Campaign Planning - How to Approach a Sponsor
As a company that champions grass roots sailing and takes pride in sponsoring a diverse range of sailors of varying ability, we get inundated with sponsorship requests on a daily basis. Only a tiny percentage make a big enough impact to merit further consideration, so I thought it might help to write a blog on what Rooster looks for in a sponsorship application.
Basic Do's & Don'ts;
- DO call the company and ask for the name of the person who deals with sponsorship requests so that you can address them directly.
- DON'T send a generic letter to every company you can think of with "To whom it may concern."
- DO make reference to the company you are applying to and say what you like about them and why you chose to write to them
- DON'T send a generic letter - yes, I've mentioned this before but it is important if you want to avoid your letter/ email being filed in the bin
- DO think very carefully about what you can offer the company in return for their investment in you - this is very important, more on this later
- DON'T list your results and achievements and ask if the company will consider sponsoring you off the back of them alone.
In a nutshell, you are asking a business to invest in a product. YOU are the product and you need to sell yourself convincingly. If you've enjoyed a lot of success in your chosen class and you're approaching a company in the marine industry, chances are they will know about it and they'll google you anyway to find out more. Ideally they'll find a few photos and race reports which corroborate your claims, but what would really impress them is if they found a personal blog or website that you've set up chronicling your journey. THAT would set you apart, even better, make sure you mention it in your application. Even if you're not the best sailor in the world and your results aren't quite up there yet, finding ways to raise your profile will always look good in the eyes of a potential sponsor.
Just listing your achievements and race results is not enough to secure sponsorship, you need to show a bit of personality and passion. Do you invest time and energy to give back to your sport?
Take a look at Ben Ainslie for example, he doesn't just train, race and win. He devotes time to other projects like the BAR Academy, the 1875 Trust and 11th Hour Racing. He's an Ambassador for the sport due to the fact that he gives back to it over and over again. For a sponsor - this is Gold. Perhaps look at how you could do the same, but on a smaller scale. Are their charities close to your heart that you can get involved with and raise money for?
Could you organise a training day for younger members of your Club? Could you organise taster sessions at your Club for local schools that haven't tried sailing before? Worth a thought and all things a sponsor would like to be associated with.
Return on Investment
It's really bad form to ask for sponsorship and not explain what you will do in return for it. Putting stickers on your hull and sails doesn't really cut it I'm afraid. Brand awareness can spread rapidly online - blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram - demonstrate how you would use these platforms to engage with your sponsor and promote them. How about offering the company some of your time? Visit them at their office and do a talk about your sailing, offer to take the staff out for a sail or if they're in the Marine Industry, work for them at a Boat Show. Offer to promote the company by asking for banners, brochures, posters and leaflets that you can give out at events or put up at your local club. If you have references from previous sponsors, no matter how big or small, they are worth including.
An application for sponsorship needs to be colourful and engaging. Take time to edit it carefully to ensure that it reads well and include pictures.
A great picture can sell anything - give the sponsor something they can imagine their logo on. Make sure your personality comes through, use humour and be memorable. It's a lot like applying for a job, except much harder.