Rarely a month goes by that we don’t get a few requests for sponsorships. The requests range from some of the top professionals in the industry to those who are just starting on their professional journey. We look at each opportunity and evaluate if the partnership would be beneficial to both parties. How would our products help that particular rider perform better and how influential is that person. Are they able to reach and influence others to purchase our products?
This post is the first of a 3-part series that will delve into what businesses look for in sponsorships, the role of a sponsored professional rider and a few best practices for those who are starting their professional careers and are looking for their first sponsor. This first part will look at the business side of sponsorships.
Looking at it from the business side
It sounds exciting to be sponsored by a company and when a company does choose you, it gives you instant credibility, cash or at least a greatly reduced expense line for tack or other items you need for your horse. What does it look like from the business side? In equestrian sports, the only people who purchase products are people who actually do what you do — ride. There are no ancillary dollars available, as equestrian competitions (at least in the U.S.) are not known to be a spectator sport. When have you seen companies like Gatorade or Coke support a horse rider? You do not. Would you like to know why? It has to do with the amount of reach and influence the athletes have. A professional football player can influence several million people with an endorsement ad or even a quick mention in the post game interview. Compared to a professional rider who might have 20-30,000 fans. Often times, it’s just not worth the time for the big companies to bother with a niche they are probably already reaching in another way. However, that doesn’t mean that mainstream brands aren’t interested at all, but we’ll talk about more on how to approach those brands in the next part of the series.
Sponsorship is a business
Companies pay close attention to what they get for their marketing dollars. If their product is good and it helps you achieve success you will be buying it anyway. They know exactly what the cost is per action on a Facebook or Twitter post. Four cents for Facebook, a penny for Twitter, and the conversion rate (views to purchase) are quite predictable, too. So why should they support you? It’s not all about numbers. Just because someone has 20,000 followers on Facebook, that doesn’t always make them a great sponsorship candidate. How engaged are their fans? A rider with 5,000 engaged fans is much more appealing then someone with a larger potential reach, but who’s audience isn’t paying attention.
Why do companies sponsor riders?
Are they doing it for fun? Not a chance. Are they doing it as a way to help our society or culture? No. So why would they do it? Companies sponsor riders because they understand that great brand representatives can influence customers’ purchasing choices. Take Tiger Woods for instance; he is an icon and people are influenced by what he wears, what he does and how he acts. So what about you? Your net worth is your connections, your achievements and your social status. If you are going to be a sponsored rider, you need to think like a business. Think of your name, your barn, and your career as one big package.
Meet our newest “Yes”. We received this letter from 13-year-old, Madison Grace Miller. Frankly, she nailed what we’re looking for in a sponsorship. While she might not own her own facility or competing at the top levels just yet, we sent her the saddle pad she wanted. And found joy in doing so. She has the work ethic, drive and professionalism (especially for someone as young as she is) we’re looking for when it comes to someone who is going to represent our products. We wish Madi all the best and look forward to sharing her accomplishments this year.