Every aspiring rider is always ready for that first sponsorship to come their way. Here are some things to think about before you go searching.

Sponsorships are a major aspect of an elite athlete’s career. Alongside competing at the highest level, representing your favourite brand is a dream come true for many.

But how can you get your foot in the door and start showing sponsors that you’re interested?

We sat down with DK Brand Manager, Corey Stafford who lay down what it takes to become a sponsored rider as well as how best to go about sparking up interest and the different types of sponsorships that you can acquire along the way.

Q: How does someone set out to find a sponsor?

Corey Stafford: Ironically, no one “sets” out to find a sponsor, if you do the right thing on and off the bike then sponsors will take notice and come to you. Some key things that you can do straight away is being a positive advocate of the sport.

Active work on social media, coaching at local tracks, acting in a professional manner on and off the track will start to get you noticed.

This doesn’t always produce instant results but having this evidence as a source for good character qualities is always a great reference for interested parties.

Alongside looking at the rider and their abilities on and off the track, sponsors also look at the support system surrounding the athlete. The parents in particular are taken into account when looking at sponsoring younger riders.

Q. What are the different types of sponsorship a rider can get?

CS: Stafford believes that there are three different types of sponsorship available to Australian riders. They are:

  • Factory Team: A factory-backed team is one sponsored by a bike manufacturer (The word “FACTORY” gets used to often with teams and I’m not sure that many really understand the meaning).
  • Sponsored: One who is paid or supplied product at no charge.
  • Supported: One who receives product at a discount through brands or bike shops. Under the DK tent, we have “Factory” and “Supported” teams.

Q. What does the athlete have to do in return for sponsorship?

CS. This is a very important point for all those aspiring riders who want sponsorships.

When in discussions with sponsors, stay away from talking about what YOU want and instead show more interest in what THEY want from you.

Many riders get caught up in all the free bikes, gear and rewards that can be a result of securing a sponsorship instead of looking at the bigger picture.

The key aspect sponsors want to see from their athletes is them having fun on and off the bike while promoting their brands to the best of their ability.

They just want to see you being active in the BMX scene which is why you would have been an interest to them in the first place.

Q. What does a business gain from sponsoring an athlete?

The key message that I share with all my riders that they are like a walking billboard for all brands associated with the team.

I could go out and spend that money on magazine and social media advertising.

But having riders attending gate sessions, doing coaching clinics and supporting local races not only builds our brands profile to riders and spectators, but also assists the riders in getting noticed which means that can start building their own profile.

Q.  Is it important to find a sponsor that is a good fit for your personal brand?

CS. Riders should choose what they feel is best for them and the results they are chasing. If you know that you’re not a fan of that product or team, why run with it and support them?

Q. When is it the right time to approach a sponsor and what do you need in your proposal?

CS. The right time to approach a sponsor is when you feel that you can offer a brand something that they are looking for.

Many parents have sent in proposals about their four-year-old child who is set to be the next big thing.

If their four-year-old child has thousands of followers on Instagram then sure! Bring that to the attention of a sponsor and the ball can start rolling.

The key point when considering whether to approach sponsors is to ask yourself, “How can we help this brand sell more product”. If you don’t know the answer, then maybe wait a while until you’re ready.

The number one rule when sending in a proposal is to never lie about results. With easy access to results, it is very easy for brands to be able to check whether you’re telling the truth and I’ve  seen it many times in the past.

So, there you have it! If you’re in the process of looking for sponsors remember that they won’t just look at how you go on the track.

It’s all about how you interact around it and that you are an avid supporter for the sport itself.

Don’t get preoccupied in what they can do for you, think about what you can do for them.