Through my clients, I receive many, many, many sponsorship requests each week from people asking for rider sponsorship. Some sound like interesting propositions, some leave me open mouthed by the time I’ve scanned the first sentence. Being aligned with the right kind of a rider CAN be good for a company, it can be really good for a company, and I’m lucky enough to say that I’ve seen some of these great associations in action. However, these great connections are not common, they’re like rare gems that should be cherished, and I really don’t think the majority of riders asking for sponsorship understand what they’re asking for and why they get no after no after no after no. So, I thought I’d put together some thoughts for consideration that might help you increase your chances if you’re asking for sponsorship or, if you’re a company, might help you get the most from an association… here’s my take on how to be a sponsored rider… well, a starter for 10 anyway!
How to be a sponsored rider
1. First impressions count. Sending someone a message through Facebook isn’t the best start to a sponsored rider relationship, especially if there’s an obvious way to contact the company through their website! Sir/madam is rather impersonal…get the name of the marketing manager or marketing director…put some effort in. Also be aware that messaging a number of Facebook pages at the same time is probably not going to end too well as a) you might find a PR admins a number of pages and sees the same message two/three/four times and b) you might get confused with who you’re writing to…I’ve received Facebook messages mentioning the wrong company. Can you guess what the response was?!
2. Why are you an asset? Saying that you enjoy riding and you have done well at your local show isn’t enough. I like Audi R8s. I think they’re really nice. I have spoken to people about my love for Audi R8s…but would I ask Audi to give me an R8 to use, for free, because I like them and I’d park it in Sainsbury’s once a week? No, no I wouldn’t. I’ve had people offering less exposure than that in exchange for the contents of a warehouse. Really think about why you are an asset to that company. Why should they pick you to be their sponsored rider?
3. And you want?! Don’t be too quick making your demands. Think about what you can offer the company before you decide on the products that you want them to give you! What value will you add to their marketing? How are you going to get their name out there (wearing a branded saddlecloth is not enough!)? How are you going to promote them? There are some riders (at all levels) who do an excellent job, and some that make me want to cry. THINK ABOUT IT.
4. It’s only product. The chances of you getting paid for your support are slim unless you’re one of the top riders in the UK. BUT product does have a value, and although the RRP isn’t what it’ll cost a company to make, it is still costing them, so don’t be ungrateful.
5. Think outside the box. Really think about how you can be different to the other 100+ requests that hit someone’s inbox or land on their desk. What will make you stand out as a serious prospect to be the company’s next sponsored rider? Reading the same kind of letter offering the same kind of thing isn’t very exciting and is very forgettable.
6. Be honest. If I receive an email or letter that vaguely interests me, I go to Google and I do my research. If you say you’re the next Charlotte Dujardin or Mary King then you’d better have done something to suggest that you are!
7. Think about what you say. You’ve heard of Facebook? Well, if you’re looking to represent a company, you’d better make sure that your personal profile portrays you in a good light too! Yep…it’s amazing what you can find out on the internet. Say you’ve approached a company about representing their brand as a sponsored rider and you’ve explained how you’re a great role model for young people because of X, Y and Z. Now, imagine the company’s marketing manager has a look on Facebook and sees pictures of you at a party in a drunk state. Not many people like to align reputable brands with drunkenness. I’m not saying don’t have a nice time, but think about what goes on your public profile. Actually, that’s a tip for life too. Employers aren’t too keen on that kind of thing either!
8. Do you know the product? If you’ve never used the product a company makes, then don’t bother knocking on their door and asking to be a sponsored rider. Please. A ‘I love your product and would like to use it’ just screams ‘I’d like free stuff…I don’t care who makes it!’
9. Read it back. People make mistakes, but checking back over what you’ve written and correcting the obvious spelling and grammatical mistakes will improve your chances of the person actually reading your letter/email. This will improve your chances of being one of their sponsored riders. You’ve passed the first test!
See these pointers as a place to start…it’s not a complete guide about how to be a sponsored rider, but it’s certainly a good starting point! And, let be honest, if you get your initial approach right, your chances are much greater!