Do This to Get A Sponsor for Your FIRST Team. It Works.
I know some teams might be struggling to find a business to sponsor them. I get it, it’s hard to ask for money sometimes. But, it doesn’t have to be.
I would like to provide you with a way, a process even, of finding sponsors and approaching them. Here you go.
The very first step you do to get a sponsor is to ASK. Well duh David, I know that. Well do you? Have you walked the walk? It would surprise you just how many teams and students don’t know how to ask others to sponsor them. I know you might think it is scary to do so, but it’s not. So do this: approach a business and ask them for support. Businesses won’t sponsor your team if you don’t ask and take that leap of faith. Ever heard the phrase, “you don’t get what you don’t ask for?” Well it’s true.
So WHO do you ask exactly? Good question.
If you ask me, I would say local businesses. I know it might be cool to get a sponsorship from NASA, Nikey, or any major organization, but honestly sponsorships from your local town or around the area is even better. With them, you get the opportunity to build personal relationships with the business, which can last the whole lifetime of your team. That is, if you can build a good relationship. Your sponsors can act like a good friend. Good friends give money to each other. Be a good friend to them, so they can be a good friend to you. Got it?
There are local businesses around you that could give you some money. Take this moment to write down three businesses in your area that you’re going to visit and ask them for money before November ends. Go ahead. Write them down.
Okay, so, you have three businesses written down. If you don’t, stop reading this. Seriously.
If you have three businesses written down, the next question you might ask is "what is the best way to ask?" Good question.
Here is a process of asking:
Go to the business's physical location. Take two or three students from the team and literally walk into the business. The goal is to be personal and upfront with them. It creates a sense of urgency too. It means your team is serious.
Ask who you would talk to/contact about having their business sponsor your team. If they bring someone for you to talk to, tell them about your team, FIRST Robotics, and what you do briefly (30 seconds or less).
It is also extremely important to hand them something about your team. Like a team packet. A packet could include a team flyer, business card, business plan, definition of your team, benefits to sponsorship and promotional material. Think of this team packet as a resume. This is something you want to give them that impresses them and shows them the benefits of hiring (e.i. sponsoring) your team. You want them to see the benefits for them before they will give you money.
After you hand them a packet for them to look over, ask them if they have time for a short 10 minute presentation in the next week or two. If they say yes, schedule a meeting time as quickly as possible. If they say no, don’t fret, move on to the next business.
If they give you an email to contact, make sure you condense what you were going to say in person, into an email. Link them to your website which should have your team’s information on it: including it’s purpose, business plan, definition of your team, and sponsor benefits.
Follow Through, Follow Through, Follow Through
Once you have gotten in contact with a person through email or in person, you need to make sure you follow through with them. Whatever the cost, make sure they don't forget you! People have busy lives, so don’t assume they will remember you. It’s important to bug them! Respectfully though.
If they scheduled a meeting with you while you were at their office, make sure you remind them in the email of your meeting time, date, and location. Remind them again that it will only take 10 mins. It’s easy for them to call it off after you have met them, so you want to remind them of the benefits that this will bring to their business.
The Final Thought
During the asking process, you want to make sure you bring excitement to the table. All three of the students going to the business should be excited as heck to talk to people about their team. If not, you’re going to lose. Be excited that you’re their to talk with them and show them how awesome FIRST is. Get them interested in what you’re team’s doing and everything you stand for. If you don’t bring the excitement, they will be less likely to schedule a meeting with you because they won’t see the value.