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Getting the hookups: Sponsorship is a two way street - Chapter 2
By Bill Mills - Jan 2005
WARPIG File Photos By Dawn Mills
This article is a continuation of Getting the Hookups: Sponsorship is a two way street. You may read Chapter 1 here.
In the first installment of this article we considered what value a company logo on a player’s jersey can be to a sponsor, and why it isn’t always something they can use. But sponsorship for publicity’s sake isn’t the only thing paintball companies need.
Publicity is not the only thing you have to offer
Let’s get real, if you don’t have the track record of big wins, there is no way you’ll be able to convince a potential sponsor you’re any different from the thousand other teams who think they will be next years big winners. While publicity is probably the basis of a sponsorship most people want, it’s not the only way to work a deal. It’s easier, because it usually doesn’t mean much extra work, but some potential sponsors might benefit from your team in ways other than getting their logo or product in front of a lot of people.
In the 1990s, the Phantom Jesters were an amateur tournament team who took home their share of trophies at NPPL events and the International Amateur Open (some of the team members later went on to become NXL referees.) One of their main sponsors was Pro Team Products. One of the things the Jesters were required to do as a part of their sponsorship package was supply one or two people a day to work in Pro Team’s booth at the Paintball World Cup. This met a need Pro Team had – additional staff for their booth, and since they knew the Jesters were familiar with their products, the team was able to provide the sponsor something they might not be able to get through many other people.
Paintball fields are a great potential sponsor for an exchange of services arrangement. Field owners always need workers – whether it is for clearing brush and building bunkers, or refereeing games. For a field owner, if they can get workers without paying out cash in salaries for them, they’ve helped their bottom-line. A fairly common sponsorship arrangement between a paintball field and a team is for the team to provide an agreed upon number of people to work at the field for a set number of hours each month in exchange for not having to pay to use the field for practices, and a discount on buying paint.
The more angles you cover, the better the deal
Publicizing your team, by making sure publications know about things you do and submitting stories and photos may not close a sponsorship deal on its own. It can however, sweeten the deal if you’re doing something else for the sponsor. In the mid 1990s, before I’d ever played in a tournament, I was a sponsored player wearing the I&I Sports logo. I’d developed visibility as a writer in paintball magazines and on the Internet, and helped I&I launch their presence on the Internet, customizing shopping software to work with their existing store databases.
So, let’s assume that our hypothetical friend Joe has read this article and taken the lessons to heart. What might his conversation with Tim at Fly Rite paintballs sound like?
This phone call started out the same as the first example. Why? Because Tim definitely started out on the right foot. One thing he did understand is the good buddy angle. At paintball tournaments and trade shows there are usually opportunities to chat with people from the paintball industry – at lunches, player parties, trade show booths, and at many events at popular night spots frequented by attendees (such as Old Town Kissimmee during World Cup, or the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel at the International Amateur Open.)
Little things, like helping someone carry their boxes from their car to a trade show booth can make a big impact. If there are two teams both vying for the same sponsorship package, and one of the teams has taken the time to get to know, and make a good impression on the company reps, guess who’s going to get the deal.
OK, back to our phone call.
Tim: What are you guys looking for?Nice move by Joe. He's found a way that his team doesn't have to be the one that wins the tournament to get the sponsorship benefits linked to the publicity of the win.
The key to setting up a good sponsorship deal is remembering that it’s not paintball welfare. Sponsorship is a commitment between two groups to help each other, so they have to both benefit in real ways. Figuring out what you or your team have to offer a potential sponsor is the most crucial step in finding a sponsor that can provide what you need.
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