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  1. #1
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    Reputation: Damitletsride!'s Avatar
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    Sponsorship letter/ email......... help?

    Hi, looking to write to some people about possible sponsorship after a few good results in the past two years. Anyone ever done this before or have experience with it?
    Thinking about targetting bike shops and manufacturers. Even some parts would be nice.

    Well I'm not too sure where to start, any help would be nice. Might not get anywhere from it but worth a try eh!

    Btw i'm an endurance racer but thought i'd post here because it seems to be more active than our forum.

    Thanks.
    "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional"

    michaelmblog.wordpress.com

  2. #2
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    Email isn't the best plan as you don't want to be sending any unrequested big attachments to someone's inbox, it's too easy for someone to hit delete. If you're going to use email, make sure you have a place to have your complete sponsorship package available to download just by clicking on a link in your email (no log in or password required). If you have a blog or personal website, put your complete pitch package on the website for download.

    It is a good idea to have a blog or website as that can be a key part of your sponsorship value package to offer more exposure. Websites or blogs have longer lasting exposure, well beyond the race weekend, and it can provide permanent links to their website.

    And you do want a package that has information about yourself and your results. You also want to research the regulations covering available sponsor/logo locations on your kit, bike and helmet so you could take a photo of yourself in a race and point out where you could place their logos for various levels of sponsorship. You want to really spell out all the possible exposure you might provide for the sponsor. If there's been press coverage of the races you've been in, high light any of that coverage. For any shop or business, they need to be able to see sponsorship as part of the promotional business plan with enough exposure to equal any other promotion effort they might spend money on.

    You want to think about exactly what you want from the sponsorship deal and you want to spell out exactly what you will give them in return. A specific ask has a better chance of getting read and responded to than a general plea for some money or stuff in exchange for something or other. If you have real budget numbers for your next season of racing to show them that you've really thought about what you'll do with money if that's what you're asking for, that will make a bigger impression on the person running that business. Most businesses don't provide sponsorship just because they like you, it has to be part of a sensible business plan for promotion, unless you're only asking for something of petty cash magnitude.

    The parts manufacturers usually have a much simpler criteria for sponsorship than main sponsors like bike shops or other businesses. They just want to see their product on your bike and you getting coverage for your results.
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  3. #3
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    Reputation: Damitletsride!'s Avatar
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    Thanks for the long post firstly.
    I don't have a blog. Never thought many people would read it so thought the effort involved versus the number of views i'd get wouldn't make it worth while. I thought email would be the best way, unless you knew the person well and could approach them at a race or something.

    make sure you have a place to have your complete sponsorship package available to download just by clicking on a link in your email.


    Not too sure what you mean by this. An offer that i'm proposing on a seperate website or something?

    You want to think about exactly what you want from the sponsorship deal and you want to spell out exactly what you will give them in return. A specific ask has a better chance of getting read and responded to than a general plea for some money or stuff in exchange for something or other.
    Well help with the layout of the letter is what im looking for the most. Should it be kept short? Thats whats Ive been told. Also, what about the layout in the form of
    A:A short bit about who you are
    B:Your results
    C:Plans for next season

    Trying to move countries for a year to Canada, so that might put off any shops. X shop might not have any relevance over there.

    unless you're only asking for something of petty cash magnitude
    I presume by this you just mean a discount off a bike.
    "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional"

    michaelmblog.wordpress.com

  4. #4
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    In my experience the biggest thing is cultivating relationships. If you don't do that you won't get the support.

    I have been told point blank to my face that a Female Pro/Elite level athlete that makes the USA National Worlds selection should not get any support unless they are in first place at World Cup races (SRAM told me this at Interbike right after Allison got back from representing the USA at Worlds). It may be less than ideal, but Interbike is really our only chance to get face time with the industry people.

    It was a rude shock to my system to hear that. We weren't asking for much, just spare parts for the season as her bikes were to be equipped with SRAM from the start. For reference Allison is California state champion for two years running for XC and Divisional champion for one year in CX. Her website averages around 1500 hits a week. She has placed on the podium at ProXCT races, and was on the podium at Nationals for SuperD last year. Indirectly I would imagine she influences the purchasing decisions of at least a few people...

    Experiences like the one above have taught me how valuable the few supporters of Allison (and racing in general) really are.

    People like Rock N' Road Cyclery, Specialized, Ergon, Oakley, Crank Brothers, and some others have helped her get this far and I think the best path forward for us, and for anyone else, is to be loyal to those that help out even if in small ways.

    I can see how loyalty could also work against someone in these situations (you are going to use the product whether you pay for it or not) but I figure you have to stand by something and I personally value loyalty and hope that others do as well.

    Best of luck to you!!!!!!!
    My wife's website....
    Allison Mann

  5. #5
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    A typical sponsorship package that is complete and well put together might be a couple of MB in file size, and in PDF form so it is readable and safe to open. That gives lots of space for some photos of you in action and on podiums or in the press. But that's a big file to drop into someone's inbox if they aren't expecting it, especially as they may have several people doing that in a day and filling up their inbox.

    But you do need something to catch their attention and make them want to read your package. Sending that short snappy intro email is fine, just don't send the huge file attachment with it. If your intro email is good enough bait, they will be happy to click through to look at the package with more detail.

    In terms of having a place to link to your sponsorship package, that's just a personal website or blog, rather than one of those FTP file pickup sites. If people need to fuss around with user names and passwords to get your package, you're going to lose interest for anyone who's busy.

    If you're after major sponsorship, then it's all about promotion - both you and your sponsor. So the more that you can demonstrate that you can promote yourself, the more likely that your sponsor is going to get some exposure at the same time. They need to have a clear idea of what they will get out of the deal. For companies beyond the typical bike racer sponsors (like bike shops or tire and fork manufacturers) they might need more guidance as to what the whole deal might mean and why it would be a good idea for them.

    In terms of size of sponsorship (petty cash versus capital investment), if you're after a little bit of cash to offset your travel expenses, or hardware expenses, and you only want $1000 for the season, that's whole different game for a sponsor than if you're after $10,000 to cover all your travel expenses and training time, plus some hardware for an ambitious season. So you want to describe what your sponsor will get for the level of support you're asking for. The more you want, the more you need to offer them.

    The bike related manufacturers that have a sponsor contact email usually spell out exactly what they want to see in your pitch, and the closer you stay to those requirements, the further you'll get with them.
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  6. #6
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    I find its all about building relationships, Start with your bike store that you bought your bike from. If you are in there talk to them and get them to introduce you to reps ect. Build a portfolio of yourself with all the social media ect and anything else you can.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by whybotherme View Post
    In my experience the biggest thing is cultivating relationships. If you don't do that you won't get the support.

    I have been told point blank to my face that a Female Pro/Elite level athlete that makes the USA National Worlds selection should not get any support unless they are in first place at World Cup races (SRAM told me this at Interbike right after Allison got back from representing the USA at Worlds). It may be less than ideal, but Interbike is really our only chance to get face time with the industry people.

    It was a rude shock to my system to hear that. We weren't asking for much, just spare parts for the season as her bikes were to be equipped with SRAM from the start. For reference Allison is California state champion for two years running for XC and Divisional champion for one year in CX. Her website averages around 1500 hits a week. She has placed on the podium at ProXCT races, and was on the podium at Nationals for SuperD last year. Indirectly I would imagine she influences the purchasing decisions of at least a few people...

    Experiences like the one above have taught me how valuable the few supporters of Allison (and racing in general) really are.

    People like Rock N' Road Cyclery, Specialized, Ergon, Oakley, Crank Brothers, and some others have helped her get this far and I think the best path forward for us, and for anyone else, is to be loyal to those that help out even if in small ways.

    I can see how loyalty could also work against someone in these situations (you are going to use the product whether you pay for it or not) but I figure you have to stand by something and I personally value loyalty and hope that others do as well.

    Best of luck to you!!!!!!!
    Gee, I thought Crank Brothers didn't help you or your wife out? Yet I am reading differently here...

  8. #8
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    Reputation: Damitletsride!'s Avatar
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    Everyone seems to say building relationships is the key thing. Well i have a few shops here in my home town that i think might be willing to help, the only problem is i'm off to Canada and will be racing there next year. So wearing a jersey or having a sponsor from a shop a few thousand miles away won't be much good for them.
    "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional"

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  9. #9
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    Make a pitch to the Discover Ireland tourism organization for your Canada trip, If you can put their presence out in front of a potential tourism audience, that would be worth something to them. And if you're going to be in places where people are already traveling and doing tourist activities, that's a pre-qualified audience. A combo of having cycling jerseys and T-shirts to wear and some cash would be a reasonable pitch to make.
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  10. #10
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    This is from a blog post I did back in 2004 on my website. Things have changed a lot since 2004, as far as how the sponsorship game works. I have done a direct cut-n-paste from the blog post and added some things, in red.

    When I seek sponsorship...

    INTRO: Give the sponsor a run-down of who you are.....where you live....age....etc. Make it fun. For the love of God, your racing a bike, not applying for the CEO's job. If they are still interested after the first few paragraphs chances are they will continue through the entire proposal. Tell them how you can benefit their company. After all, you (point to yourself), are a billboard for them. Also, keep the "intro" short and to the point....2 to 3 paragraphs max

    TENTATIVE SCHEDULE: Figure out some of your race schedule for the next year. State that the schedule will change with additions and subtraction of races as dates become available.

    SOCIAL MEDIA: As funny as it might sound, having a blog, twitter account, and facebook account is just as important.....if not more important that those race results. These media outlets allow you to share your experiences and promote product.

    RACE GOALS: What are your ambitions for the up coming season? Top 3's? Win state Championship? Only you know.

    REFERENCES: List some people that the sponsor can contact to see if you are the "Real Deal" List people at your local shop, previous sponsors, etc. Email contact is best for contacting these days. Phone numbers are good if you can also provide them.

    HOW YOU GIVE BACK: What do you do, other than racing, that helps promote the sport and your potential sponsors products? Trail work? Speaking appearances? Etc.

    PAST SPONSORS: What other sponsors have you had in the past year. Even list sponsors you already know are on board for the current season.

    WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING FROM THE SPONSOR: Describe what you are expecting from the sponsor. If you are looking for $$, be specific. If you are looking for free product, be specific. If all you want is VIP pricing, ask for it. Financial support is very, VERY hard to get.

    INCLUDED EXTRAS: Include any pictures, press releases, or anything else that can "sway" the sponsor.

    RESULTS: Include you race results from the last 3 years in an easy-to-read format, such as an Microsoft Excel format. Include race names, locations, class raced, and final result.

    SPONSOR UPDATES: Super important! State in your proposal that you will keep sponsors updated during the season with race reports, images, and videos. This is HUGE in this day and age of social media. Sponsor updates are done via email and sent out after every event.


    That pretty much covers it. Write this up in a "resume" format just like if you are applying for a job. Make sure you say please and thank you. Also keep in mind that your potential sponsors receive thousand of these requests every year. Do something that makes yours stand out from the crowd. Be very, very appreciative for anything.

    Most brands you approach will have a time format to submit proposals as well as the format they would like to see. That may be email, PDF, mail it in, etc.

    One final note that most riders applying for sponsorship do not realize is the time frame to do so. If you are looking for 2012 sponsorship, you need to apply/contact in Oct-Dec 2011.

    Hope this helps.

    Disclaimer: I did plenty of personal sponsorship applying in 2000-2007. I now work for Ergon USA and manage all their marketing and sponsorship requests for N. America.

  11. #11
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Depending on how much of a sponsorship you're looking for and the level of your riding, it may be easier just to join a team that has a sponsorship.

    My current team is sworn to secrecy about the specifics of our sponsorships. (!?) But I think if I don't name names, it's probably okay to talk a little about what we get - really favorable prices from a couple of manufacturers and two catalogs. The more useful sponsorships are a little restrictive in terms of when we can use them, and take planning ahead, but with a little planning ahead, they're pretty good. We also have some cash sponsors that support an event the team puts on and help cover race entry fees.

    I have some commitments to the team I have to meet, but, for me, it's not a bad package. I've had teammates get poached by teams offering better packages, so there are some offering better support.

    I'm lucky enough to live in a place with a pretty strong cycling scene and several teams, ranging from those that someone can join just by asking to some very selective ones. I'm also not racing at the level of whybotherme or his wife, so some help with gear and race fees is already quite a lot of support.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  12. #12
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    Thanks Jeff for that post. You are always very precise and informative.

    I agree with the focus on "social media". Your face book posts always get me pumped to go out and ride!
    Team Topanga Creek Bicycles

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by MessagefromTate View Post
    Gee, I thought Crank Brothers didn't help you or your wife out? Yet I am reading differently here...
    I have paid for every pedal that I have ever ridden. CB's has been great about warranty always and last August Tim really helped me get my 4Ti pedals from 2007 ready to go for World Champs. I have gotten a t-shirt or two when we go on organized rides with Crank Brothers for free

  14. #14
    Big Gulps, Alright!
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    Stuff other than racing can go a long way. Trailwork, volunteer work etc. are all positive things that companies want their names attached to.

  15. #15
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    [QUOTE=whybotherme

    I have been told point blank to my face that a Female Pro/Elite level athlete that makes the USA National Worlds selection should not get any support unless they are in first place at World Cup races (SRAM told me this at Interbike right after Allison got back from representing the USA at Worlds). It may be less than ideal, but Interbike is really our only chance to get face time with the industry people.
    QUOTE]

    maybe it has something to do with you, i have never met you but from your posts i have a pretty good opinion about you and they probably see the same thing in person.

  16. #16
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Quote Originally Posted by MessagefromTate View Post
    Gee, I thought Crank Brothers didn't help you or your wife out? Yet I am reading differently here...
    Stalk much? Geez man.. Anyways...I wish the OP luck!! Git sum..it's always nice being rewarded, even if only a little, for your hard work in the saddle....

  17. #17
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    How has everything worked out for you? got any updates?

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