When thinking about sponsored athletes, do images of logos on clothing come to mind? While logo placement is definitely a part of sponsorship, it’s a very minor part. There is so much more athletes, in all sports and of any level, can offer to sponsors.
Athletes, by the very nature of what they do, are great content resources for a company’s social media and other marketing activities. Whether you’re approaching a new sponsor, or wanting to improve a current sponsorship, you will stand out from the other athletes and give true value back to your sponsors if you think outside the square.
Here are my three favorite creative ideas.
Athlete: Long distance trail runner
Sponsors: Nutrition and protein products
Creative idea: Athlete was invited to lunch at a MasterChef kitchen and challenged the chefs to create a dessert platter using his sponsored sports nutrition products. He filmed it, and the video went viral.
Athletes: Male gymnastics team
Sponsor: Watch brand
Creative idea: Team suggested the watch company run an international challenge against other elite gymnastics teams. The challenge was to hold a one-handed handstand for the longest time, using the watch to time it. Really nice, natural product placement. And a fun activity encouraging widespread engagement.
Athlete: Race car driver
Sponsor: Premium car manufacturer
Creative idea: The driver collaborated with a DJ and graffiti artist to hold a public event with live music. The artist covered the race car with graffiti using the sponsor’s colors and logo. The driver raced in this car for the year. So cool!
The key is to look at the company’s marketing activities developed to achieve their business goals and see what you can do to add value to those activities. Examine how you can enhance what they are already doing. Then consider how you can make it easier, more effective, faster, or cheaper.
Here are some great ideas from me and some of the amazing athletes and industry professionals who are part of my Athlete Hub group:
1. Collaborate. Get together with other athletes, artists, musicians, and photographers.
2. Create a challenge. Think of a creative and fun challenge that will allow your sponsors to showcase their brand, products, or services while connecting them with their current and potentially wider audience. If your sponsor is a nutrition powder company, create a challenge for people to come up with the best recipe.
3. Bring your expertise to the business. Use another skill or qualification you have. For example, maybe you’re an artist and can offer to paint a commissioned art piece for the company’s foyer.
4. Bring your expertise to the staff: yoga instructor, nutritionist, mindset coach.
5. Get the product used in a creative way. Take your nutrition sponsor’s products to your local cafe and ask them to make some cool and simple recipes using the protein powder.
6. Unique photos. Offer to do 365 days of snapshots. Place the products in unique or famous places.
7. Competition. Create a fun competition using the product. For example, Where’s Wally–hide the product in a place that’s hard to find and snap a picture. Hand out photos and have participants search for it.
8. Offer to interview the company’s other athletes or staff for their social media and internal communications.
9. Coach Fraser Cameron at Changing Stride suggests: Try a quiz night. The athlete invites their entire network, including other athletes, coaches, sports admin, friends, and family. Have some guest speakers, such has athletes, the marketing manager, and the CEO. Sell tables for the quiz. The company could provide the prizes. Questions would be topical about athletes and sponsors, fruitful and less successful relationships, and the sponsor’s products or services. Also, provide an opportunity to talk about the future. The goal is to create a community, a joint athlete and company family.
10. Run a team building workshop. Discover something the sponsor’s staff is struggling with and come up with fun activities to help the team work together to solve the problem, face a fear, or learn something new. It would be great to use elements from your sport in this session.
11. Jup Brown, Charity Runner and Brand Ambassador suggests: When planning an event or adventure (or even a training session), offer to start, go through, or finish at the sponsor’s office or shop. Adding this to your event is great for you and the sponsor. I changed the start of my Canada ride to do this. We even had a send-off party at the site the night before. It was great to meet people before I started and show that the company is getting behind many different things. I thought of this while I was sitting face to face with them, explaining my plan. They felt great and became more interested in my crazy idea. It was awesome for me because I had so many more people excited to follow me, share, and be a part of my ride before I even started.
12. Host a motivational lunchtime talk. Think about some of the ups and downs you experience as an athlete and of some of your most inspirational and emotionally charged stories. Share these in a way to motivate your audience to make some positive changes in their lives, face some fears, or even feel a little happier in their day.
13. Arrange a networking event for sponsors (yours and other athletes).
14. Offer a team building workshop or motivational talk that your sponsor can give to a client as a gift.
15. Get temporary tattoos made with your sponsor’s logo. Or a real one if you really love the company!
16. Offer to MC an event held by your sponsor. Ideas include fun runs, competitions, and community events. Be the person who lifts up everyone else. Show your expertise in the sport and throw some fun, cool facts, and statistics into the mix. It’s actually a lot of fun and a great way to be seen (and liked) by a lot of people.
17. Offer a “creative ways to give back to sponsors” workshop for their other sponsored athletes. Facilitate the workshop and get the conversation and creativity flowing.
18. Offer to support their charity of choice and raise awareness by dedicating a race or event and sharing posts on your social media.
19. Event activations. If your sponsor is planning to have an exhibit booth at a trade show or community event, think of ways you can make the day more effective for them. You could organize a social media competition that ensures people connect online and requires them to visit the booth. Or create a challenge at the booth, encouraging people to visit, such as a skills test.
20. Social media reporter. Offer your social media skills for one of your sponsor’s big events, such as a product launch. You could be the “paparazzi for a day” and capture all the fun and excitement including mini-interviews with guests and candid photos of the activities. And you can encourage guests to participate on social media.
Kirsty Starmer, Elite Volleyball Coach offers three final ideas.
21. A day in the life of the product. For example, if it’s a pair of trainers, take pictures of the shoes throughout the day.
22. A lot of people take pictures of mascots when they travel. It would be cool for the mascot to have a hat or t-shirt with the sponsor’s logo. It will take selfies to a whole new level.
23. Offer a content module for the company’s e-learning program. You could deliver your content or the sponsor’s. Or you could offer a motivation session to their staff. The options are endless.Sponsored athletes should tie marketing ideas to their sponsors’ business objectives. Click To Tweet
As your creative juices start flowing, always remember to tie your idea to the sponsor’s business objectives. It’s only great value to them if it actually helps them.
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