BJJ can be an expensive hobby. Perhaps, for some, it is more than just a hobby. It may be a way that you wish to live your life and earn your income. It’s a tough road to take, but for those who wish to do so, there is always the assistance of sponsorships.
Sponsorship is one of those things that everyone dreams of having, but not everyone knows how to go about getting. Luckily, Budo Jake wrote an excellent ebook on the topic. There are a few things that I’d like to cover, some are already mentioned in this book, some aren’t. However, I recommend giving it a read after you peruse this article.
I know this one might seem obvious to some of you, but it needs covering anyways. No one will want to sponsor you if you’ve never won anything. How do you win? First of all, you compete. At the starting level, you might be able to just go and win without putting much thought or preparation into your training. However, as you progress, you will need to up your training schedules. Victory takes preparation. Make sure you train to win.
I’ve talked to lots of “writers” who expect to sell stories they haven’t even written yet. You absolutely cannot market something that doesn’t exist. If you want to be sponsored, you have to show you can win, and win consistently.
Another obvious one, but people seem to think that sponsorships will just fall into their lap. This may be true for some cases, generally only for a very high level competitor. You need to go out and talk to people who can sponsor you. I actually find that face-to-face meetings are the most effective, but I understand that this is also not the most readily available option either.
Letters and emails are also effective. I find that the age old idea of hand writing letters to guarantee a response is not actually the most effective when seeking sponsorship. Much of a brand’s interactions occur online because they are quick and easy. I’ve found emails are moderately effective, but are also easily overlooked. However, social media messages are spotted on a seemingly more regular basis. Every brand has social media accounts and checks them often to interact with their potential customers.
What I mean, is don’t panic if you don’t get an immediate response. The people behind a brand are generally busy people, especially if their brand has been growing. Give them time to respond. If they never respond, it is ok to follow up. Be polite, and simply check to see if they received your first enquiry. If they still don’t respond, they may just not be interested in you yet. That’s ok. You can try back after you’ve expanded your resume a little more.
But under no circumstances should you ever start spamming a potential sponsor. That’s a really quick way to turn someone off. Sometimes a brand may not be able to sponsor you yet, but they may offer you some sort of trade, or a free piece of merchandise. This isn’t uncommon. It doesn’t equal a sponsorship, but it is a promising sign. Be sure to keep those people updated on your competitions and other expansions you make on your BJJ resume.
- Actually Know About Their Brand
This doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to own lots of their merchandise. However, with any brand, you absolutely need to truly know about their brand. They’ll know if you’re trying to fake it. Don’t just know about it either. Be a fan of it. If you don’t really like the things they sell, why get sponsored by them? That’s a major set-up for immediate failure.
When I first started my apparel line, I got multiple messages within the first week of getting my website off the ground from people asking for sponsorship. These people didn’t know my brand. They didn’t know my mission. They had no clue what I even sold. They just wanted funding. A sponsorship is a two way street. You both have to be genuinely invested in each other’s mission. I wouldn’t ask for a sponsorship from a brand I didn’t care about, and I would never sponsor someone who’s future I didn’t want to be invested in.
There is nothing more annoying than terrible grammar. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but don’t ever send an email or message in text speak. Don’t misspell lots of words. Use a good letter format. It doesn’t have to be a business letter or anything, but make it formal enough. You’re asking someone for money or stuff, and they may have not ever met you. Don’t give them the impression that you’re unprofessional just because of your writing abilities. If you need someone to help you, get some help. But don’t write like a middle schooler who couldn’t pass an English class.
Those are some of the things I find important in requesting a sponsorship. For more, and frankly, better information, check out Budo Jake’s book I mentioned above. He goes much deeper than I have here and even gives you a sample template for writing a sponsor letter. Work hard, and best of luck!
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