How to get
Just as you can make BBQ as simple or as complex as you like, Competition BBQ can be as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it too. It is true that you don’t need to spend a lot to have a good time: I competed on rescued Weber kettles for years before I finally got my first stick-burner – a Radar Hill Smokers Vertical Offset. However, if you want to get serious about your BBQ, you need to invest in some good gear, and compete often. These costs add up quickly. To help you out, here’s How to get Sponsorship!
What is Sponsorship & Why do you want it?
Sponsorship is when a brand decides to partner with your brand. For more information on forming your brand, check out my how-to on Branding. They do this for promotional purposes: they want to partner with you to sell more of their products. Helping you achieve your dreams is a secondary reason. The primary reason is to sell their products and this is an idea you need to remember throughout this entire process.
Now that we’ve established why a sponsor is interested in sponsorship, you need to be clear on why YOU want sponsorship. In essence, you want sponsorship so you can keep your costs down. However, when talking to sponsors, you need to dress this up a bit, like ‘Sponsorship would help us to compete in more competitions and cement our place as a top team in QLD’! In other words, make sure you know why you want sponsorship beyond just the money.
One final point to make is that Sponsorship is a two way street – if you already have a following, your sponsor will get access to your audience when you talk about them, tag them in social media posts etc. It also works the other way. By doing the above, you will also get access to their audience. This a great mutual opportunity to both grow your following and therefore your client base. The decision as to who to partner with needs to be strategic as well as financial. But more on that later…
What to look for...
The sponsorship scene is not as big in Australia as it is in America, but it is growing and there are many companies out there looking to partner with a BBQ team. Some ideas for the type of sponsorship to look for include Pit, Meat, Rub, Sauce, and Fuel. Other ideas include alcohol (there are loads of beer companies who want to get into the BBQ scene!), fuel (for your car) and cash (for entry fees) sponsors. Essentially, sponsorship could be product, or cash.
Always remember that sponsorship agreements will be long-term relationships. To this end, get to know your potential sponsor and ask yourself the following questions:
- Can I work with this person / these people?
- What is this person’s reputation in the industry?
- Does this brand fit in with the values and vision of my brand?
You can’t just lob into your local butcher with your hat in your hand and expect people to throw money at you. You need to do your homework first. We’ve already discussed some points earlier, but there’s still more.
First of all, do some research into who’s in the industry, and in particular which segments you’re looking at. Then purchase some of their product and decide if you love it. If you’re going to be representing their brand you need to love, not just like their products. If possible, document your results for including in the pitch later. If you’ve got some social media channels, try tagging them in some related posts, to put yourself on their radar. This is also how you strike up a relationship with them – essential before approaching them.
The last thing you absolutely must do before moving into the ‘pitch’ phase is to make sure you fully understand what makes your brand unique: what sets you apart from the pack. For example, Smoking Hot Confessions is all about teaching, learning and sharing. Other teams have their eyes set on being the #1 team in the country.
As stated above, you cannot simply turn up and expect a hand out: you need to have a good pitch. The best one is a written document that you can send to people, or leave with them after you’ve spoken with them. There are some essential components to this document that you must include.
1. Information about you / your team / your brand. Include a background or history of your team, the members of your team, and your brand’s vision and values.
2. Info about low’n’slow. Depending on the potential sponsor, you may need to include some info on the low’n’slow scene, and why it’s exciting to be involved.a
3. What you can offer the potential sponsor. Do you remember the 1st lesson at the start of the article? Brands will want to sponsor you in order to sell more of their product. To this end, they are going to want to know what you can offer them.Here’s a pro-tip: Content is King. Simply putting up a poster at a comp won’t cut it. Sponsors want shareable content that offers them third-party validation. This means they want things like photos, videos or blog posts that are easy for them to share and show someone real (you!) using their products.
You may also need to offer them services of your own. An example of this might be performing public cooking demonstrations at your local butcher, or interviewing your sponsor on a Facebook Live video.
4. What you want from a sponsor. It’s important to be very clear on what you want from them. Always ask for more than you’re willing to settle for, but remember if you ask big, you have to offer big: whatever you propose must be win-win.
One important tip is to not put a dollar value on what you offer. Unless you are a marketing professional, you probably don’t know what $1000 worth of marketing looks like, for example.
That said, do measure what the sponsor wants from you against what they’re offering you: 100 hours of your time for $400 worth of meat is not a particularly good deal.
Finally, the basic rule of business also applies to sponsorship: always under-promise and over-deliver. Give your sponsor more than they ask for. This will ensure a good relationship and put you in good standing to renegotiate when your agreement is up.