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Skater’s Guide to Understanding Sponsorship Levels
For those new to the sport of skating, the concept of sponsorship may seem to be a bit confusing at first. Part of that confusion comes from the various types of skate sponsorships available. Here's a quick overview to help clear things up a bit:
Some skate related companies offer nothing more than product discounts to their sponsored skaters and call it a shop sponsorship. In my opinion, this is an affinity marketing program disguised as a sponsorship. Even still, it does have financial benefits to skaters who frequently use the company's product. An example of a discount centered program would be an Against the Odds skate sponsorship. Against the Odds is an extreme sports clothing company that is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Sponsored skaters receive 40% off the company's skate products. If you are interested, you have until October 24th, 2012 to submit your sponsorship request. On occasion, discount only shop sponsorships may lead to other opportunities. Therefore, amateur skaters just starting out may want to consider applying for them anyway. The other opportunities could include free product and the chance to evaluate prototypes.
A flow sponsorship is traditionally considered a step above a shop sponsorship because it involves the regular distribution of free skate gear to the sponsored riders. It is also a bit more difficult to get depending on how much the company is investing in its riders. As a business entity, the sponsor understandably wants to get a return on his or her investment (ROI). This desire to get a quick ROI inherently causes the company to closely scrutinize the skater's skills, personality and marketability. It also makes applying for a flow sponsorship a lot like applying for a job. In terms of event sponsorship, the amount of product given is typically equivalent to the amount of advertising or publicity the company believes it will receive from supporting the event. An example of a company that offers skaters a chance to apply for a flow sponsorship with the potential for transitioning to an amateur sponsorship is Leap of Faith Skateboarding. You can apply for sponsorship with them via e-mail. Additional details are available on the company's website.
The next level is an amateur skate sponsorship. The benefits of an amateur sponsorship generally include all the lower level sponsorship benefits as well as more aggressive promotion of the skater on behalf of the sponsor. The criteria needed to secure one are usually more stringent than those assigned to flow sponsorships. The sponsor will typically expect you to have a proven competitive record, marketability, professionalism, skills and a work ethos that fits in with their company's mission statement. If you are seeking such a sponsorship, I'd suggest that you consider applying to a company that advertises multiple layers of sponsorship. Doing so will allow the company's reps to get to know you over time. Hopefully, as the reps get to know you better, they will like what they see and transition you into an amateur sponsorship. One such business entity that offers flow to pro sponsorship opportunities is the They Clothing Company.
The final level is pro sponsorship and it is typically offered to skaters who have earned it by coming up through the ranks of the sport. Pro sponsorship benefits vary and are typically negotiated by the skater or his designated liaison. Some of the benefits include monthly stipends, pro model products and increased media exposure. It isn't a level of sponsorship that you apply for. It is offered to you by companies seeking your services.
My children are skaters and I have a history of following the sport. In addition, I have a degree in marketing and experience with sporting event sponsorships.
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