How to Promote Your Small Business to Winter Sport Fans
More than 24 million Americans hit the slopes every winter, and millions more tune in to watch winter sports on television and online. Snow sports fans are spending money, too — to the tune of more than $4.3 billion on sports gear alone last year! All of those fans add up to a great opportunity for promoting your small business.
The next Winter Olympics are more than two years away but that doesn't mean there aren't lots of opportunities to sponsor winter sports athletes. Getting in with an athlete in a non-Olympics year means you'll likely score a less expensive deal, and have plenty of time to build a great working relationship before the Beijing Winter Olympics roll around in 2022.
The cost of a sponsorship varies widely. Deals can go well into the seven figures range or start at a few thousand dollars, depending on many variables. Some athletes may even agree to barter deals, where they promote your small business in exchange for free products or exposure, meaning your out-of-pocket cost is zero. In general, the more well-known the athlete — and the more you're asking for as part of the deal — the higher the check you can expect to write.
Sponsoring a professional snow sports athlete can serve as the tentpole of your winter promotional calendar, giving you fresh content during the cold months and beyond for marketing promotions and social channels.
Here are five best practices to help ensure peak partnership performance.
1. Align with an athlete who fits your brand's personality, mission, and product or service.
You should always strive for authenticity in your marketing, because customers are smart enough to spot the difference. Sponsorships are no different. If you align with the first athlete to say "yes," you may be in trouble when you find out he or she isn't a great fit for your brand.
With almost 150 athletes ranging in age from Gen Z to Gen Xers comprising the seven sports that make up the 2020 U.S. Ski & Snowboarding Team, you should have no trouble finding an athlete who is a great fit to your values, mission, and culture.
2. Structure a deal that's a win-win-win.
Any sponsorship deal should culminate with wins for three very important audiences: The business, the athlete, and — most importantly — your customers. Before you sign a contract, make sure you've outlined exactly what you'll get in exchange for your dollars — and what you'll give in return.
Think about what's going to move the needle for your business. It could be:
- Social content
- In-store appearances
- Logo placement
- Tickets to high-profile events?
Think, too, about what value you can provide to the athlete beyond just dollars and exposure. Then, work with them to ensure the ultimate winners are your customers. Can you offer them an exclusive product or unforgettable experience?
Remember too that a sponsorship should never be a single-year strategy, because it will likely take longer than a single season to see a dollar-for-dollar ROI.
3. Make it fun!
Sports are meant to be enjoyed, and sports marketing is no different! Make sure you're injecting fun into your campaigns. The personality of your business — and of the athlete — should shine through.
One fun way to highlight your partnership is to register several .ski domains and create landing pages for your business. They're a great way to promote exciting offers that are high-value for your customers.
4. Don't crash in the off season.
Athletes don't quit training in the off season, and you shouldn't stop marketing, either! When you're designing your content calendar, make sure you're thinking beyond competition (and powder!) season and schedule content for when your customers aren't hitting the slopes.
5. Consider whether going through an agency makes sense
If you've never sponsored an athlete before, you may decide to hire an agency that specializes in the practice. You'll likely end up paying more than in a direct negotiation, but you'll also have the peace of mind that your deal is being overseen by seasoned pros.
If you don't have an agency budget, focus on working with lesser-known athletes who aren't being pursued on a national level. It doesn't take a partnership with Lindsey Vonn to move the needle for your business; sometimes, an up-and-coming hometown hero can help garner tons of attention and goodwill from your target audience.
The view from the top
Winter sports fans represent a huge market opportunity even if your small business isn't in the performance sports sector. Don't be afraid to get creative and make big bets. After all, as any skier will tell you, you miss 100% of the jumps you don't attempt!