Business Savvy: Securing Sponsorship as a Rider

Doug Payne and Quantum Leap. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Anyone who has evented for a season or two will know that a smart horse and a few decent results are unlikely to be enough to secure the backing needed to get you to the top. Taking your riding to the next level very often requires sponsorship, and for aspiring professional riders, this is notoriously difficult to obtain.

But the backing of sponsors can give event riders a real leg-up (pun intended), offering them a huge number of new opportunities. Alex from EQuerry / Co offers some key strategies for securing sponsorship as an amateur rider and/or aspiring pro. To read the latest on USEF rules and regulations surrounding amateur status, click here.

The Benefits of Sponsorship for Amateur Riders

Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Sponsorship is where a company commits either money or resources in exchange for specific promotional benefits. This may be having a well-known rider wear their clothing, or a social media influencer use and post about their bedding. Service-providers can also sponsor riders — providing physiotherapy, farriery or veterinary treatments.

Collaborations are beneficial to both the rider and brand. Equipment and product sponsorships can save riders thousands in expenses, giving them more time to focus on their horses and the development of their career. They can use the money saved elsewhere – such as on show fees, travel costs or new horses. Financial sponsorships can enable riders to work with their horses full time.

Both professional and amateur riders can obtain sponsorship, although the type of sponsorship can vary. While professional riders are more likely to be offered financial backing (where the business pays the rider directly to promote or be an ambassador for their product), amateur riders are more likely to be provided with equipment, products or services in return for promoting the brand.

Securing Sponsorship – 3 Important Tips

Allie Knowles and Morswood. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Understand What Makes you Unique

It’s important to remember that sponsorship is a business transaction, and must benefit the business as well as the rider. They are expecting results in the form of more eyes on their brand and increased sales. They are likely to select their sponsored riders very carefully, ensuring that the rider’s audience is the same audience they are looking to attract.

Understand what you can bring to an equestrian business. If you work full-time and manage your horses outside of work, you are able to bring a different perspective than a professional rider with a string of horses to run. Think about what appeals to your own audience, and brainstorm a list of companies from there.

Don’t send mass emails to every business you like the look of. Research specific companies one at a time, looking at their current riders to work out what they are looking for. If you can offer something different, you are more likely to forge a successful collaboration.

Be Proactive

Unless you have hundreds of thousands of followers, you may find it difficult to attract the attention of your favorite brands. After all, there’s likely thousands of riders trying to secure the same thing.

Reach out to brands directly (via email, not DM!). Remember that this is a business arrangement; they are not simply sending you free products. Make it clear how the company will benefit from the arrangement, and offer some creative ideas of how you could promote their products.

Take the time to find out who manages the sponsorship opportunities, and get in touch with them directly. Find out their name, job title and email address. Before reaching out, thoroughly research their products, mission and values. Show a genuine interest in their offerings, and tailor your proposal to highlight how their products or services align with your own goals, as well as the goals of your audience.

Remember, You Are a Business

To attract potential sponsors, you need a strong personal brand. You are a business, and should have the same business-like approach for each brand you connect with. Create a comprehensive sponsorship package detailing how you will represent that specific brand, whether it’s through brand ambassadorship, social media promotion or participating in events.

The ultimate goal for brands is to get more eyes on their business, which will eventually convert to more sales. Keep this at the forefront of your mind when reaching out and interacting with equestrian businesses.

This article is brought to you in partnership with Equerry / Co, specialists in the delivery of bespoke equestrian marketing strategies, website design and brand development. Get more business savvy info here, and stay tuned for more right here on EN.  

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