Sponsors look at many qualities when they are thinking of investing in an athlete, and surprisingly it is not always the fastest runner that they invest in. The days of companies purely being happy with their runners ending up on the podium are gone. An athlete looking for sponsorship in today’s multimedia world not only has to win races but will have to act as an ambassador for the company that is providing the sponsorship. So, the best advice professional runners give to their peers regarding sponsorship is to just be yourself.
When meeting potential sponsors, you have to be yourself, there is no point trying to hoodwink people at the interview that you are another sort of person. Stay true to your roots, otherwise you may not be suitable for their brand, and this will be a problem down the line. You can of course embellish certain attributes to make yourself stand out from other athletes, but not so much as you would have to act like somebody else in certain sponsorship duties.
The five traits you must demonstrate to a possible sponsor are:
- The ability to adapt
- The ability to be a team player
You may notice that there is not even a mention of physical attributes, as that is taken as a given. You must of course be physically fit and in tip top physical condition. The Marketing Manager from HOKA ONE ONE said that when they are looking for an athlete to sponsor, they want somebody with a real personality who has a good background in the running community. But above all somebody who has an honest desire to give something back to the sport.
Embrace the Brand
When looking for sponsorship don’t just take up the first offer on the table, if the brand does not suit who you are or is against your principles then leave the deal alone. You have to be proud of who you are representing and not have a problem embracing the brand and promoting it. The closer a brand is to what you yourself represent the better. And do not try to be anything that a brand thinks you should be. If there is a conflict then both parties will suffer from the relationship, and it could damage your reputation when looking at other companies.
Don’t Always Look Big
Many athletes only look at corporate brands when they are looking for sponsorship. This is a common mistake as often a local business will support you so much better. Smaller businesses only sponsor a limited number of athletes and therefore have more time to devote to you. But the biggest positive is that by representing a local business you are helping your own community and putting something back into the society that helped you in the first place.
In the second part of this blog we look at the importance of doing your homework before you sign a sponsorship contract with anybody. It should be a case of you vetting a company for suitability just as much as them vetting your talents.