Darren Marshall runs one of the biggest kite schools in WA, has been a sponsored rider for years - and since his new shop (AKS) opened this year in Scarborough, he now sponsors his own team riders.
This week he offered a valuable insight into what it's REALLY like to get sponsored in the kiteboarding world, and it's not all it's cracked up to be!Check out what he had to say, and take notes kiddies!
Firstly, we need to look at what a sponsorship is. Most riders think that once they become a good rider that it is their right to get free or discounted gear as naturally a sponsor would love to hook 'em up with free stuff. This is not usually the case. A sponsorship is a business contract between the sponsor and the rider. The rider gets free or discounted gear and assistance for comps or has access to other stuff they may need from time to time. The sponsor on the other hand expects something in return, in theory, of an equal amount or more in return. Hence the contract, a business agreement must be a two way street.
Being the best rider doesn't make you the most attractive person for the sponsor. I mean if being the best in the world meant mega sales, then everyone would be riding Flexifoil, but look around. How many people ride Flexifoil? Few!
The most attractive person to sponsor is the guy or girl on the beach who rides well, is always friendly and helpful to others at all times and who represents the brand in the best possible light. Sometimes talking up or pointing out the good points of their gear to other riders and offering people a demo on their kit. In effect a sponsored rider becomes a sales person in some form and represents the brand they ride.
Being in the "cool kids" group and/or being aloof, reserved, shy, introverted, arrogant, or thinking you are better than anyone else is a big no no. A sponsor wants the kind of person who rides well, but maybe not the best on the water, who helps people in need, saves boards drifting away from newbs, offers tips and assistance and most of all, is totally approachable and ready to help with a smile. Using foul language around members of the public (especially around women and children), shooting their mouth off on the forums or generally setting a bad example is not attractive for a sponsor.
Look at some of the most influential riders in the past who have long term respect and a good image over time and have a think about how they represent themselves to the public. Robby Naish, Mark Shinn, Lou Wainman, Shannon Best, Aaron Hadlow etc etc. There are many other riders who may make a big splash but soon disappear into obscurity. Professionalism is being an advocate for the sport and a representative for the brand.
Remember whenever you are in the public eye, you are being judged.
By Darren Marshall
I think it helps to have dreadlocks.craigT wrote:What is involved in being a representative (brand rep) for a kite company...
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