How to Get Sponsored - Experts Offer Advice to Youth Looking for Sports Sponsorship
Experts Answer a Question 'Any Advice for Young Athletes Looking to Get Sponsored?'
Finally, the experts answer the question on every young athletes mind: How do I get sponsored?
I used to get asked this question often, as prior to injury our snowboarding daughter was by Burton Snowboards, while her free skiing sister was sponsored by Roxy. Both of our girls were sponsored by age 10, and in both cases the sponsors approached us, yet I know this isn't always the case. Apparently we were doing everything right, without knowing it.
So, to share a more comprehensive answer I have gone to the experts and asked the question"Any advice to young athletes looking to get sponsored?" These experts represent a cross section of the industry, but are disproportionately represented by snow sports, as that is where we have the most contacts. They include those who sponsors young athletes, (corporate and shop), athletes (pro riders, Olympians, and the up and coming) and parents of other sponsored kids.
Hopefully, their answers will paint a formula for success.
We are in snow sports, so many of our "experts" offer advice on how to get sponsored in snowboarding or skiing. However, the steps to take apply to most sports, especially wakeboarding, surfing and skateboarding. Our expert panel spans the globe, with quotes from Canada, USA, New Zealand and Japan.
(poll added March 2011)
Quick: Who Are You?
We are temporarily out of all sport due to injury.
The advice on this page is unchanged as it was obtained from professionals.
Thank you to our sponsors for the their continued and on-going support as we recover.
Quick Tips on How to Get Sponsored
We are delighted that someone sees enough potential in our children to want to support them. We are even move thrilled that between them our girls have such fantastic sponsors as Ballistcs, Burton, Roxy, Anon, RED and the Leisure Centre. When I sat down to write this page I made an initial list of my recommendations, which I have included below. But we are just one family, and our experience may be completely different than others. So I went out to the experts and got their thoughts, also listed below. Turns out I was on the right track as most of the "expert" advice follows the same general patterns.
- Get out and enjoy your sport and don't worry about it.
- Get out and enjoy your sport and don't worry about it.
- Let the sponsors find you based on your performance.
- Ride for the fun, not the sponsorship.
- When it's time, get a shop sponsor first.
- Be realistic - you will not get everything for free, and you will not be handed a wad of cash.
- Once sponsored - be sure to support your sponsor, mention them in your media coverage, keep them in the loop and always say thank you.
Best Book I Can Find on Tips to Get Sponsored
I have not personally read this book, but the reviews are fantastic. Since it was published last year, it has been the #1 best selling sponsorship. Amazon readers give it a 5* average rating. Click on the book to link to its Amazon page and read the reviews, you will be impressed.
Advice from the Shops on How to Get Sponsored:
Most start with a shop sponsor
The general advice is to start with a shop sponsor. The shops represented here mostly specialize in ski (snow or water) and boards (snow, wake or skate). Here is the advice they offered, in no particular order:
“Enter as many competitions as possible and try as hard as you can. Look at the international riders and see what they are doing. ”
“Get a shop sponsor first and work up from there. They will want to get you a corporate sponsor.”
“Make a sponsorship tape. Doing tricks and getting competition results. ”
“Put together a portfolio with photos to show your ability and the other sponsors you have so far. Include any footage, anything to show what you can do and why you should be sponsored.”
“I think you should be pushing the shop. The shop will be helping you by giving you a good deal. You should be doing something for the shop. Represent the store as good as you can. You are like another sales person. Get people to the store.”
“Keep on getting out there and being persistent with shops and brands.”
(poll added March 2011)
If You Are Already Sponsored, How Did You Do It?
Don't look (for sponsors), just ride, if you are good enough they will find you.
Advice from the Corporate World on How to Get Sponsored
I went to some of the big guys, and here is what they said:
“Be yourself, if you are an individual you will shine amongst the clones. Companies look for point of difference, a representative that other people will notice.”
“Make sure you have something solid to offer, it's not just about wearing the kit. A sponsor wants to know that you can drive sales for him. Then live up to the promise and you will see that your sponsorship deal improve. Be loyal even if the grass does look a bit greener on the other side. If you get a chance to feature in a photo shoot, ask how you can help (carry a camera bag) or something. Don't just think "I'm the model here, it's all about me.”
“Make your rider CV unique, something that stands out, a point of difference. It is your opportunity to show your potential sponsor who you are and what you can do! Make sure you include what the sponsor will get out of giving you product. Once sponsored keep in regular contact with your sponsors, send emails and occasional phone calls especially if you got a great result in a big event. Keep all media coverage and let them know where you got published, even send them through the articles or stories. There is nothing worse than sponsoring an athlete and only hearing from then once or twice a year when they need stuff. Communication is key! Be grateful for what you get and if there is something not right about what you have gotten, then make sure you give that feedback to the sponsor. Don't just take the stuff then complain about it to your friends it will get back to the sponsor! Sponsors are the ones who help you do what you love so be honest and give constructive feedback and keep in touch, it can be a long successful relationship if both parties are getting what they want!”
(poll added in March 2011)
What's Your Sport?
Advice from the Pros and Sponsored Athletes on How to Get Sponsored
“Make up a one page CV, history, about yourself, Best results, and your Goals...put some photo's onto the page. Send off to as many people as you can. Most business men or company's only look at the front page. So make it brief but informative.”
“I have always found it of great importance to show some personality and individuality while seeking sponsorship, both in your performance of the sport and in your presentation of yourself; a company will look for someone to represent their brand, so standing out from the crowd (in the right way of course) is an essential asset.”
“Get some footage, enter some comps and express interest at your local board shop.”
“Support from sponsors is pretty crucial to any pro snowboarder's career. They can help with travel, photo shoots, comps and everything in between.
So how do you get sponsored? Entering and winning comps is a good way to be seen but at the end of day without getting too in-depth it is pretty simple. As long as you're snowboarding for fun, working hard, progressing well and have the passion for what you're doing then sponsorship and all the rest of it will come naturally. I GUARANTEE it!”
My best advice for getting sponsored would be simply don't try!
Advice from the Coaches on How to Get Sponsored
Most of the coaches here are snowboard coaches. They are all top level and coach in America, Canada, New Zealand and Japan.
“The biggest thing to understand is that sponsorship is a job. You "work" for your sponsor and are "paid" in whatever compensation arrangements you've established. If you fail to do your job by not communicating with your team manager, showing up unprepared for events or photo shoots or not representing your company in a positive light, don't expect to continue your employment.
When establishing sponsor relationships, understand that the sponsor is looking for a return on their investment. Don't approach sponsors simply asking for free product or discounts. Start by telling them what YOU can do for THEM. Do some research on the company- find out their target market, areas they're strong, management structure, company history and know their product line. Just like a job application, have a compelling, professional resume. If submitting a video, keep it short and simple- team managers don't need to see your crash sequence or you doing the same trick 15 times. Lastly, once you land the job, make sure you follow through on your promises and obligations. The snowboard industry is very small. Most Team Managers know each other and talk to each other on a regular basis. Your reputation is the only thing you have absolute control over- use it wisely."
“I think sponsorship is about building a relationship with an organization and the people in it; as the relationship builds so will the support.
Sponsors are looking for more than someone just 'killing it in the park' they are looking for someone to represent their company. They want to know exactly how you intend to represent them (killing it helps though)”
“My best advice for getting sponsored would be simply, don't try! ”
“Another good tip is to meet as many people in your local snowboard scene as possible. A great way to do this is to compete in as many local contests as you can. Not only will you meet people who are in love with snowboarding as much as you are, but you'll get a good sense of where you stand compared to the other riders in your area.”
“The key is to have fun and progress. Snowboarding is reciprocal, it gives back what you put into it. The more time you involve yourself with snowboarding, the more snowboarding will give back to you. It may take years, but I assure, if you love it and you don't want to do anything else with your life, it will happen.”
“I would suggest anyone looking to gain sponsorship focus on gaining a strong foundation of basic tricks and riding technique, surround yourself with friends and peers that support and motivate you to push your limits and increase your riding steez. Understand how competitions work then enter them and do your best, always have fun with the sport...the more you love what you're doing the more creative and skilled you will become. "Focus" by setting down your goals in snowboarding then working towards achieving them. Capture some good pics or video when you're ready to hit the big time. Lastly, make a simple and clear resume of your achievements showcasing your abilities and future ambitions to take to potential sponsors. This will allow you a great opportunity to gain the support you desire. Who knows - maybe one day soon you will be the one with sponsors knocking on your door!”
“Don't be afraid to ask for help when putting your rider CV together. Remember what being sponsored is about and when doing your proposal keep in mind what you can give back to the sponsors who support you. Keep learning new tricks to progressing as an athlete, but remember it must always be fun!! Doing what you love and getting supported for it is great but don't put unrealistic expectations and pressure on yourself. Have fun and enjoy!”
Advice from the Parents of Sponsored Kids on How to Get Sponsored
“Don't panic or rush to get a sponsor. It will happen. Get your name out there with good results and they will come to you.”
“Don't look, just ride, if you are good enough they will find you.”
“Compete in as many events as you can that are not over your head. Post your results on-line either by a website like loopd.com or your own site. Have a reputable coach lobby for and vouch for your riding ability. Have good grades and participate in something outside the sport that is "giving back" i.e., charity or church type affiliation”
“Practice, progress and keep riding. Don't just do tricks, ride the whole mountain.”
Remember to Wear Your Sponsors Brand
It's a mutual beneficial relationship. They support us, and we support them. Either way, she had Burton shirts and sweatshirts long before she was sponsored. It's her favorite brand.
Don't trash our team members if you want to join them."
Making a Sponsor Video Helps When Trying to Get Sponsored
If you area going to make a sponsor video, here is the best and most detailed advice I was offered. It came from a top American snowboard coach:
“If you're good enough to get sponsored, the sponsors will come to you. The amount of time and effort you put into getting a sponsor should be 1/100th of the amount of time you snowboard. So if you snowboard 100 days a year, you should put 1 day of actual effort into becoming a sponsored athlete. This is what you should do with that 1 day.
You've snowboarded 100 days this season, you've had tons of fun, progressed your riding and you wear your love for snowboarding on your sleeve. Over the course of this 100 days hopefully you and a buddy (or buddies) have filmed a bunch of riding, goofing off and general randomness. Condense all the riding footage, and only the riding footage, down to a video consisting of your best 30 seconds or 7-10 of your best landed tricks. Be sure to include your name, age and where you're from in your video. Go to your local snowboard shop and sit down with the employees (especially the shop manager) and watch your 30 second video. This should be a shop you hang out at anyway. The employees should know who you are and will already know if you're any good.
If you're good, and the guys at the shop like you, they'll probably pass your 30 seconds on to a local sales representative. If your local sales rep likes what they see, they may hook you up with some gear. At that point you're not really sponsored but on your way. Keep shredding all the time and keep having fun while progressing your riding.
In short, have fun riding as much as possible, because that's really why you want to be sponsored anyway. Meet as many snowboarders as you can, because it's not what you know but who you know. And most importantly, remember, the best riders in the world, working with the best film crews in the world, riding the best conditions in the world for an entire year (not just a season) only make a 2 - 3 minute video part, DO NOT make your video more than 30 seconds!”
Don't Do This!
A bit of warnings added by some of the experts
Although I didn't specifically ask for the negative, several of the "experts" offered comments as to what not to do when trying to get sponsored. Here you will find advice on what not to do, including things which will have the sponsors looking the other way.
“Do not tell us why your child is better than a member of our team. When parents do this, we won't even look at the child.”
“Same goes for athletes, don't trash our team members if you want to join them”
“DO NOT make your video more than 30 seconds!”
“Do not call the potential sponsor every week asking to be sponsored.”
“Parent's - don't look for sponsorship for your kids. If they are not mature enough to ask for themselves, they are not ready to represent the company.”
“From what I see, the parent's think it's a God given right that if they have a kid who is a decent rider that the kid should automaticly be sponsored. Bottom line is it doesn't work like that. The kid should focus on his/her riding and let the rest take care of itself. A big part of the problen is that most parent's don't understatnd how the process works, and I think they put WAY too much pressure on the kids trying to get them sponsored.”
© 2009 Rhonda Albom