sponsored rider

So you’re planning on asking an equestrian company to sponsor you. You know that you have a lot to offer the right company but how do you ensure that your sponsorship request is successful?

Step One: The first step is to set aside the time to plan your application in advance. Identify the company or companies that you would like to ask for sponsorship.

Step Two : The second step is to really do your homework.  Research the company well, find out their history and philosophy. Do you think that you would be a good match?

Step Three: Then, ask yourself what can you do to make yourself stand out from the hundreds of other requests they get.

Most companies have seen a big increase in requests for individual rider sponsorship over the past years. With the growth of social media and digital marketing there has been an influx of requests from blogger, vloggers and influencers.

So, how can you show that you are different from other riders?  What can you offer in return?

Here’s my tips on how to find sponsorship and keep your sponsors happy!

Do – send an email. A one-line DM on Instagram is not the best way to ask a company to support you.

Do – take time to find out who in the company manages their sponsorship. If you can, actually, find out their name and job title and get a personal email address for them.

Don’t – just address it to Dear Sirs or info@ or marketing@.

Don’t – include every other contact that you have emailed into the address line. You would be surprised at how many people do this!

Do – edit the title line if you are sending your request to more than one company. Including FWD: in your title is a dead giveaway!

Do – Check your spelling and your punctuation. Don’t use abbreviations or lower case. Whilst you may message your family and friends informally, if you choose to write, “ i wld luv to be sponsered” you’ll be guaranteeing your request will not read any further!

Don’t – send a ‘blanket’ email to lots of companies. Change the text to make it personal to each individual company.

Do – include why you want this particular company to sponsor you. What made you approach this company in particular? Don’t forget to mention their products and what you know about them.

Do – take time to find out about the company that you are contacting. What is the culture of the company, what’s their philosophy? Do you meet their criteria?

Don’t – approach a company unless you know have taken the time to find out about their products. Better still if you actually use their products. If you do currently use their products tell them that you do, and why!

Include Results and Rankings in your Sponsorship Application

Do – List your achievements – you don’t have to be winning everything but it helps if you include details of something you’ve done to overcome adversity or that you are out and about competing regularly.

Do – include your plans and goals for the future but only those that are actually achievable. Saying that you plan to compete at the Olympics may sound great but is it too far-fetched?
Do – say what you can do to help promote the company. Really think about this.

The standard text often includes – “I can promote your products by wearing your saddlecloths when competing, having your logo on my lorry, wearing branded clothing”.

Can you add more?

Social Media and Sponsorship

Do – start off by showing your interest in the company on their social media pages. Make sure you like their pages and follow them BEFORE you send your request.

Do – set up your own separate ‘rider’ social media page – how many followers do you have on social media. As an amateur rider, you are likely to mix your social life with your riding life. It’s likely they are one of the same.

Can you guarantee that there won’t be, what a company may consider, inappropriate pictures of you on your Facebook page?

If you do have a good social media following with followers who are interested in your equestrian pursuits – tell the company about them. Give them some examples of your posts and don’t forget to add links to your social media pages.

Do – Be original! Images and videos work great on social media – this is ready-made marketing for any company when you’re using their products and they will love you for it.

How to Get in Touch

Don’t – be frightened to approach the company directly in person. Find out if the company is going to be at a local show or event that you will be at. Why not go up and introduce yourself?

Do – use the opportunity to have a chat at an event and find out more about their products or let them know what products of theirs you are using. You could also find out who you should contact regarding sponsorship. Actually meeting someone in person is far more memorable.
Don’t – send a sponsorship request by social media messenger. You’re not likely to get a valid reply from the relevant person. Always send a direct email or letter to the person in the company responsible for sponsorship.

The preferred method of response these days is email. By all means, send a hard copy of your portfolio or sponsorship request by post but include an email address to reply to.

Your Images

Do – try and include good quality images in your sponsorship request. Remember, a picture tells a thousand words and can help you stand out from your competitors.

Don’t – use professional images with copyrights stamped across them. Not only does it look terrible, but it’s also actually illegal!

Tips for Professional Sponsored Riders

Do – Set up your own website – and keep it current. Including a Twitter feed on the home page with the last post six months ago doesn’t look good. But having your current Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed is an easy way to keep visitors up to date with your news and results.

Do – Include dates for upcoming clinics you are teaching with links to further details and entry forms.

Do – Show your event diary for the season and include your results as they happen.

Do – Include any references that you have from other companies that may already support you. Check if any of your other sponsors conflict with this company? If their products are unrelated or they are not in direct competition, that’s fine.

Do – Include other sponsors you have but be aware that unless you are a top international rider, too many companies sponsoring you may not work in your favour. Can you really separate yourself and offer value to each of your sponsors?

Don’t – Try to promote lots of different products from lots of different companies. It doesn’t offer your sponsor good value and can make your endorsements less credible.

Do – As a professional rider do include details of what you can offer and what you expect. Are you asking for financial support? Are you looking for free product? It’s rare in this current climate that companies offer annual or monthly cash contributions. So it’s wise to manage your expectations.

Do – Check out the British Equestrian Federation’s latest guidelines for personal sponsorship if you are competing at International level.

Congratulations, you’ve secured sponsorship. Now, what can you expect?

Do – Expect your relationship to grow. The harder you work for the company, the more you are likely to get back. Being associated with a high profile brand and a well-respected company supporting you will help raise your profile.

Do – work hard to build your relationship with the company that has agreed to sponsor you. In this digital age it’s easy to tag your sponsor in any relevant posts you put on social media so they can see what you have been up to! Use the company’s related hashtags when appropriate.
Do – do think about how you can support the company individually on social media. Whilst it’s fine to include a long list of hashtags and company tags in your posts, it’s not great value to your sponsors. They are looking for good reusable content that they can easily share on their channels.

Including a long list of hashtags and company tags in your posts may look great for you, showing how many sponsors you have. But ensure that you add posts individually featuring one company to show your support.

Do – Watch your manners – behave with decorum at shows and events. This includes both on and off your horse and don’t forgot online too!

Do – use all opportunities to promote your sponsors and their company. Often the most valuable support can come from you personally recommending your sponsor’s products to friends, fellow competitors or pupils.

Do – pop along to see your sponsors on events that you are at. Taking some time to chat with their customers shows your commitment and builds brand loyalty.

A successful sponsorship arrangement will be mutually beneficial to you, the rider and your sponsor. So take your time in planning your approach and work hard to keep the relationship strong.

Good luck!

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