So you’re looking for a sponsor? You’re thinking that you have been doing pretty well in competitions, you have a Facebook page, and you really could do with someone to give you some help with all of the expenses that mount up when you’re competing. Or you’ve seen some other people, that don’t do as well as you, have got themselves sponsors, you beat them quite often, surely you’d be a better bet for a company than them? Maybe you’d just like to have a sponsor to make you look good and give you cool free stuff?
If any of the above is what you’re thinking then you probably won’t get a sponsor. These days, social media is full of junior and senior riders at all levels looking for sponsorship, thinking it’s all about them, and the competition is very tough.
For a start, companies don’t just have piles of clothing, or feed or branded saddlepads waiting to be given away to anyone who asks – budgets are tight and some don’t have money to sponsor riders, and if they do, they’re going to want something back in return. The key to success for you to stop thinking me, me, me and start thinking them, them, them! Work out exactly what you can give them, to persuade them to support you rather than the previous 10 people who asked!
We spoke to Alanna Clarke, a 14yo BYRDS rider based in Yorkshire. Alannah trained her horse from a just backed ex broodmare 2 years ago, and since then they have qualified for several national finals and are supported by some fabulous companies such as Tottie Clothing, Equiclass Boots, Allott Equine Massage, eGlovesUK, Style Reins, the Wentworth Emporium and Equerry Horse Feeds .
Alanna shared with us her secrets to getting sponsored. She said;
- What is different about you that would make you stand out to a company? Why should they choose you rather than someone else?
- Okay so you’re different, but what are you going to do for them? What promotion will you be doing that someone else can’t.
- Can you actually do what you’ve promised? These days not only will you be mentioning a brand on social media when you’ve done well, but you may be asked to write regular blogs too.
- Do you have access to images for them to use? It’s no good supplying blurred or unidentifiable shots. You don’t need pro photos but they do need to be clear and good quality with no copyright issues.
- Are all of your social media accounts clean? Remember once you are connected to a company, how you behave at any time reflects on them. Boasting of going out drinking, swearing or bad behaviour will put companies off.
- Do you genuinely love the product? I only promote products that I believe in. I would like someone following me to know that if I say something is super, I really do think it is.
- Are you confident and outgoing? You could be asked to appear at trade shows or events and talk to potential customers. It will be important that you can give a good impression.
- How much time do you really have? Looking after sponsors can take up a lot of time, be prepared to spend time promoting them and discussing how they’d like to be promoted.
Having lovely sponsors is great, but always remember sponsorship isn’t really free stuff. If you want to attract great sponsors you will have to work for it, but if you’ve taken my advice above and are working with companies and products that you love, it won’t be hard work and you’ll make some fabulous friends being part of a team along the way.
So, now you know…It’s all about marketing yourself!
So sit down with a notebook, and write down what you can offer:
- What makes you different to everyone else
- Do you have a skill they might find valuable in promoting their company and products? For example:
- do you write a blog
- have you got a significant following on social media that they can tap into
- are you a great photographer
- are you focused on a particular discipline that is relevant to the company eg dressage or eventing
- Have you won any awards
- What’s your story? Are you a winner in your field (don’t worry if you aren’t, it’s not always about that!), or have you experienced a unique journey getting you to where you are today, or is there something different about you or your horse that makes you stand out?
2. Successful Targeting
Having established some facts about yourself, then think about possible sponsors. It’s best to choose potential sponsors whose products and business are as relevant to you and your skills as possible so for example, if your area of expertise and knowledge is showing, there may not be much point getting in touch with companies who specialise in dressage. There are of course lots of companies whose products span the range of equestrianism such as feed companies, horse care suppliers, stabling companies and so on who will likely be relevant to approach. Create a list of companies you are going to contact and find out the name of the person responsible for sponsorship, or marketing as it’s always best to address your communication to a specific person rather than a department or a business name.
3. Be clear about what you want
Having established how you can help your potential sponsors, you also need to be clear in your own head about what you want to get out of a sponsorship and be able to convey that in your pitch. Do you want goods, money, publicity…make sure you can answer what it is that you are seeking and explain why.
4. Pitch Perfect
Once you have all this sorted out, then think about how you are going to ask. Will you ring, email, send a letter? Will you send a powerpoint presentation, some photos, or a CD/DVD with a video on it? Try to be creative in your approach to standout – yours won’t be the first application they have had!
5. Follow Up
Once you have sent out your pitch, leave it a few days then give your contact a call or drop them an email to see if they have received it and have any feedback for you. It’s not nagging, it’s showing enthusiasm and interest!
6. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
If you are lucky enough to secure sponsorship from a business, keep in touch with them regularly to show how their commitment to you is paying good rewards for them. Tell them what you are doing, show them the coverage they are getting from you and how you are showcasing their products and services.
Good luck – let us know how you get on!