Races are expensive affairs, and unless your benefactors include Scrooge McDuck or Richie Rich, you’re probably going to need some funding to bring your race to life, drive race registration and give your athletes an awesome experience. That’s where sponsors come in.
If you’re new to the race game, you’re probably at a loss for how to find (and then successfully pitch) sponsors. Never fear, imATHLETE is here with 4 tips on how to find and pitch sponsors.
Make It A Win-Win Situation
The pièce de résistance for successfully pitching sponsors is to make them an offer they can’t refuse. If you’re asking them for their hard earned dollars, you need to offer them some serious value in return.
Before you even start looking for sponsors, you need to have some idea of what you have to bring to the table.
Then, during your pitch, walk your potential sponsors through how you’re going to showcase them to your athletes. Will they get a dedicated email or a sponsored text? Will they be featured on your race merchandise or in your schwag bag? Will they get a booth at your expo or your finish line party? Whatever it is that you’re offering, make sure your would be sponsors understand the benefit to them and how it’s going to ultimately justify their investment.
Target the RIGHT People
Once you know what value you can offer, the next part of successfully finding and pitching sponsors in targeting the right people. Because if you target the wrong people, I have some bad news for you: they’re not going to give you any money. ::cue sad music::
An easy mistake to make is casting a really wide sponsor net (or, as I like to call it, throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping something will stick). And I get the concept - the more people you reach out to, the more responses you’ll get, right?
Targeting and reaching out to potential sponsors is time consuming, and if you’re reaching out to companies that are going to have zero interest in backing your event, that’s time 100% wasted.
For example - throwing a bacon-and-beer 5k? Vegan juice shops are probably not gonna bite. Did you drive by one of your potential sponsors and see a big GOING OUT OF BUSINESS sign in the front window? Probably not the best company to sponsor your bib assignment or online race registration platform. So don’t waste your time trying to fit a round peg into a square hole (or a slice of bacon into a shot of wheatgrass).
Reach Out (And Make It Personal)
Once you've defined which potential sponsors you'll reach out to, it’s time to do the whole reaching out part. Now, if you were a socially awkward teenager like me and reaching out to people that you don’t know makes you break out in a nervous sweat, take a deep breath. I promise it’s not as hard as it was in middle school.
Draft a cold email that introduces you and your event and sets the stage for next steps, whether that’s a call or an in person meeting.
Then (and this is the important part), personalize the message. Sending a generic pitch email is the quickest way to ensure that your potential sponsor clicks the delete button and tucks your race away in the Never Gonna Happen sponsorship file.
Let your potential sponsors know that you’ve done your research. Know who they are, what they do, and why you think a partnership with them would be a win-win.
Build An Awesome Deck
Once you’ve set a call or meeting, it’s time to build a sponsorship deck. This is the file you’re going to use to walk your potential sponsors through who you are, who your athletes are and why the would-be sponsor needs to hop on board your race train.
Building an awesome deck is a must to successfully pitch sponsors. You’re asking your potential sponsors to give you cash and you need to show them that you deserve it.
Depending on the skill set of you and your team, you might want to hire some pros for this one. A professional graphic designer can make your deck visually ah-mazing and a sales copywriter can take your copy from meh to OMG SIGN ME UP NOW.
If you follow these 4 tips, you’ll have sponsors throwing money at you like a late 90’s rap video.