How To Find a Sponsor – Matt Hamilton

Matt Hamilton’s ‘How to Find a Sponsor’

 The total sport sponsorship market in the UK is currently valued at £400 million. There are many different reasons why companies enter the sponsorship marketplace. Here are a few of the most common objectives that companies seek from a sponsorship programme:

> Increase sales
> Develop customer loyalty
> Heighten brand awareness
> Develop new markets
> Develop business-to-business
> Launch new products
> Broaden customer base
> Develop community
> Change or revitalise
brand image

The most common forms of sport sponsorship agreements are the following:team-coyle-sponsor-back1
> Shirt/Team Sponsorship
> Squad Sponsorship
> Athlete Sponsorship
> Event Sponsorship
> Venue/Stadium Sponsorship
> Broadcast Sponsorship
> Small Athlete Sponsorship Deal

Approaching sponsors

Finding out who is the best person to contact is hard. The best route is to get a personal
introduction from someone you know. Failing that, you should try one or more of the
following people:
> Marketing Director – Sponsorship budgets and sponsorship activity is almost always handled
by a company’s Marketing department. Smaller companies will not have these positions and
so it might be best to approach the Chief Executive directly
> Community Affairs Manager – This is particularly relevant to local sponsorships where there
may be a direct benefit to the local community
> Sponsorship Manager – Many small companies will not have a Sponsorship Manager, the
Marketing Director will handle all sponsorship activity
> Brand Manager – Particularly relevant for larger companies and those in the FMCG sector.
(FMCGs – or fast moving consumer goods – include every day products such as confectionary,
soft drinks, washing powders etc.)
> Chief Executive – If you know that he or she has a keen interest in sport – or, more importantly,
in your sport – then a Chief Executive is well worth approaching. In this case it is often best to
get a referral from a third party
It is vital that you contact the right person to ensure your approach is properly considered, so
research here is essential.

Cool MTB Race Sponsors

Stage 1 – Letter/Email
Make it short and to the point. If possible, enclose a
proposal/executive summary with more details.
Key points to remember:
> Personalise the letter to the individual. Never write
“Dear Sir/Madam”
> Include a brief introduction about what you are
writing about
> Don’t waffle. List key points that will attract the
recipients attention
> Enclose information: a proposal and
a business card
> If applicable, why not include a formal
invitation for them to come and watch/meet
you the next time you are competing in the area


This is the sales pitch. A good proposal will make the reader want to ring you to find out more. It
can be a proposal or a CV style document.
> Make it eye catching
> Use action photographs or colour photocopies of you competing. If possible, try to get hold of
professional quality shots. Speak to your National Governing Body who should have a library
of pictures from major events
> Make it informative
> Make it exciting and show your potential
> Talk about your training regime. Perhaps detail what you will do on an average day and list how
many hours you put in per week/month. Make sure they appreciate what it takes to get to the
top of your sport
> Detail your successes and results
> List your major championships appearances and medals won
> List the teams you have represented, from county level to national selections
> Include some example press cuttings. These should be neatly presented, putting each on a
separate page with details of the publication they came from
> List the benefits that you can offer a sponsor
> Make it clear and easy to read – use bullet points
> Include a list of upcoming major events
> Highlight your goals and aspirations. Sponsors will want to see that you have a long-term
commitment to the sport and that you hold high expectations of yourself
> Do not state how much money or product you want from the sponsor, leave that for the faceto-face

Stage 2 – Phone Call Follow Up
Once you have sent a letter and/or proposal it is crucial that you follow-up with a phone call to
make sure that it was received and to see if the company is interested. Plan when you are going
to do this, put a date in your diary about two weeks after you send the letter. This also gives you
an excuse to make direct contact with the company.
One of the hardest parts is the dreaded “sales phone call”. You may find it difficult at first but
it is something that can be mastered. See it as an opportunity to make a new friend, not as a
major task.
> Rehearse and plan the call – write down the key points
> Be polite, but convincing
> Keep a smile on your face as you speak it comes across in the conversation
> Be persistent – getting through the secretary is hard work; lunchtime and evening is
often a solution
Remember, you have nothing to lose but everything to gain.
Introduce yourself and the sport you’re from, and explain that you’re calling to make sure that he/
she has received your letter/proposal (don’t assume they have), has had the time to read it (again
don’t assume they have, this may be a priority for you but is not necessarily one for them) and
explain you are keen to find out their thoughts.

Stage 3 – Meeting
A face-to-face meeting is your golden chance to make a lasting impression. If the opportunity
presents itself you must be prepared. Have a clear idea of what you want to get out of the meeting
and, ideally, have a short presentation prepared.
> Prepare and plan the meeting. Jot down your objectives so you don’t get sidetracked
> Be professional – write and confirm the time and date of your appointment
> Be knowledgeable – do your homework about the company and people you will meet
> Make a good first impression – be pleasant to the receptionist!
> Dress smartly – if you have a team blazer wear this to create maximum impact
> Show your personality
> Be honest, confident and believe in yourself
> Be enthusiastic, show you are dedicated
> Make sure you have all the information to hand
> Leave a business card at the end of the meeting
> After the meeting, follow-up with an email or letter thanking
them for their time and saying how much you enjoyed meeting them

Make use of all potential contacts. Whether it be friends and relations or relations and friends of
theirs! The more people who are aware of you, what you do and what you are looking for, the
more chance you’re giving yourself of attracting sponsors.
Always carry some business cards with you. It will make you look professional and gives you the
opportunity to leave a calling card after a chance meeting. Here are a few useful tips on how to
conduct yourself in networking situations:
> However hard it may seem when confronted by a room full of people you don’t know, make
an effort to mingle
> If attending a function with fellow athletes, don’t huddle in a corner and talk amongst yourselves.
You can do that any other time
> Have something mentally prepared in your head to help spark off a conversation
> Set a realistic target for the number of people you want to speak to. Three or four during the
course of a drinks reception will ensure that you keep circulating around the room
> Make an effort to remember the name of the person you are talking to. If other people join the
conversation, it looks good if you can make the introductions
> Have confidence in yourself and what you do
> Find out as much as possible about what the person you are talking to does. Try to find some
common ground / mutual interests
> Even the most high-flying businessmen may feel intimidated by a room full of athletes. Most will
want to talk to you but may be shy about initiating the conversation. Take the onus away from
them by making the approach instead
> Try not to get stuck for too long with any one person. Think of a good exit strategy in case you
want to move on
> Exchange business cards and follow-up any promising leads with a friendly email the
next day
> If you strike up a good rapport with anyone in particular, invite them to your next event


By Matt Hamilton


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