‘How do I get sponsorship?’ is a question I get on a regular basis from many athletes.
I believe you first need to answer another question…what value do I have to offer?
You can go around with a machine gun approach dropping off CV’s looking for companies to give you money to compete in your sport but those relationships won’t last if you’re not offering value.
Many brands have been burnt and come out on the wrong side of the cost/benefit equation which has made it even harder but I believe that things have changed dramatically and it’s easier for athletes to deliver value.
As an athlete, I believe you need to target based on products and services that you’re passionate about and believe in. Also, focus on companies that hold similar values. Importantly, these are likely to be the same values as your community.
The next step is to find out what that company is trying to achieve and work with them on how you can support them. It’s just as important to find brands that are willing to work with you to get the best out of the opportunity as the best relationships are built over time.
Just like you, brands are trying to tell their story and build their community. They may also need support in educating their market.
We live in the ‘now’ generation and if we don’t know the answer to something we search online. Companies are taking advantage of this and using athletes to deliver the info they need out there. It seems less manufactured when delivered from someone we admire especially when we see how it benefits them and how it’s contributed to their journey.
You’re probably thinking ‘I’m a professional athlete I don’t have time for this’. This is part of what the ‘professional’ element of athlete means. Social media has developed quickly and will continue to do so. There are many opportunities that don’t take much time or effort and can be scheduled to fit your busy training/competing lifestyle. For instance, ‘live’ video is very popular right now. It’s simple, easy to use and very effective.
As an example of how easy it is, check out a behind the scenes view of a training camp at Thanyapura that Tim Ford put together. Tim is an age group triathlete who has a great story but more importantly, he gets the shift and engages very well with his sponsors and community.
In many cases, it’s about the athlete becoming an influencer putting together great content and becoming an expert on the client’s products, services and industry.
One major point is that it’s not just the athlete that needs to rethink their sponsorship efforts but companies as well.
Sponsorship is no longer all about the athlete that is always winning. It’s about the athlete that provides the best value. Relationships built on winning will fall over when the winning stops. Relationships built on value will continue well after you retire as an athlete.