This blog was written by guest blogger; Lindsay Garpestad, Miss Rodeo Montana 2016.
Sponsorships, when done correctly, benefit everyone involved. The cost associated with being a rodeo queen can be stressful. However, approaching sponsorships as a business-minded woman can make dreams come true and create friendships to last a lifetime. My goal is to encourage rodeo queens by educating them, and the boards they work with, about finding and keeping sponsors. Developing business skills not only helped me afford my journey as Miss Rodeo Montana, but profoundly matured my public speaking and interview skills that allowed me finish in the top five at the Miss Rodeo America Pageant.
As someone who has both anxiously approached potential sponsors and sponsored rodeo queens through my photography business, I honestly believe the most important element in gaining and keeping sponsors is having the rodeo queens develop their own relationships with sponsors. Businesses want to get to know the young women they are supporting. If you walk through the halls of Montana Silversmiths or other businesses, you will find photos of former Miss Rodeo America’s and hear the impact each rodeo queen has left during their year. This means the young women, not their parents, board members, or family friends, should be proactive in interacting with sponsors and growing these relationships without others making sponsor interaction complicated and a hassle to business owners.
To most girls, sponsors are not handed to them, they must work for them. Not everyone plans to run for a title a year or more in advance, but if you do, I strongly recommend you start writing down the names of businesses that are involved with the activities you are already active in. In addition, it is essential that girls are involved in their communities long before they have a crown. I met many of the business owners and managers that would later sponsor me at 4-H events, Special Olympics, rodeos I volunteered at, and numerous other activities. One strategy I recommend is reaching out to your 10 closest family friends and asking them to make a list of the names of business owners and managers they know personally and do business with. Then, ask your friends to call and let the owners and managers know someone will reach out to them. Business owners get asked to financially support different causes on a daily basis, having a trusted friend make the first contact helps reassure the business that you are of good character and worthy of consideration.
The purpose of sponsorships is to finance your year and promote the businesses who support rodeo. One way to optimize the use of sponsors is to do research on your sponsors and your needs. First, make a list of products and services that a specific sponsor could help with. For example, instead of asking someone for $1,200 in order to sponsor your hair and nail needs for the year, contact someone who can actually provide the services. That allows you to use the cash towards travel expenses, promotional material, and other needs. Second, do research on potential sponsors. Some sponsors have far more liquid assets than others. For example, a small vet clinic may only be able to donate $200, but a bank could do far more. Knowing how much each sponsor can give and what type (in-kind or cash) each sponsor can provide will help optimize your sponsorship benefits.
Finally, sponsors get asked to donate every day. Why should they support you? Businesses look at sponsorships as a business deal and not a handout to a pretty lady. Therefore, you need to offer benefits in return. There are multiple strategies towards providing benefits, but I recommend typing out a form that breaks down what sponsors get for each value level. For example, for $200 a sponsor could get an autograph sheet, a social media feature post, and their names listed in the program. However, for $1,200 sponsors would receive, a patch on a shirt for non-arena appearances (you can’t wear patches in PRCA arenas), a logo on your autograph sheet, and 3 social media features. Having benefits clearly listed and following through will help make things easier on you and your sponsors.