Sep 17, 2009

How to Get Sponsored

Since "sponsorship hunting" can be as competitive as a Tournament final, you have to know your strengths and weaknesses in order to devise your "pre-game" strategy. What makes your team different or special? If you were a business owner, what would you want and expect from a team you are sponsoring? Find (or establish) some unique traits about your group. If your team doesn't stand out from the crowd, how will you attract and maintain sponsors? Ultimately, how can your team benefit a potential sponsor?

Remember the potential sponsor only cares about one thing, selling more products. Sponsors need to be convinced that investing in your team makes good business sense. If you are sponsored you are acting as a representative for that company. Ideally, the company's name will be "marketed" to a segment of potential customers in a positive manner, which will result in more exposure and sales. Welcome to the cold, harsh, economically-driven "real" world. It's all about the bottom line.

What about winning? If a team wins every tournament or comes out on top in every scenario game isn't that team guaranteed sponsorship? Winning is not as important as you think. Jim Langlois owner of Mersey Road Paintball in East River, Nova Scotia says, "Yes winning is important but it is not the only thing that determines whether or not I sponsor a team. I am more likely to sponsor a great group of guys who don't win but will represent my field and the sport with dignity and class then I am to sponsor a winning team that yells at the refs, swears at competitors, throws their markers and acts like a bunch of spoiled brats."

Erich Garbers, Promotions Manager at Tippmann Sports and the founder of the Tippmann Effect echo these ideals, "Tippmann Sports looks for teams that will represent the company and our products in a positive way. We want teams that are making or attempting to make positive press for themselves and our sport. To be considered for sponsorship the team must use our products and have a marketing mentality to be able to effectively market our brand. Teams that are successful in receiving sponsorship will have a special blend marketing and playing abilities plus be true ambassadors of the sport. Once we find these teams they will get the full support of the entire Tippmann organization."

To have any chance at being sponsored you must prepare and submit a detailed team resume! It's essential for you to have an information package for potential sponsors that is concise and clearly identifies the unique benefits you offer the company. The package should contain "hard copy" documents and pictures that you can physically hand to field owners and company reps:

1. Team name, logo, home location, website, and contact information (including phone & email)
2. General team history
3. Names, ages and experience of team members
4. Color photographs of each team member
5. Practice schedule and home playing location
6. Tournament / public events schedule
7. Current equipment list of each team member
8. Team achievements / awards / press clippings, etc.
9. List of current sponsors
10. Team goals
11. How your team plans to represent the potential sponsor

The presentation of the resume is as important as the content. Sean Scott from Smart Parts immediately discards many sponsorship requests as soon as they arrive, "If a resume does not look professional... it gets the ole' delete button. If a team does not spend the time to bring me a nice presentation, I am not going to look at it. Pretty simple."

When you have everything prepared your home field owner is the most natural sponsorship candidate, and best audience for your first presentation. Hopefully you'll dazzle him with your brilliance and he'll sign on the dotted line. Then, start pursuing other business owners by presenting the package to anyone who can contribute to your team, no matter how small the contribution. Remember the larger the company you ask for sponsorship the more professional your presentation will need to be in order to be effective and avoid the "ole' delete button".

There is a general misconception that sponsorship means a "free ride". Erich Garbers at Tippmann Sports long time industry insider sets the record straight, "Most people believe that a sponsorship means you will receive everything for free. Nothing could be further from the truth. Full rides in the paintball industry are very rare. Even pro teams must pay for many things out of their own pockets. For example some pro teams have a paint allowance where they are allotted only so many cases per tournament and any extra paint they use they have to buy themselves." Don't set your sights to high or expect to much when starting out.

Even if your presentation is prefect, submitting to a company at the wrong time of the year can also ruin your chances of success. In the case of Smart Parts "Most sponsorships are given out at the beginning of the year. So asking for one half way through the year is going to be difficult at best. Major companies have budgets for sponsorship and they are usually used up by February." If you find that your presentation is ready to go mid way through the season hold onto it until winter. Not only will submitting early the next year increase your chances of success but it also gives you more time to add impressive information to the presentation.

Be prepared to be turned down over and over again. The reason that most people are unsuccessful in signing sponsors is because they are focused only on what the sponsor can do for them. Wrong! If you want sponsors, ask not what the sponsor can do for you; ask what you can do for your sponsor.


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