How to get Clients by Sponsoring Sports Events

Sep 27, 2019

By Tim Saye

The next episode in our series of offline channels to gain online clients we look at how you become a sponsor and use the opportunity to grow your audience.

Sponsoring is a strategy that suits those personal trainers who've been in the industry for some time and have built a business, relationships and network in their local area already. Don’t get me wrong, if you're just starting and have excess budget to spend on marketing, you can use this method as well, but generally newbie fitness professionals may not have the resources just yet.

Step 1. Pick the Event

Ideally, you’d like to stay local, and ensure you choose an event that has a good reputation, is reviewed as well organised and sells out every year.

Checking the track record of the organisers in the information age is very easy, use Google to find reviews, testimonials and forums where participants shared their experiences. Don’t just look for the last year but check out previous history.

Another aspect of the selection process is the type of participants you can find on these events. You’d like them to fit your ideal client criteria. A local 10k or half-marathon run race could be a good starting point if your services target hobby athletes, parents and focus on injury prevention and sports performance. You will also find many people enter a 5/10k race as a kick-start challenge to get back into shape. If your niche is mostly in weight loss, you will likely find ideal clients there too.

Step 2. Agree on the Terms

Once you've made your choice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the organisers to find out the terms, the financial commitment and the perks. You're better doing all of this well in advance as event organisers tend to close agreements early, so everybody has time to prepare their marketing channels and then spend months campaigning before the event.

When they tell you the sponsorship fee, do your maths before agreeing. Understand that it may be hard to predict the ROI, however, based on how many people participate normally and with how many of those you'll be able to engage during the day you can decide if it’ll be worth it for your business. Not to mention you will be mentioned everywhere they advertise, so you don’t only get exposure on the day, but for months during the promotions.

You can also interact with the racers, and the spectators from your stall provided you build one, and if they don’t have anybody to do the group warm-up, you can offer to lead it.

Another great way to put your name out there is to offer something that goes into the race packs or the goodie bags of the finishers. If there are hundreds or thousands of attendees, that would give you many potential leads. Make it an offer they can’t ignore.

Step 3. Get Working on Promotions

Once you agree to the sponsorship terms, you can get onto creating a marketing strategy for the months leading up to the event to drive traffic to your relevant web pages and blog articles. Here are a few ideas to give you some directions:

- Hold a workshop about running technique, sport nutrition or any topic that may be relevant to the event. You can co-host it with the event organisers to get more exposure and fill the room.

- Publish articles on training, nutrition and injury prevention as well as motivational case studies if you have them, so people realise that completing such an event is achievable.

- Create a lead magnet and host it on your website. Offer those who download it a free assessment where you get the chance to identify strengths and weaknesses and showcase your expertise. Even if they don’t sign up with you right then, you’ll have people who can spread the word.

- Keep promoting relevant articles, videos or guides via your social media channels and always tag the event to receive more attention.

- Organise community runs aiming to increase mileage or work on a particular event related goal.

Step 4. Plan the Day of the Event

There are a few things to consider when it comes to the race day:

- Are you able to do everything alone, or do you need assistance? If yes, find people you trust to help you out on the day.

- Are there going to be any road closures? If yes, how will you arrive at the location in the morning and what time? Will you need to get in with a car to drop things off or will the organisers provide things for you?

- Are you doing the warm-up? Do you need to design the routine in advance? Are you comfortable talking into a microphone in front of potentially hundreds of people?

- In what way do you plan to engage with people? Will you provide a service on the day, maybe hold a challenge or offer the finishers a thorough assisted cool down in an exchange of contact details?

- Once you know the answers to all those questions, you can decide how to proceed, maybe hire help or ask friends or colleagues. Revisit your list regularly to check if you are still headed in the right direction.

Step 5. Enjoy the Day!

There’s nothing more disheartening than seeing a personal trainer or fitness business professional not being enthusiastic on event day. Adrenalin levels peak for those taking part, and they will appreciate smiles, encouragement and seeing fitness professionals enjoying the vibe and helping everybody along.

If you decide to offer a service in exchange for email addresses, ensure someone is there to monitor the process and take contact details where necessary. If you're in the EU, you need to adhere to GDPR guidelines to handle personal data, so ensure your form meets all the criteria, particularly about asking for consent.

Step 6. Follow Up

So, you now have potentially hundreds of email addresses. Don’t let them sit there for days or weeks, get on your email marketing and send them a welcome email within a day while they still remember you. You can send some recovery tips, including food, stretching and advice on how to train on the first week after the event. Then keep providing great value to the subscribers and invite them to follow you on social media or check out your articles.

If you consistently provide great value, over time, those that need the type of help you provide will find you when they're ready and may join your face to face training or online personal training services.