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Gear Sponsorship

Dear Roy

Do you have any advice when approaching companies for sponsorship? My 4-way team has a goal to be the National team. We don’t have any matching gear but of course we would like matching rigs, jumpsuits and helmets.

How do we best put our case? What do sponsors want in return? What pitfalls should we avoid?

And – a silly question I know but – any suggestions with team identity? Hayabusa is the most distinctive 4-way team out there; your colors look awesome! How did you choose them?

Many thanks

Joe

Hi Joe,

I’ve been taking care of the sponsorship relations since Hayabusa was formed in 2002. We started our team with being a ‘Nobody’ and with zero sponsorship. Now, many years later, we are very fortunate and proud that we have all the sponsors we want, jumping the gear that helps us achieve our dreams.

To go from zero to hero, takes a long time… And that’s probably the first thing you need to understand. Don’t expect miracles to happen, you need to be patience and have appreciation for even little support. It’s you that needs to show what you’ve got and what you’re worth!

Don’t let your mouth write a check that your ass can’t cash!

The Beginning

Do you know any (new) team that doesn’t want to have the same team equipment? Do you know anyone that doesn’t want to be sponsored? I am sure your answer is NO!

People in general, are always eager to receive things, especially when it’s for free, but giving back is a different story. However, this is my first advice to you when you start contacting potential sponsors. First ask yourself the question, ”what can we give back to them?’ and ’what makes it interesting for them to sponsor us?’ There are so many teams contacting companies every day to get a good deal, and they all swear that they will become the new skygods and they all have long-term plans. As we both know, many teams don’t even finish their second season together, and sponsors are also fully aware of this. I’m sure if you’re willing to work for them and promote their products in a positive and professional way, you’ll get their respect and move up quickly on the ladder.

Selecting your Sponsors

I strongly believe that you need to contact only the sponsors in whose products you really believe! If you think, for example, that the containers of Sun Path are the best on the market, and that’s what you wish for, then go for it! Maybe if you give them a good proposal, you can start with getting a discount, which normally should make you happy. With Hayabusa, we often started with a 25% discount, and the more years we stayed together, and kept promoting their equipment, the better the deals became. Just remember, you have to start somewhere.

If you are jumping equipment in which you really believe, it’s super easy and natural to promote. People will see it, and sponsors love it!

Being Loyal to your Sponsors

Loyalty is important in every kind of relationship – whether it’s with your partner, your friends, or your sponsors.

When you start changing sponsors because you can get more somewhere else, soon you will have nobody that wants to invest in your team any more

With Hayabusa, we frequently received very interesting sponsor proposals from other companies, often offering more than double than what we had at that moment, but we always took the time to think about it very carefully. Keep in mind that it’s not just about how much you can get. When you start changing sponsors because you can get more somewhere else, soon you will have nobody that wants to invest in your team any more. The skydiving community is a small world and all the companies know each other well, and when there’s a team that cares mainly about how much they can get, they’ll get a bad reputation very quickly.

Don’t get me wrong, I suggest you to always listen to what others have to offer. With listening, you don’t do anything bad towards your sponsors and it’s always good to have contacts. I’m not saying that you need to stay with your sponsors forever either. If you really can improve yourself, you would be stupid if you wouldn’t do it. But always look at the whole picture! Equipment is one thing but your contact person(s) and their service is just as important. Maybe a company has great products, but if the service towards the team is terrible, they will be just a pain in the ass, especially if the factory is far away, or even in a different continent.

Be Honest – Make No False Promises

When you put your case together, don’t let your mouth write a check that your ass can’t cash!

Spend some time to make some cool pictures just for your sponsors; they will appreciate it a lot!

Make sure that the things you’re offering in return, you can commit to. Stay always in good contact with your sponsors and treat them with respect; of course, it must come from both sides. Keep them informed with your plans, send them pictures of what you are doing. Sponsors love to get photos and videos that they can use for media purposes. Spend some time to make some cool pictures just for your sponsors; they will appreciate it a lot!

Pitfalls

What I strongly recommend is that from the beginning you make clear agreements with your sponsors of what to do, and what not to do. Usually, with more serious sponsor deals, they will offer you a contract with their rules and agreements, and then it’s easy to follow them through and to take action if something goes wrong. There are other companies that will make a gentleman’s agreement, but they are more the exception. Anyway, a good start is half the work!

Make sure that the person inside your team who’s responsible for the Public Relations, can be diplomatic, but also being able to be straight to the point when needed.

Colors

Choosing your team colors is usually a difficult task, as we all have different tastes! I don’t think that you need to ‘invent’ things; just go with what you believe is cool and good looking. If it happens that you can distinguish yourself from others, even better!

Sometimes your sponsor will ask you to have specific colors, so that it benefits the sponsor’s purpose. If you can choose your own colors, offer them a few ‘versions’ so they can have a look and see what they like best. Always communicate with them and be open minded for new ideas and input.

Wishing you good luck! Roy

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Meet: Lesley Gale

Lesley has been in love with skydiving for 35 years. She is a multiple world and national record holder and a coach on 20 successful record events worldwide. She has over 100 competition medals spanning more than 25 years and has been on the British 8-way National team at World events. She started Skydive Mag to spread knowledge, information and passion about our amazing sport.
Lesley is delighted to be sponsored by Performance Designs, Sun Path, Cypres, Cookie, Symbiosis suits and Larsen & Brusgaard

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