As the saying goes, “money makes the world go ’round” and when trying to run your dodgeball empire this is no exception. One of the things that hinders teams year-in and year-out is having the finances to properly run the team. This can range from having problems with buying uniforms, being able to travel to tournaments, and even being able to buy dodgeballs for the season. So what are some solutions if your team doesn’t get the proper funding it needs? Fundraising? Raising dues? Make the rich kid on the team pay for everything?
All of those are legitimate options, but they can require a lot of time and effort, and generally aren’t fun to do. So what’s another option? Sponsorships. Almost every kid grows up dreaming of being in commercials and getting endorsements from big name companies, but now you can actually make that a reality (aside from the commercial part, probably). Here are some of my top tips for how you can get your team sponsors for the year, and ultimately ease the financial burden that comes with dodgeball.
Have an Offering Available
Simply put, you need to have something that makes that business want to invest in you. As nice as it would be for businesses to give money to you just out of the goodness of their hearts, that will not happen. They are a business after all, and they want to see a return on their investment. Thankfully, there are a variety of ways you can provide help including but not limited to: jersey sponsorship, other apparel sponsorship, distributing coupons for the business, being tax deductible (click here for info), website advertisements, social media posts, and (believe it or not) even tattoos. There is no wrong way in going about promoting that business except for not promoting them at all. Having some type of offering available and then following through with it is what will help land interest from businesses.
This also includes having price points ready to discuss. The more prepared you appear for a meeting, the more secure of a decision the potential business will have. Straight forward pricing for items usually works best (i.e. simple, rounded values) because it is easier for a business to manage. Another thing to consider is offering discounts to businesses for taking up multiple offers, such as if they decide for jersey and website sponsorship. The key is giving the appearance that you have prepared, and planned. If you show signs of making smart estimates and pricing then it gives you an advantage.
Understand a Business’ Needs And How You Can Address Them
In the most basic and practical view for your team, businesses can be divided into groups: corporations/chains and local/small businesses. Even though both are considered businesses, each has their own specific set of needs. In general it works like this, chains need customers and local businesses need exposure. Larger organizations like a Buffalo Wild Wings or Subway don’t need advertising help from a local dodgeball club because they already know that they are nationally recognized brands. What they want and are hoping to get through sponsorships is customer loyalty. Your team represents about 20-30 customers that can fill seats and orders at their establishment. If they can get you guys to come in a couple times throughout the year, then they are accomplishing their marketing goals.
On the other hand, your local mom-and-pop shop realistically does not have the advertising budget of a national entity. As a result, they want to be able to spread their name and awareness out to local people, and that’s where being a college group benefits your team the most. Aside from the 20-30 to people on your team, there are over thousands of other students that attend your university. Even through really cheap and easy promotional methods your club will be able to advertise to those thousands of potential new customers for that local business, which is exactly what they want/need. This works especially well for businesses that may struggle to tap into their local college market, so make sure you mention this during a meeting.
Be Open to Negotiate
At the end of the day, you are the one asking for THEIR help. Even if you have a great promotion plan or can possibly provide them a large customer base, there may be something else a business is looking for. Being open minded when discussing ideas with businesses is important, perhaps even more important than having a set plan. A willingness to negotiate with businesses shows that you are genuinely interested in their services, and can sometimes result in a better deal/idea that you may have never thought about before.
Cast a Wide Net
Believe me when I tell you, you are probably going to get rejected. A lot. Not every business has the resources, money, or desire to invest in your team, but that’s fine. There is never a guarantee in landing every business, especially when it comes to a business providing their money. The best way to find success is to branch out to as many businesses as possible. Start with some of the places that you believe you will be able to have the best relationship with (i.e. a favorite team restaurant or bar) and then gradually work your way down that ladder.
Communicating to as many businesses as possible, whether in person or electronically helps stack the odds in your favor of finding that interested business. Also, don’t be discouraged if you don’t land that “dream” business as your team’s sponsor. As I said before, not everyone is going to want/be able to invest in your team. Just make sure you don’t miss out on that business that is able and willing.
This last point might be my most important.
View a Sponsorship as a Relationship, Not a One-Time Event
It is very easy to walk away from a transaction with a business and just end it right there. But that word, “relationship”, is going to be the key word in getting a business’ attention. Relationships last for an extended period of time and are supposed to be mutually beneficial. By showing your loyalty to the agreement, it makes the decision for the business much easier. On top of that, if you do establish that positive relationship with a sponsor then they will also be exponentially more likely to work with you in the future. This will save you tons of time and effort in trying to find sponsors for the following season, and put your team in a better position for years to come.
There are always many things to think about when making a smart business decision, but these are the tips I believe are most important. If you ever have any specific questions, contact me so that I can help you in your endeavor!