BY AVERILL PESSIN
Hunting down sponsorships for your horse show is a tough job. Your emails go ignored, and the companies that do reply often don’t have a lot to offer. To help with this arduous task, we spoke to several brands and gathered their Top 10 Tips for horse show managers:
1. Be professional in your approach.
Have some knowledge of the brand you are messaging. Companies are more likely to support an event where they have (or could have) a strong customer base. Demonstrate that in a personalized, well-written email!
2. Be realistic, creative and flexible.
If your horse show is small, your sponsorship packages should reflect that. Brands understand your need for sponsorship to fund your horse show, but big dollar amounts for a small show don’t attract sponsors. Offering donation options outside of your packages is a great way to welcome smaller brands or companies that haven’t worked with you before! For gift donations from companies in your area, offer to have someone to pick them up to save the company the cost of shipping.
3. Have a great social media presence on Facebook and Instagram.
Keep your accounts running, and build them all year. A last minute flurry of posts right before a show won’t be effective with the current Facebook and Instagram algorithms — no one will see them. Ideally, you should be courting, promoting and thanking sponsors all year, especially when they are setting their budgets over the winter.
4. As soon as a brand commits, post an announcement.
Reward them with an immediate thank you! Use their logo and ALWAYS include a link to their website. On the day of the class, do a post announcing the class and sponsor. Later in the day, do another post announcing the winner and thanking the sponsor. Ask the class or division winner to post and tag the business. More is more.
5. Give them the spotlight!
Avoid sponsor overlaps. Ideally, a sponsor wants to be the star of a social media post and will want to share it to their own pages. Many will be reluctant to do that if there are other brands mentioned in a post.
6. Give exclusives!
Offer a non-compete clause for large sponsorship packages. A non-compete clause is your agreement to not accept sponsorship from a competing business. Brands are more likely to be generous with sponsorships if they can lock out a competitor.
7. Social media posts should always have the full business name – TAGGED!
If you abbreviate the name of a business or forget to tag them, you are doing nothing to help their business. For prize donations, include a beautiful photo showing the brand logo and don’t forget to include a link to their website wherever possible.
8. Show some initiative!
Don’t just offer to do PA announcements — write a sample of one you would do for them. Be pro-active, and write a sample to send with your sponsorship request! Genuine caring, enthusiasm and an understanding of marketing will really set you apart from the 87 other requests they receive.
9. Offer a vendor space at no charge.
Promote it throughout the day at the horse show.
10. Think long-term.
Create a relationship. If a brand sponsors a division, they should have first refusal on it the following year. It is way easier to re-sign a returning sponsor than chase down new ones.
If you employ these techniques when searching for sponsors for your event, you’re sure to garner success!
At the end of the day, horse show sponsorship is a business arrangement. A brand is happy to sponsor, if they feel there is a good return on their investment. They want to feel the marketing exposure they gained from the sponsorship justifies their financial commitment.
While companies love to donate gifts and prizes to be kind, they do need to live within their own budgets. If your horse show proves to be a great use of their marketing funds, they will be thrilled to support your show year after year!