Sponsored in 6 Easy Steps
The term sponsorship often elicits visions of privilege. You’re likely dreaming of being showered with attention, adoring fans, and all the free products and services imaginable. Now you’re thinking: where do I sign, right?
Personally, I see sponsorship as much more than just that. Being a sponsored athlete means that you are part of an elite team and as such, you have an advantage over other athletes who are not sponsored and promoted. However, it is up to the individual to realize and utilize these advantages. The athlete must understand that with this sponsorship, a certain reputation must be upheld. You are now in the spotlight and other aspiring athletes will be looking at you as a role model. You are also a walking billboard for the company sponsoring you. The way you represent yourself ultimately defines the success you achieve from a sponsorship.
In this day and age, social media has a big impact on an individual or a company’s success. The Internet is an incredible resource used to search for information on products, services and even athletes in the fitness world. Brand managers or talent coordinators are always browsing through platforms like Instagram and Facebook to find the next star.
Step 1. Keep Social Media Feeds Relevant
You don’t necessarily need 10,000 followers in order to receive a sponsorship. In fact, many people with large followings do not have sponsorships. It does help however, when an aspiring athlete has a unique or successful social media platform, because it increases their chances of being noticed. Early on in my career, I discovered just how much social media influenced a company’s decision to sponsor an athlete. This discovery led me to initiate a clean sweep of any photos or comments on my Instagram and Facebook accounts that did not relate to my fitness life and what I aspired to become. My social media accounts needed to reflect the potential that I had in the fitness industry to become a sponsored athlete.
Step 2. Emulate The Icons
On social media, I started adding photos of big fitness personalities, liking and following them, and ultimately emulating what they did. I started posting photos of myself in poses similar to successful fitness athletes. I used popular hashtags and started tagging friends whose social media game was better than mine. Eventually, I gained a solid understanding of how I could make social media work for me and my goals, and as a result, my followers grew and grew.
Step 3. Define Your Brand
Who are you? What do you stand for? Why are you appealing? What makes you unique among all the other aspiring athletes out there? Discovering who you are as an athlete and defining your “brand” is paramount. It’s also vital to stay true to yourself. It would be easy to put on a façade and create a fake image, but eventually people will see right through that. If the general public can relate to you, they will want to connect with you. Decide what makes you unique and build your brand off of that. It may take you a while to develop your brand, but as long as you believe, as I did, that you have the commitment and discipline to work for a sponsorship, you can be successful. I then began making important connections and asking advice on how to get my name out there and recognized. I came to realize that my work ethic (and my glutes) were what people noticed most. So, obviously, I used that to my advantage!
Step 4. Find Your Fit
Choosing a brand that you truly believe in, is definitely key. Every supplement company, for example, is different; and you need to choose the one that aligns with your values and beliefs. For me, I always respected and applauded Magnum. They were the goal I strived toward. Sponsorship from Magnum was always my end game. The two features that always stood out to me about Magnum, is their quality and integrity. It’s not worth your time and efforts to promote a company that you’re not truly passionate about. That just won’t help either of you in the long run. Find a company that emulates your values and make it happen!
Step 5. Be Professional
I have always lived my career life based on these two mottos: “you don’t receive unless you try” and “the worst that someone will ever tell you is no.” When I began my fitness career, I was very aware of who was “liking” and “commenting” on my photos on social media. I was pretty ecstatic when I realized that that Markus Kaulius, President of Magnum, was one of those people. I thought to myself: ‘this man is a busy CEO, maybe there’s something here that he can appreciate.’ Following my mottos in life, I found Mr. Kaulius’ work email and wrote him a very professional letter about how I felt Magnum and I could be a perfect sponsorship fit. I retained an interview with Mr. Kaulius’ in which he enthusiastically told me “I’m already a fan!” That’s when I got my Magnum sponsorship. I see many aspiring athletes who send casual Facebook messages or direct messages on Instagram. Personally, I would suggest avoiding this method. I feel that you should treat applying for a sponsorship as if it were a professional job interview. It worked for me, and it can work for you!
Step 6. Go Above and Beyond
Now the hardest part is done. You have gained the attention of a particular company and have been offered a sponsorship. It’s now up to you to use this to your advantage to drive your career forward. There are two tiers of sponsored athletes: 1) The athletes who perform the minimum requirements in order to keep their sponsorship; and 2) The athletes who recognize what an incredible opportunity they have and go above and beyond their sponsorship requirements. The latter tier, do this in order to prove to themselves and to the companies sponsoring them that they are deserving of much more than free product each month.
Typically, companies use their top performing athletes in advertisements in magazines or online, and even on packaging for their products. In order to achieve this recognition and reward, you need to be willing to treat your sponsorship like your full-time job and more. This means: keeping a great physique; putting genuine thought and effort into your social media posts (and remembering to tag fellow athletes); scheduling more demos and appearances than required; ensuring that your product knowledge is impeccable; and that you are constantly seen. The more aware your sponsors are of your hard work, the more likely your name will be first on their mind when it comes time to choosing the next athlete for their advertisement or product packaging.
The most important thing to remember is that not every athlete can receive a sponsorship. There are simply too many athletes and not enough positions available. Find what makes you unique, be persistent, stay true to yourself, and continually strive for greatness. Always remember that the worst thing someone could ever tell you is no. If you take a chance and it doesn’t work out, don’t lose faith! That particular sponsorship just might not have been a good fit for you both. Don’t take rejection personally – use that experience as a driving force to improve.
Don’t wait for tomorrow or next week. Start working today to create something amazing!