Baylor Barbee puts a whole new spin on the Lance Armstrong phrase, “It’s not About the Bike.” Barbee, an author of four books and a motivational speaker, decided two years ago that he might be able to attract some sponsors as he trained for his first triathlon.
He lined up two before he bought a bike.
So when Barbee gives out advice on how to attract sponsors, people listen.
Athletes know that participating in any sport can get expensive, at any level. Take running. The romantic version of running is it’s a sport you can do on the cheap: Slip on a pair of shorts, T-shirt, running shoes, and off you go. Except the running shoes are $150, the T-shirt is $25 or a giveaway at your last race. And we haven’t mentioned Garmin watches, Gu packs or travel costs and entry fees for races.
What can those of us with a lower profile than Michael Phelps do to cover some of those costs? That will be the subject of the first few posts for Raynforest’s Sport Market. I talked with several athletes who have learned what to do by trial and error, and they shared their experiences. Their answers fall generally into four categories:
• Social promotions
• Product endorsements
• Product trials
• Event promotions
I will touch on these over the next few posts by telling you the stories of athletes such as Barbee and the lessons they’ve learned through trial and error.
Barbee looked at products he already used and liked for his running and other training. Then he looked at his 55,000 (now 60,000) Twitter followers and thought that should count for something. So he wrote a letter to the makers of some of those products. “The letter said: ‘This is what I can offer you. This is what I’m asking in return,’ ” Barbee said. More on this letter in the next post.
But here are a few tips from Barbee on how to combine social promotions with product endorsements:
• Set up an Amazon.com affiliate account, then get to work on Pinterest. Barbee posts Pinterest boards of fitness products he likes. When someone clicks through and makes a purchase at Amazon.com, Barbee gets a commission. You can do the same. You can use your Twitter account the same way.
• Don’t oversell. If your social media output turns into one big commercial, people will stop listening to what you have to say. Instead, the occasional referral to a particular product should be a genuine part of your conversation. Say you’re letting your Facebook friends know that you’re starting to get to work on that beach body you’ll want for summer. If you’re using a particular fitness product to help, mention that.
• Target smaller companies for potential sponsorships. It’s a lot easier to build a relationship with the CEO if the CEO is answering her own phone.
• When you identify a particular company or product, understand its target market. What age group is it going after? Is it focused on men or women? Is it geared toward a certain income level, geographic location or lifestyle? How well do you and, more importantly, your followers match up?
• And, of course, consider using Raynforest.com. We can do all the work for you, connect you with a much broader universe of potential sponsors and match your interests with theirs.What ideas have you tried out to cover your sport expenses? Please let me know. I’d love to hear from you, and perhaps tell your story.
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