Have you ever wondered how athletic companies decide who to sponsor? If you aspire to be a sponsored athlete, earning free gear, your picture in an ad, or perhaps even a paycheck, read on. While it certainly helps to have a recent world championship title to earn an athletic sponsorship, it is not a requirement. Most athletic brands look at other factors when determining who to sponsor, as well.
“Sponsorships are about working with the athletes to teach consumers about the sponsor’s products”, says Kris Horner, CEO of Gameness Sports. Gameness is one of the largest global brands of jiu-jitsu gear and apparel and a sponsor to many athletes, from amateurs to world champions. Here are some key actions you can take to improve your chances of sponsorship, helping you stand out and look more appealing to companies searching for athletes to represent them:
Blog about it – If you are seriously looking for sponsorship opportunities, then you are devout about training and along the way have become an expert in your sport. Starting a blog and making regular blog posts is a great way to promote your personal brand and prove to your sponsor-to-be that you are an expert.
Tweet about it – Being active on Twitter is another way to share your expertise with others. This is also a great way to build followers. The more followers you have the more clout you will have with a potential sponsor.
Get lots of friends- Facebook is a wonderful way to build followers. It is a great format to share relevant pictures and videos. Many sponsors will start by going to your Facebook page and seeing how many fans you have. Facebook also makes it easy to look at your fans and make sure they are relevant to your sport, so focus on a quality fan base and not just the number of fans.
Post YouTube videos: YouTube allows you to connect with other athletes and potential sponsors. Training and nutrition tips provide great content, as well as sport-related product reviews.
Link all your social media work – Post your videos to your blog and Facebook page. Tweet about a recent blog post. Link all this activity so that people can follow you on their terms. This cross promotion builds your fan base across all social platforms.
Don’t forget to train- Sponsors want disciplined athletes who eat right and train consistently. Making sure you look the part isn’t as important as winning, but it is important.
Compete- Competing regularly isn’t just an important part of your training, it shows your sponsor that you are out in front of the public on a regular basis. Compete regularly but come prepared. Routine poor performance doesn’t help your personal brand so if you are not 100% consider skipping the competition.
Network- Get to know influencers in the sport that know potential sponsors. These are people in the media, other sponsored athletes, retailers who purchase goods from potential sponsors and event promoters. These contacts are invaluable for making the right introductions.
Target- Target sponsorship opportunities with companies whose products you like. Supporting their brand before getting a sponsorship is a great way to show your passion for the sponsors’ products.
Win- Beating the competition isn’t the only factor that sponsors use to determine who to sign, but it is important. The bigger the stage of your competitions the more value you bring to the sponsor.
Getting sponsors isn’t easy, but using these steps and staying disciplined will make your sponsorship application stand out above the rest.