Sponsorship: help with understanding HOW.
I am planning the trip of a lifetime that I hope it will be the first of many. My problem is off course finding the money to do it. The plan has always been to write a book about my experience and also to put together a photographic book, myself being a photographer. These are undoubtedly interesting points for a possible sponsor.
My question is one and simple: how do you get sponsors? In particular I am interested in the following:
1. How do you introduce yourself successfully to a company? A standard letter from someone who has done it successfully will help enormously.
2. What do you ask for? For instance, is it too much to contact BMW and ask them to donate a bike? Or Canon for a top of the line camera? Will they think I am completely mad and not ever reply? Some friends told me that trying doesn't hurt and they can only reply with a no. But I think that the first impression and therefore the introduction, will pretty much decide if you get anything at all. I think the very first approach is the most important and for this reason I am quite nervous about getting started.
3. I have noticed that many travelers are sponsored by Touratech... do they offer their products for free or just a tiny discount?
4. When a company provides something do you have to give them back at the end of the trip or are items yours to keep?
Any more info on this issue will be greatly appreciated... I don't know much in regard!! :confused1:
Thanks a million!
Overland to Japan - Official Website
Generally you need a track record of having begun ambitious bike trips and seeing them through. Most marketing managers will have a hundred stories about people that presented a great proposal got the gear and either never even began the trip or failed to complete it. If this is your first trip, then it will be really tough. If you havent had motorcycle or travel related storied published before as well, its going to be significantly tougher again.
You should also have track record of getting material published - in travel or motorcycle magazines, books, TV, DVDs etc
It also helps immensely if you are bringing a unique angle to something. If you are doing a trip that 1000 people have done before then u dont have much of an angle at all - it will help if you are disabled or a woman or a celebrity or something that will capture the publics imagination. Remember its about Marketing.
Anyone who gives you something is after a return. They need to look at how much extra product they will sell as a result of helping you. What coverage you can offer them, what exposure, how many books you realistically expect to sell etc is all info you should include. You cant just write a blanket letter saying I am doing this, can I have one of those. They are only interested in giving you product if they are going to get a return ... you need to clearly demonstrate how.
Bike manufacturing is a small numbers game. You are most unlikely to get totally free stuff from anyone in the motorcycle or adventure motorcycle world unless you can really knock the ball out of the park re the points above. If you are lucky you will get cost price gear. Bike manufacturers almost never give away bikes. A couple of them will lend you bikes and you return them to them when you are finished your project (as they do with bike journalists). For adventure travel this will probably happen half a dozen times a year globally, if that, across all manufacturers.
Some other areas may be more likely to get free gear. Camping gear for example.
But in general it is not easy and you are taking on a lot of obligations. You are essentially a brand ambassador for anyone who sponsors you. You need to do all thats reasonable to make their product visible, well represented in your reports or photographs . You need to deliver end product, not just say you will.
Thanks! Got a better idea now.
Not only think hard of all that Colebatch says but remember you have a moral (if not actual) obligation to your sponsor(s) and suppliers to keep your end of the deal.
That is to first do the trip whatever obstacles arise before and during it - and then after get the publicity, articles, books or whatever on sale.
Wherever, whatever your trip goes, most of it will become a blurred 'mish-mash' of disconnected memories, with the hundreds of minor memories lost.
I know that only too well, from reading Colebatch's book!
Whatever happened, wherever we closed the day, without fail Colebatch sat or lay down with his LapTop for 20 or more minutes writing up the days events. The locations included -
- in a tent pitched on ice and snow remains, at over 2,400M altitude, above a frozen lake and having shortly before had a bad river crossing that soaked his sleeping bag and clothes,
- in an old hut, running with rats and huge wood ants, after a day in which we managed less than 5 miles, including pushing bikes through a chest high river - the rest being pure bog through which we just manhandled the bikes (actual miles ridden on the bike was possibly less than half!),
- after a 24 hour riding day (close to the Arctic Circle) in pouring cold rain having to cope with no electrics on his bike meaning he could not stop, and a succession of flats on mine, coupled with gummed up radiator that meant I never got far at a time before having to stop,
- a night out as Guests of Honour at Harley Davidson Bar, Kabarovsk
without fail my last recollection of every day was of him tapping the keyboard. THAT was part of the commitment that is needed.
For myself, I prefered to dig deep in my pocket and fall asleep!
But I wonder, if the pockets were not there, would I take on such a commitment?
At my age, probably not.
If I were younger? Despite being a fairly determined person, probably not either!
(And as you may know from my posts, writing words is no problem to me - from the comfort of my home or dacha.)
Thank you Tony, golden words. My memory being a total waste of God's time, I know how important it is to write something down every single day. Will most definitely do. :thumbup1:
What if you start preparing a sponsorship dossier? It could also help you to understand in a more objective way your strong and weak points.
By sponsorship dossier I mean a document to be sent to your potential sponsors where you introduce yourself and explain the goal of the trip, particularly what makes it so special (you are a professional photographer and plan to witness the reality of the scarceness of water resources in the old Silk Road, see how it has changed over the centuries, the future challenges or if it may be the trigger of future conflicts, whatever your point is or you can create! Or you’ll follow the same route as Sven Hedin, etc.), maybe the NGO you are supporting (that’s appealing today, say one digging wells? Sorry if it sounds selfish or superficial), explain the vehicle, the exact route (pics, maps, etc), your previous works and trips to prove your expertise and ESPECIALLY the exposure and business opportunities for the companies sponsoring you (stickers with logos on the bike, appearing in the media; banners on your website, which as many visits; the chance to test their products on the way, etc, relating to the case, go for companies related to water industry; I mean companies of a different field, as an alternative to motorcycle gear, where you would need a bigger motorcycle exploit to find sponsors), tell the contacts in the media you have and the interviews on radio, tv, articles in papers you have already agreed or given/done about this expedition, or your pre-agreement with a publisher, etc. To keep in mind, PR departments send the newspapers articles ready to be published, so that papers save the work of preparing them. The condition is to write objectively (I lived that a lot when I worked in the olive oil industry, sending news to the papers telling we had won a prize to the best olive, etc). Actually, all the people whose trip appears on the paper as “a couple sets off to Australia on their old Citroën 2CV in a life-changing quest/to raise funds for Save the Children” are ALL sent by the couple to the media. They need/want exposure and they create it themselves. Of course, it is not that the paper found out that this good fella planned a cool trip and the journalist called him to have a interview, it is the other way around. Or the sponsor's PR deparment will do.
So, the sponsor will take it as business, therefore you’ll need a business approach, formal, showing business opportunities, so this dossier, articles, etc will be a must for them to take your project into consideration. Needless to say that then the trip will become sort of the job which will imply obligations, as mentioned before. As TonyP said, you’ll trade your freedom/rest for the benefits of the sponsorship. In fact, I guess that having that support may also be considered as a personal success, since you are able to believe in you and your project. In your case, Pros: economic support and you will force yourself to work hard because of your commitment, which may be good for your future book. Cons: you won’t be totally free any more, which may be especially hard if you only get 1 sponsor, but still have the same obligation with it as if you had 20.
Just my understanding and how I see it. Hope it helps.
EDIT: I've just visited your site (I missed the link) and seen your banner of "Lifesaver: working to end water poverty". How come I thought the same about water? I found I HAVE SUPERPOWERS!:eek3::taz::eek3:
I know of vary few people that have ever had sponsorship that needed it. And of them most have been given a little by few.
If you are going to do this you need to get your name out. Ytube, blogs, books and the rest. And that is long befor you start asking for items and getting money is long bet.
You are a photographer now so you must have a few top of the line cameras and with all the gear and leses you have you will not need any more now. And how will you ridding on a bike get them anything someone flying on a plain and renting a car not get them? Many pros go on shoots with crates of gear, lenses, lights, booms, pods, computers and power to run it all.
I Do not think Canon or Nikon will want one of there $8,000 cameras and a few $5,000 lenes to ride on the back of a bike If there is a chanse of loss. And there is a good chance it will end up in a river and stop working or the vibration damaging the parts in them. I know I have a kit lese that has lost AF and maby VR. There not going to hand any thing to someone that will not wow them. Think more National Geographic less snap shot.
BMW may hand out a bike or two a year but most do not. once word gets around XYZ hands out bike for you ride around on there will be endless list of 20 and 30 somethings begging bikes. TT Dose sponser people but most people use the sickers they got in boxes to hid scraches.
Now your best bet is to find people that make items you need but are not from the big makers. Ask them for one inreturn for storys and pics of you using them for there adds. But you are going to need to show them you can do this as in show them a story of riding around the world (fake or not matters little) and how there say .... tent and sleaping bag was home for a year and how it felt like going home setting up the tent and how you felt safe and dry in it. (photoshop backgrounds to add punch to the adds/story)
You can also try and do "food network" deal with you flying and ridding around eating things that most people will not. It is getting old but this is a new twist on it who knows they may even pay you.
You best bet is to forgo the sponsors for most items drop tents and most other cammping items. Sleep where you can couchsrfing and cheap hotels this adds to the drama. Wright for travil and moto mags for money, pics to fill the up the pages. Ytube the trials of the trip and gain a following you can make a bit off the adds there and get help on the way and may even get people to sponsor you that way.
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