Reaching out to a brand for sponsorship via email can make or break your chances of earning their support.
Do it wrong, and you’ll never hear back from them.
Do it right, and you’ll put yourself in the best position to get sponsored.
I’ve sent hundreds of emails over the years for sponsorship, and through a lot of trial and error, I’ve been able to learn what works and what doesn’t.
Here are seven steps to think about before reaching out to a brand or business that will strengthen your sponsorship hopes.
CONTACT THE RIGHT PERSON
If you’ve read my sponsorship articles before, then you probably think I’m repeating myself, but this is so important - you have to email the decision-maker at the company if you want to actually be sponsored by them.
So many times riders will skip the groundwork and just the send their proposal to the generic email address of a company, but this usually goes to the admin staff and is determined by them if it goes further.
This means there’s a good chance that your email never makes in front of the eyes of the person who decides on sponsorship at the business, or it gets lost in the process.
Do the work in researching who is in what role, and you’ll find a much stronger response rate to your sponsorship requests. I share a number of ways to find out who the decision-maker is in this article: https://hammermx.com/blogs/story/how-to-contact-sponsors
You’ll probably hear a lot of people saying you need to build a relationship with brands to get sponsored, but this isn’t that realistic or accessible - if you live in WA and a gear company is based in Victoria, it’s not exactly easy to make friends with the people at the company.
You could reach out over social media, but the people at these companies can see where it’s heading - they get sponsorship requests all the time, and people are trying to befriend them in order to benefit from the relationship (which isn't morally right and can damage your chances of sponsorship).
It’s why on a lot of occasions, your first contact with the decision-maker of a company will likely be your first, and it’s why you need to start building rapport with them.
You can do this in two ways - you can comment and start a conversation on something the company has recently done that you appreciate or are excited about, or you can comment or start a conversation on something that the person has or is doing themself.
Based on the company, it could be anything from a marketing campaign, a donation to charity, or a new product release.
Based on the person themself, it could be becoming a parent, a recent job promotion, or getting a new mountain bike, which are things you might be able to relate to.
You can find these things out via social media, and if there’s nothing that is relatable, you always have the company-based option.
This will allow you to build rapport with the person, start an additional conversation and strengthen the relationship while still making your intentions clear.
Introducing yourself is a must - unless you’ve been making yourself known with some epic social media content or stellar race results, it’s likely the person at the company doesn’t know who you are.
This doesn’t need to be extensive - remember, your proposal will be attached with all the necessary information about yourself.
It can be as simple as this: My name is Jeremy and I’m a motocross racer from Western Australia.
Nothing more, nothing less. It’s important to be direct and to the point in your email, so there’s no need to add extra fluff in it about yourself.
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DON’T SHY AWAY
You’re reaching out to them for sponsorship, so don’t shy away from it. As much as it’s important to make it about them rather than you, you still need to be clear and direct that it’s a sponsorship request.
You don’t need to tell them exactly what you want - again, that should be in the sponsorship proposal, but you should declare that you’re reaching out because you have sponsorship opportunities that could be of interest and benefit and company.
And that leads into...
WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM
Referencing what’s in it for them critical for securing their interest and taking the next step of looking at the sponsorship proposal.
You don’t need to divulge the full details as this will all be in your proposal, but you should lead with your highest value propositions that compel them to take a deeper interest.
Keep it brief and remember to point to your proposal for the full details of your value offers.
CALL TO ACTION
The final thing that is a must in emailing brands for sponsorship is finishing with a call to action.
Book a meeting.
Book a phone call.
Don’t finish off your email without asking them to take the next step. Ask if they’re available during the week for a phone call or meeting, and this is where you’ll negotiate your sponsorship deal.
Finishing with a call to action gives you another chance to pitch yourself - they could be on the fence, slightly interested, or unsure, and that call to action not only gives them a directive, but it also clearly makes you available to answer any questions and concerns.
Marketing managers and business owners are busy people, and sometimes your email and proposal can slip under the radar amongst all the other tasks their doing.
So a follow up email or phone call is essential if you haven’t heard back from them within a week. You’ll be surprised at just how many will respond to a secondary email or contact.
In fact, I signed a lot of sponsorships after sending a follow up email, and your next sponsorship deal might just be in that second point of contact.
Keep your follow up email short and simple - ask if they have any questions or need more information, and finish with a call to action once again to book that meeting or phone call.