So you’re hoping to score some gear sponsorships for your upcoming ADV trip? Best of luck – getting sponsored with riding and camping gear or motorcycle accessories can be a great boost, especially if you’re planning a RTW or other long-distance journey where gear may need to be repaired or replaced as you cover serious miles and things just wear out. I’ve already talked about the reality of sponsored travel – it’s certainly not for everyone – but, if you’re at the planning stages right now and are just considering whether you should try for sponsorships or not, here’s what can help:
First things first: why do you want to get sponsored? There are right and wrong reasons for it, and you’ve got to be honest with yourself when considering potential sponsors. If you simply want free stuff for the sake of free stuff, that’s the wrong reason; it’s not how this works, and, even if you’re successful, that’s just taking advantage and contributing nothing in return. If, on the other hand, your goal is to test the gear to its limits and share the process and the results with a bigger audience, potentially helping other riders make their own choices and offer exposure to a brand you love, you’re on the right path. However, nothing is ever free – sponsorship deals vary, but in essence, there’s going to be a certain commitment from your part. Whether it’s blog posts, reviews, social media content, images, videos, or any other form of exchange, the gear you get has a price, and you need to decide whether you’re willing to pay it.
If you have a generous budget, is it worth securing sponsorship for a $400 product, then spending time and energy creating the content or exposure for the brand, or are you better off just paying for it and enjoying your ride the way you want to?
Once again, your ideas, your reasons, and your relationships with potential sponsors will vary, but you need to be very clear about what you want and what you can offer in return.
If you’ve decided to try for sponsorship, there’s a certain process to it. Shooting a random email to a company and expecting them to jump on board isn’t realistic – most gear and bike parts companies receive hundreds of sponsorship solicitations on a regular basis, and you’ve got to truly stand out to grab their attention.
First, do a little research on the brand you’re interested in working with. What’s their focus? Who do they typically sponsor? Some brands focus on athletes and racers exclusively, and your ADV trip may simply be of no interest to them. Others may prefer long-term RTW journeys to blitz adventures, and others still are interested in low-budget, no-frills off-road expeditions.
Next, think about what value you can offer. It may be content, presentations at adventure shows, images, or videos, or it may be long-term reviews or blogs; whatever it is, make sure you can deliver and don’t make promises you won’t be able to keep. Being honest and realistic about what you can and can’t do is key for both your and the company’s sake.
Finally, create a short and sweet email introducing yourself and your proposal. Don’t ramble on and detail your biography; stick to a few key points about who you are and what you’re doing, then explain why you need the gear and how you plan to help the brand in return.
If you get a positive reply, congratulations – all you’ve got to do now is work out the details. Some companies will want you to sign a contract, although most are happy with verbal or email agreements; some will want to define specifics, others are OK with you offering general exposure wherever you see fit – it’s up to you and the brand to decide on the deliverables and the relationship.
If you get a rejection (or no reply at all), don’t take it personally. Your project simply wasn’t a good fit; perhaps you can try them later as you go along, or maybe it’s time to move on or simply buy the product. Perhaps you can approach the brand again once you’ve spent some months on the road and have thoroughly tested the product, offering some feedback and insights?
When putting a sponsorship proposal together, remember that the hype of high numbers and flashy websites isn’t everything. Social media followers can be bought, website traffic can be boosted artificially; what brands are looking for are genuine people with genuine influence, and often, a small but loyal audience means much more than big numbers of fleeting attention. If you have that, and if the brand you’re interested in has the same values, you’ve got a good shot at getting sponsored.
Are you considering sponsorships? What has worked for you? Share in the comments below!