I started working with Dynamic Discs in 2009 part-time, helping them with tournament videos. Shortly after that, I began assisting them with their social media growth, and then in 2014, I moved to Emporia, Kansas, to work for them full-time until 2021. I worked closely with sponsored players, helping them with social media, and served on the board of directors for Dynamic Discs. I was often involved in discussions about players being sponsored.
With this experience under my belt, I wanted to share some insights that might help you when seeking sponsorship in disc golf.
What Does Getting Sponsored Mean?
In the world of disc golf, getting sponsored is akin to entering a partnership where a company supports your disc golf career in exchange for promotion and representation of their brand. This symbiotic relationship can take various forms but fundamentally, it means that a brand sees value in associating with you as a player. Sponsorships are a sign of recognition and validation of your skills, potential, and influence in the disc golf community.
A sponsored player often becomes an ambassador for the sponsoring brand, showcasing their products, representing the brand in tournaments, and engaging with the community in a manner that aligns with the brand’s values. In essence, it's not just about wearing a logo on your shirt; it's about embodying the spirit of the brand and becoming a face that people associate with it.
Types of Sponsorships in Disc Golf
1. Product Sponsorship: The most common type, where companies provide free or discounted disc golf products like discs, bags, apparel, and accessories. It’s a great way for players to access high-quality gear without the financial burden.
2. Financial Sponsorship: More selective and often reserved for top-tier players, this type includes direct financial support. It might cover tournament entry fees, travel expenses, or even stipends. This type of sponsorship is a significant boost for players looking to play professionally, as it alleviates the financial strains of competing at a high level.
3. Brand Ambassadorship: In this role, a player actively promotes the brand through various channels like social media, YouTube, or personal appearances. Ambassadors might host clinics, participate in promotional events, or engage with fans online, all while talking about the brand.
4. Media and Content Creation Sponsorships: For players who have a strong presence on social media or content creation platforms, brands might sponsor the creation of disc golf-related content. This could include vlogs, instructional videos, product reviews, or lifestyle content that integrates the sponsor's products.
Which Type of Sponsorship Do You Want?
Hone your skills
If you are looking to have a company pay for your tournament fees and/or the cost of traveling to tournaments then you will want to work on being a good player. Regular practice, participating in local leagues, and entering both amateur and professional tournaments are key. This not only improves your game but also demonstrates your commitment and progression in the sport.
Creating a Personal Brand
In today's digital age, creating a personal brand is almost as important as your skill on the course. This means establishing an identity that resonates with both the disc golf community and potential sponsors. Your personal brand is a reflection of who you are as a player and an individual – it encompasses your playing style, your attitude, your online presence, and how you interact with the community. Are you the friendly, approachable player, the fierce competitor, or the knowledgeable strategist? Your brand should authentically represent your personality and values.
Social Media Presence
Social media is a powerful tool in building your brand and increasing your visibility. Platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok offer fantastic opportunities to showcase your skills, share your disc golf experiences, and engage with the community. Regular posting of high-quality content such as playing highlights, practice sessions, tournament experiences, and disc golf tips can attract a following. Engagement is key – respond to comments, interact with other disc golf profiles, and be an active member of online disc golf communities. A strong, positive social media presence can make you an attractive prospect for sponsors, as it extends their reach to your audience.
In essence, building a strong foundation for sponsorship in disc golf is a blend of skill enhancement, personal branding, and effective use of social media. It’s about being a player that sponsors would be proud to associate with, both on and off the course. This foundation not only sets the stage for attracting sponsors but also lays the groundwork for a sustainable, long-term relationship with them.
Maintaining and Growing Sponsor Relationships
Securing a sponsorship is just the beginning of a journey. The real challenge lies in nurturing and growing this relationship. A successful partnership is beneficial for both the player and the sponsor, and it requires effort, commitment, and strategic thinking.
Open and consistent communication forms the backbone of any strong relationship. Keep your sponsors updated about your schedule, achievements, and activities. Share your plans for tournaments, training, and any promotional activities. When you achieve milestones, big or small, let them know. This not only keeps them in the loop but also shows that you value their support. If you face challenges or setbacks, communicate these honestly. Sponsors appreciate transparency and may offer support or advice.
Delivering on Commitments
When a sponsor invests in you, they have expectations. It’s crucial to deliver on the commitments you've agreed to. Whether it’s wearing their brand during tournaments, posting on social media, or attending promotional events, ensure you fulfill these obligations professionally and enthusiastically. Meeting your commitments not only strengthens trust but also opens doors to potential future opportunities and enhancements of the sponsorship.
Providing Value Beyond the Basics
While fulfilling your basic obligations is essential, providing additional value can significantly enhance the relationship. This could include giving constructive feedback on products, actively participating in product development discussions, or offering to take part in extra events or campaigns. The goal is to become an invaluable asset to the sponsor, not just another player on their roster.
Engaging with the Community
Sponsors often value players who actively engage with the disc golf community. Participating in clinics, volunteering at events, or being part of community-driven projects can reflect positively on your sponsor. It demonstrates your commitment to the sport and your role as an ambassador for the brand.
Seeking Feedback and Being Open to Growth
Regularly seek feedback from your sponsors on how you can improve your partnership. Be open to constructive criticism and willing to adapt. This shows that you’re committed to growing and evolving, both as a player and a brand ambassador. Remember, a sponsorship is a two-way street, and showing a willingness to grow with the brand is invaluable.
Securing a sponsorship in disc golf transcends merely displaying a logo on your apparel; it's about forging a mutually beneficial partnership that extends both on and off the course. To attract and retain sponsors, players must focus on refining their skills, cultivating a personal brand that resonates with potential sponsors and the community, and leveraging social media effectively. Once a sponsorship is secured, the journey evolves into maintaining and nurturing this relationship. This involves consistent communication, meeting and exceeding the sponsor's expectations, actively engaging with the disc golf community, and seeking continual growth and adaptation. By embracing these strategies, you can not only attract sponsorships but also develop enduring, fruitful relationships that benefit your disc golf career.