In a recent post, I introduced you to Baylor Barbee, who occasionally uses his social media community (including 60,000 Twitter followers) to promote products that he uses and trusts. In return, the companies that benefit provide him with sales commissions, free products and other compensation that helps pay for his triathlon training.
How do you get started? An easy way is to join Raynforest.com and have us match up your goals and interests with potential sponsors. In addition to that, don’t be shy about approaching a company on your own.
Barbee got started by drafting a letter outlining his assets, his interest in a particular product, what he could do for the company, and what he wanted in return.
He suggests you do the same, even if you don’t have 60,000 Twitter followers. “If I have 60,000 followers, and none of them listen to me, and you have 500 who are engaged, you’re more attractive to a sponsor than I am,” he said. “Everybody has a niche. If you’re president of your local bike club, and you have 150 followers, that’s attractive to somebody.”
Remember, the goal is to earn enough on the side to help pay for the cost of your next race, or keep you supplied with swim goggles or sweats. You’re not asking for the moon, just some free stuff or a small portion of any business you might steer to a few companies. And the worst they can say is no.
What if you’re not a top-class competitor in your sport? Neither is Barbee. Sponsors want you for the interest you generate with your social media postings, and the influence you have on the people who visit your Facebook page and follow you on Twitter. In fact, Barbee turns his (lack of) world-class speed into an asset. “I tell them, you’re going to get a whole bunch of exposure,” he said.” I’m going to be out there for a while.”
Does it help if you’re a frequent medal-winner in your age group? Sure, but “it’s not about race day. That’s not when you’re selling things,” Barbee said. “You can help sponsors see: This is the value I can bring Monday through Friday.”
You’re probably already using the product you want to endorse. So take a picture or, better still, a video of you using it. Post the video on You-Tube or include a photo on a Facebook post on your latest 5-mile run.
Even if you’re just starting to reach out to companies, be selective. Make sure it’s a product you can whole-heartedly endorse, with no reservations. Barbee, for example, considered endorsing a maker of underwater headphones. He loved the idea and thought the headphones would help pass the time during his training in the pool. But the darn things just wouldn’t stay in his ears. So Barbee gave up on any opportunity to endorse the product.
Would you like to see a copy of the letter Barbee sends out? Leave a comment telling me so, along with your e-mail address.
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