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How to find a cycling sponsorship? Tips on where to start

How do you find companies or individuals to engage in cycling sponsorship discussions? Where do you start?

Here’s some tips and ideas.

“grassroots”: It’s always best to start with people you know such as family, friends and colleagues. These individuals understand your passion for cycling and probably have a better understanding of the benefits of our sport. Meaning, they will be most likely to support your sponsorship or fundraising efforts. Donations towards your club or event can add up more quickly than you think by working with family, friends and colleagues.

Approach businesses you frequent: Makes sense that businesses where you are a frequent client might be a good target. Chances are you have established a good relationship with the employees and/or owner, they appreciate your business, and they might be interested in reciprocating. This can also be a potential source of referrals. This worked for our club when I initiated sponsorship discussions with a local retailer. (Please see “Smaller cycling sponsorship agreements provide value for sponsors too”)

Referrals: You might uncover potential sponsorship opportunities through referrals from existing sponsors, businesses you frequent, or through professional or personal contacts.

Look at your social media connections: We know how social media keeps us all connected, and how direct relationships can lead to additional connections. Finding prospective sponsors by reviewing your social media connections could lead to “warm” business introductions (you know someone in common vs. a “cold” call where neither of you know anything about each other).

Identify companies headquartered in your city, town or geographic area: Location of headquarters is important because this typically affects decision making authority. If a company is headquartered in your geographic area they probably have resources in place to make sponsorship decisions. Another benefit could be an overlap between the immediate market they serve (in the same area as your club) being in the same approximate area of your club. This translates into more visibility and exposure for their company, brand, products and services.

Companies that are active in the community: Targeting companies that are active in your community by supporting various civic activities, sports clubs, or social initiatives to improve the greater good of the community may be more receptive to supporting your club. These companies will see the value of aligning with your club to support the community and its constituents. This is also excellent PR for companies which can lead to increased brand awareness and recognition, and customer loyalty. The blog post “facebook, blogsearch.google.com and LinkedIn for cycling sponsorship” describes how I identified a potential sponsor, contacts and valuable information about organizations they sponsor and why? (Please refer to the “Social Media” category for more information on identifying, researching and engaging prospective sponsors through social media)

Companies experiencing change: This  is another area your cycling club can target. Look for companies showing some type of “trigger” event, such as expansion (as pointed out in 5-hour Energy post), a merger or acquisitions, a new product announcements or management changes. These could all be a signal for a potential sponsorship opportunity. New products might target a segment which aligns with cycling’s demographic. An acquisition or merger could mean the company needs to re-evaluate their branding. Cycling sponsorship is an excellent vehicle for helping a company to “get the word out.” Your club’s members are very visible because of the nature of cycling. Leverage your club’s participation in events, community activities and local initiatives as a vehicle th help prospective sponsors achieve their objectives. (For additional information on how cycling helps companies achieve their objectives please see “Secure cycling sponsorship by understanding why companies sponsor”. “Articulating the value of cycling sponsorship” is another  post on this topic. )

Is there natural tie in between your club and a prospective sponsor? Is there commonality between a company and your cycling club?  i.e., where there is a potential alignment with your club – These can be companies wanting to align their brand with the growing active, healthy lifestyle market (Quiznos, OptumHealth and others), or with “green” transportation (IKEA). These companies recognize the importance of attracting consumers in growing segments. Cycling sponsorship provides a vehicle to help companies reach these consumers. In addition, it’s good PR to support initiatives important to it’s customers and constituents in their markets. Also, cycling sponsorship is an affordable means of promoting their brand, when compared to traditional forms of advertising, marketing and public relations methods.

That’s my view, what’s yours?

Thanks for visiting. Remember, until next time, to “Keep the rubber side down!”

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Facebook, blogsearch.google.com, and LinkedIN for cycling sponsorship?

How you can use Facebook, blogsearch.google and LinkedIN to engage companies for cycling sponsorship.

The following example demonstrates how you can identify and engage prospective sponsors simply by doing a little research. This is not as time consuming as you might think.

Company sponsors local charity fundraising event

I was aware of a company that sponsored a charity sporting event in my town, and wanted to learn more about them and the potential for engaging them in sponsorship discussions.

A Facebook search using the name of the event – I was directed to the page for the event, providing me with the company’s event committee contacts and event chairperson. The event’s Facebook page also included local businesses, clubs, and groups who “Like”, participated, or co-sponsored. I also uncovered a link to the company’s committee page for community relations/involvement which outlined a description of the community committee’s’ goals, and how the committee’s goals aligned with the corporate mission. Facebook also provided links to external websites for the company. At this point I had the option of leaving a comment on the event page; however, it would probably be better to see what else I could find.

A Google search using the “company & event name” led me to events landing page on the web. Visiting the page gave the event contact information for sponsorship, along with the information and links describing the charity being supported. Good information to have. I kept digging.

A LinkedIn search using the event committee’s chairperson’s name enabled me to identify this individual as the Special Events coordinator for the company. This is an excellent contact to approach regarding sponsorship.  Looking at this individuals profile also provided valuable information on other employees at the company, including the Marketing & Communications Director for Special Events. It just kept getting better and better!

blogsearch.google.com using the event name came back with a lot of useful information about the event, including impressions from participants. Reading various blogs about the event led me to the conclusion that the company sponsored event was well attended, well organized, and was a success. I could have left a comment on the company’s event committee Facebook page, congratulating them on a successful event. But, I still wanted to do some additional research to see what else I could uncover, and leverage, to help make a favorable first impression. So, I continued.

A Google search using the “company’s name and community events & sponsorship” helped me identify the Director of Marketing Communications & Community Outreach.

A LinkedIn search for this individual showed their profile page, title, common connections, and LinkedIn Groups they participated in. The LinkedIn profile page also showed others from the company sharing similar roles & responsibilities. Just more intelligence one can use. (Please also refer to “Harness the power of social media to increase the success of your sponsorship proposal” which will provide additional tips & hints for effective use of social media)

A Facebook search returned the Director of Marketing’s profile page, and included interests & activities. As it turns out, this was another area I could leverage for initial contact because we shared a common interest. I also had the option to use the success of the company’s event as the basis for initial contact. Again, I could have stopped here, but I still wanted to learn more to make that initial contact really great.

Performing another blogsearch.google.com search using the Director of Marketing’s name returned what I was really searching for! I found out the executive was delivering a speech at a major event. The subject of the speech was to present the company’s position on sponsorship; describing why sponsorship was important to helping achieve their goals & objectives, while being a good steward of the community!  So now, I have information on the company, their goals & objectives, their position on sponsorship, an idea of the types of events they sponsor. Could have stopped here, but decided to go one step deeper. I noticed the blogsearch.google also delivered a lot of additional relevant information including quotes the Director of Marketing gave in news releases, interviews, articles, blogs, and magazines. I read the articles and gained a lot more insight than I had at the outset of this exercise. I now had a lot of information to pick and choose from, which was very relevant, and could help me engage, shape, and guide the discussions towards sponsorship! (Please also refer to “Articulating the value of cycling sponsorship”)

What’s the moral of the story? Information & research are key!

How does the commercial go? “Spending 15 minutes or less can save you a lot of money on car insurance?” Well, in this case, spending 15 minutes or less can help your cycling club, team, or event end up with more sponsorship dollars!

(15) minutes of research and investigation helped me uncover contacts, goals & objectives of the company, the role of community service, events they sponsored, the importance of sponsorship, and the role of sponsorship in achieving their goals & objectives. I could use many different approaches – congratulations on a well run event or, comment on a shared interest. Another alternative could be to comment, or ask a question, regarding the executive’s upcoming speaking engagement. Lastly, I had the option to comment on one of the many quotes or blog entries I found. Not to mention, I had identified multiple contacts within the company, while identifying committees responsible for sponsorship & community involvement. Lastly, I had also identified shared contacts in LinkedIn enabling me to ask for an introduction.

How can this help you?

With a little legwork, and effective use of the web, and social networking, your cycling club or team can quickly uncover information regarding prospective sponsors. Furthermore, you can use this information to start a “meaningful” dialog; tailoring what your initial contact, method of contact, messages, and approach for maximum benefit. Using the web and social media only increases your chances of differentiating your club, team or event from other organizations simply requesting sponsorship and funding using a generic form letter or proposal. Information & focus (on your audience; prospective sponsors in your case) is ALWAYS paramount to differentiation and value! (Please also refer to the sponsorship proposal and sponsorship letter categories for additional information on creating effective cycling sponsorship proposals).

Hope you enjoyed reading today’s post. I enjoyed writing it! If you liked it – leave a comment. If you didn’t – leave a comment. Would love to hear from you!

Thanks for visiting. Remember, until next time, “keep the rubber side down.”

(Ed. note – Tim Ferriss’ book the “4 Hour Work Week” has couple of methods for contacting individuals which typically seem unapproachable. You can find the first one on p.54 in the section “How to Get George Bush Sr. or the CEO of Google on the Phone” under “Fail Better” by Adam Gottesfeld. You can also find the blog post by following this link. The second is on page 172 & 173 under “Comfort Challenge: Find Yoda”. It describes how to use what you found through research to engage an individual. Very applicable to engaging executives in discussions, and very adaptable to various mediums! These are worth the price of the book alone!)

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An effective cycling sponsorship prospecting script

Quick, you’re talking with a prospective sponsor about cycling sponsorship. You have one minute to describe why they should engage and talk with you.

What do you say?

An effective script should follow three simple rules. First, it should provide a brief, easily understandable, description of your club, team or event. Second, it has to describe the value sponsorship can provide. Third, it should include a “call to action”; i.e. why you are calling, and a suggested next step (what you want to happen next?).

Below I have created a quick guide you can follow, as you engage prospective sponsors in discussions. The recommended approach is divided into three sections – opening, middle, and closing. Each section has a few points which you can use when contacting, or engaging, prospective sponsors in initial discussions.

Opening Introduce yourself and who you represent. Quickly describe your club, team, or event, including a few of the key points listed below.

Name of club or team

Where you’re located; area served

How long the club or team has been in existence

What you do & why – race, promote recreational cycling, participate in fund raising rides for charities, help develop trails and/or bike lanes, cycling advocacy, youth development racing program……

Where you do it – road, mountain, track, cyclocross, local parks, shared trails…..

Activities – charity events, races, rallies, group rides, community service, initiatives (“Share the Road”, “Safe Cycling Education”…)

Middle (What’s in it for them?)Focus on the potential benefits to them! Discuss the value you have delivered for other sponsors, or the value your club/team can deliver to them. Briefly describe how cycling sponsorship can help companies achieve their business goals & objectives. Remember it is important to align your messages with the reasons companies provide sponsorship – to make money, save money, or promote an intended image. (“Understanding why companies sponsor cycling clubs”)

Examples – describe how your participation in activities as group rides, races, rallies, etc. has driven, or can drive, greater visibility, awareness, interest, traffic and sales, or brand recognition. Another idea is to discuss how your club/team has helped its sponsors drive increased sales through B2B (business-to-business) relationships initiated by your club or team.  Lastly, if your club or team is a registered 501©(3), non-profit, be sure to mention it, and describe the benefit.

If your club or team does not have any existing sponsors, describe the value of cycling as a sport helping companies increase visibility, awareness, etc. Refer to the following post for good examples describing why companies view cycling sponsorship as a good vehicle for increasing their visibility with a specific audience, market segment or niche.

Closing/Call to Action (What you want to happen next?) This is where you should suggest a logical next step. The purpose of the closing statement is to have further discussions, enabling you to engage in the sponsorship selling process. An example of a potential next step could be an appointment to:

Learn about their company – business, market served (clients, target customers), goals and objectives

Understand who they sponsor or support through funding & donations? And, why?

Explore potential areas where their company and your club, or team, can work together.

Another example of a “call to action” is to understand who is involved in making sponsorship decisions. And, to identify the process involved. (Which company resources are involved, time frames, budgets, etc.)

So, there you have it. A short, concise, effective approach you can use to engage prospective sponsors. If you focus on the value your club, team, or event can provide; aligning your messages with what motivates companies to sponsor; you should be able to engage more companies in productive sponsorship discussions.

As always, I am very interested in hearing from you. So, please feel free to leave a comment, or send an e-mail to Al at Sponsor My Cycling Club dot com.

Thanks again for visiting. Remember, until next time, to “keep the rubber side down!”

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cycleops spin class

Bloomberg News recently aired “Working it Out”, a Street Smart Special, hosted by Carol Masser, describing the emerging trends in Health & Wellness programs in corporate America. “Working it Out” devoted 2 segments to the value corporate America recognizes from investing in employee Health & Wellness.

A few of the key points:

Corporate medical costs continue to rise

  • One study noted that corporations medical costs rose 6% in 2008, and 7% in 2009
  • A 2007 study conducted by The Milken Institute found that employers lose $ 1 trillion dollars in economic output annually, due to chronic health issues
  • Well over 2/3 of people in our society are overweight

“Pay for exercise” program trends & examples

  • Corporations as IBM and PepsiCo are leading the trend of employers investing in employee Health & Wellness programs. IBM pays its employees $ 150 for exercising 30 minutes/day, 3 days/week for 12 consecutive weeks. IBM employees are eligible to claim up to $ 300 annually to participate in exercise programs.
  • Scotts Miracle Gro has 95% participation in their Health & Wellness program
  • A survey conducted by Midwest Business Group on Health found most corporate executives were likely, or very likely, to expand wellness programs.

Corporations are reaping impressive ROI’s

  • Return on investment in Health & Wellness programs are paying off for corporations. IBM initiated their Health & Wellness program 6 years ago, and has invested approximately $ 80M dollars, and calculated a return on investment of $ 190M; a 3:1 ratio. Pepsico’s VP of Wellness was quoted that for every dollar invested in Health & Wellness programs, they received $ 3.45 dollars in return!

“Pay for prevention” programs delivering quantifiable results for employers

  • Health & Wellness programs are creating new “pay for prevention” businesses that design plans to incent employees to stay healthy. Virgin Health Miles is an example of one of the many companies designing “pay for prevention” plans for Papa John’s Pizza, Timberland, and Maiden Form Brand. Virgin Health Miles documented the following statistics during the first year:
  • 29% of normal or overweight employees in the program moved to normal categories
  • 21% of hypertensive or high blood pressure employees moved to normal categories

So, what does this mean to your cycling club?

First – Corporations recognize the importance of Health & Wellness programs in helping to reduce rising medical costs, insurance premiums, and lost productivity. Furthermore, beginning in 2014, employers will be able to offer reward payments of up to 30%, of an employee’s insurance plan costs, to workers participating in Health & Wellness programs. This is a 10% increase of the current level of 20%!

Second – Health & Wellness programs provide your cycling club with a tremendous opportunity engage in discussions with prospective sponsors. Talk with companies and gain an understanding of their vision and objectives for Health & Wellness programs. Then, align the value of cycling, and sponsorship of your club, provides the prospective sponsor. Discuss how cycling can help employees maintain a healthy lifestyle, while describing how sponsorship can add value to their brand.

For more information on leveraging Health & Wellness programs when seeking sponsorship please see my previous blog post – Employer Health & Wellness Programs – an avenue worth pursuing when seeking cycling sponsorship.

Thanks for visiting. Until next time, remember, “keep the rubber side down!”

Al

References

Bloomberg TV – “Working it Out”, A Street Smart Special

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Until recently the concept of paying employees to engage in any activities outside of work was ludicrous to most employers. However, with the rise of health insurance premiums, many employers are rapidly adopting wellness programs which will help their employees become more healthy, and productive, while lowering their health care premiums. This is a trend your cycling club can leverage as you evaluate companies to pursue for sponsorship and funding.

Let’s start by looking at the factors driving this trend. I found a plethora of internet articles and blogs describing why employers are investing heavily in Health & Wellness programs. Here are a few points you might find interesting (we’ll discuss how to leverage them for sponsorship in a minute)

  • one article noted medical premium increases are doubling, sometimes tripling the average rate of inflation
  • chronic illnesses, contributing to higher premiums, are on the rise
  • up to 70% of chronic illnesses were impacted by behavior (smoking, sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, poor food choices, etc.)
  • Safeway Inc. noted their health plan was based on the following insights –  “74% of all costs are confined to four chronic conditions – cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Furthermore, 80% of cardiovascular disease and diabetes is preventable…….”
  • one consulting firm noted “of top executives surveyed from large, U.S.-based multinational companies, 76% believed there was a link between employee health and their productivity.”

So, how can your cycling club leverage the growing investment in employee Health & Wellness programs?

First, when looking for new sponsors, take a closer look at those companies investing in Health & Wellness programs through – insurance premium rebates, payment cards, “pay for exercise or healthy activities” (not smoking, etc.). These companies should be high on the list of sponsorship prospects because they get it! Corporations investing in employee Health & Wellness programs already understand the impact healthy activities, as cycling, can have on employee productivity and lower premiums.

Second, align the value your club offers with the importance the company places on employee health & wellness programs. Try to uncover the value the company sees in investing in employee Health & Wellness programs. Ask them to describe the benefit they have seen, or expect to see. Once you understand their perspectives, discuss the benefits cycling provides in maintaining a healthy lifestyle – improving cardiovascular function, providing stress relief, contributing to weight loss….you know the benefits. Just talk about them.

Third, describe some of the initiatives your cycling club supports such as – sponsoring or participating in rallies and charity rides (health related charity rides would be excellent to reference). Discuss any activities where your club is engaged with the local government to establish bike lanes, bike paths, mountain bike trails, and bike routes. These types of initiatives might resonate with the company if they have employees that commute to work, ride for recreation, or might be interested in riding. Not to mention, it begins to plant the seed that your club is actively involved in the community, and is helping to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Also, be creative! Explore ideas such as clinics for their employees covering topics as – cycling for beginners, commuting to work, best places to ride, or basic bike maintenance. Offer a bike rodeo for employees and their families consisting of a very basic bike maintenance check up, helmet checks, coupons from your favorite local bike shop for equipment and tune-ups, and a tame obstacle course for the kids. Go as far as having giveaways and prizes. Potentially, you can raffle, or giveaway equipment as bottles, etc. donated by a local shop, or a cycling supplier. Again, this gives your club great exposure, not to mention your club is providing something of value – knowledge about our wonderful sport.

Another idea to investigate is their openness to your club providing articles in their employee newsletter. Or, even better, ask if you can set up a booth, on their premises, during employee benefits enrollment! It’s funny, employee benefit enrollment is usually a time when people make health resolutions to get in shape; particularly after looking at their premiums. What better time is there to sell the value of cycling? And, the value your club can provide if sponsored!

These are great ways to build relationships with local companies, while delivering real value to the prospective sponsor. Your club demonstrates how the employer, and its employees, can benefit from cycling, and sponsorship of your organization. Not to mention, you have taken steps to differentiate your club from other organizations competing for funding! (check out my previous blog post – Your cycling club IS A Brand!) You researched their organization, engaged them in a discussion about an important initiative – Health & Wellness programs – and, you are sharing the benefit of establishing a relationship with your club!

In this case, it’s not only about driving more visibility and sales for their brand; but, it is also about helping their employees to recognize the benefits of cycling, which can ultimately lead to a healthier, more productive employees! Who knows, you might secure a new sponsor, and find more members for your club at the same time!

Thanks for visiting. Until next time, remember, “keep the rubber side down!”

Al

References

“How Safeway is Cutting Health Care Costs” – Wall Street Journal

“The Art and Science of Health Incentives” – Incent One: integrated incentive solutions

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