Hyland, a leading provider of content services and enterprise content management software, in July announced it had signed up-and-coming professional golfer Xander Schauffele to a three-year sponsorship deal.
While other companies in the imaging channel have partnered with teams, leagues and the occasional individual-sport athlete, the Westlake, Ohio firm decided to take a big swing with a PGA Tour professional for its first foray into the multibillion-dollar sports sponsorship arena.
Schauffele ranked No. 9 on the official 2020 World Golf Rankings, finished just one stroke behind Tiger Woods at the Masters tournament earlier this year, and has already won four events on the ultracompetitive PGA Tour throughout his career.
With so many compelling sports sponsorship options out there, why did Hyland decide to invest in a professional golfer for its first sponsorship endeavor?
“Data proves that golf, in particular, is an area of interest for the C-suite target audience,” said Ed McQuiston, Hyland’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer. “Compared to the general population, the C-suite is more likely to have played sports, have a greater affinity attending or watching sports, and maintain active social lives.”
It makes a lot of sense. These top-tier executives are almost always the ones that sign off on the multimillion-dollar IT and services contracts that Hyland is competing for in the content services sector.
“By partnering with a major professional athlete, we will elevate our brand awareness among our target audience: the C-suite and IT decision-makers,” he added.
When Hyland decided it wanted to get involved in sports sponsorships, it turned to a third-party agency that specializes in this niche marketing space to help it determine who or what sports and athletes it should back. After spending a considerable amount of time researching its options, Schauffele emerged as the best possible option.
“Our goal was to identify a potential sponsorship property where Hyland could authentically tell our brand story,” McQuiston said.
Once it had found its guy, Hyland created what it calls a “360 activation plan” that focused on its core sponsorship pillars: Schauffele, media opportunities and brand story.
McQuiston said this activation plan will grow and evolve in the years to come. In the first year, the plan is to focus primarily on the launch of the sponsorship deal and maximizing Hyland’s brand exposure and awareness. Year Two will be all about learning from the first year and fine-tuning and potentially adjusting marketing events and activities. In the final year of this initial three-year deal, the company will concentrate on renewal and evolution.
Financial terms of the sponsorship were not disclosed.
It’s worth noting that Hyland also signed Xander’s father and swing coach, Stefan Schauffele, as part of the deal.
The Hyland logo is now prominently displayed on Schauffele’s (enormous) golf bag and he will be featured in an upcoming advertising campaign. His father will be involved in various hospitality engagements throughout the PGA Tour season.
Hyland its partner agency are using what it calls “robust metrics” to track each component of this sponsorship campaign. Along with the logo on the golf bag, Hyland’s brand is prominent on Schauffele’s website (and vice versa) and the company plans to maximize its reach with a number of in-market appearances, media events and social media sharing across both the company and the golfer’s channels. It will also initiate an integrated media buying campaign.
“Each channel uses different metrics, but generally we will measure success via a return on objectives (ROO), looking at both exposure and awareness of the partnership among the C-suite,” McQuiston said. “Our ROO will include measurement on aided and unaided awareness, familiarity and favorability, and overall partnership awareness.”
And in this case, the athlete Hyland has chosen provides a fun and meaningful branding opportunity simply by virtue of the first letter of his name.
“Hyland provides businesses with an X factor – critical solutions that create a competitive advantage,” McQuiston said. “We believe Xander Schauffele will bring that X factor to life for us on the golf course, introducing a more mainstream business audience to our company in a way that’s been difficult in the past.
“By leveraging this power of sponsorship, we create a memorable brand experience and touchpoints for our prospects and customers,” he added.