Creating an athlete sponsorship proposal for the first time is an exciting but potentially daunting task for athletes.
We've pulled together some simple and effective tips for athletes who are ready to put pen to paper (or finger to keypad) and create their first athlete sponsorship proposal.
Less is more
Keep it succinct. Keep it clear. Keep it simple. The less words you use, the more likely your potential sponsor will read the entire proposal.
If a business receives a 30 page document, it's very unlikely they will read any of it thoroughly. However, if you send them a 6 page document that looks good and clearly tells them what they need to know, chances are, they will read a good portion of it — if not the entire document.
Keep the layout clean and uncluttered and use pictures that tell your story and communicate your athlete brand. E.g. A photo of you with the charity you're raising money for through an ultramarathon or expedition.
It's ALL about them
DO include information about your athletic achievements and goals but it it short.
A proposal is all about the sponsor. Remind them, repeatedly, what's in it for them — beyond just the warm and fuzzy feeling they'll get supporting an awesome athlete. Show them you are focused on their business needs and committed to delivering benefits that bring real value to their business.
Make it clear that you understand their values and goals. You should find these out during the research stage and the conversations you've already had with them.
Never Send An Unsolicited Athlete Sponsorship Proposal
You might be tempted to create a generic athlete sponsorship proposal and send it to a hundred random businesses.
In theory, it sounds like an efficient and easy way of getting your first bite from a sponsor. But in reality, that incredible proposal you've just created will be ignored or what's more likely — your email will sit in their inbox (or junk folder!) unopened.
That's because you have no relationship with the business. They simply don't know who you are or why you'd send THEM a proposal. You've missed a crucial step(s). You wouldn't step foot on the podium without preparation — sponsorship is no different.
Always make contact with the company prior to sending a sponsorship proposal. You'll be creating a relationship with them AND you'll have the chance to find out important information, such as what their business would look for in a sponsorship agreement. You can learn all about the sponsorship process in our book Sponsorship for Athletes.
Be sincere, be excited about your goals, tell them how incredible it will be to have them as your sponsor (and why!), but do not promise them anything you cannot deliver on. For example, don't promise that you will represent them at the Olympics if you haven’t ever run a race. If your GOAL is to get to the Olympics then share your vision with them instead.
Also be very careful about offering benefits, such as media coverage, that you haven't secured yet! Honesty is the basis of any good relationship and your sponsorship relationships must start with this fundamental element in tact!
Quick athlete sponsorship tips you need to know
Submitting your athlete sponsorship proposal
There are many ways to submit a sponsorship proposal. Most sponsorship managers prefer an electronic (PDF) proposal because they can do what they want with it — read it on screen, print it or share it with the wider team.
A printed proposal looks fantastic IF it’s done professionally. Otherwise, it can look cheap and old fashioned.
Make sure that once you’ve written and crafted all of the content, that you get a creative guru to create the final design for you! However, there are some great drag and drop apps, like Canva and Easil, that make it easy for the non-creatives out there to design stunning proposals.
A video proposal can be effective, but once again, we recommend engaging a pro who can make it look really good!
The final word
Think about how you would react if you were a sponsorship manager reviewing hundreds (if not thousands) of proposals each year.
Your natural approach would be to read (or watch) the proposals that look more professional, not just because they are more visually pleasing, but because they reflect the effort and professionalism of the athlete.
Now, warm up your computer, flex your fingers, because...it's time to create an athlete sponsorship proposal that stands out from the crowd.