How to make a sponsorship partnership work
RIDERS and companies have been reminded that sponsorship is business and should be treated as a working relationship.
Canadian para dressage rider Bert Sheffied spoke at the BETA Conference on 30 October.
“Without my sponsors I could not do my job,” she said. “I take sponsorship really seriously, it is absolutely business.”
Bert said there are many different levels of sponsorship, the most common is product-based.
For her this comes from small to medium-sized businesses, rather than “massive guns”.
“They’re not as interested in smaller riders; I’m not at that top flight of publicity, the Carls and Charlottes of the world,” she said.
Bert said contracts are essential, and that sponsorship is “in many ways employment”.
“You are employing a rider to represent you,” she said. “If you wouldn’t employ them in the office, don’t sponsor them.
“Honour your contract, live by it and don’t let it lose formality.”
A strong aim is vital, Bert said, such as whether the deal is a “PR and brand-building exercise” or the rider is marketing the product, and sponsorship can benefit businesses, as riders can help with research and development.
Bert added riders should be matched with appropriate brands.
“There’s no point grassroots riders representing a premium brand,” said Bert. “Entry-level brands may be better for riders who customers identify with.
“Amateur riders are great if you want your name on a saddlecloth and the community to see you.
“[Big names] will be big press if they win, and your brand will be helped by those wins.”
Social media is important to sponsorship relationships,
Bert said, something with which amateur event rider Chloë Ammonds-Nut agrees.
“Sponsors can see the everyday impact their help has,” she told H&H. “As a sponsored rider it’s also a great way to engage with like-minded equestrians, so it’s win-win for sponsors as their products are being promoted to the audience they would like to convert to customers.
“Riding has high stakes and can be serious and sober so social media is great for lighthearted content. Funny things get shared; the domino effect is what sponsors are looking for.”
Bert Sheffield urged all parties to see sponsorship as business