In the world of equestrians, everyone either has a sponsor or wants a sponsor.
When you think of a ‘Sponsor,’ what comes to mind? Is it free product? It is a financial donation? Is it a tax write off? Is it all of these things?
Sponsorship comes in a few different forms:
An in-kind sponsor is a sponsor who donates a product in exchange for something, typically advertisement. Most of these sponsors will receive an ad in a program, on a banner, or on social media or a website in exchange for their donation. Often times, the more products a sponsor provides, the more benefits they receive from the sponsored rider, organization, horse show, etc.
A financial sponsor is a sponsor who donates money in exchange for particular benefits like advertisement or opportunity. Like an in-kind sponsor, most will receive an ad in a program, on a banner, or on social media or a website in exchange for the donation. In the case of a special event or horse show, a financial sponsor would be provided with premium seating, free drinks, or access to a VIP area, for example.
When I talk about sponsorships, I like to emphasize that sponsorships area a two way street. For example: yes, you may be receiving a $500 pair of designer boots at no cost, however, you still need to earn them by upholding your end of the agreement.
In most sponsorship relationships, there is a written contract between the “sponsor” and the “sponsored” that breaks down what each will provide in exchange for services. For riders, this may be a monthly or quarterly requirement to promote the sponsor on social media and/or wearing the sponsor’s logo at a competition. For horse shows, this might mean a banner at a specific location, a website ad, and a VIP bracelet. No matter the agreement, it is very important to make SURE you are fulfilling these requirements.
If you are a sponsored rider or hope to be one someday, here are my top tips for a successful sponsorship.
- Schedule your agreement requirements. I highly recommend writing your requirements on a calendar dedicated to sponsorship management. This helps you stay organized and reminds you to complete certain tasks on time, which help keep your sponsor happy.
- Share important dates with your sponsor. When you create your upcoming events schedule, send it to your sponsor! Let them know where you will be and when. You can also share it on social media and tag them in the post for them to share, too.
- Provide your sponsor with photos. Sponsors love seeing pictures of you wearing their logo, feeding their supplement, using their product, etc. And, if you are required to submit high-resolution photos to your sponsor as part of your agreement, please make sure you do so, even if that means purchasing them from a show photographer.
- Thank your sponsor regularly. Call me old fashioned, but nothing takes the place of a handwritten thank you note. Thank them often—especially after you receive new product.
- Communicate with your sponsor. If you want to make the most of your sponsorship, talk with your sponsor regularly. They love product feedback and enjoy hearing updates on how you and your horse are doing. They especially love it if you tell them these things and then post a review on social media!
Thank you to Chelsea Smith of Smith Equine Media for contributing this helpful blog post.
At the age of 18, Chelsea followed her love of horses from Western Kentucky to the Horse Capital of the World. Once in Lexington, Ky., she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Equine Science & Management from the University of Kentucky and a Master of Business Administration degree from Midway University.
Chelsea’s quickly growing business, Smith Equine Media, LLC, offers marketing services, website design, social media administration and sponsorship management for equestrians and equestrian-minded businesses and organizations.
Chelsea’s extensive network in the equine industry started with positions at notable equine organizations including the University of Kentucky’s Ag Equine Program, the Kentucky Horse Park, the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, the United States Equestrian Federation, the United States Dressage Federation and the American Association of Equine Practitioners. In addition to running her own business, Chelsea also serves as Webmaster and Membership Chair of the MidSouth Eventing & Dressage Association.
Chelsea and her husband reside just minutes from The Kentucky Horse Park at a small farm in Paris, KY. An avid equestrian, Chelsea competes her two off-the-track-Thoroughbreds in eventing.