Why would you want to be a sponsored athlete? Perhaps because sponsored athletes get free equipment, free flights, free race entry or salaries. Well, that’s one way of looking at it. But the real reasoning behind being a sponsored athlete is much more than that.

 

Sponsored runner wearing 2xu calf sleeves

 

The Benefits of Being a Sponsored Athlete

Before we start, let’s do away with the word “free”. Please. It’s a word that doesn’t fit within the concept of sponsorship, because it’s suggesting that your role is to do nothing except take. The reality is, sponsorship needs to be based on a mutual contribution for the real value of the deal to be revealed. Free is too close to charity and donations for my liking, and let’s face it, no one wants to be seen as a charity case. Athletes, regardless of how good they are at their sport, can offer incredible amounts of value to sponsors, to support marketing activities that help them achieve their business objectives.
 

Here are five real benefits of being a sponsored athlete:

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  • Allows you to participate in your sport to the level you want and need to - knowing that you can afford to attend events, competitions, and the like.
  • Enables you to free up time not having to work so many hours each week which means you can train and recover more, and be able to travel to competitions and events.
  • Reduces stress from not having to work so hard, from not knowing whether you will be able to afford to attend an important competition, from being worried about borrowing money from the bank, or family.
  • Allows you to use the products and services of your choice rather than opting for a cheaper, inferior option.
  • Empowers you to access valuable recovery tools such as massages and physiotherapy.

 

Sounds good, right? But it’s even better than that. You can represent brands you really care about and contribute not only to their success but potentially to the lives of others.

 

Here are six more unexpected benefits of being a sponsored athlete:

 

  • Developing your network – increasing opportunities for further sponsorship deals.
  • Increasing your exposure – sponsors may have media connections and good social media strategies.
  • Widening your audience – good for both you and your sponsors.
  • Improving your professional skills and knowledge – by engaging with businesses…you are part of the business world.
  • Being part of something greater than yourself - A team, a sense of purpose that when you’re out there training or competing, you’re doing a job.
  • Enhancing your self-worth – It is incredibly powerful to know that others see value in you, but they, like you, want to see you succeed, and want be a part of YOUR journey.
     

How Sponsorship Really Works

Sponsorship is about creating valuable, meaningful, sustainable and enjoyable partnerships with all types of businesses. It is a business relationship between an athlete and business, whereby mutual benefit and value are created through an initial engagement process, negotiations and planning and delivery over a period of time (typically 6 months to a year).

 

Identify the kind of companies that can provide the products and services you need, understand their business objectives (through identifying their marketing activities) and identify the commercial value you have to offer. You can then create an arrangement where you are trading your skills, knowledge, network and time in return for products, services, finance, opportunities, networks or any other type of “value” that you want.

 

Why Any Athlete Can Get Sponsorship

Businesses sponsor athletes to enhance their marketing activities. This marketing itself is designed to assist with company objectives such as market growth, brand awareness, and customer engagement, and ultimately, profitability.

 

Here are the main reasons businesses sponsor athletes:

 

  • Brand - An athlete can reinforce or even change the sponsor’s image positively. This occurs through media, social media, community activities and the athlete’s sport.
  • Sales - The interest in a company can be increased indirectly through promotion and media for the athlete, which by default drives attention to the sponsors.
  • Community and PR - Athletes of all levels are the source of inspiration for others, whether it’s someone in your own family or someone from the other side of the world who has connected with you through social media. Businesses know this and want to be a part of this, and demonstrate they are socially aware.
  • Product Testing - What better testimonial for a company to have than an athlete who has tried, tested and can now wholeheartedly endorse their product or service?

 

Athletes give a “face” to their brand, and allow businesses to communicate with their target market in a way that is engaging, efficient, entertaining, and educational. There’s a rapidly increasing trend of people seeking out information and recommendations from other people, on which they base their purchasing decision. Online platforms and social media makes this good old-fashioned word of mouth  infinitely more powerful. See how it has very little to do with what the athlete is doing in their sport in terms of competition, winning or being ranked?

 

What difference would the right sponsorship would make in your world? Would you just be looking for monetary advantages, or is there something else you would want? Understanding this is the first step to becoming a sponsored athlete.

 

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Teaser photer courtesy of Daniel L. Smith/Shutterstock.com
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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