Its sounds pretty good doesn’t it. Getting the support from the industry. Traveling the world, posting up in exotic locations. Being a part of the advertising campaigns that shape the sport of kiteboarding. Well yeah, in fact it is pretty good. A dream job by any standards.
But like any “job” there’s some hard work thrown into the mix.
On a weekly basis I get approached by people looking for sponsorship. The common questions are: What type of things are you looking for from a rider? What are the deciding factors when choosing a sponsored rider? So I thought I would take some of the mystery out of the process and let you in on things that we at Cabrinha Kiteboarding look for when choosing a rider. These are listed in order of priority.
While some of this may apply to other companies much of it will not. Cabrinha is company that puts an equal amount of weight on Rider Performance and Lifestyle. We feel that no matter how serious you are about this sport, no matter how good your competition results are, you have to be enjoying it. The passion has to be there.
So read on....... who knows, you might be on your way to a life as a kiteboarding pro.
Talent is a pretty broad term and I use it here instead of more defined measurements such as competition results. Whether you are a competition rider or someone who has a way with the media, your kiteboarding talents or skills need to be world class. Talent is king and this is the first thing that will get us to look your way. Sometimes we bring riders on board early in their careers because we recognize that they have talent and we can see the potential in where those skills will take them. Other times we pull directly from the competition talent pool where their results speak for themselves. Either way you must have the skills that represent today’s high level of riding.
We put this one high on the list because if you have talent and a great attitude, the rest of it will fall into place much easier. Having a great attitude doesn’t need much explanation. If you have it, your friends will know it, the media knows it, the people at your beach know it, and we’ll know it. Its about your ability to showcase and share the sport with everyone. Especially with the people you don’t know. When looking at it from a brand’s perspective, a good attitude reflects on the brand in a way that is measurable and valuable to us.
You might see a trend here. If you have talent and a good attitude... you’ll gain respect. This is important to us because if you have the respect of your peers it will make you, and us credible. What you say and do will actually mean something and you’ll be able to affect others. If you’ve gained respect its also because you’re giving it as well. Its good to recognize the others in the sport who are leading the charge. Don’t disrespect other riders in order to try to elevate your vision or position. Its far more powerful to let your riding do the talking. Keep it positive.
Next to the personality and performance qualifications your media skills are one of the most important things to a sponsor. And this is where the work comes in. There are many things in your kiteboarding career to manage. You’ll need to keep your skills at a respectable level, your competition results in line with your goals, and you’ll need to manage your relationship with all of the different forms of media.
In today’s changing media landscape you, the rider, have far more control of your media destiny than ever before. You have the ability to broadcast your game to the world in photos, video and written form. This is HUGE for both you and us and doing this well can elevate your status within our team. Once you are established, this alone can be the factor in what keeps a sponsor interested in you.
The biggest boost to a rider’s relationship with a sponsor is when the rider recognizes that they are contracted to promote the brand and they do so in all of their photos and videos. Prominent logos and product shots in the media go a long way to promote the sponsor and this should be kept in mind during any and all photo and video shoots. Probably the biggest pitfall in the relationship between a rider and a sponsor is when the rider fails to recognize this. Our attention is drawn to the riders who are actively promoting us through the media and in turn we reciprocate by involving them in more of our photo shoots, travel stories and promotional events. Its a win win situation.
The social media sites is where most of the media engagement is happening today. Chances are, you’re most likely one of the 850 million Facebook users so I don’t have to tell you how Facebook allows you to showcase your talents. When looking into a prospective rider to sponsor we take into account public Facebook page stats, YouTube activity, and Twitter feeds. Your Facebook fan numbers mean something to us but they aren’t the end-all factor. Your engagement with your fans is the most important thing. You can have only 100 fans but if you are engaging with them (about kiteboarding) and they are engaging with you, this means more to us than the number of fans itself.
The media is most likely where you’ll build your name and reputation. So use it wisely.
Knowing the Brand’s identity and Objectives
If you work for Cabrinha you’re part of the team, you’re part of the family. Therefore, its good to know the company that you are getting behind. Ask questions. Find out about our products, our challenges, objectives etc. Most of this actually will be communicated from the brand itself (hence this guide). If you know what drives the brand then your contributions can be more effective and meaningful.
Regional vs International
There are generally two types of Cabrinha riders. Regional and International. The regional riders are generally the outstanding riders from any given region. Most people in their local country know their names and they have become influential to their market. These riders are important to us. They provide each market with a presence and spread the Cabrinha image to a key audience. These riders are normally supported by our distributor from that country or region with background support from our international marketing.
The International Team is a select group of riders that meet all of our criteria including the fact that their names are internationally recognized. This is our elite team and this team is supported by our international marketing office. They are on the front lines of our advertising campaigns, our product demos and you’ll find them in magazines and online media everywhere. Much of our marketing media is generated directly by them. Projects like Sessions with Susi Mai, Visions by Reo Stevens, Dre’s video series, Damien’s Camps and video series, Alby’s freestyle how-to series all have become integrated parts of the Cabrinha marketing story. More rider driven projects are coming online as we speak. They are professionally home-grown and they are spot on with whats happening in the sport today. The Intl riders also work directly with our development team to develop and test our products. Many of our international team riders have moved up the ranks ..... beginning their career as regional riders.
Find Your Niche
Most of you will most likely excel at one aspect of the sport and that’s not such a bad thing. Its better to be great in one area rather than be just OK in a lot of areas. Your local conditions, your tastes, personality and flavor will all come into play in shaping what type of rider you want to be. Once you lock into this pursue it with everything you’ve got. Make it your own and see what you can bring to the table. We sponsor riders from every core aspect of kiteboarding from Surf to Freestyle, Wakestyle, Racing, and Snowkiting.
Be Interesting. Be you.
While Cabrinha is committed to the development of all areas of kiteboarding, our brand image and philosophies are closely aligned with surf culture. Mainly because that’s where the brand originated but its also because its the lifestyle we all live. We put a lot of stock behind the lifestyle and we promote the social vibe of our sport and the people in it. Therefore we also look beyond riding skills to see what else is going on in a rider’s life. Music and art are two easy fits. But there are no limits as to what makes a person interesting. Think about what makes you unique and showcase this.
There are many forms of sponsorship in kiteboarding. If you are considering going down this path take note of what the pros are doing right (and wrong). The ones that are doing it right are most likely the ones that your are reading about in the media. The ones that are doing it wrong..... we’ll.... there’s always a day job.