Who do you want to talk to and what do you have to say? Just like when BMW targeted a younger demographic by partnering with Guy Ritchie to launch the M5 in North America with YouTube-exclusive content or when I helped IHG connect with avid golfers in our first 1:1 personalized video message campaign with PGA TOUR star Rickie Fowler: When telling the story of your partnership, always start with your target first and channels last.
What do your potential partnerships say about you? Just as important, what are your ancillary revenue, community outreach and earned media opportunities. Finding a partnership that can provide brand lift and long-term, high-margin revenue opportunities are why partnerships should be part of your marketing and communications strategy.
The cornerstone of the IHG golf marketing partnership was the title sponsorship of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. The Crowne Plaza Invitational (now called the Forth Worth Invitational) is a professional golf tournament on the PGA TOUR, played at Colonial Country Club. I had the pleasure of managing all title sponsor activities for this event for the final five years of IHG’s contract with the PGA TOUR. Here’s a behind the scenes look at the some of the activities associated with our partnership. Under my management, the partnership saw explosive growth in media value of brand sponsorship without any incremental media investment. Media value of the brand sponsorship increased 250% while delivering a strong return on investment and 6-9 billion impressions annually.
Due to the strong relationship with the city of Fort Worth, the Mayor’s Office, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the tournament earned the “Most Engaged Community” award. The Crowne Plaza Invitational also earned “Best Use of Players” for the Enhanced Player Program, which I managed, and also earned “Best Marketing and Sales Plan” awards from the PGA TOUR during our title sponsorship.
The Fowler campaign was just a small piece of our communications support. For the “IHG Big Win” multi-brand promotion, I managed the production of all branded campaigns for print, social, digital and television, including national TV commercials. Take a look behind the scenes at one of my first shoots. More channels and a great understanding of audience demographics allows for more opportunities to make the right connection and drive media value.
And when I think partnerships, its about maximizing the media value – but don’t forget owned and earned. With a strategic focus on boosting media value, get creative and use those partnership assets in your brand Public Relations campaigns, because you can count on your brand assets to deliver the right messages around key events and PR activities.
A strong internal communications program can continue to amplify your message and should be a part of your partnership platform. Why else invest in a partner if you aren’t going to turn your internal audiences into believers and advocate?
Relationships and access are a great place to start with earned media but helping others tell your stories via social media or creative philanthropic efforts are also great ways to earn it.
At Fifth Group, how did we improve on 10 straight years as the top corporate fundraiser for the Atlanta Community Food Bank Hunger Walk? We improved internal processes to streamline communication, GO BIG and hit the six figure mark for the first time. Then, I helped the organization build on that performance for three consecutive record breaking years and counting. Driving our values and culture while creating over a million meals for our neighbors in need!
Partnerships aren’t always about making more for yourself, but regardless of what your partnerships are doing, make sure they are working hard for you.