Welcome to my first blog discussing sponsorship! Over the years I have gotten a lot of questions about how to become sponsored, what sponsorship entails, etc., so I wanted to write a series of blogs addressing some of these commonly asked questions.
I am going to release the blogs in 3 sections: how to seek sponsorship, what to expect when negotiating with sponsors, and how to maintain a good relationship with sponsors.
I have based all of these blogs on my personal experiences over the past 12 years where I have been a sponsored climber. I hope that these blogs will give you valuable insight into some of the possibilities of what being a sponsored athlete involves. I wish you the best of luck if you’re seeking sponsorship, and if you are not seeking sponsorship, I hope you enjoy a good read!
So let’s begin our first blog…
Blog 1: How to seek sponsorship
Am I ready to seek sponsorship?
Deciding if you are ready to seek sponsorship is a personal decision. There is no age, ability level, achievement, etc., that dictates whether or not you are ready to seek sponsorship. If you would like to become a sponsored athlete and are prepared to fulfill the obligations that come with sponsorship, then just go for it!
Do you contact companies or do they reach out to you?
When I was first seeking sponsorship, I would contact companies. Currently I am fortunate enough to be in the position where companies will generally contact me, but I still reach out to companies that I am interested in working with. When you begin seeking sponsorship you may be lucky enough to have companies approach you, but if not, you will have to contact companies that you are interested in representing.
How do you decide which companies to contact?
Deciding which companies to contact is a personal decision. I would recommend initially working with companies whose products you currently use and love. You like the products for a reason and this makes it easier and more authentic for you to represent the brand.
Who do you contact at those companies?
Some companies will have a dedicated team/athlete manager while others will not. Generally someone in marketing will be in charge of sponsorships. Social media managers may also be in charge of sponsorships or work closely with the person who does manage sponsorships.
Where can you contact those companies?
The Internet is a great place to contact potential sponsors. Some companies will have a designated application for hopeful athletes, while others have little, if any, information. Look on the website of a potential sponsor for the best contact information. When all else fails, there is always the general e-mail address for the company. If you contact the company through the general e-mail, they will usually point you in the direction of the correct contact.
Social media is also a potential way to contact companies. I would recommend using social media to obtain the point of contact for sponsorship. It is generally easier and more professional to include more information in an e-mail versus a message on social media. I would advise reaching out to potential sponsors on social media by using a direct form of messaging whenever possible.
How often can you contact these companies?
Once you have your contact and have sent them an e-mail, wait for the person/company to reply. If they have not responded within 2 weeks, send a follow up e-mail. If they do not respond within 2 weeks of the first follow up e-mail, send a second follow up e-mail. If you do not hear anything at this point you have two options. Look for a secondary contact at the company or hold off on contacting the company for the next few months. If you choose to reach out to a secondary contact, follow the same guidelines for following up. If you still are unable to receive a response, concentrate your efforts elsewhere for the next few months.
Is it important to have social media? Is it important to have a website?
It is incredibly important to have social media. Companies not only rely on “social media influencers” for one-time postings, they partner with influencers on sponsorships as well. Having a strong social media following allows you (as an athlete) to reach more people than if you did not have social media. You do not need millions of followers to be valuable to a company on social media, but playing an active and engaging role in social media only serves to help you and your current/potential sponsors.
I also believe that having a website is important. Although we live in the era of social media, websites help tie everything together. You can aggregate all of your information on a website, which is difficult to do in most social media platforms. I have utilized my website to showcase my bio, competition results, media, photo gallery, blog, and contact information. Having a website is not necessary, but I believe that it increases your level of professionalism if you do have one.
Additionally, utilizing social media and having a website gives companies an additional way to contact you, and the easier you are to contact, the better.
What do you include in an e-mail to a potential sponsor?
Choosing what to include in a sponsorship e-mail can be tricky. I like to keep these e-mails simple while also providing all of the information I would like to present to the company. Refer to the list below for items to include.
-A short bio on who you are
-How you can represent the company
-Links to your social media platforms (with the number of followers next to the link. The company can look at the links to see your number of followers, but this just makes their lives easier)
-Link to your website (if you have one)
-1-2 video links or media articles you would like to include
-Your contact information
When you approach a company for sponsorship you want to provide them with the necessary information, but you do not want to overwhelm them. Give the company enough information so they feel versed on who you are as an athlete, but not so much information that it gets lost in translation.
That wraps up the first blog of the sponsorship series. Hopefully I was able to answer some of your questions regarding seeking sponsorship. Next Monday I will post my second blog on what to expect when negotiating with sponsors.
Have a great week!