Thursday, August 2, 2012

Interview Thursday: The Truth about BJJ Sponsorships with Gustavo Dantas

Why should someone give you money to compete?

A year or so ago, a friend of mine asked me about getting sponsored/sponsorship money for an upcoming MMA fight.
It was his first fight. He had competed intermittently in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, et cetera (not to be a pessimist, or a doubting Thomas, but you can pick up a rock and find such a person).

Bear with me, as this will sound negative to start, but it will get more positive.
My wife and I have a saying, "there is money just laying around".
That is to say, if you are willing to ask, look, bargain, and search, you will find ways to pick up money.

Before I digress any further from my anecdote, I asked my friend an honest question:  
Why should someone sponsor you?
He looked at me, clearly uncertain as to how to respond.

I wasn't doubting at all that he could obtain sponsorship as I knew he was well-rounded and it would be a good fight.
What I was asking, was "what does a company or a person have to gain by sponsoring you for a bout of Mixed Martial Arts on a set date/time?"

In other words, let's suppose you sell "adspace" or sponsorship on your shorts, a walkout t-shirt et cetera.
What are you proposing to give in return for this business and their $50 or $75 or however much money?
If you are selling something, the person buying (should) expects something in return other than gratitude.

This had not occurred to him.
If you are just asking for money, call it that.

If you are legitimately advertising for them, you know roughly 400-800 people will hear your post-fight interview.
If you are selling x number of shirts that will advertise their business amongst your gym's members or the shirt will be worn at local grappling tournaments, whatever, then say that.
If you know that winning means your picture will be on a website, wearing their brand on your post-fight shirt, then find out the daily/monthly traffic for that site and include that information.

In other words, you sell both the intangible supposed revenue in the form of a logo on an item/shorts/t-shirt and specifics as to what you will say/do/refer to them in the number of people you reach with your endeavor.

Examples of what I offered in my proposal (yes, like a resume and actually printed out):

1) I will thank you specifically and your service/product in my post-fight interview
2) I will post on my facebook information about your company and how it proved instrumental in my training and/or daily life in the weeks leading up and after my fight.
3) my facebook which has x number of friends and affiliates and I will post a weekly statement about specials or discounts at your business
4) if you have a blog/what is your daily/monthly viewership and you will have permanent adspace for their business/specials/discounts on your blog that will be viewed on average x number of times per day.

You'll find that most businesses who already know you and you frequent are willing to spot you a fistful of dollars in exchange for some small advertising space on a t-shirt.
- examples of businesses I approached: the tattoo shop where I've had most of my ink work done, the used bookstore I frequent during the days I have off, and the coffee shop where I spend most of my free time reading.
I started small but went to 6 places that I knew multiple employees, I knew the manager would recognize me, and I felt they would be more inclined to support a consistent customer.

Larger brands, must be sold (and no, that is not a bad or negative word) as to what they are gaining by choosing to sponsor you rather than every other person who fits a similar description in your chosen sport/athletic endeavor. 
REMEMBER: Money is LAYING AROUND. People PART WITH IT EVERY DAY. You just have to be willing to ask them if you can have some in exchange for something that may benefit them in some big or small way.

Below, Gustavo Dantas elaborates on a the basics that I've put and gives you a progression of how he built up his sponsorship starting at the blue belt level.

And Part II:

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