Tuesday Tip: Sponsorship 101

Although we have run a few sponsorship tips recently, it is still one of the most common questions we get in the TWMX inbox. Once again we turned to the Eric Knopf and the guys at MXSponsor.com for some advice. Take it away Eric…

Why Companies Offer Sponsorships
Sponsorships exist to help the company do a couple things. Each company is different, so be sure to ask companies why they are sponsoring riders.

Exposure. A primary reason a company offers sponsorships is for exposure. They want to promote their products and/or their brand. Many companies will give large discounts just to get their brand or product in front of as many people as possible. This is why getting product discounts almost always requires you to run stickers on your bike in prominent places. If you are a good rider, your chances of influencing other riders to buy your sponsor’s products are greater, therefore you should get better product discounts. New companies that haven’t been around for very long will generally give bigger sponsorship offers because they need the promotion much more than larger companies. TIP: Send resumes to as many companies as possible — especially the smaller companies who may not have been around long. You will get much better deals.

R & D. Product research and development is another reason a company might offer sponsorships. Often times a company will create a brand new product and they need to get rider information about it. For example, if a company just created a new exhaust pipe, they will often give research and development sponsorships to riders who will give feedback on how the product worked. Most of the time you don’t get to keep the product forever, but sometimes you do.

Types of Sponsorship Programs
Sponsorship can take many different forms, but a few of the common programs include: (1) Product or service discounts: usually anywhere between 10%-50% depending on how good you are; (2) free products and services; and (3) free products and contingency (cash). Most riders will fit into the first two programs, unless you are racing professionally and getting solid results.

How to Attract Sponsors
The old fashion way is to send letters and resumes to companies. I remember looking at all the ads in TransWorld and mailing resumes to many of the companies. Nowadays, you can send them via email or use a sponsorship website. Online websites like MXSponsor.com are the most effective way to get sponsored and there are often tens of thousands of sponsorships available for the taking.

So if you are a rider out there looking to get sponsored, here is what you can expect.

  1. You always get what you put in. If you think you can call or email a company and get sponsored just because you asked, you’re wrong. In fact, you will probably show the company that you are not interested in working hard for them or the sponsorship. If you use a sponsorship website, be sure to fill out your profile completely providing as much information as possible. Put a lot of time and effort into it. Riders on MXSponsor.com who fill out their profiles completely get about 30-40% better deals than riders who put in the basic info.
  2. If you are strictly a recreational rider, don’t expect too much. Don’t set your hopes high, thinking that you will get a bunch of free stuff if you are not riding and racing at a competitive level. Unless you make the case to the companies that you would be a valuable representative both on and off the dirt bike, you shouldn’t expect more than a 10%-15% sponsorship discount, if any at all.
  3. Companies sponsor people, not just fast riders. If you are really fast, you might get a lot of deals. But if you are fast and a jerk to others, don’t expect to keep any of your deals for very long. Companies are very relational. If you work hard for them and are a good peerson on and off the track, you will be fine. We just see so many riders who are fast but can’t get a contract longer than one year because they are such difficult people to work with.
  4. Communication is key. When you get sponsored, you will greatly increase your chances for bigger deals if you communicate with your sponsors often. Keep sponsors updated once a month on your results and your upcoming schedule. These updates are best received via email. Sponsors are busy, and if you don’t hear from them in a while, it’s because they are working hard to keep giving you good deals. They also have many (often hundreds) of other sponsored riders just like you.

The biggest piece of advice we can give is to really put a lot of effort into the relationships you build with the companies. Many of the companies have connections with other people in the industry, and you will begin to create a good reputation; and a good reputation in this industry is worth its weight in gold. You might not ever get the factory deals, but you can make a lot of friends and get some good discounts if you work hard.

Thanks for the advice, Eric.

Hopefully this info will help improve your chances of landing some sponsors this season. Check out more at www.mxsponsor.com.