I receive quite a few emails asking if “I have any tips or contacts for finding sponsorship” for different expeditions.
Unfortunately, it is not so simple. If it was then I would not be sitting here typing this! (I would be here or here or here).
However, for what it is worth, here are a few lessons I have picked up whilst chasing the wonga along the yellow brick road to the South Pole. I’m no expert so I’d appreciate your own insights in the comments.
1. Yawn, yawn, yawn… We’re all born too late. So much has already been done that it is very difficult to persuade a sponsor that your plans are different. Sponsors don’t care if you are planning to walk one thousand miles on broken glass in your pants if some TV celebrity has already done that for 2 minutes on Comic Relief. It’s all the same to most people. So what is your USP? Crucial!
2. What’s in it for your sponsor? You’re trying to persuade somebody to pay you to go away and do the most fun thing you have ever done. What’s in it for them?!
3. Do you really need sponsorship? Rather than all the stress, slog, disappointment and loss of self-respect that goes into chasing sponsors, would you not be better off just staying in your job for a bit longer and saving up your own money?
4. Unless you’re a millionaire adventurer trying to build a boat out of plastic bottles or a TV celebrity who smears mud manfully on your face at every opportunity then it’s going to be a heck of a slog to succeed. You need to be aware of that and not grow despondent.
5. Think small, think local. Target local businesses, local media. Build your reputation up from the bottom. Just because Britain is obsessed with chasing overnight fame and celebrity doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Serve your apprenticeship.
7. Embrace the 21st Century. Get on top of this whole internet thingummy-bob. Start here. Publicity is the oxygen for sponsors: get up on the rooftops (Page 1 of Google) and start hollerin’!
8. Write proper. Put your apostrophe’s in the right places. Spell people’s names correctly. We’re not all Hemingway, but we’ve all got spell-checkers. Like so much of this, it’s not about spelling, it’s about effort and dedication and attitude.
9. We’re in a recession. Accept that. It’s hard work at the moment. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. You may need to modify your plans. Or you may need the cojones to push on through the recession.
10. Think laterally. How many sponsorship requests for climbing expeditions Berghaus must receive. Bear Grylls was on the right lines when he dropped his proposal for an Everest climb off at a random company called David, Landon and Everest purely because of the name. They bit. He summited. (Maybe it’s not all about having mud on your face!)
11. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Sad, but true. Get out there, do stuff, meet people.
12. One I always remember from Ben: take a big map to any meetings you secure: it never fails to impress!
13. Look competent.
14. If “you have the answer to finding sponsorship or any really good contacts” please do let me know…
15. Don’t give up!