If you have ever been to an archery tournament or watched a hunting show on television you have surely noticed that sponsorship plays a big role. Whether it be logos on a tournament archer’s jersey or the closing credits of a television show it’s apparent that without sponsors what they do would not be possible. As a business owner in the archery industry we are always being asked to sponsor both individuals and groups. Something that always strikes me as odd is when I get an email from someone who wants to be sponsored but clearly has no idea what being sponsored means. Many times the email is just a simple “how-do I get sponsored”. With that in mind I have decided to put together a top 10 list of ideas that will shed some light on being sponsored and how it works.
- Be sure that you are using the products that you are seeking a sponsorship from. Why in the world would you want to be sponsored by someone who’s products you know nothing about or have never used. One of the first things I ask a potential sponsored shooter is if they are currently using our products. At times I will give them a little quiz and see what they know about our product line. It doesn’t take long to see who is just sending out emails to every company under the sun. Every day I wake up to emails and messages on social media that basically say “My buddies and I are starting a hunting group and want to be sponsored by you.” Most of the time these ‘groups’ have nothing to offer and have no idea how sponsorship’s work. The worst part is when they get offended when we do not offer them free product.
- Make yourself stand out from the others. Most companies are working with a limited budget when it comes to sponsorship. They want to make sure they are choosing the right people for the positions. If I get 9 emails that are all the basic ‘hey sponsor me’ they all go to a folder for review later. If email #10 takes the time to introduce themselves and go into detail on who they are and what they do then they will likely go into my prospects folder. You need to sell yourself in the initial contact. Let the company know how you can help them.
- Approach a sponsorship like you are the owner of a company. Ask yourself why would this company want to sponsor me. What do I have to offer this company? What makes me a better choice then the next guy? You should know the answers to these questions. You may be asked them at some point. As the owner of a company I compare selecting a sponsored shooter to hiring a new employee. If I have 2 openings and 5 people apply I am going to choose the 2 people that I feel are going to do the best job.
- You should already be somewhat established. It’s not impossible but it’s very tough to gain a sponsorship if you’re just starting out. Be sure to have a website, youtube channel, facebook page that is heavy on likes, twitter followers, etc. Each one of these outlets are a huge driving force for sponsorship from companies in today’s world. Being active on social media will show a company how passionate you are and the potential audience you can provide to showcase their products.
- Make sure you can provide quality pictures and videos. Good photography and video equipment is very affordable compared to just a few years ago. Companies love pictures and videos. They can post these on their website and social media outlets. Take the time to get quality in the field footage. Nice harvest pictures in the woods go a long way compared to a bloody deer, with it’s tongue hanging out in the back of a pickup truck.
- Never bad mouth another company. Every day on internet forums I see posts that say “don’t use brand A they suck, you want to use brand B”. You always want to remain positive when it comes to competitors. The archery community is a pretty close knit as a whole. It doesn’t take long for word to spread about someone giving negative feedback. It seems that everyone knows someone who knows someone and word travels fast. I have an old saying about our bowstrings. “ If you like our bowstrings tell everyone, if you don’t like them tell me.” As much as I hate to hear from an unhappy customer it is a necessary evil. If there is a problem I want to know about it. If I don’t know about the problem there is no way I can fix it.
- Be willing to volunteer your time. This seems like a no-brainer to me but it seems that not many understand this .A couple months ago I was working a booth at a major tournament. At the end of the shoot I was tearing down the booth along with the help of a couple staff shooters. What amazed me was how many other staff shooters that walked by and didn’t offer to lend a helping hand. There are other ways that you can volunteer without going on the road to work a booth at a trade show. Take the time to write an article. Whether it’s a how to or a product review these can be very helpful to your company. Make a youtube video. Again as long as this is related to your company it can be helpful to promote them.
- Make sure you are brand compliant. You are more likely get gain a sponsor from a company that you are already using their products. This is similar to #1 on the list but there is a difference in my eyes between using my products and using only my products. Often times someone will say I love your product and it is the best. I have it on one of my bows. My reply is always why is it not on all of your bows. If you truly believe in the product it should be a no-brainer. Spending a little money up front can pay huge rewards down the road by proving your brand loyalty.
- Openly promote the company even if you are not sponsored by them. Being in the industry this is one main things I love to see. If I’m surfing social media or internet forums and see someone openly endorsing our company and products it always gets me thinking. I wonder to myself if they are promoting this good already how much better will they be if we sponsor them. Each year we recruit some staff members from situations like this. It’s amazing what a couple pictures or videos on facebook can do. Be sure to tag the company in the post. If they are like me then they are always watching analytics and will see the bump and traffic and notice where it came from.
- Wrap all of these tips up together and you will be exactly what archery companies are looking for in a sponsored(staff) shooter. Just be careful to not take it too serious. Most companies have limited openings and sometimes they are looking for a very specific individual to fill the position. Just because you got rejected this time doesn’t mean you won’t get accepted next year.
I hope some of these tips will help you land more sponsors in the future.These are just some things I have gathered over the years as a business owner in the archery industry.Just remember to be kind and sincere no matter what.Just remember to treat it like a job interview and sell yourself to make sure the company has no doubt you are the best person for them to sponsor. For more helpful tips and articles sign up for our newsletter.