A question I keep hearing in the kiteboarding industry is how do we attract sponsor dollars from outside the industry? There are two things sponsors look for in allocation of their dollars 1) alignment with their message and image 2) reach – how many eyes will see their logo? Sometimes it is about getting more time in front of their current audience. Sometimes it is about generating exposure in a new demographic they would like to expand into.
Kiteboarding has an inherent advantage in getting sponsor dollars in that it is cool looking, exciting for spectators and even more exciting for anyone who has even a taste of flying a kite. As Ben Wilson has demonstrated our sport is in great alignment with companies like Jeep who market to the sense of adventure.
What we need to do is to start building and demonstrating reach.
Take a typical industry expo or even local shop demo of a specific brand.
Right now it is promoted in kite forums, on kiting social media and in kiting magazines. Events are geared towards people who are already kiting. Brands feeding on the same small school of intermediate kiting fish. To the few non-kiters who happen to stumble across the event it is spectacular. A carnival of bright colors filling the beach and an amazing ballet of kiters on the water. It is exciting, they are curious and there is also this immediate assumption that there’s no way they could ever do it, that it’s too hard.
Imagine this: A Kite Expo with two layers. One, the usual business of the kiteboarding industry and promoted to kiters and another introducing our sport to the community. Have a demo of what this sport is all about for people who have never seen it before. Include pro rider demonstrations in the schedule. Perhaps at 10 am and 2pm. For half half an hour or so the water is cleared for the pros to show off what this sport can do.
We promote it in other social media streams – ones that will draw spectators and ones that may draw in new customers. For example, in Pismo, the wine tasting crowd may not all be potential kiters, but they might really enjoy watching it, learning about it, taking pictures & video, telling their friends & family about what they saw. In Pismo as well there is a whole tribe of adrenaline junkies just down the beach playing on ATV’s. I chatted with a few ATVers. They had no idea of the potential of the sport. Imagine if they were lined up on the dunes watching some of our best hucking huge airs & tricks.
Now imagine if after the exhibition there was an opportunity to try a trainer kite? We have a whole crowd pumped up on the excitement of watching what you can do with a kiteboarding kite and then we put a kite bar in their hands. New customer hooked! Schools and instructors could be part of the expo providing this service. If we get creative I’m sure we can work something out with liability/waivers. Resorts and schools could be included in the event as well. “Ok, you got a taste of the trainer kite, did you know there are great vacations you can take to beautiful beaches to learn this sport?” I’ll bet some spectators would book right then and there. At the very least they sign up for the resorts email list for information on future packages.
Regional schools could also sign up visitors from their area, or offer the opportunity to sign up for lessons with the suggestion of designing your next weekend get away around learning to kite.
We take lots of pictures of the beach filled with spectators and a “your logo here” banner placed where those many eyes are clearly looking.
If you are curious about how to apply these ideas to your next event please contact me.