Securing Sponsorship

This is the first installment of the securing sponsorship series from two-time Beach Volleyball Olympian, Lina Taylor. She created this series for the ACE Mentor Network to provide athletes with a comprehensive guide on how to take one’s sponsorship efforts to the next level.

This article first appeared on the ACE Mentor Network page, click here.

Whether you’re just starting your career in professional sports or you’re looking to capitalize on your Olympic medals, you’ll find helpful tools in the five aspects to securing sponsorship for your sporting career: (1) Identifying your values. (2) Building your personal brand. (3) Identifying your target audience and stakeholders. (4) Defining your campaign goals and timeline. (5) Executing a successful sponsorship and fundraising campaign.

Securing sponsorship can be an overwhelming task for any athlete – first, you’re full of enthusiasm but very quickly, you may realize that people are not lining up to give you money the way they line up to watch you compete. So, here comes the first question you need to answer: How do you attract sponsors?

The answer lies in the word VALUE. There are two meanings of “value” and both are important to explore in order to secure sponsorship. The first meaning is associated with the importance, worth, or usefulness of something – this is connected to your offering, how are you valuable to sponsors. The second meaning of “value” relates to a person’s principles or standards of behavior, one’s judgment on what is important in life, as in what are your personal values.
Here’s a common mistake to avoid: most people start with putting together their offering to the sponsor (the first meaning of “value”), by determining what is important to the sponsor. While this step comes into play later, it is not the critical first step you need to take. Why? Because you can’t be everything to everybody.

In order to project authenticity
 when you are representing a sponsor (something your fans will immediately sniff out), it is critical that you start with the second meaning of value – what is important to YOU in life, what are your personal values.
For example, I grew up in a communist country where travel was once restricted. Sports allowed me to travel all over the world to compete and I truly treasured the freedom it gave me. So “freedom” is one of my personal values I hold very dear. The way this ties in with a sponsor is that you can match your value to a sponsor’s message – BodyGlove makes some of the best swimsuits that allow total freedom when you move in the water (or on the beach, as was the case for me playing beach volleyball). BodyGlove became a sponsor and our messages aligned perfectly.Once you identify and are able to clearly communicate those, you’re ready to move onto the next step in securing sponsorship.

(2) Building your personal brand.
(3) Identifying your target audience and stakeholders.
(4) Defining your campaign goals and timeline.
(5) Executing a successful sponsorship and fundraising campaign.

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