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Melissa Cohn Explains the Value of Sponsoring in the Horse World

Manhattan Mortgage’s Sponsorship of Opening Day on August 24th at the Hampton Classic Is Something Every Company Can Learn From

While some people take their clients out golfing or for a nice dinner, Melissa Cohn, owner and founder of the Manhattan Mortgage Company, takes them to a place where the entertainment is already arranged and the setting couldn’t be more ideal. That location is the Hampton Classic Horse Show, one of the most prestigious events not only in the nation but in the world.

Thirteen years ago, Melissa chose to sponsor Opening Day at the Hampton Classic and she’s never looked back. That’s a relationship that just fits for her company, her networking, her family and her passion for riding horses. The value that Manhattan Mortgage gains from that sponsorship is something that others inside and outside the horse community can learn from. For Melissa and Manhattan Mortgage it is a win-win situation.

“I sponsor the Classic as it is a great venue to entertain a large number of clients in a very unique environment,” explains Melissa. “How many mortgage companies have luncheons at horse shows; never mind the greatest outdoor show in the country?”

Yet that’s not the only value that Melissa gains from this sponsorship. Beyond the typical amenities of marketing and advertising support (in print and on the radio), she also has use of the Hampton Classic logo, something that is recognized worldwide. There’s signage around the grounds, regular announcements throughout the day, the use of a chalet that is ideally located overlooking the main grand prix arena and the title sponsorship for Opening Day, which this year takes place on August 24th.

In addition an entire PR campaign is built around this relationship. Her company is featured in the local, national and equine media and as an expert in the field of mortgages this added coverage is in addition to the many media that quote Melissa’s advice on the latest trends.

And it’s not just the sponsorship but the fact that Melissa can share her love of horses with her clients, family and friends, because Melissa owns horses and competes at the Hampton Classic as do her two daughters.

“Riding is my passion and this sponsorship also allows me to ride and participate and be with my kids, while I am working the whole time,” explains Melissa, who is not over exaggerating. This petite businesswoman is always a hum of activity, answering phone calls, negotiating deals, hosting and entertaining clients in between getting out there with the rest of the competitors and dealing with the stress and the thrill of competing at a show as prestigious as the Hampton Classic.

“I truly believe that clients and brokers get more out of the fact that I am part of the show, not just a sponsor in a fancy dress,” she explains. “It is my life and they love the fact that I open the door to my personal world in a business venue.”


With all that she does you wonder if there is any room for more. Yet in Melissa’s case that more is all about giving back. Sure she is an entrepreneur running a successful company who wants to constantly reach a higher pinnacle. Yet in the process, she has never forgotten her roots or the value gained in giving back.

Melissa brings her desire to help others into her Hampton Classic relationship. “In years past I’ve used the chalet for charitable functions by the CDCH. One year we had 65 kids with special needs and had a fun kid’s day with a face painter and magician and the horses to boot.”

Near and dear to Melissa’s heart are any charitable causes that touch the lives of children and the less fortunate. In addition to CDCH she is also a major benefactor of The Retreat (both are in East Hampton), The Goddard Institute in New York City, the American Cancer Society, and the Habitat for Humanity. “I look for groups where the money will go to the cause, not the advertising or party,” she comments.

It’s obvious why she supports causes such as the CDCH, which is a place where children of different abilities come together in an extraordinary learning environment; or The Retreat which supports victims of domestic violence. Habitat for Humanity also makes sense since this is a place which builds simple, decent, affordable houses in partnership with those in need of adequate shelter.

So often anything to do with horses is targeted by those outside the horse community as being elitist. Yet, with Manhattan Mortgage’s sponsorship of Opening Day and hosting of groups such as the CDCH in her chalet, Melissa has shown how even the VIP sections of the horse world can be accessible to everyone.


Hosting clients is undoubtedly one of the biggest values of the Manhattan Mortgage sponsorship. “We entertained daily, and in the past there were even downpours while our chalet was humming with guests. Every year we entertain clients, brokers and people that we do business with as our guests.”

All year long Melissa is talking business, working through deals and lending money. Yet at the Hampton Classic she has a chance to get to know her clients in a setting that not only they enjoy but she feels right at home in. Hosting people in her chalet is “a great opportunity to spend time with clients and brokers in a casual, unique setting,” notes Melissa. “As a guest of the Classic the event is there as the backdrop but it helps to keep the company in the forefront of everyone’s mind. It’s a priceless ticket for many and well appreciated by all.”

It’s also an opportunity to do business since Manhattan Mortgage is only one of many Hampton Classic sponsors. “It always helps to meet other sponsors, especially when there are so many real estate related sponsors at the show,” she adds. “And we get real business from the show, but it’s primarily a big thank you to our clients and referral sources.”

In business whenever you do something you balance the costs and the value or benefit gained from the money you spend. While the Hampton Classic is the major equine event that Melissa sponsors annually, there are others that she supports at different levels. It allows her company to reach an audience that needs the product she offers while allowing her to also be surrounded by a world she loves. It also brings her clients to a unique setting they probably would never go to on their own. Consequently, not only has Melissa gained exposure for her company but she introduced a whole new group of people to the horse world. So, in the end not only do she and her company gain from her sponsorships but the horse community also benefits.

We often listen to conversations focusing on why the horse world in general doesn’t get more support. If more companies could understand the value that sponsorships in the horse world achieve they too would learn what Melissa has. The horse world is unique and different. It targets a vast audience that is appropriate for many different types of companies and it affords the sponsor the opportunity to host guests in an environment that is distinctive and singular.

“We use our sponsorship for PR throughout the year, not just for the week of the Hampton Classic,” explains Melissa. “And there truly are no mortgage companies that do what we do at the show, never mind have a company head that participates. It makes us real to the clients and brokers and helps to humanize and set us apart from others in my industry. Most sponsors don’t even know what they are looking at but I am part of the fabric of the show and have been now for 13 years. It makes a big difference!”


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