I was perusing the Slowtwitch forums the other day and someone asked what they should do to increase their exposure and hopefully attract some sponsors. I posted a link to my blog and it seems a lot of people read what I had to say.

Tom Demerly of TriSports, a major online triathlon retailer, had a few succinct words on how to get sponsorship that I’ll share unedited here.

When an athlete approaches our sponsorship coordinator with a proposal that includes things like, “I got 100,000 exposures by getting a feature article about me printed in the lifestyle section of the local newspaper, I coach 15 athletes, teach spinning at the local health club and have an active blog with frequent, regular readers.” we want to hear more about an athlete like that. They are a candidate.

Bottom line: We’re hiring you to advertise. Why should we hire you?

It isn’t about victories or race results, it’s about exposure. Some of our top atheltes aren’t Kona winners, but they are at every public appearance event, they are at every clinic, they are on their Facebook page four times a day and on internet forums every day. Then, they come back to us with specific examples of their exposure: “I have 5,000 Facebook friends who see my posts, I tweet from every event. I put on a charity bike event to get bikes for underprivleged kids and got press coverage for it- here it is…”

It isn’t about races and results- unless you win Ironman. That is the only race that counts from a sports marketing viewpoint in this sport. Here is an example:

Do a Google search on the woman ranked as the number 1 female tennis player according to Wikipedia, Chris Evert: 544,000 results.
Now, do a Google search on doubles tennis player Anna Kournikova, a 6 time tennis doubles champion: 10,440,000 results. Ten million results compared to a half million. Who would you sponsor?”

For the record, the marketing company of which I am a partner, redlime marketing, provides in kind sponsorship to the TriCommitment Team of Jordan Bryden and Janelle Morrison. But in terms of big money sponsorship, its worthwhile to heed the words of a guy like Tom.

If I had to leave you with one thought from all the four posts in this blog series, it would be, know your audience. If your audience is a large online retailer like TriSports, or a big brand like Newton, 2XU, Cervelo, then your work is cut out for you and Tom’s laid it out pretty well there. If your audience is a small local retailer, then think about what they’re needs are, who their market is, what they can offer you in terms of product or sponorship, and in return what you can provide them in terms of exposure. If you’re realistic about your expectations and are smart about how you market yourself, then you’re on the right track.

Anyways, thats all for this series and if there is anything you’d like me to talk about specifically in future posts, feel free to let me know.