What it takes to prepare for a cycling adventure – Part two
Welcome back to this run down of some of the things we have discovered about organizing a major environmental project come cycling adventure. In the next few posts, I want to focus a little more on getting support for your project from people, organizations or companies that you don’t know. For many this is the most daunting part, and a few common questions come up straight away. Namely- Who do I call?, Why would they talk to me? and What can I ask for?
Your doing what ?
You would be surprised by how interested people are in projects that they think are out of their realm of possibility. For us, I think the Himilayas hold a special place for most people and that has been a real door way to get people to talk to us. The first reply is usually – You What? The Himilayas? Are you mad? but after they gather their breath, it usual that they are a little in awe of what you are doing and become very interested. It is also important to have a theme or special reason for what you are doing. Just asking for help or equipment to fund your own private adventure is going to make it that much harder.
Approaching equipment sponsors
This group is probably the hardest to approach because I can assure you, you are not the first person to ask for equipment or help. Just remeber they are companies and that means they have to see value for themselves in helping you. Obviously marketing is the most important thing they need, so you have to have marketing potential.
Tip 1. You need to prove that you will do everything in your power to promote their product or service. We have found that having a professional looking website that is active and updated regularly, particularly the blog section is a big, big plus. You have to be able to assure that you are trying to drive traffic to your site to give them exposure.
Tip 2. Make a professional presentation with a proper logo, use graphically designed material and of course here in Japan we go through tons of business cards ( Meishi ). Even if this is primarily an adventure, you need to look professional to talk to professional people.
Tip 3. Visit trade shows and support company events if possible. This is a great way to get to know the people you need to know and builds a relationship that makes it easier for them to say YES when it comes time to make a decision.
Tip 4. Always follow up as quickly as possible after making contact. At the beginning of our project I broke this rule a few times and it has meant missing out on a number of great opportunities.
Tip 5. Accept the fact you are probably not at the top of their priority list so you need to be patient sometimes to get a reply. A reminder or hello email every two or three weeks seems to be enough to stimulate action without being a nuisance. Also remember that in desperate economic times peoples priorities often change very quickly, be realistic about when and what you ask for.
Tip 6. Research the company and what they have to offer as much as possible. Some companies have even said in the first instance “send us a list of what you want”. We immediatley go and get their brochure ( if we dont have it already) and make a detailed list including model numbers, colours, sizes, anything. Make it as clear as possible so the person you are dealing with can see exactly what you want, what they can afford to give you and if they have it available. Remember MAKE LIFE AS EASY AS POSSIBLE FOR YOUR POTENTIAL CORPORATE PARTNER.
If you have had any experience with approaching sponsors, leave us your tales of woe or success and feel free to share any useful hints you might have on building that all important productive relationship with sponsor companies.
Entry filed under: cycling, Trip Preparations. Tags: adventure, adventure cycle touring, advice, bicycle, business, campaigning, climate change, Company, cycling product, environment, equipment, fitness, Marketing, organising a project, Project and Program Management, Project management, Touring bicycle, Trade fair, trade show, trip, Website.