Author: Cam Price, Managing Director and co-founder of Keyflow®. Follow @camwprice on twitter.
Feed is one of the largest and most consistent expenses that the modern day horse owner faces. Horses are large animals that require significant volumes of feed to be able to grow, maintain good condition and perform at their best. Although a horses natural diet largely consists of fibre, we now manage horses in a very different way to how they would manage themselves in the wild. This has led to us providing diets of supplemented forage and concentrated compound feeds which, when done correctly, modern day horses thrive on.
In a competitive riders quest to lighten the financial burden that their chosen discipline demands, often the most logical and common sense place to start is to try and secure a feed sponsor. Of course this is not easily done, as there is plenty of competition; it’s everybody else’s starting point too, so to try and stand out is difficult.
I have been involved in the equine feed industry for over 15 years and in this time I have received a huge number of applications for feed sponsorship. Here I’ve detailed the most important factors I look for when being approached. If you’re thinking about applying for sponsorship these tips should help give you an edge and catch the eye of a potential feed sponsor.
1. Be Loyal
It is surprising how many people think it’s OK to contact every feed company they can find asking for sponsorship, all at the same time. A scattergun approach will never work, it shows that you don’t have an affinity with any particular brand or their ethos and you are only really in it for some free or cheap feed. These are not good foundation qualities and they are the opposite of what is looked for in a good brand ambassador.
A horse feed brand wants you to show that you already know, trust and use their products and have done so for some time before you approach them. You need to enthuse about their products and your experiences with them, as this is exactly what they will want you to do if they take you on as a sponsored rider.
2. Be Professional in Your Approach
You need to be able to communicate extremely well, be good with your grammar and generally professional in how you approach the company. You may be an excellent and ambitious rider but it is equally important that you can communicate the brands messages effectively as a sponsored rider and a good company will consider this important, we certainly do.
A professional and polished approach will show that you are a potential ambassador/representative who will provide good value to a brand.
3. Be Realistic
In most cases, asking for cash sponsorship is unrealistic. Proposing some form of product sponsorship is more likely to be successful. This could be in by way of money off/free bag vouchers or sometimes you could be delivered a quota of free feed.
Important Note: Bear in mind that most feed companies have retail stockists who they value highly- if they start giving you free feed, they are effectively cutting out these important customers. If you suggest you are very willing to work with your local feed store to acquire any sponsored feed, you will stand a better chance of success in your application.
4. Describe How You Will Benefit The Brand
Describing your successes in riding horses alone is not enough to capture a potential feed sponsors attention. You need to think a little more commercially – what benefit am I effectively going to give the company if they sponsor me? There’s no better time to outline this than at the time of application. Try giving details on the following:
- How you’re going to raise awareness – Talk about your equine network, who do you come into contact with regularly whom you feel you could influence.
- Visibility – how will you provide brand visibility i.e saddle cloths, rugs, signage on your lorry, clothing – new ideas for visibility are always welcome.
- Your credibility – who can vouch for you. Without obvious name-dropping, who might your potential sponsor know that can give you an unofficial reference and add to your credentials.
- Ask questions – asking questions shows that you are serious about providing benefit to the company. i.e. which events they are targeting that you can help at? It also evokes a response, which makes your application harder to ignore..
5. Know your strengths and talk about them
It’s not just about how well you ride or the success you’ve achieved. You may be a talented and respected trainer who holds a lot of influence with a lot of people – this is an attractive strength. Although absolute top, high profile riders can usually rely on their names to gain sponsorship, they are a small minority. Identifying, emphasising and highlighting your broad strengths will add a lot to your proposition.
From my experience, it i
s sometimes the sponsored riders who operate on the ‘second tier’ who provide the company with the most value. They tend to work harder for their sponsorship and talk about the brand more positively to more people. This may be your strength but you need to make sure it’s known about when you apply.
6. Provide Pictures, But Not Too Many
A few interesting pictures are good as they provide a visual reference, however, too many can have a negative effect- use discretion here. Also make them interesting and creative. Horses jumping is mildly interesting and extremely common, but you standing holding your whole team, photos of your tack room or you giving lessons is different and will set you apart.
7. Be Innovative
There is nothing a good feed company loves more than a new idea. If you have an innovative way in which you think you can provide extra benefit and value to the brand then talk about it. Being creative and innovative shows you’re ability to think ‘outside of the box’ which is a highly attractive attribute.
8. Remember It’s a Partnership
Having a sponsor is a two-way thing, it’s a partnership and you should refer to it this way from the very beginning, even during application. This gives the strong impression that you are a person who values relationships and you see a sponsorship arrangement as a long-term partnership. This is certainly how I see it.
Keyflow Sponsored Riders
We have two tiers of sponsored rider at Keyflow – Key Riders and Flow Riders. Together they are an integral part of the Keyflow brand and in 2018 we will be launching an exciting new initiative that will further show our commitment to these riders and our partnership with them.
If you’re interested in trying Keyflow’s Super Premium Feeds – why not request a free sample to get you started.