So you want to be sponsored? Why do you want to be sponsored? Do you even really know why?
In the few short months I’ve been involved heavily in the Fitness Industry, I’ve seen a lot. We play in a unique sandbox here. A sandbox with lots and lots of toys. Of course the toys are the supplements that are out there. And there are tons of them. Each claiming to be the best, each with a different plan, each promising the next coolest thing. A lot of them are built on the same premise, which is pump out as many supplements as possible to the masses and cover the lost market share they are losing, to the next company, doing the exact same thing. That framework exists because customer brand loyalty rarely exists in an industry where there are just so many options from which to choose. How do you create brand loyalty when thousands of companies are firing samples out, by the thousands, to your customers on a daily basis? It’s tough, but the guy who is writing this believes wholeheartedly in brand loyalty. Yep, I’m old school and I believe in giving good products to people that I make relationships with, that can help them and that they like, and in return for my sweat, work and time, they’ll love my products and reward me with their loyalty. It’s a simple principle. You just don’t see it much these days. But I believe in it. And my goal is to bring it back to front and center in this business, as a principle, and I won't stop until I do.
Before we get into the Sponsorship game, or simply the “S” word, let’s talk about loyalty for a second. Who are you loyal to in this industry? There’s no right or wrong answer. You either are loyal, or you aren’t. If you are loyal, you’re the minority, just so you know. Most people don’t know or don’t really care what loyalty means; and who would blame them, when they go to a fitness event and leave with a massive bag filled with hundreds of samples of preworkouts, proteins, fat burners, you name it. It’s tough to be loyal when things are constantly thrown at you to “try”. But here’s the thing, your lack of loyalty really costs you more than you will ever get to “try”. You just don’t see it. I say that because most companies, whether they admit it or not, are dying for your loyalty. They are; they just mask it by pumping out more products to new people to cover up for your lack of loyalty. But they want your loyalty, they do. I sure do. Personally speaking, loyalty is one of the biggest hot buttons and barometers of respect to me, not only from my customers, but also from the people I…wait for it…yep its coming…from the people I “sponsor”. There’s that word. From the people I sponsor.
So now that we’re talking about the “S” word, let’s get right into it. People want to be sponsored by a company. Why is that? There are many reasons. What’s your reason for wanting a sponsorship? To help promote yourself? To help a company grow? Because you see your friend Sally has one and it looks cool? Or is it to get free supplements? There’s no right or wrong answer to why you want one, however, your real reason for wanting a sponsorship may not help you get one; and that’s why I’m writing this, to help guide anyone who cares to read this, through some pitfalls that come with the “S” word. Of course, this is just my opinion, I’m only speaking from my view, but my view is from a chair that provides sponsorships to people, so I have some knowledge on the subject that may help. And I can tell you what is ultimately important to me (whether it is to any other companies, I don’t know) and some of the things I look for out there. I’m also guessing no one else has ever taken the time to walk through some of these tips and traps with people, so I don’t mind doing it, because I like to help. So here are some things to think about:
- DECIDE WHO YOU WANT TO BE: By this I mean, what do you stand for? Are you a lab techie? Do you like the muscle brands? Are you a clean eater who wants only clean supplements? You see, here’s the thing, I’ve always said “you can’t stand for everything, or else you stand for nothing”. Yes, that’s my quote, and I stand by every word. Companies are not the same, and they shouldn’t be treated the same, it actually insults them. Meaning, for example, if you say you love the principles of SLAP, which are clean products, no junk and major principles and then you also run and profess your love for black labels with artificial sweeteners, chemicals, and crap in them, then my friend, you need to reevaluate, because you DO NOT love SLAP. You can’t love both, because SLAP is not the same, in any way, as the junk label; but yet that happens every single day. And it’s a trap. So be mindful of it. So a better way to think of it is, there are a ton of companies out there, but if you owned only one of them, which one would it be? Pick one. Why that one? Ok then, so that company is who you stand for. So the next question is, why should a different type of company sponsor you? You’ve already said they aren’t who you are. So why? Because you work out? Because you are nice? No company wants to be “your” second or third choice is my point. The companies that spend their money to make their products for “you” want to be your supplement company. And they want to be your supplement company whether they sponsor you or not. So it begs the question, “Do you want to be sponsored by the company you claim loyalty to or do you want to be sponsored by simply anyone who will sponsor you? I know the answer to this question for the majority of people out there already. It’s evident, and as transparent as glass, in most of the posts I see on social media. There’s the loyalty thing, completely out the window again. I can tell you, personally, people who just want a sponsorship from anyone, won’t ever get one from me, and ultimately, they will have a tough time getting one from anyone else either. You are hurting yourself with this mentality. Tagging 45 companies on your posts, so they see you, is not helping you, it’s actually alienating all of those companies from you, and they are all thinking the same thing, which is “you can have them”. It’s true, without any sugarcoating it for you. I know it’s true, because that’s what I think when I see it. I want you to want to be part of my company, not 44 other ones. Always remember that. Think of it this way, if you owned a supplement company, would you give a sponsorship to someone who would take one from anyone or to someone who loves your brand, company and wants to be a part of it above all others? Easy answer there when you’re the boss, huh. Just remember, there’s a slippery slope when deciding which company you want to represent, and by that, I mean some companies unfortunately just will never sponsor you, they won’t, its life. It’s not fair, but it’s life. So you really have to think about that when deciding which door knob you want to hang your coat on, because if your ultimate goal is a sponsorship, that might not be the best company to choose. Yep, that’s the rub.
- HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT?: Ok, so assuming you have chosen a company that you really want to be a part of, what separates you from the millions of people who work out? What is it about your journey that makes you unique? Everyone has a journey, in fact, everyone who is in amazing shape or competes or what have you, was not in good shape at the beginning of their rise to being fit, or else they wouldn’t have started working out. So, take some time and think, really think, about what separates you from all of the other people out there wanting the same things as you. We are all unique in some way, most people just never take the time to discover what makes them unique. It’s why motivational posters are fired around the internet and “reposted” by the thousands, because no one takes the time to create their own unique quotes or sayings about themselves. Here’s a tip; having "passion" for fitness does not make you unique. Being in amazing shape doesn’t either. So what does? Think about it and convey it when you are discussing a possible sponsorship with someone.
- WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE SPONSORED? Really be honest with yourself here because you may not think it matters or shows, but it does, trust me. This is a major pitfall for people. If you just want free stuff, it’s not the right answer; and assuming you are lucky enough to ever land a sponsorship thinking that way, you won’t keep it very long. Why? Because it shows in everything you do, how much you care, how you post or don’t post, your lack of caring in marketing, etc. Trust me, it shows. Conversely, if you want to be part of a company for both your own personal growth and to really help the company; that also really shows. Those are the people that I’m looking for, personally. People that just want free stuff or to be sponsored by anyone don’t interest me. Love, drive, enthusiasm, the will to succeed, those are all things I look for, because all of that rubs off on the company. I specifically look for people who want to be a part of SLAP Nutrition, not only for themselves, but because they love SLAP Nutrition and want us to succeed.
- ACT LIKE YOU HAVE THE SPONSORSHIP YOU WANT ALREADY: Ever heard the phrase “dress like the job you want”? Same principles apply here. So you don’t have the sponsorship you want yet, what now? Nothing wrong with acting like you do. You want to show a company you care? Help them, even if there’s nothing in it for you. It’s more powerful than sending them a half naked, dirty mirror selfie with a note that says “bro, sponsor me” (yeah I get that stuff). Here’s the thing, most people won’t do anything for anyone else, unless there’s something in it for them, and they know what that is upfront. I can tell you, we have some folks that I haven’t been able to sponsor, but they love what we are doing and they tell the world about it for us daily, and there is nothing in it for them. But guess what, there is something in it for them. Why? Because, I notice. And I appreciate it. And I have a lot of respect for those people. If you want to get somewhere, hard work, patience, perseverance, loyalty and allegiance are of the utmost importance in getting you there. Which leads me to my next point……
- MAKE SURE YOUR DECISIONS TODAY DON’T NEGATIVELY AFFECT YOU “NOT TODAY”:This bullet point is probably the most important one to me, personally, because I see “this” every single day. And quite frankly, it’s probably my biggest pet peeve, because it really ties together a lot of the stuff we’ve talked about above (loyalty, allegiance, patience, etc). My dad used to tell me “most people will punch themselves out, all you have to do is sit back and watch, and they don’t even realize they are doing it”. It’s the most true and real statement I’ve ever heard in my life. What it means is when your sponsorship is not available “right now”, now what are you going to do “right now”? People can’t help but to only think about “today”, it's human nature, but “today” is gone tomorrow, just that quick. And most times, decisions you make today negatively impact your tomorrow, many times without you even knowing it. So tread carefully here and think about what you are going to do. I see this trap all of the time. Tell someone a sponsorship is not available “today” and tomorrow they run to the next sponsorship opportunity or athlete search. But here’s the thing, there are a few problems with that and it leads to a lot answers, not questions, but answers about the person wanting the sponsorship. As an example, apparently you really “didn’t” want to be part of SLAP, like you said “yesterday” in that email you sent, because you’re already just trying to get a sponsorship from someone else already tomorrow. Here’s where the 3 words come in again. You exhibit no loyalty. You exhibit no patience. You exhibit no allegiance. Guess what, you’ve just punched yourself out. You’ve eliminated yourself from any future consideration. And for what? Not your first choice of companies. Not the company you originally wanted to be with and emailed yesterday. And for a shred of hope (some of those contests are 1 in a 1000 chances to win) with that different company that is not your first choice anyway. Sounds not so good, huh? Well, that’s the decision you just made “today”. And that’s also what you just made your “not today” look like tomorrow. It’s no different than when people say to me “oh I would love to rep SLAP” and then 30 seconds later I see them posting some crap supplement on IG. What I really want to say is “if you really wanted to be part of SLAP, you’d be using SLAP, and you’d be posting SLAP, instead of that other supplement who is also not sponsoring you”. But I don’t ever say anything, because I don’t have to; they already punched themselves out, and they didn’t even realize it. So remember, actions always make words irrelevant. Which gets me to my next point…..but before I move on, I want tell you it makes not sponsoring some folks, who have inquired, so much easier when you see this kind of stuff. They punch themselves out, so I don’t have to. But there are some folks that you just know have great potential, and maybe you have a plan for down the road; and it absolutely pains you to see them punch themselves out, all because they lack the patience they need to exhibit in order to really get what they want. Lack of patience is a terribly destructive force. And it sucks to see that from some people, but it’s ultimately their choice and their decisions.
- USE OF PRODUCTS IS HUGE: What do I mean by this? Well, if you’re using Supplement A, but asking Supplement B to sponsor you, give me a good reason for Supplement B do that. You are showing loyalty to Supplement A, in the form of "use" and cash, but telling Supplement B that you really want to be sponsored by Supplement B, yet showing them no loyalty, other than you’ll stop giving Supplement A your "use" and cash, but only when you start getting Supplement B products for free. It’s not a great scenario for Supplement B, wouldn’t you agree? Bottom line is, if you really want a company to sponsor you, use their products, whether they sponsor you or not. When we were brand new and no one had heard of SLAP, I had to give some leeway to some of our athletes, because some of them I sponsored before we even launched our products. Now however, we’ve been around long enough now for people to try and use our supplements, and they’re readily available (plus they are the best), so I’d have a really (really) tough time sponsoring someone who doesn’t already use our products. Here’s the thing, everyone is using supplements, and I know who uses mine. Rewarding someone with a sponsorship, who is giving our competition their money by buying their supplements, just doesn’t sit right with me. It all goes back again to loyalty and love of our products and company. That’s who I look to sponsor, people who love SLAP and want to be a part of what we are doing above all else, and that means using our products.
- BUT HOW DO I EVEN GO ABOUT ASKING FOR OR INQUIRING ABOUT A SPONSORSHIP?: I saved this section for last, because the majority of it can be “summed up” in a list of things not to do sprinkled in with some things you should make sure to do. So, with that, here’s some do’s and don’ts: Don’t send a pic of yourself flexing in a mirror and ask for a sponsorship (it shows 0 effort on your part and gives the impression your ego just thinks sponsorships are handed out freely to the masses). Do, do you homework on the company you want to represent (you don't want a scenario like "I'd love to represent SLAP, whatever that is"). Don’t send an email that takes 5 minutes to write or simply says or implies you want a sponsorship from anyone or that you’re looking to represent “some companies”. Do take the time to write a thoughtful, well written, note or email describing yourself and what makes you different and what makes you, well, you (think about how to differentiate yourself and show it). Don’t be arrogant, ever (your own ego is your worst enemy). Do think about how you can and are going to help a company, aka, put a plan together that shows how you want to help the company (it also shows you care about more than just you). Don’t use the same letter to every company you send communication with (why you ask?- because you inevitably forget to change a name or company name or something in that letter; and then someone from Company A is reading a letter stating how you really want to be part of Company B- Oops). Do make relationships with the company you want to represent, relationships make the world go round. Don’t ask a company that you want to sponsor you to “try” their products, aka, ask them to send them to you for free; buy them, even if it’s a couple of dollars for a sample (you don’t email Amazon and ask them to send you their books for free so you can try them do you, so don’t do it in this scenario, because it gives the impression you just are in it for free stuff, its a huge turnoff). Do stay positive and don’t get frustrated just because you don’t get an immediate answer or a sponsorship “right this second” (if it were that easy, everyone would have one), be patient, as people who are patient and loyal generally get rewarded. And finally, don’t ever be rude, disrespectful or not honest, ever.
Ok, so this is long I know, but I hope that you gleaned some usefulness out of it to use in your search and that maybe it gives you a different perspective to think about. And like I mentioned, I pretty sure no one else in my chair has probably ever taken the time to write out something like this that can help provide some direction to people in this area. Sponsorships come in many, many different forms, but at the end of the day, not everyone gets one. That alone makes them worth something and they should always be appreciated. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t hand sponsorships out like Halloween candy; nope, sponsorships are a privilege and should always be treated as such. Of course none of this stuff I’ve written down will guarantee you a sponsorship, but this information can certainly help you put yourself into a much better position to get one. And that’s what it is all about, because remember, there are thousands of people out there that want the same thing as you, so putting yourself in the best position possible is paramount. Remember, don’t ever give a company a reason to say “they don’t need you”, rather, do your best to show them just how much they really do need you. Be good.