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Attracting Sponsors

Posted: 16 February 2019 - Comments (0)

I am often asked for tips on obtaining sponsorship. Whilst I am no expert I can give some useful tips.

Generally for an amateur like myself the likelihood of finding a financial sponsor is very slim (unless a family member). Most support will come in the form of products or discounted products. Providing these are things you use this can make quite a big saving.

I read posts online and have been approached for advice by people who may be very successful in what they do and have approached companies asking for support yet are continually turned down. There is a couple of reasons for this! Firstly money is tight and many companies don't have any budget for sponsors but more importantly it is often the way the approach is made. Too often it is listing the success or ambitions of the rider and what they need but forgets the key point. What can you do for the sponsor!

What can you offer?

If you are looking for a sponsor you need to sell your services to the potential sponsor. What can you offer in return their support? Unless you are competing on the world stage you are unlikely to get rewarded for just being successful. So what can you offer :-

  • Social Media - Have you good website / social media links / presence that can help market the company and spread the word about their products. Don't under estimate this the power of social media. (Offer statistics or followers / website hits.)
  • Advertising space - i.e. wearing of branded clothing, saddle cloths, rugs and lorry / trailer. Be careful here, there are rules with regard to having advertising on a lorry / trailer that can bring you into commercial transport rules. Also BE have rules that anyone advertising on saddle cloths must be members of BE
  • Photo Opportunities - A chance to get professional images of products / services.
  • Blogs / Written Updates - Regular updates for sponsors newsletters or website.
  • Leafleting - Putting leaflets on lorries or giving to people at events
  • Product Testing - Testing and feedback of services or products for companies
  • Ambassador - Be an ambassador for your sponsor. This means if you are sponsored by a clothing sponsor then you take every opportunity to wear it, be photographed in it and promote it. You can talk knowledgeably about your sponsor and their products.

For me I don't sell success. I don't promise so many red rosettes or competing at high profile events. I sell the journey, the fact that people follow me through the highs and lows and that whatever happens whether I or my horses are injured there will be a continual output of interesting content. I never want to go to an event and find hard ground yet feel I must run the horse because my sponsor expects it. Saying that the fact I do go out and compete and get myself seen attracts my followers so there does need to be a balance.

Find your Unique Selling Point

A lot of people can offer all or much of the above so what can make you stand out? You need to find a USP (Unique Selling Point) For me I have several that I promote to sponsors but everyone needs to identify and push their own. Mine is the traffic I generate through my social media and website for my course pictures, the fact that I have won awards that recognises my high calibre social media skills and the fact that I am an amateur with limited facilities living in a remote area for the sport so can show hard work and dedication.

For someone else it may be the type of horse they ride i.e. Retrained racehorses or a certain type of native pony. It could be they or their horse has recovered from a serious injury, whatever it is make sure it is interesting and makes you stand out.

Who to approach

I learnt early on when approaching sponsors it is no good using a blanket approach. Target your efforts at companies and products you really want to be sponsored by. This makes it far easier to be a great ambassador and really enthusiastic about the company or product. A local company may take more interest in a local rider so look at what is on your doorstep.

Be sure that you are happy with what you get from your sponsor. I approached one company I was really keen on and they offered me sponsorship. In return for writing regular blogs, using my social media links and a few other things they offered me a 5% discount. This would have worked out as a maximum value of £20 a year for me and I turned them down. I did also consider the promotion it would have given me but in the end decided it wasn't worth the time and commitment I would have given it.

Remember if you are lucky enough to have more than one sponsor you need to ensure they compliment each other and so not clash in services or products they offer.

How to make that initial approach?

Be innovate make yourself noticed! One year I sent out a CD with a Shoestring Label on and a presentation that automatically ran when it was put in the computer. The presentation had about 10 slides and a bit of video giving a brief overview of me and what I could do for my sponsor. I had a huge amount of feedback from this and even those that had no sponsorship budget were impressed and I felt at least it put me on their radar. Now vlogs and videos that show your personality are all the rage, if you can be original and do it well then thats a great way of getting the message across.

If you are writing then try and find out specific names and tailor it to the company you are approaching. If you already use their products say so and why you find them good. Also are there specific ways you can help a particular company? I try to keep any initial approach fairly brief and refer them for more information to my website / social media which they can follow up if interested.

Be professional make sure any correspondence has been proof read and contains no spelling mistakes and good grammar. Where possible include accurate statistics on number of followers, website hits and interactions.

Building the relationship

Once you have successfully secured a sponsor then build on this. Make sure you keep them up to date with your activities and feedback on the services / products you have been using. Where possible try and show how you have become invaluable to their marketing and have been show casing their products. Make sure you deliver any promises and keep in touch, quite often more mutually beneficial opportunities can arise.

The picture here showcases 3 sponsors, SuperXcountry, Horsequest Advantage and Woof Wear, it was great for promoting them, using in blogs and letting them use for their social media.

Be Genuine

It is a pet hate of mine that sponsored riders are not always genuine and this comes across, I have turned a number off on social media. For example one season such and such a saddle is the best thing ever, the service is great, it makes a huge difference in the horses way of going etc etc. The next season we hear exactly the same only it's a different make. Over the years I have turned down a number of sponsorship opportunities as I don't truly love the brand or company and therefore it is fair on them, myself or shoestring followers to promote it.

It is popular now for companies to run competitions on Facebook / Websites / Twitter to give sponsorship opportunities. By doing this the company is getting publicity during the process itself as well as hopefully selection of riders applying for the sponsorship / product support. Therefore it is a good idea to keep an eye on websites and social media for such opportunities. When they arise read very carefully what they are looking for. Some focus on success, others on what you can offer them and some for commitment and over coming adversity. Make sure you tailor your response to their requirements, take your time making any submission and ensure it is properly proof read for mistakes. A good first impression is key!

I hope the above helps - Good luck

If anyone is interested in sponsoring me please see my sponsorship page on what I can offer - link here

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Slow progress

Posted: 7 February 2019 - Comments (0)

The hospital said nothing was broken so why do I still feel rough and in a lot of pain! I guess it was a fair blow but I like to get on with things, I have kept working and although walking Ellie still feel quite uncomfortable to ride. Sometimes though it is the little things that show you are improving like I can now turn over in bed and have a small cough with a major spasm so hoping I can get back to doing things soon.

Worrying news today about the Equine Influenza, luckily not in my area currently and with my current health I can watch and wait until the picture is clearer before taking the horses out. Luckily with this period of quieter work I decided to have their flu jabs done early a week ago so they should be getting the maximum protection possible. First big competition is the Horsequest Arena Eventing Championships at Aston in 5 weeks so hopefully time for things to settle.

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Special pony (again)

Posted: 3 February 2019 - Comments (0)

There are so many reasons that Ellie is special and has stayed so long. Yes she is talented but equally on weekends like this she is worth her weight in gold :)

I am still v sore following the fall last weekend, a mere sneeze and the pain in my side is stratospheric! Saying that things are improving slowly and I was determined to get back on this weekend and at least walk Ellie out.

Bless her she stood like a rock as I clambered on (consider she is fit and not been ridden for a week), and then plodded quietly round the block whilst I worked out what was and wasn't comfortable. She stood equally still as I worked out how to get off! Certainly going to be some quiet hacking before I can do much more but at least this way our combined bellies won't expand too much more. Fliss on the other hand will benefit from 10 days off as hopefully can ride in a few more days.

Ellie really is a pony in a million!

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Injuries and snow

Posted: 31 January 2019 - Comments (0)

I have been pretty sore since Sunday's mishap. Around the rib area is extremely painful and keeps going into spasms. No chance of riding at the moment but at least with the horrible weather it is not a bad time to choose to be off games. Not been feeling particularly well either not sure if my body is just focusing on healing the broken bits or it is the shock. The good news is I saw my physio today and he was quite positive that over the next week I will
see some significant improvement, hope so as not finding things easy. I am managing to care for the girls at least, although have had to have words with Ellie regarding the speed of marching in.

Ellie had some fun tonight as Cornwall was affected by some unexpected snow. We were forecast to miss the worst yet we had a really heavy flurry turning everything white and bringing the road network to a halt. Ellie is out by night and it has to be really bad for her to have a night in, so she was popped out in the snow where she loved showing off her moves.

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A mixed weekend - Dressage and A&E!

Posted: 27 January 2019 - Comments (0)

Typical ups and downs of horses. Yesterday Fliss was entered in the BD dressage at Colraine where she won both her novice sections. Sounds impressive doesn't it? Actually we were the only competitor in the silver section and won by default nevertheless she actually went very well and her way of going is improving rapidly.

Novice 24 we scored 66.7%

Novice 30 we scored 64.5%

Overall very pleased with progress.

Today was very windy but I don't like to give them days off at the weekend this time of year as I like to give them a longer hack which I don't have time for in the week. Even Ellie was bright and spooky but we had a good 90 minute ride along the coast which was spectacular.

Fliss having worked harder yesterday was having a shorter ride but then we had one of those freak accidents. With my old hip injury I'm never the quickest at getting on. Mounting Fliss she spooked forward whilst I was half on meaning I gave her a hefty kick on the rump next minute on my side on the concrete. Landed on my good hip and right side of back. She then trod on my leg too! Was determined to hop back on but admitted defeat as pain took over, thanks Vanessa for rescuing me and untacking Fliss. Then spent the afternoon in A&E where they thought I had bust a rib, x rays on chest, spine and ribs showed no fracture so just soft muscle damage.

I have to admit it is pretty painful getting some hefty spasms on my right side, laughing, coughing or sharp movements are a no go. Luckily also so was crying as I was feeling v sorry for myself! Fingers crossed I mend quickly and can be back in the saddle soon. It is times like this you realise how great the horse world is with many offers of help and support.

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A winter Chard adventure

Posted: 23 January 2019 - Comments (0)

A mid winter outside 3 day show may not have been the brightest idea but actually we were relatively lucky with the weather and although it was bitterly cold at times we all survived. It was great to get a few days solid competition practice and we made some big steps forward.

My original intention had been to enter both girls in the Discovery and 1.05 on the first day but actually the Discovery was quite a friendly track or maybe I am getting used to bigger tracks? So just Fliss who has not jumped competitively since November jumped this class and did a nice double clear.

Very happy to win this class although it turned out to be the only frilly of the 3 days competition.

Both girls then went on to jump a decent 1.05 class and we had another double clear from Fliss and just a rail down from Ellie when I misjudged a distance. While we had the weekend before jumped a Newcomers at Duchy I was well away a Single Phase Newcomers at Chard is a different proposition. The course builder Steve Williams always builds well up to height. I walked it and there was a decent treble in the course but brave pants were on and Ellie was entered.

I am over the moon with how well she tackled the course. She actually made it feel easy, yes there were 2 mistakes but she was by no means out of her depth and she enjoyed her round. If she can jump a Newcomers at Chard then she should be able to jump one anywhere!

Day 2 and both girls were entered in the 1.05 and Newcomers. It's seems unfair to Fliss to focus on Ellie's Newcomers achievements just because she is small and we have come so far together. What we must remember is that a year ago I hadn't even jumped a course on Fliss and to be jumping her 3rd Newcomers in that time is a huge achievement. She was fabulous again on day 2 jumping a super double clear in both the 1.05 and another decent Newcomers track. She has a huge jump and is very bold, she wasn't always the easiest with her enthusiasm.

Ellie meanwhile jumped a good round in the 1.05 for a double clear, sadly the competition was such that solid double clears were not being placed and at this point in their education we are not ready to be fast! Ellie and I managed another Newcomers and again 2 mistakes, the first of which was totally mine when an old habit of taking out a stride reared its ugly head! However again she showed that this level is comfortably in her capabilities.

Day 3 Ellie had the day off jumping not that she appreciated this I think she was more put out than anything else. However having made big strides forward and tried so hard I didn't want tired mistakes to creep in on the last day. Fliss who was still rather fresh just jumped the 1.05 and we had the only pole down in the 5 rounds Fliss jumped. I just over shortened her and we lowered an upright.

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