The Local Knowlege

Golf & Business

How one company values its golf sponsorships (Hint: It's not all about performance)

By Peter Finch

Later this month Cristie Kerr will represent the United States, along with Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson and Paula Creamer, in the inaugural LPGA International Crown. They’ll compete against teams from seven other countries. If all goes as planned, it will be a thrilling and emotionally draining experience. 

From where Marty Dauer sits, it also should be a great opportunity for brand exposure. He’s the chief marketing and communications officer at Duff & Phelps, a New York-based corporate finance adviser. Duff & Phelps sponsors Kerr as well as Ricky Barnes on the PGA Tour.

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I recently talked with Dauer about Duff & Phelps’ involvement in golf, a program it launched not long after he joined the company in 2008. 

Some marketers throw huge sums at top-ranked male golfers in hopes of massive TV time for their logos. (I wrote about that subject in this column, which includes a description of how much sponsors pay depending on where the logo is located on a golfer’s body.) But Duff & Phelps takes a slightly different approach. Sure, it likes the media exposure -- but it’s really looking for a payoff at “small-scale, high-end events” with Kerr or Barnes and 40 to 50 clients. 

The industry term for these events is “activation.” It’s one thing for your clients and prospects to see your logo on a telecast or in a news report. The connection grows far tighter when they can interact one-on-one with a professional golfer sporting that logo, says Dauer, adding, “Most sponsorship is useless without some measure of activation.”
 
Because Duff & Phelps is in the valuation business, it makes sense that Dauer would track its investment in golf carefully. The company holds four to six golf events a year, and everyone who attends one gets entered into a customer relationship management system, as does every Duff & Phelps managing director who invites a client or prospect. Using this data, Dauer says he’s identified nearly $5 million in new revenue that came from people who attended golf events. The company has spent $2.1 million on its golf program -- which includes sponsoring Kerr and Barnes and client events -- since 2009.

Dauer also subscribes to a service that measures every minute Duff & Phelps’ logo appears in the media and assigns it a dollar amount. “We’ve been recovering two or three times our investment in media value alone,” he says. 

Barnes’ play hasn’t been drawing much media attention lately, but Kerr has had a good year, with eight top-10 finishes. Naturally Dauer’s hoping she’ll do well at the Ricoh Women’s British Open and again in Maryland for the LPGA International Crown. 

Just as long as she conserves a little energy for the Monday after. Duff & Phelps has a client event in New Jersey that day and it’s counting on her to turn on the charm.