My Experience in Sponsorship

Posted on Posted in Research & Planning

One of the most common message I receive in my mail box is about sponsorship. More of, how did I obtain them. It can be best summed up as luck. Though my view of luck is the crossroads of preparedness and opportunity. A year ago a friend of mine asked me the same question. She wanted to know how to generate hits to her website to attract sponsors. I started writing a short answer and realized, there isn’t one. After looking back and reading over my reply, I thought it would be good to post up here as an article for all to view. This is by no means the only way, just the way the cards fell into place for myself.

With any type of project there isn’t one right answer. This is just my experience. The hits to my site are a combination of many things. In 2007 I did my trip around the US and Canada. During the trip I posted photos and short journals on many online forums specific to my type of travel and my vehicle model. After the trip was done I had a total of 5000 hits. Over time people found my trip report and the hit count went up. In 2008 I announced my round the world trip. I didn’t get any hits. Then I started documenting cutting my truck apart. Visits went up. As I continued to work hits stayed steady as people who where interested followed the progress. Once I started welding the truck’s cab back together and started finishing the sides hits went crazy. I had created a buzz within the offroad community. People originally though I was full of shit. But once I proved I was going to do what I stated, everyone started telling their friends, “Hey, check out what this guy is doing. He cut is truck in half and extended it to drive around the world.” That’s what started the wildfire. From that businesses took notice and did some research. They had seen in the past I had taken a large trip and completed it with no support. Adventure Trailers, my title sponsor, then sent me an email expressing interest in what I was panning and wanted to participate. I contacted them and talked about what I could offer them for their sponsorship and what they were willing to supply as a sponsor. Now, what I experienced with that company may be completely different for you. I am building an extensive website for them in addition to the marketing traffic so they were a bit more supportive. After I announced Adventure Trailers had signed on as our title sponsor I received a few other contingent sponsors through Adventure Trailers and Scott Brady (ExpeditionsWest.com) who took notice as well and had alerted Adventure Trailers about my project. Now I have 3 major sponsors, Adventure Trailers, Overland Training, and Equipt Expedition Outfitters. Getting into the sponsorship game will become a job. You will need to create some sort of attraction (ie, my truck build and trip) for people to be exposed to the sponsors products, logos and contact information. I also now have the additional expense of attending trade shows to display the truck and equipment. Though that depends on your agreement with the sponsors.

Obtaining hits is nothing more that doing something with a bang that people within your targeted market will be interested in watching and coming back for more. You create you own TV show in a way. Sponsorship is a job. In order to get sponsored you must provide a cost/benefit reason for the interested company. If you create a great “TV show” and prove you will deliver sponsors will come knocking. Do not ask any company for sponsorship until you have accomplished something. For example, finishing 1st or in the top 3 positions consistently in a season. Never go after the I can get you exposure during races reason to potential sponsors. They can pay anyone for that. Create a fan base first. Sponsors want you to have a special draw. Don’t expect money sponsors. They are out there, however you will need a VERY good reason for them to essentially invest. I only know one person who has received monetary sponsorship and he’s been featured on SPEED channel, Forbes Magazine, has written for many off-road magazines and owns his own magazine. He is sponsored by Mobile 1 and Jeep, and filmed parts of his trips for TV commercials. The guy is Scott Brady of ExpeditionsWest.com, who is the guy who noticed me and has given me guidance on by little adventure career. The money is out there, however requires a long track record of great accomplishments and a large volume of viewers. Scott told me I should approach Ford for sponsorship last year. I actually got a great response and met with one of Fords marketing people at the SEMA show last November, which my truck was in front of the main hall at the show. Despite myself receiving over 2 million hits to my website within 1 year, getting my truck in the SEMA Show and being in a few magazines, Ford hasn’t taken any further action after our meeting.

The best way to look as sponsorship is its a great way to assist your hobbies. I’ve been at the adventure travel stuff since 2006. I’ve made a big splash and have had a lot of fun, but the reality is I still have to pay for everything and a little more with traveling to shows for my sponsors. There is a potential for myself to have my travel footage aired on a few television channels, my stories published in magazines and monetary sponsorship, though its a long road in front of me that I will have to work for to achieve.

Yes long and drawn out, but that’s the shortest answer I can give. I could talk for hours about the subject. Hope this helps.