How to get (or blow) a sponsorship or ambassadorship in the horse industry!
I’m writing this not to be mean and sarcastic, but I’ve reached my tipping point for unsolicited sponsorship applications. To proequinegrooms.com. I have actually received instagram messages that say “sponsorship?” and nothing else. I have received FB messages that go on and on about how my product helps their horse perform better. I have no product. I have received cut and pasted solicitations wanting sponsorship for my supplements, boots, and grooming tools. Again, I have no such products. I have received emails that are hundreds of words long without a single piece of punctuation or capital letter asking for money and products - not even mentioning anything about proequinegrooms.com REALLY? Yes, really. I put together this crash course for you as I work closely with several companies that all have sponsored riders - and this is what I learned about how to be a good one.
So you want to be a sponsored rider? A brand ambassador? Here is a crash course:
Don’t send a social media message to a brand that you want to represent. Spend the 30 seconds to go to a company’s website, click on the contact info, find out who that handles sponsorships. You might have to actually call them. *GASP* Then you can address your request professionally and personally.
Don’t forget about grammar and punctuation. Seriously. Paragraphs exist. So do commas, periods, and capitalized letters. This goes for an introductory letter, it goes for any social media posting you do, make it your life. Emojis are just extra flair, not to replace actual words.
Watch your language. Not just in a post about a product, but every single solitary post you do. Be a foul mouthed fool privately. No company wants a post about their product that includes a cuss word. It’s tacky and speaks volumes about your lack of thesaurus skills.
Another thing to think about - leaving controversial subjects our of your social media feed. Again, for any personal AND professional posts you do. Companies that want to sponsor you or give you an ambassadorship will stalk your personal and professional social feeds. Not because they care about your politics, but because future customers might.
Don’t ignore what the company actually sells. Do your research and find out if you even like their products. And the benefits to each product. And how that product might fit into your horse’s life. And then for pete’s sake try the products that you want to be an ambassador for.
Don’t create a form letter that you blast out. Make it personal. You need to include how you have used product X or how product Y helped your riding/grooming/bathing.
Don’t solicit sponsorships from a widget company if you are already sponsored by a widget company. Find a gizmo company to approach instead. It's a conflict of interest and it shows that you are only on board for collecting free stuff and have no personal stake or loyalty to a company.
If you want to make it onto the "Sponsored Athletes" Page....you don't necessarily need a thousand medals, you just have to work harder and smarter.
Some tips on how to make things go smoothly:
Remember that companies are doing YOU a favor. You will WORK for them. There is no coat tail riding here.
Remember that companies do things like track metrics. Don’t know what metrics are? They tell a company where ever single cent they make comes from - it’s downright specific. Watch engagement on your end. Your job depends on producing.
Offer concrete ways in which you will help their brand grow. Companies don’t sponsor riders and ambassadors who take their swag and don’t produce. You must work. And your work better be original. Think outside of the box on what you can offer. A few “shout-outs” on your twitter are not going to cut it. Do you write? Can you take a professional photograph? Do you have a book? A wildly successful “how to” you-tube channel? What else can you offer? What can you offer that has nothing to do with social media?
Have a solid PROFESSIONAL social media presence. This is not your 268302 friends from elementary school. This is your own brand, your own business, your own athlete page that should have an engaged following with professional posts. Think quality content over selfies and endless photos of your horse in various poses.
Include your horse travels. If you only leave the farm to go to the feed store, or if you travel the world working internationally with horses, make that known. Companies will want to see how far and wide your audience is.
If you already have a sponsorship or ambassadorship, share how you have helped that company grow. With measurable data. And references. And examples. If you already have ambassadorships and you don't think you would get a good reference, it's time to start working harder at what you have instead of looking for more.
Companies receive dozens of requests weekly, sometimes more. You have to stand out and present a professional and well thought out application. Follow up, and keep working at it! And please don’t be discouraged if your attempts are not immediately snatched up. You need to find a way to be even more appealing than some super famous rider with loads of medals, so start getting creative and get to work!
And PUHLEEZE stop "writing" me about being a sponsored rider for my products. GEEZ. If you have not done that, then thanks so much!
This actually happened.