(This post mistakenly went out early June 12; it is re-posted on the correct day.)
YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A SPONSORED ATHLETE?
Jason Robillard, in his article for ACTIVE.com, “How to Become a Sponsored Athlete In 5 Steps” discusses a topic I’ve not ever before encountered: athletic sponsorship. From a perspective I’ve never considered, that of the hopeful athlete. With an approach that wouldn’t occur to me, preparation.
I don’t participate in many organized competitions, and definitely don’t finish with times that draw attention. My wearing a certain brand of shoes or apparel would go unnoticed. Being a sponsored athlete requires the ability to influence the purchasing behaviors of a large number of people, doesn’t it?
Robillard’s piece changed my thinking a bit. He is a trail runner and ultra-marathon competitor who is sponsored by a shoe company, thus, is speaking from experience. I’m not a sponsored athlete, but do run a small company. Although he did not intend to write his advice for small businesses, this is the viewpoint from which I began reading his piece. Amazingly, in step 4 he cautions against dismissing small local companies!
Earned Runs will comment a bit on this article from the viewpoint of a small business that an everyday athlete might wish to approach for ‘sponsorship’.
“Ultimately, it's about selling products or services”, Robillard's '1st step' section begins. Every dollar spent by a business on marketing is not spent on inventory, personnel, or infrastructure. Your marketing power will need to be pitched to a potential sponsoring business if you expect to be rewarded for being an athlete who is promoting their company.
You might think of yourself as an alternative to a Facebook ad ‘boost’.
Facebook will ‘boost’ a well-performing business ad, and distribute it to a wider audience for as little as $5. However, even that amount will be wasted if the clicks, views, and ‘likes’ don’t translate to increased revenue. The FB boost for this small fee is correspondingly small too, so one option for a small local business is to spend more on FB boosts to get more reactions to ads. You might think of yourself as a potential alternative to an ad boost, especially if the company has a FB or social network presence.
Offer to provide interesting website content
Advertising that takes advantage of existing marketing, with minimal or no additional cost, is ideal for a small business with a small budget. The majority of small businesses will have constructed and maintained a website and social media pages. The regular posting of fresh, relevant content is time-consuming and requires creativity and writing skills.
Speaking as a sole-proprietor with an internet presence and a blog, it is a daily struggle to draw new visitors and retain regular readers with interesting value-added material, and at the same time pay attention to business!
Putting a human face with a genuine story behind it on a two-dimensional webpage can enliven company marketing information that mostly highlights specific items, store hours, and prices, deals, and specials. Offering to provide a one-time or regularly-delivered commentary or creative insight for their website, on how your personal use of the business’ products or services, as an everyday athlete, could be a proposal that a small company finds appealing.
Start small when it comes to sponsorship compensation
Robillard’s step 3 encourages, “Figure out what type of sponsorship you want”. Consider accepting an entry-level sponsorship that is not compensated if it is likely to increase visits to your own blog or social network presence, which his step 2 advises readers: “prepare by building an audience”. Doing free marketing work for another business that allows linking to your pages can turn into a double-duty effort if it leads more people to your internet door and increases your influence and audience.
Next-level compensation might involve accepting minimal in-kind rewards of goods or services. Mindful that the low $5 fee charged by Facebook allows the tiniest of businesses to advertise nationally, scale your expectations appropriately. A track record of successful relationships with smaller businesses over time may encourage a larger company or corporation to provide sponsorship.
For example, propose to a local grocery store that a posting about your fueling preferences for workouts could result in increased nutrition item purchases, and deserve a gift card reward. A posting for a cycle shop about sun protection you utilize during and after summer workouts might spike the number of views and visitors and be worthy of a store credit.
Jason Robillard’s full insightful piece deserves a careful read. Not only by elite athletes whose performances stand out and earn wide attention. But also by those who have discovered fitness as a lifestyle and have the will and enthusiasm to encourage others to enjoy and benefit more from physical exercise, and receive compensation for doing so.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
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Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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