Sponsorship, as I have come to learn, is a nightmare for most company's because everyone believes that they are deserving of free product without having earned the privilege. That's right, I believe that being sponsored is a privilege, not a right! So I am going to discuss what I believe, in my opinion, is how you "get" sponsored, maintain sponsorship and how to represent sponsors in a professional manner.
To "get" or earn a sponsorship, one must know the products of the company inside and out, forward and backwards. You must demonstrate this knowledge through social media, person to person verbal contact and pretty much 100% of the time you are out and about your daily life. Also, volunteering at potential sponsors booths at major shoots, even if its just running errands. This is all to demonstrate willingness to represent the company and your knowledge of the product. It is also a learning opportunity for you too learn from the owners and staff more about the products, how they were designed and tested and what did and did not work during the design and testing phases. Yes, this seems like a lot of work but these things are necessary these days because things are tougher now because company's are shy about giving out free products or discounts because they have been burned in the past. I will go over this in my closing statement!
Maintaining sponsors is easy at this point because you have already trained yourself to do the work needed in getting the sponsorship, but there is still more to it! Now you are putting company logos on your cases, clothing, and vehicles and you must represent yourself in a professional manner. You can't get into road rage incidents while badging your vehicle because it brings unwanted and poorly gained attention to yourself and the company. You can't become involved with verbally offensive or threatening discussions on social media to include belittling someone for not shooting the same equipment as you, because of some perceived inadequacy with their equipment.
To represent your company, you show your product and help others with theirs and plant the seed that they might do better with your product, but never demean anyone! Treat every encounter as if they are your best friend in the whole world because they just might end up there. Company's now a days ask for your social media name so they can check your posts. They want to see how you handle yourself in this social environment. They DON'T want to see a perspective shooter that's ugly in the media. In today's social media, "ugly" sticks around for a long time and doesn't come off easy. These are things that can kill a fledgling company before it has a chance to get going or damage a big company so they actually have to recover from something the shooter did out of callousness.
Company's use to give out products to get shooters on their staff, to get their name out their but it mostly backfired on them because the shooters would jump from company to company or just not come through with representing as they promised. Now we have to work hard to get a discount and prove yourself so that the companies don't feel like they are getting ripped off. I have only been shooting for 3.5 years and I am almost fully sponsored. I work the social media about 2-3 hours a day and a lot more on the weekend. I have built trust with my sponsors in that they know I am with them for life and will not be going anywhere else because of "a better deal"! I am a one and done type of guy. I have no interest what so ever in going anywhere else. So in conclusion, it takes hard work, deep passion and a love of what your doing to get, maintain and represent companies in today's society!!!! Shoot straight, burn some centers and I'll see you soon.