Trails: November 2006

Trails: November 2006
A sponsorship is more than wearing a patch, it involves public appearances like T-shirt signings and other events.

Dear Mr. Owner,

My name is Roger Redfisherman and I am currently one of the top pros on the Redfish Tournament Trail. I run a 1975 Whatsitname bowrider with a Sears and Roebuck 75 HP motor. As you can imagine, I am very competitive and high profile with my rig. I am seeking a dealership like yours to give me a new boat and motor for fishing tournaments next year. I have asked several dealers, so just to let you know this opportunity will not last long. You need to act fast.

When you deliver the boat and motor, I will wear your logo on my shirt and put your logo on the side of my boat. Your logo will be prominently displayed all over my town when I stop by Shipley's and the Quick Mart each morning before hitting the water. When I catch fish in tournaments, I will have your logo on my shirt. Obviously, you can see how your business will increase four fold with my sponsorship. Although I have never been to your dealership, my buddies have said good things about you and once you hook me up, I will make time to come by and meet you, hopefully at the same time to get my boat. That will save me a trip and kill two birds with one stone.

If this letter resembles correspondence you have sent to a potential sponsor, I am confident that you never received any feedback from that sponsor. Approaching a company for sponsorship is not something where you just tell the company what you want and they do whatever it takes to fill your needs. It should be a formal business proposal with businesslike correspondence.

Once you have your resume in place, a budget and identified potential sponsor companies (June and August 2006 GCC articles), it is time to start the real work of getting a sponsorship going. It is time to start making contact with the companies. Now I wish it was as easy as calling a company and asking for a sponsorship and receiving it, but of course it just does not work that way. After identifying a company that you wish to approach, the next step is finding everything you can about the company. Using the internet is a great and easy place to start your research. The things to learn about are items such as where are the home offices, the company history, the product line and most important, how does the company handle their marketing and advertising.

The first goal with a company is getting your resume in front of the right person. Once received, a good resume will stand out from others being reviewed. The plan is to mail the resume and cover letter describing your proposal to the right person in a company. After 7 to 10 days, follow up with the person to whom you sent the resume and see if there is any interest.

The resume and cover letter must be addressed to a person, not to "whom it may concern" or "gentlemen". Take the time necessary to find the correct person and their title. Depending on its size, a company can vary from one person to a large corporation that uses an independent advertising agency for its marketing. When researching on the internet, look for company organization charts and take note of who is in charge of advertising and marketing. Keep a file on every company that is researched. Record people's addresses and phone numbers so that you will have them for later contact. Focus on a company's marketing and advertising personnel. Some companies will have a formal process or committee to whom you must submit your request. Use your network of friends and family to identify any possible connections to potential sponsor companies. It is easier for someone you or your friends know to hand deliver the request to the right person versus mailing the request. If you have to call the company to find out to whom to send your proposal, make your call and ask the receptionist who is in charge of marketing and advertising. Get the person's official title, address and phone number. Normally you can get this information from the receptionist without directly talking to the person. This early in the process you are just gathering information to get your resume in front of the contact prior to talking to them.

After the contact's information is collected, a cover letter can be drafted. The cover letter should be one page and in a standard business letter format. An example is as follows:

Name of Contact
Title of Contact
Company Name
Company Address
City, State Zip code

Dear First Name of Contact:

The first paragraph should introduce yourself as a fisherman, your qualifications, what you are seeking and how you can help the potential sponsor. Remember, the first paragraph makes the person read on or throw your letter away. Make the person read more.

Use the second and third paragraphs to give details of your proposal... Don't just say you want a sponsorship, specifically state what you are seeking, i.e. a cash or product sponsorship. Letting the sponsor know what you want gives both of you a starting point from which to work. Give details of what you can do to help the sponsor's company.

The final paragraph should thank the sponsor for his time and tell him that you will follow up by such and such date.


Your Name

Ask for a sponsorship level that is appropriate to your skill level and experience. If you are just starting out, a boat and motor deal with all expenses paid may be out of reach. Start small and develop relationships with sponsors.

Package the cover letter, resume and a business card (yes, a business card) in an envelope and mail to the potential sponsor. The proposal is similar to a job application. Use quality resume paper and envelopes and it will be received in a professional manner. Xerox paper taken from work will not give the same impression as a professionally bound resume on quality heavyweight paper. Mail the envelope and you are done until it is time to make contact (wait 7-10 days before making contact). Another good thing to do is to keep track of when something is sent off and when follow up is due.

Think about what you are going to say when you get to talk to THE person. Introduce yourself, ask them if they have reviewed the sponsorship proposal and are interested in setting up a time when details can be discussed. From this point on, use your sales skills and read your customer. Do they seem interested, indifferent or not interested? In my experience, you have to think fast and quickly size up what the person is telling you and decide what to do and say. Do not try to be someone you are not, be yourself. If the company is not interested, then thank them for their time and leave the door open for future opportunities. Many times you will have to leave a message or voice mail. Go ahead and leave a message and follow up in a few days. Most people you are trying to contact are very busy and calling twice a day is not going to help your cause. Another thing to remember is Monday mornings are usually very busy, so try to call after that time.

NO! – you will hear it a lot, sometimes you will not even hear back from a company, but every time you get a door closed in your face, evaluate why or what could be done different next time.
Just like fishing, evaluate what it takes to land the big fish or get the big bite. Be confident that you will get a bite and do not give up your quest. There is some company or some person out there that will sponsor you.