Cognizant CMO on Driving B2B Sports Sponsorships
If you’re looking for a story about what a B2B brand can do to drive awareness, shift brand perceptions, and build a top-talent pit crew—this episode with Cognizant CMO Gaurav Chand is a hole-in-one. Tune in for a fascinating look into the world of B2B sports sponsorships, a track that Cognizant has entered full throttle with Formula One, PGA Tour, and LPGA Tour sponsorships.
Learn how this path can boost your B2B brand awareness to new heights, winning over customers and employees along the way. It’s a fascinating lesson in doing your due diligence to set a purposeful strategy, how to make sure your sponsorship is more than just a logo, and more. Don’t miss it!
What You’ll Learn
- Behind Cognizant’s F1, PGA, and LPGA sponsorships
- How to successfully activate a B2B sponsorship
- How to show the business value of events
- Share Your Genius
- CMO Huddles
- Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One™ Partnership
- LPGA Cognizant Founders Cup
- Article: Cognizant Tees Up Global Men’s and Women’s Golf Partnerships with PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour
- [01:42] Meet Gaurav Chand, Cognizant CMO
- [07:40] The mandate: Brand awareness, brand perception, recruiting
- [12:20] The solution: Sports sponsorships
- [16:20] Sponsoring F1
- [24:45] Every little detail matters
- [27:25] About CMO Huddles
- [28:40] Sponsoring the PGA & LPGA
- [34:10] It’s about more than the logo
- [40:40] Measuring marketing influenced pipeline
- [47:20] Measuring brand awareness
- [48:40] Gaurav’s sports sponsorship tips
“You're trying to create that unforgettable moment that leads to positive engagement in the future.” —@GCatCognizant @Cognizant Click To Tweet “Make sure you've done the math around what it takes not just to get the sponsorship, but what it takes to successfully activate around that sponsorship.” —@GCatCognizant @Cognizant Click To Tweet
Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 301 on YouTubeFull Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Gaurav Chand
Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. I’m guessing that as a podcast listener, you may also enjoy audiobooks. Well in that case, did you know the audio version of Renegade Marketing 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands, was recently ranked the number one New B2B Audio Book by Book Authority. Kinda cool, right? You can find my book on Audible or your favorite audio platform, feel free to check it out. Now, speaking of podcast before we get into today’s show, I want to do a shout out to the podcast professionals at Share Your Genius. We started working with them about three months ago to make this show even better, and I have been blown away by both their strategic and executional prowess. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show — by the way, they have helped us double our downloads. I’m just—I’m not—I’m, like serious, they have helped us double that’s the kind of impact they have. So if you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show, be sure to talk to Rachel Downey at ShareYourGenius.com and tell her Drew sent you. Okay, let’s get on with today’s episode.
Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand and just plain cut through. Proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing at Renegade, Drew Neisser.
Drew Neisser: Hello Renegade Marketers! In a first for this show, today will be focused on sports marketing as a way to reshape how customers and prospects think of your B2B brand. What makes this conversation even more special is that the CMO started down the sponsorship route at the beginning of the pandemic, not knowing when his company would be able to activate these investments. It is as you might expect another CATS story as in courageous strategy, artful ideation, thoughtful execution, and scientific method. And with that, I’m thrilled to introduce Gaurav Chand, CMO of Cognizant. Hello, Gaurav, how are you?
Gaurav Chand: Hi, Drew, thank you so much for having me on this.
Drew Neisser: Well, thank you for just sitting through my whole introduction too.
Gaurav Chand: Congratulations on the book by the way.
Drew Neisser: Oh, thank you. So I couldn’t help but look at your LinkedIn profile. I noticed that you went to Ferguson College in Pune, I think, Maharashtra and how did you end up from Pune, Maharashtra to Dallas, Texas, getting an MBA at SMU?
Gaurav Chand: Yeah. So I went to Ferguson for recent college in Pune, and did my undergrad there, started work in India, at Ranbaxy, which is a pharmaceutical company and quickly realized that I wanted something with much deeper scope from a global standpoint, because I enjoyed that aspect of marketing, just getting to know different cultures and going deeper in what works for those cultures. And how you have to modify not just translation, but what does true localization mean and stuff like that, I decided to come to the US where several of the multinational global companies reside, got my MBA at SMU, and right off the bat started off my career at Dell, which is again, like a massive, global multinational company.
Drew Neisser: Very cool. So you graduate, get your MBA, you started Dell. And then the rest is history. You’re here. Right now you’re even in New York, right? Like down the street from where I am.
Gaurav Chand: I am, I am. It’s been a long journey, spent a long time at Dell then move to CenturyLink as their CMO, and then came over to Cognizant in — about two and a half years ago and been Cognizant and CMO for the last two and a half years.
Drew Neisser: Very cool. Okay, so now, I just curious, I’ve started asking this question, because some of the answers have been really interesting. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had in your life?
Gaurav Chand: I can tell you what’s the worst job I’ve ever had. It was interesting and at this point in time, this is going back a long time to so things are materially better, and things have changed. But when I first started working for the pharmaceutical company, one of the things that they had us do was go through a pretty extensive training program because the company sold everything from antibiotics to cardiac medications and all of that kind of stuff. And you were put through this three month training program and after three months as a brand manager for a certain portfolio of drugs you were supposed to go talk to doctors. Now, as you can imagine, Drew, I mean, it’s not one of those stories where life was miserable and stuff like that. But I can tell you something, when you’re like, you know, 20-22 years old, you’ve got three months of crash course on pharmaceuticals. And you’re talking to a doctor that has done it from anywhere between 20 to 40 years, it’s one of the most intimidating things, you know, it doesn’t really get any easier. Because every doctor is different. And every visit is different. And having to go through a spiel and trying to explain the symptoms of something that they have seen a million times over, and try to prove to them you really know what you’re talking about is one of the most difficult things, unimaginably difficult, and I would put that down as the worst job.
Drew Neisser: I can just see it because let’s face it, doctors are not necessarily people who are egoless. In fact, many doctors think of themselves as the smartest person not just in the room, but perhaps in the universe. And so here you are.
Gaurav Chand: You want to know, in a lot of cases they are Drew, unfortunately.
Drew Neisser: Exactly, you know, and it’s funny, I got a call the other day, from a LinkedIn, it was clearly a BDR and SDR. And it was clear, they were calling from another country. And it was clear, they really didn’t know anything. And they’re talking to someone and I’m thinking, I’m old enough to be your father, for sure. And you’re going to tell me how to improve some aspect of the marketing? I don’t believe you. So here’s my question for you. And I was very polite, I want you to know, it’s very polite, because I’ve been there, I sold encyclopedias door to door, I understand that. My question for you is did that experience make you a little more empathetic to the challenges that your BDRs and SDRs go through?
Gaurav Chand: Absolutely, it makes, it makes you empathetic on tactics like email marketing, cold calling, all of that kind of stuff. That doesn’t mean I use those tactics. But still, it does make you empathetic on you know, when folks reach out to you on LinkedIn, and all of that, and you just tell yourself before you get all frustrated and deleted, you tell yourself once you know what I’ve been there, I’ve done that. And it’s not easy. It is definitely not easy.
Drew Neisser: It’s hilarious. And I’m just wondering, I’m thinking back to that experience, most likely, the only thing that worked were free samples, and maybe you had some premium some swag to give them.
Gaurav Chand: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Because God knows my conversation or on why, you know, a certain drug is better than a different drug around cardiovascular treatment. I know that didn’t work.
Drew Neisser: Oh, my God, oh my god. But I also think there’s nothing like real world exposure to the customer, to get to know them business
Gaurav Chand: And it teaches you a certain degree of humility to realize your customer, your client truly knows best. And unless you are humble and have your ears wide open to listen, you’re never going to be that successful, you really truly are never going to be that successful. And this notion of a customer’s don’t understand if the product is truly breakthrough. They might not understand the usage pattern of the product, but they do understand what their pain points are. And they do understand what they’re looking for in a solution to their pain points.
Drew Neisser: Love that story. Thank you for sharing it. Let’s dive in to the story at hand you join Cognizant, August 2019. Countdown to the pandemic at seven months before what was your mandate when you got there?
Gaurav Chand: So when I got to Cognizant and this was obviously the pre pandemic timeframe, right? We were very clear. We did a bunch of research drawn around Cognizant perception. What did our clients think about us and pieces of that nature. And what it all boiled down to is when you look at Cognizant though, at that point in time, we were a 16 plus billion dollar business, right with about 12 billion in the United States and the rest outside, it came down to — in the US we had some awareness with clients. But most of the awareness was centered around this notion of, hey, if I have an application running in the US and I want to transfer it to a low cost, country, low cost location, right? Cognizant would be the right folks to do that for me. That’s what it was in the US the moment you step outside the US into Europe into Southeast Asia and any aspect of the world that we would consider as priority countries. I’m talking about UK, I’m talking about Germany, I’m talking about the Nordics, Japan, Australia, any one of those locations, people just flat out did not know about Cognizant much. So number one was how do you go create the right awareness for cognizance so that people identify it as a brand, right? The second piece was, it’s not just a question of eyeballs. We’re not just trying to create awareness. We’re also trying to shift perception, for example, in the US was a great place where we had to shift perception in most of our priority countries outside the US, we had to create that perception and in the US, you had to shift that perception. At that point in time 30 to 35% of our portfolio was all targeted towards digital technologies. So think cloud think IoT, think AI, software engineering, all elements 30 to 35%, which is a huge chunk of a 16 plus billion dollar portfolio. However, Drew, we never got credit for being good in that space, right? So it was not just a question of creating awareness. It was just also a question of shifting perceptions around Cognizant being that digital transformation partner that can take clients to their next step in their evolution of becoming a truly modern business. So that was number two. And number three, which is the human element of it, which is how do you galvanize? At that point in time, we had approximately 220,000 People working in this company. Today, we’re over three, we’re close to 340,000. associates across the globe. How do you galvanize, not just the 220,000 people that were working for you, but also the next potential 220,000 people? What did the next gen workforce look like? And how do you make Cognizant of really meaningful employer of choice for them? So those were the three critical elements touching upon everything from brand to awareness, to shifting perceptions, do recruitment marketing, as well as internal comms around getting folks excited about being at Cognizant.
Drew Neisser: I hear you in the awareness perception in employees. The irony to me is I mean, you’re in competition for talent with Deloitte, EY, Accenture, IBM, all of the world’s largest consulting firms and transformation firms. And I’m guessing here, but your awareness is lower than those four companies in the US?
Gaurav Chand: No, absolutely, absolutely. Right. We were lower. And that was the bridge, we were trying to get past because we believe better capabilities, we could execute better for our clients, we could bring to fruition some of those elements for our clients better than anybody else. But then how do you bridge that gap in the lack of awareness?
Drew Neisser: I’m sort of in a in a in a meta moment, because I feel like the problem was sort of defined in your name in the sense that they’re just not cognizant of your capabilities.
Gaurav Chand: That is exactly right.
Drew Neisser: Right.
Gaurav Chand: That is exactly right.
Drew Neisser: That’s a sort of an irony here, I think, is that you know, that you needed to build recognition in a way that had meaning. So strategically. And so if we get because I do want to talk about the jump to execution, which is often because we did promise we would talk about sports sponsorship, but before we get there, so we’ve set up the framework of awareness as a problem. And we’ll call it saliency within that awareness and that they just you got to add some meat to the bones, even if I’ve heard of you, I don’t know what you do. And then those two things in process and the way you communicate them would in theory, help galvanize employees and help your recruiting brand. We’ve identified objectives, but how did you sort of evolve the story of Cognizant to set it up? So you said Okay, before we go to sports, what was the story or any adjustment that you needed to make in order to then execute in sports?
Gaurav Chand: That was the process of collecting the data that identified what vehicles we are going to use to target aspects of whether it be awareness, whether it be recruitment, marketing, whether it be shifting the perception, all of that? So going through that due diligence? So what are the different levers you have? You have pure and simple television advertising, you have the shift towards digital, you have the shift towards hyper targeting using predictive analytics technologies, understanding what your clients are doing in the dark funnel, and correlating that to your known funnel, and then bringing the two together so that you have a cohesive strategy around that. That’s a key part about your ABM strategy. You have so many options. And that was the moment where we stepped back and said, Hey, based on the business requirements based on the country prioritization based on aspects of majority of countries. Like the use of digital in the United States is very different compared to the use of digital in, let’s say Germany, right? Privacy laws are very different. The ability to hyper target is very different geofencing geotargeting technologies are very different. Take something simple, like, over the top television over the top television, for all practical purposes does not exist outside the United States. Therefore, you have to rely on broadcast television outside the United States. But you can do much more hyper targeted television, with Hulu and a lot of the other streaming technologies in the United States. So we had to look at every element of the mix, right? How do events play out? Are events a good place of execution? Where does email marketing fit in the execution? Is email marketing, a good tool right up front in the funnel? And the obvious answer is, heck, no, because response rates of 0.07% of email marketing are considered spectacular. I mean, email marketing is as good as direct mail for all practical purposes. But where does it fit in that funnel? All of those models? Like, what are the hyper targeting technologies you want to go after? What are the effective analytics technologies, that entire gamut of how you go after executing on those three key objectives? That was what we went through? And we looked, we looked very, very closely at what does broad reach give me how much ability does it give me to target as opposed to that what can broad reach through sponsorship gave me and we looked at all of those elements, obviously, Drew that was that gap between understanding the business goals, having that conversation with a market leaders, with the CEO with the board, all of those pieces, getting that gamut of elements together that says this is how you can tackle various elements of the challenges you have, and then optimizing around what you believe were the best elements from a go to market standpoint.
Drew Neisser: You do all this analysis, and you sort of come up. And that leads you into sports. And I’m just curious in terms of how you sort of picked and started to and where we can go to F one because I know that’s one of the ones that that you’re doing. But how did you sort of narrow down to that and say, okay, in order to build awareness and increase understanding, and help us with recruiting, we need to participate in sports. And particularly, we need to participate in F1. How did you get there?
Gaurav Chand: Yeah, once we landed on the fact that sponsorship was a good way to achieve or part of the strategy to achieve objectives? Next step was then going through the same due diligence from a sponsorship perspective. Question one, is it global? Is it truly global? And is it going to add to our awareness? Question two was, does it give you the opportunity to go beyond eyeballs? Because again, remember, Drew, we talked about shifting perception does not come through eyeballs, shifting perception comes through the ability to transmit a cohesive story to the person—to your target. Right. So number two was does this particular sponsorship in this particular sport, give me the opportunity to truly have to truly go through the explanation of what we’re evolving to and all of those pieces? And number three, does it actually match the values of, you know, cognizant, as a company that was a critical consideration to right, and I’ll go to the first one Formula One, obviously, incredible global awareness, there’s no question about that. And we made a bet, we made a bet that Netflix drive to succeed, survive, would actually succeed in getting a massive portion of the US population on that sport, because that was the one glaring hole for Formula One. It wasn’t particularly popular in the United States. And that was a gamble. In all honesty, that was an educated gamble. And it paid off in a big way. I just looked at some statistics, and they talked about the fact that F1 viewership just for the beginning of this year in the US is up 36% year over year, we’ve already added a race in Miami, we’re already adding a race in Vegas, and they’re talking about other cities also where they want to add races, right, so that gamble, thankfully paid off. So that was the global and the awareness piece. We knew F1 in all of our top priority countries, whether it be Norway and Finland, whether it be UK, the US, Canada, Germany, Japan, Australia, Singapore, all of our top priority countries— it was going to pay off. The second thing was, does it give me the opportunity to truly engage with my clients and explain to them where we were, where we are, where we’re going? Absolutely right. F1 comes with the grandstand experience, the Park Club experience in all of those elements, which truly allow you to engage in interact with the right level, C-suite, specifically with your clients to go have those deeper conversations. And the third one was the values. And it’s interesting, right? F1, most people would step back and say, well, that doesn’t meet the values of any company. But now, with Liberty Media taken over Liberty Group taking over, they’ve done a phenomenal job around the values of F1. For example, one of the things that we are helping Aston Martin Formula One, which is to get to carbon neutral by 2030. So a lot of those aspects of sustainability in pieces like that, which people generally don’t associate with Formula One, we’re helping them achieve those goals in real timeframes. And that is definitely a value, you flip to an F1. And you go to the LPGA conference, and Founders Cup, again, the Puram, and the Founders Cup, the chalet experience gives you that opportunity. If you look at the field for the LPGA Founders Cup, it’s an incredibly diverse field from people all across the globe. So it gives you that interest, where folks from Korea and Japan and Australia and Europe and the US all are watching these incredible athletes play. It also played into one of our strong values Drew, which was diversity and inclusion. That has historically been a challenge in the tech sector, we recognize that we’re trying to work that and we made a big statement by doubling the prize, money for the Cognizant and LPGA founders cup, because we wanted to put our money where our mouths were when it comes to tackling issues of diversity at a larger scale, not just at the scale of Cognizant right?
Drew Neisser: Let me pause you for a second. There’s a couple of things I want to address on F1, then we’re going to take a break and then we’ll get into the PGA and the LPGA. Because I think that’s an interesting one, too. So you set out with F1 to do it was definitely global. And you know, even with the Netflix thing, it’s really still a modest sport in the US right? Relative to golf and relative to other sports. But so big in Europe, really big in Europe, how did you decide even — to — as we get into F1, and part of it is getting a team you decided to go with Aston Martin on your team, why?
Gaurav Chand: So Drew, it’s interesting, right? It’s just layers and layers of research and due diligence goes into a decision like that, right? We met with five teams, and we met with the governing body. I had experience with F1 in the past, and the one thing that I learned is one of the most critical elements of a successful partnership on the F1 side is: how truly flexible is the entity you’re dealing with? How truly flexible because there are real time decisions that have to be baked constantly on site, from a branding standpoint, and elements of that could make or break your sponsorship — your decision around sponsorships. And one of the things that threw all the team conversations — through the conversations with the governing body, everyone. One of the things we very quickly realized was Aston Martin was new to the game. In many ways they represented what Cognizant was trying to do, which was a true transformation of sorts. And in our conversations with them, they were incredibly flexible around terms of the contracts, the negotiation, what elements of the entire portfolio we got, as a result of it, we really enjoyed that part of the experience with Aston Martin more than absolutely anybody else in the ecosystem, another critical element of F1 is backing and the will to survive and win. We saw that loud and clear with how Lawrence was building his own team, on the Aston Martin Formula One side, and all of those elements that he was doing, and then lastly, it was the one team we taught from a technology standpoint, we can have the greatest impact on. So trackside IoT, AI, modernization so that they can spend less on it and fund more dollars towards the actual car, and the aerodynamics and the carbon fiber and all of those elements of the car — All of those elements put together was something with the due diligence process that we went through with all the teams and landed on Aston Martin.
Drew Neisser: It’s funny we used to do a lot of work with with Panasonic on their Olympic sponsorship, and they were a top sponsor. And one of the things and I’ll never forget calling with Bob Greenberg is always thinking about how product got integrated with the Olympics. And of course, you know, they were the official broadcaster but it was more than that. So whenever we did a sports program, whether it was the Olympics or do an action sports tour, it was finding a natural way — permission to be there. So it sounds like you did that? Well as we wrap up this F1 section of it — And by the way, I also heard things like they were willing to play, they would — they weren’t — they were flexible enough to work with you to get this bringing to bear trackside IoT and these other modernization would be, you’re going to just make them better. And that’s an awesome place to be. So as we wrap up this part of the thing, got other CMOs, who are working for large companies listening to the show, and they’re saying, “Oh, that’s interesting. I get it, particularly Europe, it’s interesting to know, they’re growing in the US,we could get in in the US early.” What have you learned from this experience that you wish you knew about F1? When you started before,
Gaurav Chand: I’m not trying to give you a cop out answer, I’m going to just be as honest on that answer as possible. Nothing massive, I would say because, again, we went through the due diligence, but there are definitely tactical elements around your execution pieces, like tickets to the Paddock Club, driver appearances, hot laps, all of those core elements that actually are critical to deliver the kind of experience you’re trying to deliver for your clients. There’s a lot of those pieces that had I known the nitty gritty details on, we could have made a highly successful endeavor even more successful. So those are the things that I would point to, in all honesty, not the overarching strategic pieces, but much more the tactical elements around execution.
Drew Neisser: And I think it’s so interesting and timely, because we’ve been doing a lot of huddles lately that this month, we’re focused on on events, and people are a little rusty on events. And it’s like, so how’s it going? It’s going great, we’re getting out there and meeting people and so forth. And then somebody stepped back and said role, remember, it’s about pre, during, and post and having a full program that. “Oh, right, right, we gotta have that.” And every little detail in an event marketing program matters right from the second, even the email, the signup how you — the experience, because these are customers or high level prospects, and you’re trying to create a sort of really perfect experience that represents your brand that is memorable and distinctive, and all those things that you do in all other marketing. And that takes practice. And it takes time.
Gaurav Chand: That’s exactly right Drew. Like take something as banal and simple as a client invite. Imagine the difference between a client invite coming from one of your executives inviting one of their executives, as opposed to now imagine a video from Sebastian Vettel or Lance Stroll, inviting the client to the event, right? Those are the things those are the tactical elements, which we have learned. I just wish we had started, let’s say a year ago, as opposed to eight months ago, and things like that, right? Those are the small things that just add to that experience, that moment of truth, that just makes it so sticky for a client to remember that for a long, long time to come. And that’s what you’re trying to create. You’re trying to create that unforgettable moment that then leads to positive engagement in the future.
Drew Neisser: Perfect place for us to take a pause. So give me a second to do a live read. And we’ll be right back. So it’s funny, as we’re talking about — Gaurav is describing the lessons that he’s learned from this thing. That’s what CMO Huddles is all about. If you were about to go into a sponsorship like this, you could either go and learn it on your own and make a mistake, or you could come join CMO Huddles and have an experience with other CMOs who have probably been there and solve for that. Because every single month, we’re getting together in small groups to talk about pressing challenges like this month, we’re talking about events and activating in a way, as Gaurav said, activating in a way that creates an incredibly memorable experience. But we forgot we’re rusty on that thing. Any other thing that you’re thinking about right now we’re addressing in CMO Huddles, and that’s why we call it a force multiplier. We want an hour a month, we guarantee 10 hours back in time saved to help you make faster, better and more informed decisions. If you’re a B2B CMO that could share and care with the best of them, visit CMOHuddles.com or hit me up on LinkedIn to see if you qualify for what we’re calling our now our free one month guest pass. Okay, we’re back. We’ve covered F1, but I don’t want to stop there and you didn’t stop there. I know you’ve mentioned your sponsorship: the PGA and the LPGA. Let’s talk about why that choice.
Gaurav Chand: One of the most meaningful elements around golf is participation. Drew, there’s not a lot of sport — it’s not like — let’s just take the NFL. Average sea levels tend to be in the 40s and 50s. It’s not a lot of 40 and 50 year olds that can go throw balls out there, right? You don’t get that. And one of the elements that we were drawn towards from a golf standpoint was the ability for a client to participate with like professionals and truly get a feeling for, you know, what it is to be in the limelight with that professional getting shots with people actually watching you, and how, how incredible that experience in general is, and we did a lot of research on likes and dislikes of our target audience, obviously. And one of the things that came out loud and clear was, you know, playing golf. Playing golf was an activity that people love. Watching Golf was an activity that people love. And we wanted to do something that — and golf is obviously incredible global sports, especially when you look in the LPGA. It is incredibly diverse from the participation across the globe. And that was one element of it. The second element of it was also the the diversity and inclusion element, which is really, really critical to us. So doubling the prize money for Cognizant Founders Cup, that was a meaningful contribution we could make, right? That would help along the lines of this diversity, and equality and all of these conversations. And then obviously, the engagement besides just being in the chalet watching those professionals come through being in the program and playing side by side with a pro walking with you. Just incredible, unforgettable experiences that you’re trying to create. Same thing with the Presidents Cup. We really liked the President’s cup because for what it stood, it was the US versus rest of the world minus Europe coming together in an incredible three day competition, where you know, some of the top right players across all of these geographies would compete with each other, and just provide an incredible moment for our clients to really watch these professional athletes be at their very best, right? So that was the main impetus towards picking golf.
Drew Neisser: I have to say, I — as you’re talking about the programs, and unforgettable experience, years back, I was working out of business. And we spent enough money in Business Week that they invited me to join a senior pro tour as it was called at that time pro-am. But not only was it pro-am with that, we had to Hall of Fame baseball players on our team as well. And then we got to hang out with them courtesy of Businessweek. And I’ll never forget, I mean, some of these baseball players were amazing. And the senior pro golfers are and I had one moment, I was just learning to play golf, where this is something that makes golf special relative to any other sport. Like I could never throw a fastball 100 miles an hour, it’s not going to happen. But I was 175 yards away from the hole. And so was the pro now we got to hit from the amateur things they hit them. And would you know what, I actually put the ball inside and I didn’t hold the one but I put it about two feet inside of his on the green. And I’m like, I’m a 36 handicap. Oh, I was like, oh my god, oh my god. And you know, I got high five by the Pro. Which, you know, again, give me a break. That’s just unbelievable.
Gaurav Chand: And then I’ll give you, you know, you use that. Here’s a funny incident, a memorable incident. Last year at the Founder’s Cup, but one of our clients that was in the chalet and in the pro-am was Canadian. And, you know, after the round, he came up and told me that hey, you know, it’s funny. My mom just texted saying, you know, I told her she’s back in Canada. He lived in the United States at that point in time. She said “my mom just texted me saying, Oh, wow, you’re doing this pro-am thing. You know, Brooke Henderson is on the LPGA Tour wouldn’t be great if you got to see her.” And you know, I went to talk to our tournament director and I said, “Is there any way Brooke would be willing to get a picture with this client? Just a quick, one minute thing just a quick because it would be a great thing for him to send back to his mom.” And lo and behold, Brooke was so nice, so generous, she said absolutely, finished her round. We got her to the side she got a picture with this client who texted it to her mom. And that just created the game this unforgettable experience for a client which is exactly you know, honestly, which is what marketing is about create those incredibly sticky, unforgettable experiences. So they recall you every time they think about your product category or services category, or whatever it is. And that’s one example of just a truly memorable moment.
Guarav Chand: So one of the tricky things about golf but any sports sponsorship? Is there a lot of logos like you think about the logos on the cards, right? The logos on the shirts of the players, the logos on the various places. How do you make sure, particularly let’s just take the PGA sponsorship, that the story somehow or other is bigger than, there’s that word, cognizant associated with golf, right? How do you make sure that the story is broader?
Gaurav Chand: Yeah. And that way you focus on multiple items, right? You focus on how many ad spots do you get so that you can explain it, even if it’s a 30 second ad spot, you get that much more time to explain who you are, what you do, what are you all about, and all of those, you create those chalet experiences where clients can come and talk to company executives and learn more about the company, if they don’t know a lot about the company, either. You try to create social moments arround it, right? Like we do a lot of stuff with the LPGA around golf and you try to create those moments, no honesty, for lack of a better word. They are Instagrammable moments that takes the story and makes it much bigger than just a logo on a golf tournament and pieces like that. Right? So those are the kinds of things that you have to build the elements around that sponsorship, to truly take it to the next level. One example, when Seb Vettel was in Miami, he went to a school. And he talked about a career as a Formula One driver or a race engineer, but in the sport, and it was an incredible STEM learning experience for this middle school that he went to where he talked about, so you have to create those moments to make it bigger, Drew.
Drew Neisser: Yeah. And funny. I know now I’m flashing back four years ago, we did a live webcast at US Open at Shinnecock for and we did this for Deloitte. So as a result, I got to be a guest at the Deloitte booth on — that I think it was like hole 13 at Shinnecock and the experience that they had there included, you know, every two hours, a new Pro would come in and would share something and then would autograph a little flag or something like that. And again, I still have the gear, the little premium golf things that they gave away with the Deloitte button on it and immediately go back to that moment. I’m curious with that you can’t have an unlimited number of people. Is it only clients that you invite to this these programs.
Gaurav Chand: Now we do a lot of employee activation around this because that’s a critical strategy around retention, obviously, which is obviously a hot topic right now. So we will do a lot of bringing in associates, like bringing associates to the dinners that we do with clients, bringing in associates to the grandstands in a Formula One race, bringing in associates to partake in the pro-am, playing with clients and the pros, bringing them associates and their families for you know, the days the tournament is being held and have you know, small events like ice cream socials and things like that right out there. So that’s the whole piece around, it’s very easy to boil down a sponsorship to “oh, there’s that there’s a logo, and that logo is going to be highlighted.” But it’s a question of creating that force multiplier around it through ancillary events that takes it to the next level and the next level and the next level. And not just to your clients, but also to your associates, to the workforce — next generation workforce, and all of these elements blended in.
Drew Neisser: One of the old rules of thumb and ways that I saw sport sponsorships under utilized throughout my career is that the investment upfront to just get that sponsorship was pretty big. And then the rule was, among sports sponsorship experts, was plan it another three times that — to activate, which can be a lot. And so I’m curious, does that rule still apply? Do you think of it that way?
Gaurav Chand: Depending upon the sponsorship, it might not be as much as 3x. But that rule 100% applies. When you’re ready to have this conversation with your CEO and the rest of the executive committee, so your peers, make sure you’ve done the math around what it takes not just to get the sponsorship. But what it takes to successfully activate around that sponsorship. It’s not just a question of, “hey, a logo on a car.” It’s a question of how many races are you going to activate? How many clients are you going to have at every race? What is the kind of experience that you’re going to provide to the clients: the dinners, the business roundtables, all of those elements have to be factored in. It would be a huge mistake to think about sponsorships only as that element of putting your brand on that. You have to look at it holistically including the activation.
Drew Neisser: Activation. We talked about that. Lesson learned turned on the F1 is all those little details are part of the activation and getting those things right and thought through and timed. And you can get better as as you go along. But it’s funny, I went to an event the other day. It was a lovely event at Yankee Stadium and they didn’t have any swag. And I thought, that’s interesting. You would say, “oh, that’s, that’s fine. Everybody throws it away.” But sometimes you don’t. If it’s the right swag, and you take it home, it’s like the Deliotte thing. I’m still wearing my dang golf hat, right. So if you’re clever about it, even and if you can even get the swag to sort of tell the story — may connect the dots, you can have this thing continue, I guess.
Gaurav Chand: That’s the whole experience that you provide around it, right? If you’ve not taught through activation, then you end up giving things that get thrown away. If you think through the activation, then you don’t end up giving things that you throw away. And something as simple as a cap becomes a lot more precious when Sebastian Vettel and Lance stroll personally sign those caps, right and do that kind of stuff. So you have to think about that activation very holistically.
Drew Neisser: We’ve talked a lot about activation. We’ve talked about why we went into sport sponsorships in the beginning, because we know that they’re going to reach a large audience, in your case F1 and golf. And we talked about the importance of — we wanted to build awareness, we wanted to increase understanding. And we wanted to sort of use it as a an employer brand. opportunity both for current employees and future employees. Let’s talk about metrics and how you either upfront or along the way have sort of built the business case for doing this.
Gaurav Chand: Yeah, no, I mean, at the end of the day, Drew, we are a strictly B2B company, there is not one element, not one iota of a portfolio that can ever be sold online, per se. So it is all through understanding what a client needs, and what kind of services can we provide to fulfill that need, right? In that world, it’s all about marketing influence pipeline, I can’t track marketing sales pipeline, because that really does not exist in my business. So it’s this notion of — first of all, landing on what you define as marketing influence pipeline, making sure your executive committee, including your CEO, and board members, in some cases are 100%, in agreement to what that definition is, and then starting to track, right, what was the activity in some of these cases, right, it’s difficult to pinpoint. It’s not like the digital ad, where I know a client clicked on a digital ad, which took them to our website, and then they strolled around our website. And you know, three months later, we created an opportunity around that specific space, even in that world because I can’t sell transactionally it is all marketing influence pipeline. So we have strict rules around what we consider marketing influenced pipeline. And we have strict rules around how do we measure the cost, including the activation, which is a really critical element, but goes beyond that to say, “okay, you know, which client attended, what was their activity six months to nine months prior? What’s the activity six months to nine months post? What’s the anecdotal feedback we’re getting around the pipeline that’s being created, and keep being the sales leaders and our client partners who ultimately are a client facing teams very close through that process, identifying and targeting those accounts and putting the whole science behind the ROI for something like it, you know, Cognizant Founders Cup or the Cognizant Aston Martin F1 Racing Team?” Putting that whole ROI is a really critical element of it. And going into the process, what I focus keenly on is, how are we going to measure success? Not so much on what success we expect, but more importantly, how we going to measure success? Because if you can identify a path to what kind of activations are you going to do, and how you’re going to measure success, it’s really easy to understand whether this thing is worth taking a gamble on or not. And that was that path that was that due diligence, the conversations that we went through to land those specific sponsorships that we did.
Drew Neisser: So I have a lot of questions here, about to dive in. So we talked about marketing influence pipeline, what metrics do you within that? And what’s that look like? I mean, how are you determining that?
Gaurav Chand: How you targeted? Which clients do you target? What rod category that client belongs to, therefore what kind of spent did or did they not have with you? What conversations did you specifically have with those clients? What was your goal for a client? If a client understands our offshoring business extremely well, but has not invested in any digit technologies from a Cognizant standpoint, then, what are those digital technologies? And were you successful in selling them and creating a pipeline and ultimately converting it into a revenue? So it all comes down to your targeting mentality, who you targeting? And why you’re targeting, for example, a client who is buying digital, what’s the number one thing? Okay, you know, cloud migration is a key aspect. We know elements of their businesses are based on legacy environments. So, you know, I identified the right Cognizant executive, for the right client. And at some point in time, I tell them, you have to have a conversation around the legacy apps and how do you migrate to the cloud. And then you measure that, because you know exactly which client — which persona and which client has attended your event, you understand the goals for it, and you measure “Did you succeed?”, and your rules have to be stringent. So just because you had their oracle application offshore, if you move from there, if your goal for that client was to get them on a digital technology, whether it be AI, or cloud migration, or IoT, or pieces like that, but you just expanded or renewed your that contract that you had with them, you don’t get credit for it in your marketing influence pipeline, ultimately, your marketing influence revenue. So you have to have all of those elements very stringently baked out. And like we have a briefing with all the executives that are going to attend that specific experiential. And we point out, “hey, X, you’ve got to talk about this topic to this client, why you have to talk about this topic to this client.” And we measure did we have success in what we set out to achieve?
Drew Neisser: One expression that came up, I had never heard before in a huddle when we’re talking about events and thinking about metrics is the term revenue in the room. And so as I’m thinking about this, I’m imagining these customers that are coming to this event, and you actually know how much they’re spending today, in what areas and your matrixing. And you’re saying, well, they can spend a little bit more over here, right in this area, there’s an opportunity. So you literally could do this revenue in the room calculation.
Gaurav Chand: And we have a compliance for all of our accounts by persona, we understand what our share of wallet is, we understand what our competitors share of wallet is. And then we figure out which of the key areas that we could potentially break through, which are the Trojan horses, we need to talk about a client, we might not be getting successful, like automation is something we do extremely well, in automation, today’s environment is incredibly critical. Because as clients are thinking through pushing more money towards digital, there has to be saving somewhere to push that money. Automation gives you that so that could be the Trojan horse, the tip of the spear that finally gets the client overbought. So then we say, hey, for some x from Cognizant, you have to have this automation conversation with person y from one of our clients and sell them on that because that could be the Trojan horse that gets you into that client, say if it’s an acquisition account.
Drew Neisser: So I have to sit back and say, Okay, we started this conversation by saying you have awareness issues on a global basis, you have recognition or understanding or appreciation issues do you have tracking in place? So you can also measure that?
Gaurav Chand: Absolutely. We measure through a third party awareness, consideration, relevancy, knowing and that’s a standard measure, every big brand in the world does it we use the same agency that a lot of the big brands used, we measure awareness, obviously awareness leads to consideration, ultimately consideration leads to relevancy. And relevancy has a very high correlation with the revenue right. So we measure that twice a year, every year. And we’re tracking those very, very close. In the first six months, we had a 7% percentage point increase in our awareness, we had a three percentage point increase in our consideration, our relevancy remained the same, but relevancy, as people know, takes about at least two to three years to move the needle on. But the initial statistics definitely point to the fact that it is working. The marketing influence pipeline has been an amazing statistic that we track very closely. It’s more than pointed to the fact that we are being very successful around our sponsorship strategy.
Drew Neisser: Very cool. Okay, well, we’re gonna wrap up the show, but before we do, I want to ask you for the — again the CMO is in the audience. When it comes to getting the most out of your sports sponsorships give us two do’s and one don’t.
Gaurav Chand: Do: I would say do the due diligence before you lock on the sport sponsorship. Make sure you have 100% agreement on how you’re going to track it, how you’re going to measure it. Those two are the two dues. It’s back to your point. Don’t think sponsorship only think about what can you do that surrounds that sponsorship, that makes it much greater than a logo on a car or a logo on a banner and something like that. And there’s so much you can do around ESG, around sustainability, around employee morale, and elements like that, which just makes it so much of a force multiplier to your overarching marketing strategy.
Drew Neisser: I love it. Thank you, Gaurav, and thank you listeners that if you found this episode of value, please thank Gaurav on LinkedIn and let them know that you enjoyed the show and do me a favor and rate us on your favorite podcast app.
Drew Neisser: For more interviews with innovative marketers visit renegade.com/podcast and hit that subscribe button. Thank you.
Drew Neisser: Renegade Marketers Unite is now a production of Share Your Genius. Melissa Caffrey is our content director. The music is by the amazing burns twins. And the Intro VoiceOver is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about my new book and the savviest B2B marketing boutique in New York City, please visit Renegade.com I’m your host, Drew Neisser, and until next time, keep those Renegade thinking caps on and strong.
For more interviews with innovative marketers, visit renegade.com/podcasts and hit that subscribe button. Thank you.
Renegade marketers. Unite is now a production of share your genius. Melissa Caffrey is our content director. The music is by the amazing burns twins and intro. Voiceover is Linda Cornelius to find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about them. And the savvy is B2B marketing boutique in New York city.
Please visit renegade.com. I’m your host Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.