In this 3rd part series I want to cover how you go about getting the two most likely things you’re after- GEAR and/or MONEY. I’m going to admit something right off the bat here so you don’t waste any time. To be honest, I’m not at all sure what the best way is to get money. We’ve been incredibly successful at getting gear- from watches, to clothing, kites, surfboards, paragliders and a lot more- some of it worth thousands and thousands of dollars. If you’re after GEAR, read on- I can help. But we’ve been successful in getting money- cash money only twice. So if you’re after money, take my advice with a grain of salt knowing we’re definitely not experts.
At this stage I’m assuming you’ve done everything laid out in Part I and Part II, or you’ve at least read them so you understand all the steps. Now it’s time to hit them with the big one- what you are going to need to represent their company. Your Pitch has laid out all the ways they are going to benefit, and how you are going to represent them but in my experience this company is going to try to give you as little as they can in return for as much as you can give. In every sponsorship proposal we sent out over the years we’ve always had one section that discussed, or laid out a few different options that a sponsor could take. I talked about this in the Pitch in Part II- at one end you’ve got a small commitment of some gear, at the other end you’ve got a large commitment of gear and a bunch of cash.
In absolutely every single case when we had a company bite and decide to sponsor us they took the least commitment choice I laid out. Not once was I able to talk them into more commitment. So clearly, this method we’ve stuck with doesn’t work and we should give it up. But my approach has always been to get the relationship started. Then prove how valuable you are, then revisit the contract- maybe a year in you go back to the Sponsor and say- “hi Mr. Sponsor, look at all we’ve done- we’ve had 14 features printed, we’ve had XX number of photos published. We want to continue to represent your company in style and we hope you feel like we’re worth it?” If Mr. Sponsor says “hell yes we want to continue!” then you tell them you need to renegotiate your deal and you’ll be sending them an email with the details. What Mr. Sponsor is going to have to decide is the value of the sponsorship and what they are willing to pay for it. And so are you. How many times have I been successful in renegotiating a deal? Not once- because frankly I haven’t tried, and that’s my fault. Again- we can always get more gear, that has proven easy. But money? Well I need to take some of my own advice, which follows.
But first- GEAR. Our recent deal with Niviuk paragliders is a perfect example of how to get gear. We had a friend in the paragliding business who knew one of the top guys at the company. He did the intro. Bang, the most important step is done. We followed it up with a short email describing who we were, and what our plans are. I gave them links to our sponsors page (companies love to see that you are already sponsored), as well as our media page (if you don’t have these then start working on them!), which always seems to work. I closed the email by saying we had a planned flying trip coming up where no one had ever flown and we could practically guarantee that they would get some great images for their own advertising use, and a couple of magazine features. Niviuk said they were interested for sure and could I send a proposal? We sent a proposal and they signed on immediately. I put together a short contract outlining the responsibilities of both parties making sure that the contract renews with more commitment each year. Done deal- the whole thing took less than a week and a month after we got the gear we’ve already done a deal with Cross Country magazine for a full feature to be published in the next issue, Niviuk has a huge selection of amazing flying images from Mozambique and Namibia compliments of Jody’s incredible eye. For the rest of the year anything extra we do is going to be just a huge bonus for Niviuk- we’ve already proven and delivered far and beyond what they were hoping for.
Another good example is our deal with GoPro. I first heard of the GoPro cameras through our friend and pro rider Mauricio Abreu. He gave me a contact at the company. Our whole deal was done in an email- I told them briefly what we were doing, showed them a few links to our site and said that we’d deliver in spades two things: 1) Quality raw footage from around the world as well as our short films (see Odyssey TV) with their logo in the films so people knew how we shot the footage and 2) that we’d sell a heap of their cameras to our guests. They signed on right away and have been a great sponsor all along. We’ve got duffel bags of GoPro cameras and attachments and most importantly- their products are something that we really believe in. What these companies want are ambassadors for their products- people in positions who can influence purchasers. If what you are doing is going to influence, inspire, motivate, etc.- then you can definitely get gear.
Now, MONEY. Those of you who follow us know that we just landed a nice contract with Eddie Bauer to provide regular video dispatches from our travels. This was the most successful sponsorship package we have negotiated to date. And here’s what I learned. 1) Let someone who really knows what they are doing help you. There are people in this business who have the contacts you need. If you’re after money- find them. In our case our friend Gerry Moffatt pretty much ran the whole show for us. He came out to the boat, filmed a short TV pilot introduction to what we are doing, then ran it by the powers that be at Eddie Bauer. Gerry is the head producer for all the video content at Eddie Bauer, so he obviously had the contacts we needed. But he did something we should have done way back in the beginning- gotten someone good to make a short film that we could pass around to potential players. People can understand and get excited about something with moving content a lot easier than on a page. Here’s the pilot- Eddie Bauer loved it (note all the logos in the film!) and they signed on immediately. So, instead of all those printed proposals- we should have made a video!
I realize that’s not a whole lot of advice on how to get money. But I learned another thing in the Eddie Bauer exchange and maybe this will at least help. More than a year before we did the video Gerry and I were talking on the phone – doing the very initial planning. We’d already done a high-gloss rather fancy proposal with all of Jody’s amazing images which he’d passed around. They were interested, but as they were a huge corporation (ie slow with decisions and methodical) he knew that it wouldn’t be enough- that we’d need to show them what we were all about. I mentioned to Gerry that we should start putting their logo into the Captain’s Logs, you know- show them a little “good will.” His response taught me more than I’d learned in a lifetime of picking up sponsorships, and it was a good life lesson as well. “Gavin”, he said, “no, we’re not going to do that. And you know why?… Because they aren’t paying you to do that.” Like the Joker says in The Dark Knight. If you’re good at something, you should get paid.
Well good luck! I hope this series has been informative and helpful. I’m happy to do a Part IV answering any questions that come up.