How do I get sponsored? It is a question I have been asked many times. Unfortunately there is no easy answer. The way that people usually get sponsored is by knowing someone who is in a position to sponsor them. The majority of sponsored skimboarders are riding for their friends team. But if you are reading this then you probably don’t have a friend to sponsor you. In this case it is very important to understand the rider/sponsor relationship.
Who wouldn’t want free stuff? I thought so. But sponsorship is more than just getting free stuff. A smart sponsor will require a return on their investment. You as a rider, are that investment. In return for free stuff and money a sponsor expects exposure, lots of it.
Being well known in your home town is a start, but that is all. To be of real value to most sponsors you need to be known outside of your home town. But how do you get this notoriety? There are many different ways but skimming well in contests is one of the most straight forward ways. If you skim well in contests people will remember you. In addition contest results are something solid that a potential sponsor can look at. That means it is a good arguing point for you.
Since you are likely to be known in your home town first it makes sense to pursue local companies for sponsorship before going after the big boys. Local surf shops are a common way to get started. Small surf clothing and eyewear manufacturers are another. The idea is that a small company doesn’t want national exposure so you fit their needs very well. When going after your first sponsors don’t expect too much. You do not have a track record and like anything, people like to see results before they fork over cash.
While you may be able to get some local companies to sponsor you without contest results, you will need them for the big guys. If you want big name companies to sponsor you, get some decent professional division results first. Unless you are very young (under 16) companies want to know that you have arrived. Not that your 19 and plan on turning pro in a couple of years. These companies are hoping that you will turn into the next Bill Bryan. Young riders must be exceptional to get sponsored. In other words you had better be winning your division (or close to it).
When you approach a sponsor, even a small one, be prepared. Have a game plan and think out all the potential questions ahead of time. Here are some examples:
1. What’s in it for me?
2. How do I know you can deliver?
3. Why should I choose you over XXXX?
4. I already have riders, why do I need you?
5. Et cetera…
Know how you plan to answer and make sure that your answers are tailored to please the sponsor. There are a lot of things that you could say which seem good to you but might be a turn off to a potential sponsor. In other words plan and think ahead