06 Jan Sponsor Development & Relationship
Understanding the importance of Sponsors for Professional Athletes and tips to keeping Sponsors
Sponsors: Recognizing the importance
When you become a professional golfer there isn’t an instructional booklet out there that you can refer to if you have any questions. There isn’t a ‘Professional Golf for Dummies’ book or a predetermined series of steps that you should make your checklist to be the best pro golfer you can be. Instead, you are thrust into a world of sponsors, mass media, renowned Hall of Fame players, upscale pro-am parties, difficult courses, weekly international travel, professional golf caddies, and tons and tons of fans. To say that you can feel overwhelmed is an understatement. And the whole time you are trying to adjust, you are fighting for your survival weekly on tour in tournaments trying to keep or improve your current status.
PGA and LPGA Veterans aren’t lying when they say that rookie year is the hardest and if you can survive, the following years should be a piece of cake. This is to serve as a guide to all first year professional golfers and to help with the transition from amateur to professional golf.
In my opinion, the most important factor in professional golf is the sponsors. These individuals or companies are the main reason why I have a job. They can come in the form of tournament sponsors or individual sponsors both the individuals that pay to play in pro-am’s (before the tournament) and sponsors of a professional tour player, and let’s not forget the fans that ‘pay’ to come watch you play!
Sponsors: Tips for keeping Sponsors and showing your on-going gratitude
The best advice I can give you is to recognize the importance of these people and thank them whenever possible. The first and most important thing you can do is to handwrite thank you notes on personal stationary to golf tour sponsors of the event and amateurs that you play with in the pro-am. Do it quickly and promptly after you play with them in a pro-am or when you finish a golf tournament.
Always remember Gratitude Not Attitude
The key sponsors are the ‘official’ tournament sponsors. The LPGA, for example, has a ‘Partner Profile Sheet’ which highlights the official golf tournament sponsors that they put into everyone’s lockers at each tournament to inform us of who the sponsors are for the week. It includes pictures of the CEO, CFO, etc. and important details about the sponsoring company. Take the time to read this, even google them on the internet, and become educated about the people who are supporting the LPGA, and essentially your career.
Next are the individual sponsors of a tournament and you will most likely play with some of them in a pro-am. Be sure to get their names and business cards (with email addresses) whenever possible. In addition, go to the sponsor pro-am parties, be able to identify them in a crowd and go up to them and personally thank them. It is good to build personal relationships with these sponsors because one day they could potentially sponsor you. Always remember that a small gesture can go a long way.
Always take time to talk to the Fans. They have taken time out of their day to come watch you play. They are the reason why official tournament sponsors are hosting the tournament. Try to remember when you were young all you wanted was a quick ‘hello’ or a simple smile. It will make someone’s day and it takes very little time and effort.
Take personal photos and put them up on your Facebook FAN PAGE (not your personal account). Tell them (fans and sponsors) to come to the FP that evening as they will be posted there. When you post the photos write a quick note about how much fun you had and maybe something funny that happened that day.
After the season, one of the unique things that you can do is to setup an email database (never use your personal email for spam and blocking reasons) with an on-line mailing system. I use Constant Contact. Then I write a yearly ‘thank you’ email and send out a massive email at the beginning of the year. I include everyone in that email blast and I recognize all the people that have contributed to my success.
Lastly, take care of your sponsors. This includes your equipment vendors, clothing vendors, sunglass, shoe or hat vendors and most importantly your family, golf coach, agent, caddie and manager. Send them a handwritten Christmas or Happy New Year’s card with a gift card from a national food, beverage or book company. Personally I love Starbucks! 🙂
Next in the Sponsor series – finding sponsors:
If you enjoyed reading this blog, follow me on my Facebook fan page to receive a notice when the next part of the series on ‘Sponsors – How to find key sponsors for a professional athlete’ will be published. Here is an excerpt from that article:
A major question I asked tour veterans this year, and now I am getting asked, is “how do I go about finding sponsors”? It all comes down to who you know and meet and if there is a connection between the sponsor and yourself. Finding key sponsors is easy if you know where to look but it will take some work……
I hope this blog answers some of your initial questions about sponsors on the professional golf tour.
Be sure to follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheAmeliaLewis & twitter at www.twitter.com/TheAmeliaLewis and watch for the next blog in this series!