Well, the season is in full swing now. Not the racing season. Not even the holiday season. We’re talking about the sponsorship season. The time of year when brands accept ambassador applications. This season unofficially begins in October and it generally winds down toward the end of the year.
Since we’ve been through this process a couple of times and had the chance to compare notes with other brands, we thought it might make sense to share our thoughts on the five things many brands would like sponsored athletes to know. So, here you go:
1. Fast isn’t necessarily what they are looking for. Many years ago, brands would ask for a race resume and your podium position had a big influence on whether or not you were offered a sponsorship. Sponsors did this because, by and large, race results were one of the few ways they could estimate your ability to influence others. It stood to reason that if you were fast, you probably raced a fair amount and others may look to you as a role model. Now, thanks to the prevalence of social media, potential sponsors have much better ways to gauge your ability to portray their product in a positive light. Results are still nice but social influence is much, much more important. Given a choice, many brands will take a well-regarded and socially prolific middle of the pack athlete over a reclusive winner who comes out of hiding just to race and then disappears again. That being said, it isn’t just about the number of twitter followers you have. Rather, your value set must align with that of the sponsor. For example, even though Coeur is based in Los Angeles not far from the Hollywood Hills, you won’t see any divas or spoiled teens from the 90210 area code on the roster next year. So, if you believe in the brand and support their product then by all means apply. If not, look for a sponsorship that is a better fit. In the long run, everyone will be better off.
2. They want your feedback. Compliments are very welcomed and much appreciated by sponsors. Especially sincere ones made publically. After all, that is a big part of what sponsors want ambassadors to do. That being said, brands also want your feedback. It is likely you were selected because you represent the sponsors target audience, so if you see something that could be improved, brands want you to share. Now, they would appreciate it if you share it privately, but don’t be afraid to help out with product development. They’ll get useful feedback and you’ll ultimately get an even better product.
3. They’d like you to be loyal. Now to be clear, it is ok to wear/use other brands. Even the Coeur founders (Kebby and Hailey) wear other brands from time to time and it is ok for sponsored athletes to do the same. Variety is the spice of life and it is nice to switch things up. What can get you sideways with your sponsor is if you actively promote a competing brand via social media. There no law saying that you can’t but it is a bit like a poke with a sharp stick and no one really likes that. So, think before you post and do your best to promote your sponsor when you’re racing or in the public eye.
4. They follow you on Social Media. There’s good chance that part of the reason you were selected was because you’re active on social media (reference point number one). Consequently, it is likely that your potential sponsor sees your posts. Sooo…you might keep that in mind even when you are posting about topics unrelated to your potential sponsorship. Having a spat with your ex? Still mad at that driver that cut you off in traffic? Angry at a particular group of people? If so, maybe it’s a good idea to think twice about having a couple glasses of wine and posting a profanity laced rant against him, her or them.
5. Real friendships can develop with your sponsors. Sometimes it seems like companies can be impersonal. Monolithic establishments devoid of compassion. But companies are really just collections of people and people are…well, they’re people. Initially, you’re selection as an ambassador may be made on objective criteria and seem clinical. Over time, however, it is possible that a real friendship can develop with your sponsor. If you have a lot in common and things “click” then there’s a chance you’ll have a long and wonderful relationship. If that happens, everyone wins and you’re in for an amazing journey.
So there you have it. A few points to keep in mind as you apply for sponsorships this year. We hope these are helpful and good luck with your Ambassador Applications!