How I Landed $20K Sponsorship for My Business

Friday 23 Feb 2014 14.15

How I got Sponsorship for my Business

Sponsorship for an unknown brand, run by an unknown person was definitely a challenge. But after many months I’d finally reached the holy grail - Financial sponsorship! With a total kitty of $20,000 it had a huge difference on the business… Although like all good things, it doesn't come easy.. A lot of trial and error and a lot busting my arse to get almost nowhere. But when that one deal comes through it all becomes worth it.

I’m going to walk you through my journey landing the sponsors of my dreams for an online surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding film competition I’d started called

Let’s take a moment to think about what sponsorship entails. You, a provider of “attention” will create something that generates “attention” and share some of this with a partner, who will give you something in return for it… duh..

But it’s good to think about. If you’re going into a meeting about a partnership, or putting a proposal together, you should have one thing in your top of mind. What can I provide for the brand. Early on I had the what can I get” mentality and it didn’t get me far. It’s much better to think about the brand and understand how you can provide value.

The Approach

1) The Power of Media Partners

Any new brand that’s looking at what you’re doing is going to want to know, with as much certainty as possible, that you will generate attention. Media partners are a great way to ensure a brand that you’ll get at least coverage for what you’re doing. Starting here, no matter whether it’s successful or not, is always a good idea. You may want to pay a PR agency, or you may have a relationship with someone in the press.

I was able to land Garage Entertainment for my business. This fit the brand perfectly. They’re a film distribution company which at the time had a relatively active social media page. I got these guys relatively early, I had a relationship with the Marketing Manager who I’d helped with some film events In the past. Which brings me to my next point.

2) Start Small then Escalate

I had a relationship with Garage Entertainment, because I ran my screenings of a Snowboarding film I loved called That’s It That’s All. I nurtured this relationship early, I didn’t ask for much and I set the bar low for them to enter, so It was easy for them to say yes. I asked for some free DVDs to give away at the screening, but built it from there.

Starting with smaller concepts, or smaller brands, then delivering great follow ups is vital.

Once you have smaller brands, you can move up the chain and look at bigger brands. They’re more likely to join if other well know brands are involved.. The next brand I got involved was, which is a very active online action sports community.

3) Hide & Seek & Guess

Big brands almost are often hidden in layers upon layers of corporate nonsense. It becomes a holding company inception...

It’s often best to look for the Brand Agency or brand manager and try to define the exact contact (or few contacts) that are likely to be in charge on Linkedin. If you connect with them and they accept you can download their email address from you admin panel. Otherwise, simple try and guess the email. Think up a few different combinations of their first name, last name and the URL of their company website, then paste your guesses into one of the many free email checkers online

3) Understanding the brand’s goals

Knowing what a brand is trying to achieve is super important. Never assume. The biggest deal I got was with Jägermeister. What the goals of the brand were lead the conversation naturally. As a service provider of “attention” I could shift the activations around my business to better fit the needs of my sponsor - for the right price of course.

I quickly learned what Jägermeister was struggling with. It was struggling to be seen as a more sophisticated drink... Jägerbombs had propelled the drink to popularity, but now it was holding it back. Especially because they were practically outlawed under Australia’s strict alcohol laws. The brand had to adapt. We worked with the Jägermeister on their “Strange But True” campaign.

Adventure, surfing and action sports fit the brand well. So we focused on the awards event we were hosting & made sure the event was serving new drink mixes the brand was working on.

5) Use People Power

Social media is for people, not brands. Individuals and personalities always do better. For example at the time of writing this, Richard Branson has 18 times more followers than Virgin Group.

It might be worth putting a little budget towards some well known names to help push the brand. In my case it was Ben Player & Otis Carey who were judges of the Surfing category of the event.

6) Give content

If you run a business, or even just a social media page, you know how much work it can be just creating enough content to keep a page active. It’s a full time job almost!

It’s worth keeping brands happy by delivering great content. If you’ve landed sponsorship and want to maintain the partnership then ensure you keep brands happy by giving them great content that’s ready made for social media! Oh and don’t forget to tag them as well.