After graduating with a history degree from Trinity College in 1993, Jay Monahan set off on a cross-country bike trip with his roommates. He wound up on a journey far greater than he ever imagined, for it was on this ride that Monahan made the decision to pursue a job in the sports world.
“Sports were a passion of mine,” Monahan says. “I was determined to make it my career, so I went on to get my masters in sports management from UMass.”
Monahan joined the PGA Tour in 2008. Prior to his appointment as CMO and executive vice president, he served as senior VP/business development. Monahan took the reins in March when Tom Wade transitioned into the role of the sports organization’s global commercial officer after 18 years on the job. Monahan is responsible for spearheading business development, corporate marketing and partnerships, retail licensing and media sales as the Tour looks to strengthen its global presence.
CMO.com recently spoke with Monahan about getting into the swing of his new position.
CMO.com: What first brought you to the PGA Tour in 2008, and how did your background make you a fit for your initial position?
Monahan: What brought me to the Tour was the power of the PGA Tour brand. I was passionate about the Tour’s business model, specifically the positive impact it has on its business partners as well as the communities through the tournaments’ charitable giving. I had become very familiar with the PGA Tour when I was director of global sponsorships with EMC and later executive director of the Deutsche Bank Championship with IMG. I saw firsthand the impact that affiliation had on the sponsor and the community, and I was excited when the opportunity arose to come to the Tour as executive director of The Players Championship.
CMO.com: Tom Wade had your position for 18 years. When you became CMO, what was the best piece of advice he offered you?
Monahan: I can’t tell you that. That’s like asking Tiger for the secret to his success and then telling the world. What I can say is that I’ve had the benefit of knowing and working with Tom for the better part of 17 years and feel very fortunate to have had, and continue to have, the opportunity to learn from the best in the golf industry. My job, and all of our jobs, is to work with him and the rest of our team to build upon the foundation and growth established under his leadership.
CMO.com: What goals did you set for yourself upon becoming CMO?
Monahan: One simple goal: to be the best sports marketing organization among any league or property. That means the best people, ideas, and resources. If we achieve that, the business results will follow. The foundation is making sure we are best-in-class in servicing our current partners and always finding new ways to deliver value that help them reach their business goals.
CMO.com: What is a typical day like for you, and how do you balance business development, corporate marketing and partnerships, retail licensing and media sales?
Monahan: No day is the same. This is a very dynamic environment that tends to move between various functions during the course of the day, but my focus remains on supporting our sponsors and business partners. My role also involves a lot of travel, as face-to-face communication remains the best way to build lasting relationships and to better understand our partners’ evolving needs.
CMO.com: What is the most important message that you need to get out about the PGA Tour in today’s age?
Monahan: The PGA Tour consistently delivers and influences an educated, influential, and affluent audience. Our live television broadcasts with our partners CBS, NBC, and the Golf Channel continue to be appointment-viewing for fans, and we have enhanced and extended that experience with our digital platforms. I believe that our business model and mission is unique in sport. The PGA Tour is a not-for-profit entity created to provide playing opportunities for our members and to generate charitable contributions. Our sport is stronger than ever, and this year the Tour will exceed the $2 billion mark in cumulative charitable contributions. Both would be impossible without the support of our marketing partners, who derive business benefit from their PGA Tour integration and deliver direct and meaningful impact to causes and local communities. This is core to who we are.
CMO.com: Please share some innovative ideas you have come up with in your marketing efforts so far.
Monahan: Our marketing efforts are a “we” thing, not an “I” thing, and we are proud of what we have accomplished. One innovation example is FedEx and its sponsorship of the FedExCup, which began before I came to the Tour. What we have done is fundamentally change how people think of the PGA Tour and how to identify the most consistent performer over the course of the season. Another example is that we have created free, multiplatform access to our content through simulcasting, lead-in coverage, and complementary coverage, and have introduced new live content concepts through our partnership with DirecTV. DirecTV delivers live competition data to our fans at a depth and scale that was previously unavailable.
CMO.com: Describe the PGA Tour’s philosophy about using digital to market your sport.
Monahan: We took the significant step of taking full control of our digital rights at the beginning of this year. Data has shown that more and more people are consuming the PGA Tour through desktops, mobile devices, and tablets. Our sport is very unique in that competition lasts four days, and competition runs from early morning into early evening. The broadcast window is finite, and people want to follow our sport on their own terms. Our philosophy on digital is that our fans should be able to interact with our sport whenever and wherever they prefer, on any platform. This expands coverage of the Tour, creates two-way interactions with our fans, and presents new opportunities for our sponsors. To summarize it, digital enables the Tour to improve content, convenience, accessibility, and fan experiences.
CMO.com: It appears that social-TV integration is the hot thing of the moment,. In what ways are you taking advantage of this technology?
Monahan: Currently, about 60 percent of our fans are using other devices to follow the PGA Tour while we are live on television and using social media to convey their thoughts. Our plan is to continue to innovate and expand with the content that we make available, which in turn will generate more engagement and social reaction from our fans. We also see opportunities beyond social-TV integration for social and mobile technology to benefit our sport. For example, during the practice rounds of this year’s Players Championship, we used Twitter to update our fans on site about where players were on the course, and mobile apps to help them get to where they wanted to go.
CMO.com: How has mobile played a role? What have you done in this segment?
Monahan: Our mobile and social aps improve the fan experience, which is good for the sport and our sponsors. A significant portion of our competition is held outside the television window, and mobile enables the Tour to keep our fans constantly informed about what is going on and how their favorite players are doing. Our TV viewership has remained strong, and mobile simply gives fans greater access to what they want, from live scoring and simulcasts to videos. We have seen exponential growth in the use of our iPad, iPhone, and Android apps and other mobile programs. We expect mobile consumption of our sport to continue to grow rapidly.
CMO.com: There are a number of strong and charismatic personalities on the PGA Tour. How do you use them to play a role in marketing for the organization?
Monahan: Our players are our product, and they are great ambassadors of the sport to both fans and sponsors. We feature them in the Tour’s advertising campaigns, and their personal endorsements and charitable efforts contribute significantly to marketing the sport and building the PGA Tour brand. Week in and week out at the tournaments, we have 52 players participating in pro-ams with two, three, or four amateur partners. No other sport gives you the opportunity to compete on the field of play with a professional, and we see our players taking a true interest in connecting with their amateur partners to create memorable experiences.
We also have programs where players participate in activities ranging from conducting Q&As and golf clinics to attending private lunches and dinners. . .activities that truly engage the sponsors and their guests. Giving back is part of our DNA.
CMO.com: With all the digital channels you have to deal with, how can you measure what works for marketing? And how do you prove this to Commissioner Tim Finchem and other C-level executives?
Monahan: It starts with understanding what each partner wants to achieve for their brand or business in the digital space, and then building a plan that delivers against their strategy. The Tour has a large suite of digital content and assets that can be customized to do this effectively. Measures in the digital space will vary depending on the objective, but if we know that we are delivering against our partner’s strategy, measuring the impact should be straightforward.
CMO.com: Talk about your relationship with those C-level executives; how do you all work together?
Monahan: It gets back to having an open line of communication. It’s important to meet, listen, and talk with our clients to understand their goals and objectives because they are evolving constantly, and we have to adapt in order to help them to achieve those objectives.
CMO.com: Since becoming CMO, what changes have you brought to the PGA Tour’s marketing efforts, and how has the brand grown thanks to your efforts?
Monahan: The PGA Tour has maintained a very stable sponsor base, and any changes that our team has brought have been based on meeting the objectives and needs of our clients. The way we measure our success is, have we created a sustainable relationship by helping our clients to fulfill their objectives? Given that we are fully sponsored for 2014 and have added a number of marketing partners in 2013, I feel that we are meeting those objectives. We have also continued to expand into new categories of sponsorship, such as tournament sponsors Valspar and Sanderson Farms, and Bose as an Official Marketing Partner in China.