“Why would anyone want to sponsor you… What makes you guys so special?”
When I get this question usually I just smile and let them think about it. However, if you really want to know than lets talk.
Something to consider about having sponsors… it’s work! Work to get them. Work to keep them and work to keep your promises to them. You may be better off financing your off road adventure through other means including friends and family who won’t expect much in return.
First and foremost if you want a sponsor for any activity you need to ask yourself “what is in it for them”. Companies are looking for advertising with high returns that will translate into sales. It is that simple, with the key being high returns. Individuals on the other hand have any number of reasons including the desire to help a worthy cause.
For my sponsor quest, the first thing I did was take inventory of what I had to offer that would translate into high value advertising and sales potential for sponsors. Surprisingly my list was longer than I first imaged. That list included:
- An easily recognizable and well positioned brand “Last Great Road Trip”
- First page Google search results for several key word phases (adventure road trip, off road adventure, last great road trip, road trip blog and others)
- High traffic web-site (www.lastGreatRoadTrip.com)
- An engaged social network on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumbler and Pinterest
- Published writer (did you see the cover of 4wd Toyota Owner April 08?) with articles showing off our sponsors in several magazines including Toyota Cruiser and Truck (TCT).
- Highly noticeable Rig (its hotter than a Tijuana night on spring break)
- Active membership on several Toyota and overland adventure forums
- Videos on YouTube (over a million video views, 1000+ subscribers), Vimeo and other video distribution sites
- Digital images on Flicker, Snapvillage, Nikon Picture Town
Once I had my inventory, I needed to decide what it was worth. To determine a value I reviewed my Google Analytics and discovered I have approximately 8,000 plus visitors a month. The majority of visitors are from the US followed by Europe, India and Australia. The demographics showed men are the primary audience (no surprise there). The site and videos show only 5% of viewers are women although most of the website’s comments come from women.
When it came to the vehicle I kept track of where the rig spent its time, miles per day commuted and check of the number of stares per day. The rig gets a lot of stares, 27 on average… I counted.
With all this data I decided on a sponsor package, wrote a cover letter describing the adverting opportunity along with a description of Last Great Road Trip. I made sure to included my site’s demographics and traffic (eyeball) counts. Finding the right corporate contact was more often the hardest part of the process. My top level sponsor package offer includes the following exposure:
- Sponsor’s 200 pixel wide by 75 pixel high web site banner with a link to their web site.
- Sponsor’s name included on press releases.
- Sponsor’s name and product worked into multiple trip blog entries.
- A web page will be created discussing the sponsor’s product with an installation how-to.
- Posting on the forums “member buildup” with links back to how-to with digital images of the rig showing sponsor’s product installed.
- Seven lines of descriptive text about the sponsor, their products and contact information displayed on the “Support our sponsors” Page.
- Sponsor’s sticker displayed prominently on trip vehicle.
- A You Tube video will be produced (campy but highly rated) discussing the rig and sponsor’s product.
- On other future videos, the sponsor will appear in the credits. These videos will include wheeling, how-to and interview videos.
- Although we can never promise, we also work with media publishers to run new articles. These articles include product installs and topics 101 ( such as explaining various components of lighting and what goes into selecting quality products).
What did I want for all this? I decided on cash, gear or discounts as long as I believed in the product or service. The key being “I believed in the product or service”. I’m promoting the sponsor’s product from the prospective of I use and believe in the products. Unlike magazines that simply provide space, I need to be comfortable when evangelizing the sponsor’s product with other wheelers. At the end of the day I feel good that I can say Baja Designs has partnered with us and their off road lighting systems work great on the trail because I chose the product first and than asked for sponsorship.
We sent letters to the big national guys but their advertising dollars were already spent on NASCAR, X Games and Survivor Timbuktu . The local shops, dealers, and small guys however were looking for affordable ways to increase their local and Internet exposure. While Toyo was not going to through any love our way, the local Discount Tire dealer gave us a great discount on tires. Metal Tech is always there for us when we need custom fabrication work, 4×4 tube bumper, advice or other high-end off road adventure accessories. Even our local Toyota dealer discounted services up to 40% in exchange for a little advertising exposure.
The opportunities for sponsors are endless. To take advantage of those opportunities prepare your package and cover letter so corporate and individual sponsors know you are serious and can easily see what is in it for them. Think and act as a business person when approaching potential sponsors, your selling your advertising space. Success is as much about luck, timing, a willingness to ask and having your pitch ready. Unless your NASCAR running a companies stick on you truck alone is not going to give them the exposure they are looking for.
You will find after a couple of sponsors initially sign up, your task of attracting others becomes easier. Our efforts really paid off after we had a couple of trips on the books, several videos, a published magazine article and a track record of success. As my dad always said “You’ll appreciate it more if you have to earn it”. Although I’m pretty sure I would be OK with everything given to me, we continue to work for our sponsors and to attract new supporters.