How to delight your sponsors at no cost to you

If you’ve bagged yourself a sponsorship or an ambassadorship, you’ll want to do everything you can to keep your brand or sponsor happy. This can feel like a big task but the good news is that for most brands, their requirements are actually fairly simple and don’t cost you a thing. Here we look at easy ways to delight the brands you work with.

Emma Warren is the managing director of equestrian jewellers Hiho Silver. This brand works with a number of ambassadors and a sponsored rider too: “When we pick people to work with, we look for a genuine love of the brand or it just doesn’t work for anyone. With this in mind, one thing that makes us smile is when our ambassadors just wear and use our pieces and share this on social media. This is one of the biggest things we look for and should be part of their life anyway, so they can do it with no extra effort.”

This is such an easy way to keep sponsors happy — simply using their products and making sure that they are tagged in your content so they can see it easily. This has the extra advantage to the rider or ambassador that they don’t need to send additional emails telling the brands what they’ve done. From an exposure point of view, if the brand decides to share this content it can have an additional benefit to the rider in their reach too.

“Tagging us is important on posts, but we are also very aware of the quality of our images,” said Melanie Clarihew, co-founder of luxury British accessories brand Mackenzie & George. “We are quite strict about what we share on our social channels because we like our imagery to reflect the quality that runs through everything we do. So the quality of the content plays a big role for us. Some people have professional images taken and that’s lovely, but our best performing content is usually shots taken of great moments, using a phone.”

Improving your photography can be a really good thing when it comes to your own social and brand and delighting the brands you work with. As mentioned, many riders and brand ambassadors are collaborating with or paying for photographers to come and do shoots at their yard, and although this can be really good for all concerned, it’s not always essential. It’s also very important to note that if professional images have been taken, the photographer will need to give the rider, ambassador and brands permission for their reproduction on social or in any other format.

Improving your own photography is a useful skill, but you don’t need to invest in expensive cameras or editing software, as leading equine portrait photographer Sophie Callahan explains: “Natural light is your very best friend. If you have good natural light your images will instantly be better because you don’t lose the quality that happens in low light. Artificial light casts shadows in strange places and often alters the true colour of your subject. Try and keep an eye on your backgrounds too, just making sure you don’t have something like an overflowing rubbish bin in the background will make your image so much better.

“As with riding, practice makes perfect, so keep going… take a few images of whatever you’re photographing and delete everything but the one you like the best. Changing the angle slightly can make a big difference.”

But it’s not always about still images. Videos, blogs, behind-the-scenes and other exclusive content that brands can share from the riders or ambassadors can make a big difference as it adds real value to the brand’s social media. At Christmas, Hiho Silver ran a ‘vlogmas’ campaign, featuring a variety of content including a number of videos from brand ambassadors and sponsored riders.

“For us, it was about giving something new to our audience that hadn’t been seen before,” said Emma. “We integrated content from our team with that of brand ambassadors and sponsored riders and it went down really well. In some cases, it didn’t take the creator a long time but it really helped our audience get to know them.”

Victoria Bodey is the founder of Equiboodle, a large tack shop in Cirencester that also has a large online presence. Victoria has just started working with local dressage rider Abi Lyle and has been supporting riders including Suzanna Hext for a while.

“When we pick riders to support, we always go for people who are known to us and who come in the shop and see us,” said Victoria. “Our whole business is built on being friendly, and that approachability is key for our supported riders. Abi is a great example of how this has worked as she’s been a customer for a long time and we’ve loved following her journey. She’s superb on social media and we love how she shares what she does each day on her Instagram stories in a really relatable and friendly way. Having someone who aligns with our values and is friendly, who also loves what we do and talks about us naturally on social media is really important.”

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Ideas can be a big one too. Brands don’t generally want to be the sole idea generator when it comes to how to promote a rider or ambassadors connection to them. Of course, they might have photoshoots, meet and greets on stands and things that can be led by a brand, but approaching brands with ideas such as collaborations, competitions, offering lessons or the opportunity for meet ups, and so on will always be popular. Whether the brand says yes or no on that occasion, it’s still hugely positive and shows you’re thinking about them and how to share yourself with them and their followers.

This is not so much an exhaustive list but more a really easy place to start. Communication is absolutely imperative when working with brands, and making sure this is maintained will go a long way to ensuring that everyone is happy and can grow and move forward together.

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