Thursday, December 12, 2019

What Are Sponsors Looking for? - Jeff Casalina

As a “sponsored player”, the question that I’m most often asked is not, “What discs do you throw?” but rather, “How do I get sponsored?”  It’s a tough subject to try and answer, but who am I to say that it is unattainable? It isn't! Now that we’re at the time of year where players are getting picked up or possibly switching companies, it’s a good time to go over what manufacturers are looking for in sponsored players.

Just a little background information about me...I’m not a touring professional. I’m not a 1000-rated disc golfer. I have a family of 6 and work 2 jobs, so like most of you, I’m just living the American Dream! I am, however, heading into my 3rd season as a member of Team Dynamic Discs, so as you can see, your dream is not far from your grasp!

So what are these companies looking for in a player? They’re looking for overall “good” people that are in their respective communities making a difference on the disc golf scene! Yes, you can say that you’re active in your local club, but what are you doing to stand out amongst the others? A dozen people will show up to the scheduled workday at your course, but are you the one that orchestrated it? Players will sign up for your club’s events, but are you the Tournament Director? If you come from an area that has a good problem of having a large scene, then you will have to think of ways that help you stand out. Now, don’t go astray from your moral compass either, because that will take you out of the “good people” category for sure! Be yourself, be a great mentor, and be a great ambassador to not only your club and disc golf but also your own family!

You’re probably asking, “How am I supposed to get noticed?” Social media is the best tool, but it can also be the biggest demise in trying to gain sponsorship! Unless you’ve been recommended by someone already on the teams, you probably filled out an application for sponsorship. Don’t think that the Team Managers aren’t checking your social media sites. They want to know what kind of life you live or what brands you are throwing. Do you make genuine posts about what you’re passionate about? Also, how well do you express your opinions on social media? Will you be able to advertise their brand in an effective way that benefits the company? Being an Ambassador to their company and products from anywhere is crucial. All of this is factored in when they’re selecting their future team members.

Now you’ve applied for a sponsorship, and you know that your social media is getting checked. How much actual playing experience is factored in? Does your rating matter? As I said, I have never been 1000-rated, so not necessarily. Some companies think rating isn't the only thing that helps players to be able to teach others correctly, and players of all levels can have the knowledge to promote their products. However, having a decent rating would indicate that you’ve had some experience in tournaments and have been performing well during competition, so continue playing and running events in your area. Trust me, the more you’re willing to do for your sponsors will only benefit you in the long run!

Let’s talk about something that some may not think about, and that’s brand loyalty. I know most players that do not have a sponsor carry a “mixed bag”.  Some have bags full of their favorite manufacturer's discs. Having some knowledge of a company’s product doesn’t hurt in the process of selection. People on the local or regional scenes are some of the best product promoters for companies, so once you find what you like to throw, stick with it, and learn its full potential.

I hope that this helps you have an understanding of what companies are looking for in their players.  Don’t get caught up only in playing to get sponsored though, because you will put unwanted stress on your game. Play because you love the game of disc golf, and if you work hard enough, you’ll be finding sponsors that are willing to give you a shot.  Make the most of it, enjoy the perks, and be a great ambassador!
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