I recently had coffee with someone I met at the Western Sponsorship Conference, last year. He was very eager and interested to learn more about the Sponsorship and Sports Marketing industry. He didn’t have any relevant industry experience, however, he had intuition and more importantly, wasn’t afraid to ask for some guidance.
When he first became interested in this industry he registered for a sports marketing conference here in Toronto, and gained access to the speaker list (I think it was on the website). He reached out to every speaker and asked for some time to meet – and was pleasantly surprised when three of the top speakers agreed to meet in person for an informational interview. My point here is don’t be afraid to ask and put yourself out there regardless of your “connections” or fear of people saying no. It may seem like there’s a barrier to entry in sports and entertainment marketing or that you have to know someone who knows someone (sure that makes it easier), but it just requires some creativity, tenacity and most importantly just putting yourself out there and asking for help.
The one thing I can say about the Sports and Entertainment / Sponsorship community in Canada, is that people are genuinely nice and willing to help. Sure, it may take some persistence, but eventually you’ll find someone to meet with, which, if you make a great impression will lead to others…and other possibilities.
If you’re not sure where to start type “Sponsorship” or “Sponsorship Marketing” into Google – you’ll be surprised that there’s a whole world of knowledge and people waiting for you. Securing a job, well, that’s a whole different story, but you need to start somewhere. The more you know about sponsorship/sports marketing in advance, the better prepared you’ll be when you reach out.
Here’s a few questions you should be asking yourself:
- Why Sponsorship/Sports Marketing? Why now? (this will vary depending on the stage of your career)
- If you could work anywhere, where would it be and why?
- Do you know what role you’d like? Do you know the difference between brand, property and agency?
- How well do you know sponsorship? Can you define what it is and why it works?
- Can you think of one or two great examples of sponsorship marketing (note – next time you’re watching sports e.g. Stanley Cup Playoffs Game 5 tomorrow night, look for the sponsors and ask yourself why? Google it. Why does Molson Canadian have a rinkboard or Crown Royal?). You can’t be a passive viewer if you want to work in this industry.
- Would you be willing to relocate, take an internship or reduce your salary? Note: like most industries that have a certain allure or sexiness, there’s an inordinate number of people clamoring to get in -hence the supply and demand theory, which lowers the average entry-level salary (approx. 30k-35k per year) + the intangibles of working in sports and entertainment (e.g. cool business card).
- Have I used the internet to my advantage i.e. LinkedIn, Twitter (you can use these to find an advantage or relevant connection – say alumni from your school; friend of friends, job posting or a wealth of other information)
Preparation is the mark of a professional – the better prepared you are to talk about Sponsorship or articulate exactly what you want in an informational interview, the better your chances are of connecting and creating some traction for you in this industry. Remember: you need to do the “Heavy Lifting” (will get into this in a future blog)