A Not-So-Simple Guide to Action Sports Sponsorship

The following was lifted from the Facebook of Jason Fullington aka Tokyo Jrock aka Jstyle, who heads up AFG Moto, which imports motorcycle parts and apparel into Japan. Why are we posting this on a snowboard site? Well, replace motorcycles with snowboards and tracks with mountains and the following words could not be more true.

Sponsorship: this is a long post to read, those that take the time to read and understand it…..you can benefit. I get contacted a lot about sponsoring riders. So I want to put this out there especially if you consider contacting me 😉 better have clear understanding of the 3X rule and ROI! 😀
A counterpart in the Motorsports industry authored some of this with me.
Very sound advice and facts. I’m tagging some folks that I think this can help. Gomen iipai eigo!! Google translate tabun!? 😉
Zech Dzegede Tony Robillard Sachika Kajiyama-梶山采千夏 Fujiki Nomura Kana Yoshii Jonathan Lange Ryo Mitani Shushi Kondo James Mejias Amanda Sundvor Hideki Nakanuma Jun Sumiyoshi Jun Tadokoro Naohiro Shimakawa Yoshitaka Ikeda Hirofumi Fujiwara Kenji Ogura Yuki Sugiyama
SPONSORSHIP – I often hear racers comment “how do I go about getting sponsorship” or “why are my proposals getting rejected?” Over the years I’ve read hundreds of proposals, written a few myself and been fortunate to secure many great sponsors.
Most sponsorship proposals pretty much read like this. “Give me your product for free/heavy discount, I’ll put your logo on my car/bike/race suit and your brand will have massive exposure”.
This approach is fundamentally flawed as its not business focused,not credible and is the root cause why most sponsorship proposals fall on deaf ears. I hope my comments below are helpful for racers seeking funding for their sport/hobby.
1) Appreciate that this is your sport/hobby, but that it’s the company’s business – it’s how they make a living so they will view your proposal on a business basis e.g. “If I spend money on this racer, firstly how will I recover the investment and secondly can I make a profit….because if I spend money here, that means there is something else I can’t spend money on” i.e. All businesses have a fixed marketing budget and they will spend it where they get the biggest bang for buck ! How does your proposal which consumes the company’s advertising budget, stack up alongside the radio stations, magazine companies, exhibition companies, Facebook media, Online advertising etc who are all competing for the same fixed marketing budget?
2) Recognise that famous as you may be in your local town or even nationally … you don’t have the pulling power of Ken Block, Valentino Rossi, Scott Dixon, Lewis Hamilton, or Danica Patrick to name just a few.
3) For the company you are approaching, understand clearly who their customers are. If they run a B to B model, then big logos on cars/tv audiences/spectators at the track are possibly of little value. If its a B to C model, then the media/spectator may be of interest to the company you’re approaching IF the audience fits their target demographics.
4) You’ll need a crystal clear understanding of what a typical purchaser of the company’s products looks like – age, gender, interests, rural/urban, income status and how to reach out to them them.
5) What is the purchasing frequency of the company’s products by the end user – once/day, once/week, once/month, once/year, once/5 years and how will you help the company engage with potential customers in the buying cycle e.g. The contents of a proposal for a Coffee brand would be totally different than a proposal for a Clothing brand.
6) The key challenge you need to address in your proposal is how you will help the company sell more product. No-one is really interested in “exposure”… its sales that pay the bills.
7) What will you do at the track (apart from race) to promote the company’s products. What are you prepared to invest out of the sponsorship budget you’re asking for to do this.
8 ) What will you do off the track to help the company engage with their customers, event days, ride days, bbq and drinks on a Friday night, display, newsletters etc
9) Assuming you produce an event report after each weekend (which is a must) does it include images, does it include a description about how the sponsors product helped you on the day etc. No one really wants to hear about all the problems or breakages you had on the day – remember sponsors are paying for results! You will need to write this report in a way that sponsors can forward this to their own customer data base.
10) What video footage are you taking of the event? No not just in car / on bike footage – thats a bit boring for most unless there’s huge action going on. What about foot cam, under car cam, suspension cam, crowd cam etc ..all edited together professionally sent to your sponsors twice per season so that they understand what its all about.
11) What are you doing to engage with your sponsors during and after the season – or is it all forgotten after the cheque or free product arrives?
12) What are you doing on the podium to promote your sponsor’s products/services ?
HINT… “Ohhhh, and yeah I’d like to umm thank my sponsors …you know who you are… I wouldn’t be here without you, so cheers” is both LAME AND DISRESPECTFUL!
What about…
“I’d like to thank ABC Oil company for providing me with a lubricant that performs under extreme conditions- its simply the best… as you’ve seen it’s been a scorching hot day today with lots of cars overheating, YET my oil temps never went over XX degrees.Thanks for making a difference ABC.
I’d like to thank XYZ tires…everyone was struggling in the wet today, but the tread compound and pattern on the tires just pumped the track dry… so much as Id like to say it was my incredible driving skills; it was tires made the difference today and got me on the podium…Thanks XYZ for your unwavering support and loyalty”
Yes, I can hear some saying “I can’t think like that/talk like that on the spot” . Well; think about it before race day – just like the Grammys – who will you thank and what will you say ?? Read it if you have to; but do get it right and use the opportunity to promote promote promote.
13) Understand how many ADDITIONAL units the sponsor will need to sell as a result of sponsoring you to just break even. If you don’t know this, you are probably wasting your time approaching the company in the first place.
14) Remember its a 2 to 1 ratio. i.e. the sponsor will need to spend another $2 for every $1 they spend on you to extract any value out of the exercise, otherwise they are just flushing the sponsorship money. So when you’re asking for $1,000 (¥100,000) the sponsor is thinking this is a $3,000 (¥300,000) project ($1k +$2k, ¥100K-¥200,000) {this is the 3X rule}
15) Don’t go to the same old same old companies and beat down their doors hoping to gain some cash or product – Fuel, Oil, Tires,….they get proposals everyday. (Not that it can’t be done but you must be a huge asset to garner those types of sponsors as they can have their pick of riders with it even being requested) I took 5 mins and came up 15 different companies I would approach for sponsorship if I was a racer …none of them are in the categories listed above.
16) GO LIGHT on the Technical verbiage – While raving about forged pistons and rods, XYZ bolts and studs, billet this and billet that, bars of boost, gazillion hp and torque figures, XYZ turbo with 100mm compressor wheels, XXX shots of NOS might well impress your race mates, its pure Alien speak to a Marketing Manager who just wants to understand how spending money with you will help them increase sales.
17) What will you do about magazine and or newspaper coverage possible even TV – they are always looking for interesting stories. How can you weave your sponsors products or services and the benefits they deliver into the story.
18) Putting your Facebook/Youtube followers up as a big asset in the proposal is of little value to the potential sponsor if your follower’s demographics don’t mirror the Sponsors customer demographics.
19) What have you invested in your proposal ? If its generic and sent in the mail just expect it to go in the bin. If you can’t be bothered spending a few $ to personalise the proposal and you’re asking for $$$$$ (and/or expensive product support), how can you seriously expect the sponsor to say yes ?
20) I’ve NEVER had a sponsorship proposal accepted that I’ve sent off by post. The ones I’ve been successful with are the the ones I’ve presented in person.
21) What Media training have you done ? Can you talk in front of the camera for 3 minutes without notes ? Do you know the right questions to ask the media BEFORE the interview starts so you know how to frame your comments. Do you know who the media audience is so you can talk in a relatable manner? Ie Don’t talk to people 40+ (who may well be publication/radio/papers/sponsors customers) about things being Sick/Epic or the likes – they will think you’ve got some kind of disease, or are talking about a classical moment in history. You MUST be relatable !
22) Become a product expert about the brands you use and represent!!! If you can’t tell someone asking about the products the benefits without looking up or referencing material you are doing a dis-service to the sponsor and yourself.
23) ****Deliver on what you say you will do, and give more than you get. This is a sure fire way to have the sponsorship roll over again the next year. A sponsored person essentially is a type of staffing position, and if staff doesn’t meet goals or perform at least to expectations then they are FIRED. Meaning you lose the support and with that potentially even regard and credibility.
Here’s hoping this post helps you prepare proposals that are on target, deliver BANKABLE value to the sponsor, and that your season is supported and funded as a result.
*and I highly encourage sponsored and associated riders to actively participate with their “teammates” also supported by the same company or brand. Being a self centered self focused only type person impresses no one.
Thanks for your time, Jason

Follow Jason and the discussion here: https://www.facebook.com/Tokyojrock/posts/10159326629160092

3 replies
  1. Lol
    Lol says:

    All bullshit. To get sponsored in snowboarding A.) be friends with a Rep / team manager
    B.) cool guy everyone else
    After you make your shot for a couple years fade into obscurity/ move to Seattle w/ your trust fund money or work some bullshit industry job for the rest of your days.

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