If you scroll down to the bottom of the home page of Sonya Looney’s website sonyalooney.com you’ll see she has 18 different sponsors. The 2015 24-hour Mountain Biking World Champion attracted these backers herself.
“It used to be ‘oh you just go fast’ or you get a good result or you win and people want to sponsor you but really it’s not about that now,” Sonya tells me on the Best in the World with Richard Parr podcast. “It’s about having credibility. It’s important when people are looking to make purchases because they are looking at you as the authority. But you need to build your own community and you can really easily do that online with the all the different platforms out there. There’s a million. It’s just finding the one with the right voice for you.”
Sonya has over 38,000 followers on Instagram, 10,000 on Twitter and 34,000 people like her on Facebook. She even has her own podcast. Sonya has three pieces of advice for anyone wanting to become a brand ambassador or to get sponsors.
1. Don’t make it about you
“When you write a proposal don’t make it about you, make it about them. Make it about how you are going to make them sell more products, how you are going to help them build their brand. And figure out what their brand message is and make sure that you fit in with that.”
2. Don’t just take anything
“I have tons of sponsors that approach me but if it doesn’t fit what’s working with me then I say no because the moment you start promoting something you don’t believe in you are going to lose all of your authenticity. And that’s easy to do when someone walks up to you and offers you to do an Instagram post but it might not fit what you are doing at all.”
3. Be approachable
“It’s about building community. And once you start building community the sponsors will come. And you have to go after them but you have to respond to people around you, you have to be nice. You have to lead by example. And really the great thing about social media and videos and all the things that we have is that we can show people what a lifestyle looks like and we can empower people to go for those things and to do those things that they want to do because if they feel like they know you it makes it easier for them to try.”