Serious About Sponsorship? - Presented by War Scooters
The following article is presented as sponsored content from an advertising partner in collaboration with ScootAm.com. The content has been reviewed and approved to ensure that it aligns with the purpose of the site.
It seems like everybody wants to get sponsored. We see it every day at War Scooters, messages on our social media accounts, emails, and comments on blog posts. "Sponsor me! I want a new scooter." "Sponsor me, my scooter got totaled." "Sponsor me, I am an awesome rider." If sponsorship is your ultimate goal for riding, then it is time to get the low-down on what sponsorship is, and how you can help to make it happen.
What Exactly IS Sponsorship?
So, what is sponsorship, anyway? Well, it is not, unfortunately, a ticket to unlimited free gear and stuff just because you are a good rider, a good person, or because you need a new scooter.
There are different levels of pro scooter sponsorship, but for the most part, sponsorship is a job. A brand like Envy or Lucky is offering you an advertising contract in return for money and/or merchandise, and they expect to get something from you in return.
Just like any employer who has a job position to fill, not everyone who wants that job will get it. Only the best candidates, with the most to offer that company, will be considered for that spot.
Keep reading as we give you tips on how you can become the best candidate for sponsorship, and cover the different types of sponsorship available.
Different Types of Sponsorship
A shop sponsorship is the beginning point of sponsorship. A local pro scooter shop may offer you discounted products or maybe even something for free. In exchange for this local shop-level sponsorship, you would wear the store's logo on your gear, or a t-shirt with the store's logo. You may be asked to enter into some local comps, highlight the shop on your social media accounts, and talk with other riders about your sponsoring shop while at the parks.
Your shop may have certain requirements from you, like always wearing a helmet while you ride, maintaining certain grades in school, and participating in community events. Think of a shop sponsorship as a bit of an internship: you may not be making the big bucks, but you are getting some great training on how sponsorship works.
With a Flow sponsorship, a company decides that you are a worthy enough investment to receive free products. Flow sponsorship is similar to shop sponsorship in that you aren't getting paid to represent a company, but there is an expectation that you are a good representative for the brand and sport in exchange for the gear that will keep you riding, competing, and improving.
Flow sponsorship is a way to get your name known and your skills seen, paving the way to bigger opportunities. If shop sponsorship is an internship, consider Flow as the entry level job at the company that you really admire, giving you the opportunity to meet the right people to further your sponsorship career.
Welcome to the team. An Amateur sponsorship contract may include provisions that you exclusively use products from your sponsor in exchange for free products and travel expenses to regional competitions. Am teams typically get promoted through videos, magazine advertisements, and on sponsor's websites. While not a high paying gig, Am teams may get some of their expenses covered while competing and representing their brand.
Historically, some brands did not distinguish between Flow and Amateur sponsorship. With very similar benefits and rider requirements, this team may have been called either.
The big leagues. Like in other sports, only the best of the best will get the title of "pro," as well as the money, contracts, name recognition, and signature parts that come with it. Pro riders have worked hard to perfect their skills, have paid their dues, played the game, and proven that they can be a brand ambassador. With bigger contracts and more products comes more time commitments and bigger responsibilities. To the public, you are the brand. To the brand, you are a part of their advertising budget. There will be big expectations about your ability to ride, to be a good representative, and to get the brand noticed. Being a pro is a lot of work, it takes long hours, a lot of commitment, and a willingness to do what your "boss" asks. You have to be willing to make sacrifices, but the payoff is huge.
Not everyone will become a pro rider. Just like not everyone who likes basketball or football gets to play on a professional team, a love or talent for the sport isn't a guarantee of a professional career. Hard work, dedication, practice, being a good representative for yourself and local stores, and a little bit of luck are going to come into play if you want to make it up the ladder of sponsorship to become a pro.
So how did pros like Cooper Klaar (Phoenix), Ray Warner (Epic and Envy), Jon Devrind (Crisp), Kota Schuetz (Lucky), and Brendon Smith (Fasen) end up with sweet pro sponsorships and their own signature products? Here are some tips to help increase your chance of joining this elite group of riders.
How To Get Sponsored
Be Better Than Good
This should go without saying, but no one is going to ask you to represent their freestyle scooter brand if you aren't good at what you do. Practice. Nail your tricks. Be flawless. Then, reach for more. Always be practicing, always be improving, always try to challenge yourself to be better today than you were yesterday.
Spend time with riders who are better than you. Ask them for tips, watch their form, learn from other people. Then, pay it forward. Teach a beginner rider at the park how to do the trick you see them working on. Enter regional comps. Learn, teach, compete, practice, and practice some more.
Shop sponsorship is the first stop on the road towards pro sponsorship. Spend time at your local pro scooter shop, and get to know the owners, managers, and employees. Foster a sense of community with these people, don't just go hang around asking for free stuff. Spend time at the parks talking to other riders, find out who already has shop sponsorship, and ask for advice on getting noticed. Go to the competitions, and talk to local shops who are present. Give them the opportunity to see you in action. Get your face seen, your name heard, and begin forming relationships with the people who have made the scooter industry their life.
Act Like a Pro
Remember that sponsorship is a paid job, where you are an advertisement for a brand, shop, or company. Act like you are a professional before you even land your first gig. Treat other riders and people's property with respect. Foster a sense of community and form relationships with other riders at local shops, parks, on the streets, and at competitions. If you want to ride for brands such as MGP or Grit, act like a professional before you get a contract.
When you speak to potential sponsors, use clean and professional language, and be prepared to sell yourself. Why should a brand sponsor you? What do you have to offer? What successes have you had at competitions? Have a quick pitch polished and ready to go. Remember, you are trying to land a real job, so be professional. "Yo, who gonna hook up a sponsor?" is not going to impress a professional brand representative.
Build Your Personal Brand
Your online presence can make or break your chances at sponsorship. When you have been working hard at your skills, building up other riders at the park, getting to know the local shop owners, and being an overall great ambassador for the sport, don't mess it up with an online persona that reflects badly on you. Check out your social media accounts. What would a stranger who has never met you in person think of you based solely on your online interactions?
Pictures, profiles, posts, or status updates that have profanity, disrespect, bullying, negativity, arrogance, or illegal activities are not going to impress a potential sponsor.
However, if your social media accounts are full of pictures and videos of you showing off your stuff at the parks, inspirational shout-outs to fellow riders, tips and tricks to help beginners, and appropriate mentions of your success at competitions, you are using social media the right way to build up your own personal brand.
Do: "So excited about coming in 2nd place in the comp this weekend at West Portland! Props to Shane who took 1st, that guy has some some sick moves. Check out the video of my run! Thanks to everyone who helped put on this great event!"
Don't: "I don't know y nobody has sponsored me yet. Those other guys are clowns. I can ride circles around those jerks."
Do: "I've been working on my edits and have them up at ScootAm if anyone would like to see my latest trick!"
Don't: "Fo shiz check out my skillz! Where my sponsor at? Gotta get paaaaaid, what!"
Your online image is important.
Another way to build your personal brand is to create an online scooter resume, a place where you can list your accomplishments and post pictures or videos to present to potential sponsors. You can build a website completely for free, or for a minimal price to get your personal URL hosted.
If you haven't placed in any competitions, that doesn't mean you can't start an online resume. Submit your videos to ScootAm, and then link to those videos on your resume. ScootAm is a great resource to start putting together your own professional rider page. You can post your videos, photos, and event results, and other announcements and have them promoted to the industry.
You can take your professional presence one step further by printing out some business cards with your name, contact info, and the URL of your online resume. When you are at the shop, the competitions, or the park and you run into a potential sponsor, you can hand out your card after you have given your pitch.
By creating an online presence that showcases your talent, passion for the sport, and ability to be a positive ambassador for a brand, you will add to your value to a potential sponsor.
Pro scooter brands and the people who represent them are business professionals, and you will get their respect and attention if you speak to them as such. That means in person, with comments on blogs or social media posts, in email correspondence, or when addressing a video audience.
Does this sound like a lot of work? It is! Getting sponsored is a big deal, and it is about so much more than just getting free pro scooters and parts. If you work hard and can offer something of value to a brand, then they just might consider investing in you as part of their advertising budget. In return, you may get some discounted or even free products, and some professional help in getting your name out to the industry.
Above all, ride and improve yourself because you love the sport, not because you want to get sponsored. The tips and tricks to get noticed by sponsors are the same with anything that you want to accomplish in life, and if you are always trying to be your best, you will never be disappointed.