Finding a Sponsor For a Marathon Event
Ideally, runners who are offered a sponsorship are those who can give something of value to the sponsor like media mileage and increased awareness of the sponsor’s cause. Not everyone falls into this category. In fact, about 1% of runners actually get sponsorship offers without having to step out of their comfort zone. However, despair not because a runner, even a first-time runner, has options and they’re here for you to uncover and try.
First, Have the Right Attitude
Be confident but not cocky. Sponsors like athletes who are personable, hard-working, honest, and nice. Superstar status and attention will come eventually when you consistently prove you are worthy of their sponsorship. And before you get to superstar status, you should have the right attitude and a strong foundation that prospective sponsors look for in an athlete.
Second, Understand the Two Kinds of Sponsorships
There are 2 ways you can find a sponsor: from personal connections and from corporate accounts. Personal connections are friends, family, work associates, employer, and your social and other networks.
Corporate sponsorship is part of the corporate social responsibility and marketing budget of a company set aside for to build the company’s brand, reputation, and goodwill with the government, the industry it belongs to, and its target market. You don’t have to target only the large well-known brands but you can approach local businesses for possible tie-ups.
Third, Know How to Sell Yourself
As a runner, you have 2 choices in marketing yourself as an endorser. You can sell your skills as a runner or you can promote yourself as a likeable spokesperson for the brand. It would be advisable to avoid underselling yourself as “just a regular guy who loves to run.”
While this may be true, you should lay claim to the fact that you have a dream like many others , you are doing it for a charitable cause, and you worked and trained hard. You don’t have to promise winning first place but you can promise to do your best.
At all times, be honest. If there is no charity you want to endorse, then avoid talking about running for one. The best approach is always sincerity, honesty, and staking claim on your achievements.
Marathon Sponsorship: Finding a Sponsor
Every potential sponsor will have a target market. It would be great if you study the company or organization and see if you fit into that mold. However, don’t rule out being a round peg in a square hole. You could be the one person needed to shake things up for a business. Thus, study the business you want to approach for sponsorship and see how you can fit into their business plan.
The steps in approaching your potential marathon sponsors are:
- Research the business, brand or organization. Decide on the kind of sponsorship you want. Aside from choosing between approaching your personal network or a business, write down what exactly you want: entrance fee, donation for charity, clothing, shoes, accommodations, money, food, travel expenses, a training coach, or discounts on certain products or services.
- Build your audience. You don’t have to just join races and events. You can be a blogger about running, you can create a video blog about training, you can be active as a volunteer in charitable causes that host marathons, and other similar endeavors. You can start a fitness group in your community, school, church, or work environment with running as the main focus or simply start posting thoughts and photos of your training on your social media accounts.
- Start writing your resume. Write down what can you offer in exchange for a sponsorship. Don’t rule out international businesses. There are quite a few that want to break into the US/Canada market and you could help them with the right marketing strategy!
- Write a short, concise and professional cover letter. It would be great if you could find out the person in-charge of sponsorship, if not the name of the business owner. This could eliminate the arduous process of mail getting through to the right person and eliminating the chances of the mail getting lost along the way. A great way to find out about the names of potential companies to approach would be to observe marathon events. Who are the active businesses present? Aside from sports businesses, there may be app developers, charities, food businesses, local businesses, and sports facilities.
- Make your move. If possible, avoid last minute requests. Target events that are months ahead. The closer the date is, the fewer chances of success. In fact, studies show that the average time for a sponsorship to be approved from a medium-sized to large company would be 18 months.
Marathon Sponsorship: Finding a Sponsor
Keep in mind that rejection is not a personal judgment of who you are as a person or a runner. Rejection rate is high for sponsorship and the first sponsorship is usually the hardest to get. Don’t give up if you get a few “No’s.” It’s part of the game people play to select the best fit. That being said, here are a few suggestions on who you can approach:
- Go to the official marathon websites like the Niagara Falls International Marathon and see who they are able to solicit for sponsorships. Use these companies as a jumping point for next year’s events.
- Open a JustGiving account or other similar online fundraising websites. You can build a profile on yourself and achieve your targets using these websites. You can also link your profile to your social media accounts for wider exposure. If you decide to run for a cause, this will be a tremendous boost to your fundraising efforts.
- If your looking to be a competitive runner longer term then perhaps look for a sports agent who can do the work of finding a sponsor for you.
In summary, while waiting for a positive response, keep training and joining events. Consistency in the sport is also a great indication of your passion for running and will always hold you in good stead in the eyes of potential sponsors.