Skip to main content

How to get sponsors for your fitness event

How to get sponsors for your fitness event

How to get sponsorships for your fitness event

Holding a fitness event, whether it is a CrossFit event, powerlifting meet, MMA event, a 5K run or something else, you want to make money. To make the most money possible to hold bigger and greater events, you have to have sponsors. In this article, I will teach you how to have your event fully paid for and profitable, even before you sell the first spectator ticket or athlete registration. 

To give a reference to where this information comes from, I have promoted MMA events all over the country, on PPV, I've worked with events on getting them sponsorships, I have worked with fighters to get them sponsorships, and I have been on the other end by sponsoring fitness events of many kinds and sponsoring athletes.  

The rule that smart event promoters follow is that the event should be completely paid for and profitable two weeks before the event by sponsors. The venue, equipment, hired help, awards, everything should have been fully paid for with sponsor money, with money left over so that you are profitable before the event. 

Before we get into the details, you should know that getting sponsorships is not the hardest part. The hardest part is making the sponsors happy enough to sponsor again. In my time, I have observed that the person who receives the sponsorship money often treats the deal as closed. They have a sponsor, and now they move on to try and get another. When their next event comes around, that sponsor wants nothing to do with the person or organization. It is also common for, after a couple of events, no businesses in a local community will not only not sponsor that person's events or the athlete again, but no businesses in the local area will. One promoter or one athlete or event can easily make an entire local community feel burned and not interested in being a part of sponsoring. 

Here is what is always missing. The sponsoring business or person is not giving the money because they want to help. They are doing it because they want a return on their investment. They are always looking for a return on their investment. If there is no return that is at least equal or greater, they will not sponsor again because their business lost money the last time. Word will get around quickly also. The business owner will tell their friends about where the investment went. Those friends are probably going to be business owners too. So if it goes well, they will tell other business owners about the good investment. They will tell other business owners it was a bad investment if it goes bad. When I was sponsoring events, if a promoter or someone else for the organization came to me asking to be a sponsor, before I would answer, I would look at the past events and contact some of the businesses who sponsored them to ask about their experience. 

How to approach sponsors

Before you can start approaching potential sponsors, you need to have a sponsorship package made up. This package will have multiple levels of sponsorship which come with different opportunities for ROI for the sponsor. I have seen event promoters have 8-10 different levels, which is too many. I would have three sponsorship levels when I would hold a large event on PPV. If I was holding a more local or regional level event, I would have two sponsorship levels. Keep in mind that the more options you present to a potential sponsor, the more opportunity they have to be turned off If you are a gym owner, you do not offer 5 or more kinds of memberships. You keep it to one or at most 2 options so you can have a higher close rate. The same principles apply here. 

Here are the sponsorship options I used. 

Title Sponsor or called the Diamond Level Sponsor.

This is the one big sponsor for the entire event and the most expensive. Think of the CrossFit games. In the past, they were named the Reebok CrossFit Games. Reebok was the title sponsor. Now, they are the No Bull CrossFit Games since No Bull is the new title sponsor. 

Below is what I included in my sponsorship packages:

  • Everything that has to do with the CrossFit Games has the title sponsor on it with the event name. Everything. This sponsor gets showcased in every last piece of marketing you do.
  • They would get an opportunity during an intermission, or a scheduled break for this opportunity, to address the audience for 5 minutes about their product or service
  • Brand logo on all marketing materials, online and printed. 
  • Their social media on all printed materials 
  • 20 or more social media posts specifically about them before the event
  • Vendor booth
  • One-page ad in the event brochure
  • Up to 5 guest blogs on the event website
  • If it was a car dealership, which is the low-hanging fruit, I allowed them to put two cars inside the venue.
  • If the event had them, they can put whatever they want in a swag bag. 
  • Larger logo on trophies/awards

Sponsor or also can be called Gold Level Sponsor :

These sponsors are your average sponsor. Typically they are not handing over a ton of cash and often will be new businesses trying to reach a new audience. If I was hosting a CrossFit or MMA event, chiropractor offices were always my main focus for securing this sponsorship level.

  • Small logo on sponsor page and event marketing materials
  • Small add in the event brochures
  • 10 social media posts before the event
  • Vendor booth
  • Shoutouts during the event
  • Printed leaflet in the swag bags
  • Smaller logo on trophies/awards

Bronze Sponsorships Included:

  • Vendor booth
  • One social media post highlighting the vendor. 

When the event is over, you still need work to do to ensure you can bring these sponsors back. Remember, they are not investing in your event for exposure. That is where many promoters mess up. The sponsors are investing in your event to work for them by increasing their audience, increasing their sales, and expecting a return on that investment. If they do not get an ROI, you will not only not get them back, but future potential sponsors are also likely to turn away from you. 

Once the event is over, continue sharing their posts about how amazing they were, and keep trying to drive traffic to them. Spending a few minutes every few days over the next month after the event to promote their businesses will delight them and help them want to return for your next event.