Securing cycling sponsorship is tough! That’s why I’ve created a 6 step process to help you identify potential sponsors, solve specific problems, create a proposal and seal the deal. This sponsor focused approach will give help to create relationships that you can build on year after year.
I touched on teams a few weeks back, and for me, it raised the issue of cycling sponsorship. I personally don’t think sponsorship is all it’s cracked up to be, especially if you can support yourself. The extra pressure it places on riders can be too much.
Saying that though, there is a place for it, and can ease the financial burden of being a semi-pro. So today I have a 6 step plan that I’m calling the Cycling Sponsorship Playbook. To take you through the steps of identifying and approaching potential sponsors.
When I talk about you, I’m also referring to you as a team. If you’re a team member or manager, then feel free to replace ‘you’ with the team.
Step 1: You
Start with your why. Be honest with yourself about your abilities and intentions. This is not to say that it’s all about the espoirs of the world. If you’re honest about why a company should sponsor you, there’s probably a company out there for you. Also, it’s not all about winning! So don’t be discouraged.
What do you want? Be specific.
- Travel Expenses
- Entry Fees
- How much funding are you getting from existing sponsors?
- How much do you need to do some of the “cool stuff?”
- What’s the gap? This number becomes your target!
What can you do for a sponsor if they sign you? Examples:
- Bike mechanic: Demonstration nights
- Coach: Training information nights
- Rider: Lead local rides or skills sessions
Now that you know you’re why what you want and what you can offer. It’s time to look for targeted sponsors that you can add value to, and can supply you with what you want. Notice the order I put those two things. First look for companies that you can help to solve or fix a problem, then look to address your needs second.
Make a Target List
- Determine which companies you want to target for sponsorship?
- Why would they be a good addition to your sponsorship portfolio?
- Do they currently sponsor other organizations?
- Could your team be able to lend value to their business?
Keep these 3 rules in mind when looking to add a company: Companies Sponsor to Make money, save money or create a specific image.
Where to Look?
- General – Cash
- Vertical – Products
- Magazine Advertisers
- Website Advertisers
- Products that sell well in local bike shops
- Other teams (even different disciplines) or riders sponsors
Create a Data Sheet
- Email of decision makers: Find email through a permulator, Gmail and Rapporative
- Marketing goals: Current and past campaigns
- Accomplishments: Google news the company
- Record their social media accounts
- Write a brief synopsis of where their business is today, and where they are headed
Rank the companies on your list
- What do you know about the company, brand, and products? The more familiar you are, the better head start you have.
- Who do you know? Is there any relationship that can be cultivated through a referral? You can start this by using a LinkedIn and/or Facebook Profile by adding everyone cycling related that you meet, or would like to meet.
- Where are they headquartered, and where do they make sponsorship decisions? Accessibility for meetings
- Could the company be a good potential sponsor based upon their business goals, directions and objectives? Is there potential overlap between what the company wants to achieve and the value your club, team or event can offer? Aligning values on both sides is important
About demonstrating value – “what’s in it for the sponsor?”. There is no better way to demonstrate value to a sponsor than by solving a problem!
- increase visibility and awareness
- increase sales and market share
There are also other ways you can add value. Being creative here will help you to stand out.
How to get a sponsor? Be an inspirational individual that can sell a brand in a memorable way.
Once you have found where you can add value.
Step 4: Contact Sponsors
Develop an elevator pitch for your team to be used in social media, e-mail or introductory letter. Focus on why and how cycling sponsorship will help them achieve their goals and objectives. Point out why cycling, you, your team or event is the perfect vehicle to help them.
Use initial contact as a springboard to additional discussions. This is your in to send them more details.
Step 5: The Proposal for Cycling Sponsorship
How to Write a Proposal: Start with a value statement.
Company objective and motivation) + your ability to solve a problem and the benefit to them = VALUE
- The Cover Letter
- Part 1. Executive Summary
- Part 2. Benefit to Sponsor
- Part 3. Proposal offer and budget.
- Part 4. Overview of Club and team
- Part 5: Sponsors and affiliations
- Part 6: Call to Action
- A designated URL can help reinforce the proposal
- As can a business card attached to the proposal
- Never send a blind submission
- FedEx for the companies that you believe you have a better chance
Know Your Business
- The history of your discipline
- Current state-of-the-sport locally and internationally
Follow up Phone call
Understand what they liked, what they didn’t, if any modifications or additional information is necessary. If you won – congratulations! If not, consider continuing to nurture the relationship for next year. Or, maybe approach them about a temporary sponsorship arrangement on a smaller scale.
Step 6: Deliver on Promises
Follow through once the gear or money arrives. Remember this is just the beginning of your cycling sponsorship and professional relationship, and one that if nurtured and treated with respect can repeat year after year.
Make sure to maintain consistent contact:
- Updates after each major competition
- How you supported their message
- Your results and achievements
- Social media and blogging
- Organise B2B get together of all your sponsors for more leveraging
This takes time. It’s a process. Remember this: Know. Like. Trust.
Companies, or more importantly sports marketers must know you, then like you, and finally trust you before they’re going to commit any sponsorship dollars to you.
Photo Credit: mnormany on Flickr