Most youth sports organizations will agree that tryouts are meant to evaluate players and determine rosters for the upcoming season. But what if open tryouts could also raise a sponsorship opportunity for organizations? While youth athletes are the focus of tryouts, evaluations present an opportunity for clubs to partner with local businesses. The team benefits from the sponsorship, and the business can expand its presence in the community by promoting its products and services to parents.
Here are our tips on how to turn your next tryout into a sponsorship opportunity.
Appoint a Person to Seek out Sponsors
The first step organizations should take is to appoint a specific person to seek out potential sponsorships that are appropriate for open tryouts. This person can then form a sponsorship committee, organize materials, set expectations with businesses, and ensure the sponsorship is implemented appropriately during player evaluations.
Create a Sponsorship Packet
Teams should create a sponsorship packet to give to potential sponsors. This should include a formal letter explaining what the club is seeking, a list of various sponsorship opportunities and prices, a sponsorship agreement form and general club information.
The team information section, or fact sheet, should include the club’s mission and values, basic information about the team (including league, ages, past record or highlights, number of athletes on the roster, etc.), and contact information.
The purpose of the packet is to provide sponsors with an organized presentation of who the team is, why it is seeking sponsorships, and what types of sponsorships are available. The business then has all of the needed information to make a decision about whether or not to form a partnership with the club.
Set Sponsorship Opportunity Parameters
When forming a partnership with a sponsor, there is always a risk that the sponsorship could create a distraction for the team and spectators. This is why it’s important to find the right sponsor. It’s even more important during tryouts for teams to put an emphasis on finding the right type of business and sponsorship.
First, the team and the business need to be aware of who their main audience is – players’ parents and families. Clubs and businesses need to recognize that while some parents might find the company’s presence a nice distraction from the tension of tryouts, others will want to focus on the evaluations.
To find a balance, teams need to set parameters around what type of sponsorship is appropriate for tryouts, and what kind of a presence the business should have.
Because tryouts can be a local event, clubs should consider community-focused businesses. If the company is recognizable to the families and is a place they either already do business at, or would consider becoming a customer at, then it could be better received.
The sponsorship should also be based on unobtrusive marketing tactics. The company’s sales pitch shouldn’t create a distraction for the families or the players. This could reflect poorly on the team and the business.
Some examples of appropriate sales pitches could include: setting up a table near registration with product and business information, holding a raffle, passing out free samples to parents, providing on-site consultations, and making brochures available.
Be Creative with Sponsorship Opportunities
When promoting sponsors, teams can think creatively about the sponsorship opportunities that are available at open tryouts.
Giving the business a physical presence at tryouts is one way to attract sponsors. The company can set up a table, add its logo to any banners that are displayed, or handouts that are offered. Sponsor names and logos can also be added to athlete evaluation numbers and other required apparel.
There are also opportunities to promote sponsorships digitally. For teams who use player evaluation software, company logos can be added to communication templates that teams send from the software to parents and players. These communications can include player results after tryouts, roster information or player evaluations throughout the season. This allows teams to use sponsorship funds to pay for the evaluation software, especially if there wasn’t room for the software in the club’s initial budget. It also allows the sponsor’s name and logo to have a placement on materials athletes and their parents are likely to print out, save, and display for reference.
In addition to paying for player evaluation software, sponsorship revenue can also be used to give tryouts a more professional setup and unbiased process, such as paying for outside evaluators to grade players, and better facilities to hold tryouts at.
Seek out Appropriate Sponsors
Perhaps the most important part of securing a tryouts sponsor is finding the right type of business. The company should provide services or goods that compliment the sport and the team.
“I would look for a company that has a value-add for the (club) members,” Smith said.
Some of these types of businesses can include:
- Gyms: Gyms and fitness facilities can promote youth athlete training programs and family membership opportunities. Providing discounts or waiving registration fees are ways to engage families at the event.
- Athletic Apparel and Equipment: These types of businesses can provide samples of new equipment and offer deals on apparel for team members. Parents could appreciate this partnership if it allows them to shop while they watch their child, especially if they receive a discount.
- Grocery Stores and Organic Markets: Grocers can provide tips on healthy eating for youth athletes and their families. Handing out samples and providing coupons to team members can be welcomed by families.
- Sports Medicine (massage therapists, chiropractors, physical therapists, etc): Sports medicine professionals can offer on-site consultations and injury prevention tips for both parents and athletes. One way to help a nervous parent relax could be with a quick massage. Providing on-site services and discounts for future appointments could be helpful to families.
Securing the right type of sponsor can result in families appreciating the sponsor’s presence at tryouts and the business gaining new customers.