“Mikael, can you please tell me how to get sponsorship?”
I must have heard this question a thousand times from potential explorers and adventurers. I think a quarter of all emails I receive today want to know. They are mainly from young people, from all over the world, who want to organize their first adventure and just don’t have the means.
First of all you need to know that believing you are the perfect prospect for a sponsor is not enough. Most bids fail. No matter how good your idea, sponsorship comes with time and a good track record.
Even then it is not easy: I spend a lot of my time looking for my sponsors. So, to help, I have put together three tips for all those budding explorers keen to get out there.
1. Ask yourself: Do I really need it?
I know many first-timers want sponsors because they think it looks cool, professional, and impressive having a lot of logos on their gear. Travelling like I do, in the hope of uniting cultures, one doesn’t want to look like you are competing in a highly commercial Formula One race!
Where keeping a high profile is important, by all means, go for the badges and branding. But remember, there are other ways to market your potential sponsors. I also know, after dealing with lots of sponsors, that most of them today don’t want to be over-exposed: Being too commercial is the same as not being too serious.
My point is, if you have the funds, it is a better choice to avoid sponsors: Less work, less stress and you run everything the way you want. Don’t worry: if you want to start with a historical expedition, you definitely won’t need money for all the gadgets and the best gear.
My advice is: If you haven’t done a serious adventure before, do one. Then try for sponsors for your second outing.
A potential sponsor wants to see a track record of what you have done. So, a better choice initially is to work and save money!
2. Think: What does a potential sponsor want? What can you offer them, which all the other explorers cannot?
Just as an example: I have a friend who is in charge of Canon’s sponsorship department, and he gets 300 requests for sponsorship per day! Only ten per year are successful, and almost all of these are from well-known explorers.
It’s not a hopeless cause, however. Just try a new perspective if you are not already established or famous enough.
3. Plan: Target only sponsors that fit your vision, and find sponsors that will become your friend.
Some people will do anything for money. And this applies to some within adventure and exploration circles.
Remember, the future will judge you by who you cooperated with. If your expedition has an ecological theme – most have today, since this sells and looks good – why sign up with a sponsor who has a poor record on these issues and is purely commercial?
I would never deal with a sponsor if I don’t have a personal relationship with them. This familiarity means you both know what you want, and unnecessary problems won’t arise. So find the ones who fit your vision and it will prove a great partnership!
I hope these three tips are of use. Please get back to me with your opinions or questions and I will try to help!