If you compete on a regular basis, you don’t need to be told that cycling and triathlon are expensive. Transport costs to an event, entry fees and keeping equipment up to date and working well comes at considerable expense. Having a sponsor will help you alleviate some of that pressure, but in the current financial climate riders who offer something back have the best chance of gaining one. Even if you’re not thinking of attracting sponsorship for yourself, you may compete for a sponsored club or a team, so it’s good practice to follow many of the same rules.
Most sponsorship comes from local bike shops or small businesses that have a love of sport rather than having much to gain from supporting you as an athlete. It’s a shame, therefore, that many sponsors to have negative experiences, most specifically when athletes try to get as much out of them as they can without giving anything back. From the perspective of a sponsor, being a good athlete for them is not just about winning races. It’s about fostering positive relationships to demonstrate that the sponsor’s contribution is valued. This in turn will impact on whether they will continue to sponsor you or other athletes in the future.
When contacting a prospective sponsor, a well presented CV demonstrating showing how you will act as a representative and ambassador for them will offer you the best chance of success. Do you have a regularly updated blog? What successes have you had in the past? What publicity can you offer the sponsor? These are all points to consider.
If you’re lucky enough to obtain sponsorship, it’s worthwhile agreeing what is expected all around at the onset of the relationship. This ensures that there are no false expectations and minimises the chance of conflict part way through the season. Agreements don’t need to be too formal, unless you will be racing for an elite or professional team, but it is always useful to get something in writing.
The following 10 Top Tips will help you be the best sponsored rider you can be.
1. Always use kit and equipment provided to you in training or racing, unless with prior agreement from the sponsor.
2. Behave appropriately in public at all times but especially when wearing sponsored kit.
3. Write a race report for the sponsor. They are investing in you, so they should see what they’re getting in return. Make sure it’s positive and does not criticise others.
4. Make yourself available for photo shoots and send pictures taken by the official photographer during the race to the sponsor. If you’re on the podium, make sure you are wearing full clean and tidy race kit. An old tracksuit top, stonewash jeans and a pair of cycling shoes isn’t a good look.
5. Provide constructive feedback on equipment if the sponsor would like you to do so.
6. Always treat fellow competitors with respect. Unsportsmanlike conduct reflects poorly on you as well as the sponsor.
7. Speak to others about how good the sponsor’s product, services or shop is and never criticise the sponsor.
8. Provide regular feedback on race results and how the season is progressing. Compiling a race portfolio for the season is particularly effective and it may be useful to send to potential new sponsors.
9. Offer to attend trade shows to act as an ambassador for the sponsor, but only to an extent that it doesn’t impact on racing too much.
10. Never be seen using the product of a sponsor’s competitor.
In my next blog, I’ll be introducing The Snickers Paradigm and a simplified way of planning training.