David Ancor is a Canadian Judoka who has spent the last few years managing the content marketing, sponsorship, and social media for MAKEACHAMP. Through this experience, he has acquired extensive knowledge about what a company is looking for in a sponsored athlete, and how to grow a community of followers on social media, which he is currently using to help fund his journey to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
If you haven't read part one of this guide, check it out : it gives an overview of the concepts you need to know to take your athlete marketing, funding and sponsorship to the next level, by leveraging social media and content marketing. This part of the guide is about the tools that we will be using : social media.
Some athletes realize that social media is a powerful tool to help them with exposure and funding. However, they don’t see a clear correlation between the number of followers and dollars in their bank account.
Other athletes perhaps have started using social media but didn’t get results quickly enough so they claim that it “takes too long”, “it is too hard” and “it is not worth it”.
However, with the right techniques and execution, you can start to see benefits from your social media work nearly immediately. With the tips and concepts you will read in this post, you’ll find that creating an online presence will not only be easy but it will be fun as well. However, at the beginning, it will require some consistent and disciplined work.
I know that when I got started with social media, it seemed like it would take forever for me to reach the number of followers I'd need in order to get sponsored. But the more I learned, the easier it became. I only started to realize the benefit of my community of online followers after it was established.
The opportunities that become available once you’ve built your community outweigh the amount of time it takes to establish that community. My only regret is not starting earlier.
1. Brand yourself as an athlete
This is probably the easiest and quickest step you could take to launch you in the right direction to get sponsored and funded. Simply creating a Twitter, Instagram account and opening up a Facebook Page to share your athletic journey has a massive impact on online presence and branding.
1.1 Become known as an athlete
One of the benefits that result from starting to work with social media is that you take an important step towards becoming known online as an athlete. Many athletes are afraid to get online because of many psychological reasons listed in this blog post. However, becoming "known" for being an athlete online is the first and most important step to get funded or sponsored. This means that you should open up a Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram account and start sharing content about your athletic career. Once you have these channels, people start recognizing you as an athlete. In fact, it is a step that you should take in order to become a more “professional” athlete - Facebook Pages separate your personal life from your athletic life. Also, it helps other people recognize you as a source of knowledge and expertise in that particular sport. It is this recognition that causes them to like or follow you. Your next step is to actually become a source of knowledge.
1.2 Start marketing on social media
Something interesting that happened once I started using social media for my athletic career is that I’ve cut down on the time I spend aimlessly scrolling down my newsfeed. Now, I scroll down my feed in order to get inspiration for creating new content and to network with other people. As a result, I ended up shaving off an hour from my social media use every day. I then use this extra hour to create and share interesting content for my viewers. The entire shift came from when I stopped being simply a user of social media to being a marketer, and leveraging social media to create a following.
2. Provide your followers with value
Social media connects you to nearly everyone in the World-Wide-Web. More than a billion people are on social media, and content marketing is getting a chunk of that billion to listen to you. Since this can be slightly intimidating, I added some important points below that will help get rid of any fear or doubt on becoming active on social media.
2.1 Increase the exposure and visibility of your sport
One of the best reasons to get active on social media is that you will be actively increasing the awareness about your sport. We have to face the reality that many amateur sports around the world are seriously lacking exposure on TV and media. You can help change that. By becoming active online, you will be able to reach many people and expose them to your sport. You will be helping grow the community not just for yourself but also for your sport. The fans that you helped gain will be connected to your sport through you. Trust me, every amateur sport can use some help with exposure. Being a source of exposure for your sport has tremendous benefits. One of them is that increasing the popularity of your sport is increasing your own popularity.
2.2 Inspire the next generation of athletes
The second way you will impact your community with your content marketing is that you will pave the way for the next generation of athletes. By telling your story to these young athletes online not only will you be inspiring them but you could become a role model for them. Soon enough they will be looking to you for guidance in their athletic journey. You have a chance to not only help yourself gain exposure, funding and support but you could have an incredible impact on many athletes.
2.3 Create and build relationships for the rest of your life
This is my single biggest secret that has helped me get funded and sponsored. By viewing every like and follower on social media as a contact in your network, your influence increases dramatically. Once I became active on social media, many people started to reach out to me and ask me for advice. This was a great opportunity for me to build rapport with my following and create connections that helped me dramatically.
3. Provide companies with a ‘return’ on their investment
Before you start building your social media following and acquiring sponsorships, we need to understand why providing exposure is important to acquire sponsors. Getting inside the head of a company and its marketing needs starts with asking the questions; ‘why would a company sponsor an athlete at all?’ or ‘why would a company give out free money or products?’
1) Marketing purposes (getting a return)
2) Branding purposes (social good)
Let’s take scenario one:
Most companies have marketing managers whose sole job is to increase the exposure of their website or product thereby increasing sales and the bottom line. This marketing manager will have a budget and they will spend funds on a variety of sources in order to bring the most views possible for the least amount of money.For example, a company might spend $100 on advertising inside a magazine and in return they might receive $200 of business. So the result is a $100 return on investment (ROI).
Since we are looking to receive some money from the marketing budget, we need to beat the ROI of other sources. This means that we need to have a higher exposure and a lower cost than any of the other channels such as :
- Google/Facebook/Twitter/YouTube Advertising
- Content marketing (blogging)
- Magazine and newspaper advertising
- Print advertising (flyers, banners)
- TV commercial
- A booth at a convention
- Sales people
Understanding ROI is the basis for understanding how to leverage social media to get sponsors. Once this is established we can move forward with the following concepts :
3.1 Giving them the numbers
When you approach a company, you need to give them numbers and statistics that will help them choose if they should spend money on sponsoring you or on another source of advertising. The higher your exposure opportunities, the higher the chance are that the marketing manager will agree to spend their valuable budget money on your sponsorship. Some exposure opportunities include, being mentioned in the press, having TV time and such. However, these are not guaranteed or they might be dependant on your sport. The other issue with these exposure opportunities is that they sometimes are not the friendliest to sponsor mentions.
However, having a social media following is a stable source of exposure that can be leveraged in a variety of creative and effective ways.
3.2 It is not an exact science
Although some companies will be greatly impressed by an active social media presence and following, other companies might not be interested in getting more exposure. You need to be ready for this type of scenario.
3.3 Start slow and small
If this is your first sponsor don’t expect a million dollars, but do not sell yourself short either. Success breads success and getting one sponsor will help you get another one. You can read more about this in our “How to Find a sponsor” blog. Also, going after the small local company is a great way to learn more about how to deal with sponsors. You can then leverage your newfound knowledge to get a bigger sponsor.
3.4 Don’t get caught up with the numbers
The first thing to keep in mind is that even with a minimal amount of followers you can bring a lot of value to a company. Sometimes it is better to have a small but active followers rather than a large and in-active crowd. In social media this is called engagement and it means a lot more than quantity of likes or followers. For example, you might have 200 Likes on Facebook but every post will have 50 comments and many shares and likes. This is called engagement and it means a lot more than have 10000’s of inactive users.
3.5 Get started now
It is never too late to get started. Get active on social media today; create your contacts, increase your subscribers, followers and likes; get exposure and reach out to companies on social media. Our future posts will help guide you on this process so stay tuned.
4. Get Direct funding with crowdfunding
Other reasons for having a social media following is that with the help of MAKEACHAMP’s crowdfunding for athletes you can convert that follower-base into direct funding. With my own campaign, I was able to raise 111% of my goal - almost $7,000 within two weeks.
The way this is done is leveraging the power of social media. The first group of contributors to your campaign should be your closest circle of supporters - this means your family and closest friends. Reaching the third circle or the friends of the friends involves asking your closest circle to reach out to their friends. Ask your family members to advertise your campaign in their work place. This should be sufficient to bring your campaign to its 75% level. The rest can come from the crowd. The crowd is more likely to join once your campaign is at 75% because the first contributors have validated it. Someone who doesn’t know you is less likely to contribute when your family and friends have not done so.
Getting the crowd involved with your campaign involves coming up with rewards that your community of followers might like. For example, for a contribution, you can give an individual a private coaching session on Skype or in person. For another amount, you can give a tutorial on a specific technique the contributor might ask. Also don’t forget to out your nutrition and exercise expertise to use. For an amount around $100 you can give a contributor a month-long workout and diet plan to help them reach their goal.
4.1 Get sponsored with your campaign
Besides direct funding from a campaign, you can also leverage the potential exposure to acquire sponsors. When I combined my crowdfunding campaign and my social media followers, I was also able to land 2 sponsors who gave me free gear and equipment.
Your campaign is going to get a lot of exposure from the beginning - your friends, family, and fans are going to be sharing your campaign across all social media platforms. This is why it is important to try to get a sponsor BEFORE your campaign is launched. This way you'll be able to leverage this exposure to attract a sponsor. You should point out to the company that in exchange for their sponsorship, you'll put a clickable logo on the campaign which will give them the exposure, branding and even help them increase their sales.
However, you might land a sponsor while your campaign is running. The reason is that as your campaign is being shared among your online community, it might get the attention of a corporate executive. This executive is more likely to be interested in giving you a corporate sponsorship because you have a social tie to them. Furthermore, the campaign is a great way to make the announcement that you are in need of funds. Whether you are going to represent your city, state/province or country, there has to be someone in your social circle who is willing to sponsor you. A campaign is the best way to reach that individual.
There are 4 important steps to increasing your chances of getting your campaign sponsored.
- Create an appealing campaign
A visually appealing campaign is critical to getting sponsored. A company will not be interested in putting a logo on a campaign that is not done professionally. Try to find the highest quality of pictures and videos when creating your campaign. Also make sure your title is enticing and your campaign description is error-proof.
- Add a sponsorship reward
Adding a reward on your campaign for about $500 for a sponsorship is critical. This
reward will give the sponsor the idea that you can have their logo on your campaign. Also, make sure that you make your followers aware that this option is available. Share a picture of this reward.
- Public shout-out to the sponsors
Giving a public shout-out to a sponsor is even more important than a regular contributor. The first reason is because they have spent more money to sponsor your campaign - which is around $500 typically. Secondly, a sponsor is actually looking to gain some exposure and branding unlike your neighbor or classmate. Taking this into consideration, make sure that you are giving the company sponsor the public recognition they deserve. This means uploading an image of their logo as well as tagging their corporate Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. The last reason is a company might notice the public shout-out and they might also like to have one as well. Therefore, as soon as you get a sponsor on your campaign make sure that you advertise it on all your social media networks. Not only will this make the sponsor happy but it will increase your chances of getting another sponsor.
Below is an example of my corporate sponsorship shout-out. Right Blue Labs supported my campaign and I had to make sure to give them the exposure and recognition they deserve.
5. A skill for the rest of your life
Once you learn how to create a community and an online presence, you can use this skill for the rest of your life in order to grow future businesses and ventures. Social media is here to stay and every company is working on their content marketing. With your new learned social media and content marketing skills you can help other companies or you can use it for your own future business. Nevertheless, social media marketing is a valuable skill to have that you will use for the rest of your life.
5.1 It’s completely free
Secondly, every single social media tool is completely free. Furthermore, the tools that you can use to automate most of your content marketing are free as well.