducted by Hyland’s CCO, on the brand’s social channels. 

The live social event was promoted with paid media and covered topics from what Xander was doing during the shelter in place, how he was coping with the season delays and allowing fans to submit questions. Media promoting the Live event drove strong engagement with fans signing up to be reminded to tune in. This opportunity allowed the integration of Hyland branding and campaign messaging, while still allowing Xander to genuinely connect with his fans. 

Increase Accountability 

It’s also not enough to throw money at a sponsorship and simply hope to avoid those water hazards. One element all these examples had in common was using paid media to boost visibility. While traditional sponsorship tactics like hospitality or having talent wear your logo will help with visibility, paid media keeps tabs on your investment and tracks your ROI. It’s important to define your objectives before negotiating a sponsorship deal and having KPIs set to track performance. With that being said, paid media has built-in measurement with the ability to track impressions, engagements, and cost pers. There are also additional opportunities for cross-channel reporting and brand lift studies with  third party reporting resources. You can also get a read on overall sentiment by including social listening to get real-time data allowing you to adjust messaging or approach more quickly. There are several methods with media to track your investment and overall performance. 

In 2023, a new TV spot was created, with a brand forward message using Xander’s voice and image to talk about Hyland’s brand benefits. This spot delivered double digit percentage point lifts for key awareness measures with CTV media viewers. Leveraging talent across channels with paid media support allowed for additional brand lift measures to understand the impact of the creative. 

2023 Hyland CTV Commercial

Those are your four essential ways to enhance your sponsorship investment with paid media accelerating that impact – being relatable, boosting reach and impact, extending the brand journey, and increasing accountability. With the need to justify every marketing dollar spent, standing out isn’t a nice to have, it’s a must have.

Interested in improving your sponsorship long game or want to know how media can boost your investment? Reach out to us.