Even though competitions have started to return to our world, we’re nowhere near back to ‘normal’ yet. But that doesn’t mean that, as a sponsored rider or a brand ambassador, you can’t promote the businesses that support you. Actually, they need you now more than ever.
And the thing is, if you want to remain sponsored or supported by these businesses, now really is your time to shine. It’s no secret that many businesses have been hit really hard by coronavirus. Some have pivoted, some have moved online, some are still evolving — but it’s not been the spring and summer that anyone would have planned. When things like this happen, when companies have to furlough staff and make redundancies too, it’s essential that you’re shining out to them as an ‘activity’ that makes a difference to their marketing, that delivers a good ROI (return on investment). Because if you’re not, you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position.
Now is your moment to shine. And it’s not that difficult to make a difference without leaving the house…
The easiest way you can support your sponsors is by actually supporting them online. Comment on their social media posts. Share posts you like onto your social media or up to stories on Instagram. Make sure you’re checking their social media regularly so you can comment, like, share, and show support. Keep an eye on their website and share new products when you see them or feel your audience would be interested.
This is such an easy way to help and if you as a rider have an engaged following, it can really make a big difference. You don’t need to share every single post as that could well annoy your followers, but be aware of what’s happening and think about what could work. You’d be amazed at how few people do this simple step.
Allocate time to feature them on your social
Now the competition season is starting up, don’t forget to plan in regular slots to talk about your sponsors. You could have a slot in your schedule each week where you focus on a sponsor. But please put some effort in here. Don’t just say ‘I’m sponsored by x, thank you x’. Explain your favourite products, how you got to know about the brand, their family story, what you use and why, anything you can do to educate your audience around the brands who are supporting you, what their products do, and your experiences. The experiences and your voice are what make what you offer different to a Facebook ad. Your voice is what engages your audience. So put some time into thinking about how you can ‘speak’ in a way that keeps everyone happy and interested.
Offer to host lives on your platforms or to be a guest on theirs, and promote it too. Spending an hour on a sponsor’s live, having told your fans you’re going to be there, or hosting them on one of your lives, is easy to do and everyone can win.
As with above, think about the situation. Maybe you have a feed sponsor? Ask them to come on and do a ‘feed clinic’ on your channel with your followers and you. Sponsored by a saddler brand? How about top tips on making sure your saddle still fits before competition season starts? Work on ideas to ensure you’re delivering value to your audience in a way that also helps to show the expertise of your sponsor. Don’t make it too salesy. Think outside the box.
Quick note here, Instagram allows joint lives very easily with one other person, but if you want to expand this, you could consider a Zoom call (that you either livestream to Facebook or have a group chat), use Facebook Rooms, Streamyard; there’s lots of ways you can increase the interaction for all concerned.
Create content for them
It might be more challenging to meet up for specific campaigns, shoots and more at the moment, but there’s nothing to stop you creating content for them. You may not be able to produce a beautifully edited vlog, but the chances are you or a member of your team could take their phone and film a behind the scenes at the yard, a day in the life, a training exercise… don’t worry if it’s on the phone. Authentic, real content performs really well on social media anyway, and with a bit of thought from you, you will create lovely things.
Offer a takeover
This is often done on Instagram stories as it’s the easiest place to do a takeover, but these can also be really useful (especially if you make sure you tell your followers where you are!). Many brands, quite rightly, don’t give other people the logins and passwords to their accounts, but a takeover can be done really easily through WhatsApp. This means that you as the rider WhatsApp your short video and pictures over to the brand for them to upload with your tag, words (if you like), etc.
Ask what they’re working on
Pick up the phone and ask them. If they’re a clothing sponsor, their next collection might be due in very soon. Maybe they have a new supplement hitting the shelves soon that you could help launch? Find out what they have coming up and, if possible, put forward some creative ways to promote it. You could run a competition on your platform, or even stage a fun fashion show on YouTube, make a funny TikTok that taps into current trends — think outside the box.
Sponsorship is getting increasingly difficult to secure for riders at all levels. Rhea Freeman investigates what sponsors are looking for
We investigate easy ways to delight the brands you work with
Offer remote opportunities
Many coaches have been offering remote training during Covid-19, and there’s no reason why you can’t harness this idea and offer some kind of online experience with you. Maybe you’re a coach and you could offer the opportunity for someone to win a lesson with you? Maybe you could put together some training exercises that you can share with someone after assessing their riding, instead of a lesson? Maybe you can take someone on a remote yard tour and they can ask you questions about the horses? There’s a lot you can do…
And when your sponsor’s tradestand does get out and about again, do your best to support this too. It will definitely be different normal, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be great. Shout their presence out to your followers and, if you’re heading to the event, why not really make the most of that opportunity too. While remaining socially distant and covid secure, of course.
We are continuing to produce Horse & Hound as a weekly magazine during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as to keep our website at horseandhound.co.uk up to date with breaking news, features and more. Click here for info about magazine subscriptions and access to our premium H&H Plus content online.