This is 5 steps blueprint to successfully get sponsorships.
A promising MMA Fighter recently created his website with Medalist and asked us for advices on searching for sponsors. It got us thinking and here's our take on it with this survival kit for hunting sponsors. Enjoy!
1. Craft your story
Before going after a sponsor, there are important things to figure out. For that, you have to see yourself as a product. If you're going to sell it (ie.: get sponsors) you should know what it's made of and what it's worth.
Both of those things are usually way harder that they seem to figure out.
Start by trying to answer the following questions about yourself:
What makes you unique as an athlete?
What brought you where you are today?
What makes your life past, present and future different or inspiring?
If you come up with answers right away, that's great! You've successfully identified the key aspects of your story. If you can't... don't panic. It's a work in progress. Simply being aware that you are actively 'crafting your story' will affect the way you behave as an athlete and the kind of content you share with the world.
2. Set the distribution channels to share your story
If you've got a killer website and that you're on Twitter, Instagram or have your own Facebook page, you're essentially already sharing your story.
The trick here is to be smart about it and to actually grow you brand while sharing your story.
In order to do so, make sure that you've got distribution covered by having a solid online setup (ie.: that your website doesn't suck, that your Twitter cover image is not all pixelated and that your Instagram bio doesn't only consist of emojis)
Failure to clean up and align your different online presence will not only confuse visitors but will also devaluate your brand.
Your website should reflect your personality, look sharp and include good content that is both accurate and insightful for somebody who doesn't know who you are.
Your social media profiles and content should show off your athlete lifestyle. Take your followers behind the scenes. Show them things they can't see from the outside (ie.: training facility, travel, the venues, the pain, the joy... anything unique!).
It's important to remain consistent and creative. Try to post new content a couple times a week. Just remember that it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. You're in it for the long haul so whatever your pace is, remember that you're going to have to keep up pace for at least a couple years.
Don't mix up consistency with monotony... Avoid posting the same things over and over again. Be creative!
Ok, at this point you have established your online presence and created content that depicts your story.
Now, you're ready to hunt for sponsors!
3a. Look for sponsors in your inner circle
Look for potential sponsors in your community, usually family, friends and friends of friends. If you don't have business owners or 'decision makers' that you personally know, find people who do and ask them for an intro.
3b. Find the perfect match (my personal favourite)
Look for individuals and companies that share similarities with you and your story.
Like-minded individuals will "get it" they "see" what you are doing and what you have to offer. There are also much more likely to see your true value and be much more generous with their offer.
Such partnerships can often be perceived as strokes of luck from the outside or "too good to be true". They aren't.
We'll leave it a that for now since this matter will be discussed in depth in an upcoming post
4. Prepare your offer
Whomever your prospective sponsors end up being, find out what you'll offer them in return. Think further than the traditional logo slapped on your equipment. Yet again, be creative!
There are two ways to do this. Either you show up with a checklist of different options you can offer them that each have their price.
Unless you're a big deal, I'd argue against it. Instead, get offer them something that is truly tailored to their company's reality. Something only you can offer.
In some cases, you'll have no real, quantifiable return on investment to offer for the support they provide you with. In such cases, being creative will be your only way to make it work.
Keep in mind that you are not yet a Michael Phelps or a Usain Bolt. Therefore, you'll want to find companies that are not yet Under Armour either. Find companies that have the means to sponsor an athlete but not yet the constrains of a sponsorship program.
5. Set the right price
What's your number?
How much do you need to cover your costs for the year?
How many sponsors can you get to split the tab?
Realistically, you should feel comfortable to ask for anywhere between $1,000 - $5,000 depending who you pitch to and how you pitch them.
With the right offering you could even double, triple... or multiply tenfold those numbers!
On the other side, if the prospective sponsor is lowering your offer to less than $1000), don't bother. Don't be a douchebag either but you definitely don't want 'cheap' sponsors. Remember that you are trying to increase the value of your personal brand. Don't settle for less unless you really have to.
Remember that your existing sponsors will have an influence on how prospective sponsors perceive your "brand value" (ie.: seeing Red Bull logo vs Hillside Cemetary beside your name). Choose wisely.
Plan for the long run. Create compelling content related to your athlete lifestyle that, over time, will build a storyline to your career. This will help you establish and grow your brand.
Then (next week, next month or next year), start to monetize your brand by finding sponsors that are willing to partner with you or that are so inspired by your story that they'll want to be part of it.
I hope you enjoyed this "Introduction to sponsorships mastery". In the near future, we'll go in depth and share with you more tips on specific aspects of branding and sposorship. We're also reaching out to athletes who succeeded in creating rewarding partnerships to share their stories. Want to share your sponsorship stories? Hit me up: @antoinemeunier!