The dream of every aspiring athlete is to make it to the big leagues, or in other words, go pro. However, if we compare a professional snowboarder from twenty years ago with one from today, it becomes blatantly obvious that the snowboarding landscape has changed immensely. What once was an old-school Roast Beef grab has transformed into high-flying aerial combos that test the limits of even the most seasoned snowboarders.
The bar has been set pretty high for new kids climbing the snowboarding ladder. Competition is fierce, tricks are complex, and the battle for the next new snowboarding phenomenon is intense. So what makes you any different from the legions of snowboarders vying for the top spot? Do you have that one distinguishing factor that makes you unique? If you can’t answer these questions, then the quest for sponsorship may be over before it even begins.
Luckily for you, I’m going to let you in on three basic tactics that can boost your chances of finding that make-or-break sponsors. These tactics can be summed up in three words—contests, publicity, and uniqueness.
For the most part, almost every board sport—skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing, wakeboarding—features various contests throughout the year. Some of those contests are smaller and locally-based, while others are significantly larger, boasting national or even international status. The big contests are typically where the big sponsors are, but a snowboarder usually has to excel in smaller contests to get invited to compete in the larger ones.
As we all know though, snowboarding envelopes a whole host of styles including slopestyle, halfpipe, big-air, and so on and so forth. Many contests will usually focus on one specific style. Therefore, you will want to compete in the contest that highlights your abilities best. If you have never experienced the near vertical walls of a snow-packed halfpipe then it would not be a wise decision to compete in a halfpipe contest. Makes sense right?
One of the biggest names in snowboarding is The Flying Tomato, which of course is Shaun White. He has achieved snowboarding stardom by winning top honors in major competitions including the Olympics and the X-Games. In the wake of his success, White has become a multimillionaire with the backing of several big name sponsors.
From the biggest names in Hollywood, to the steep slopes of the mountainside, one defining attribute seems to remain constant. That attribute is publicity. Without it, the fame and notoriety wouldn’t exist. Therefore, if you hope to become a sponsored snowboarder, you need to get your name out there for the world to see. Almost every professional snowboarder I know of has a legion of supportive followers backing him or her.
Publicity can come in a plethora of different forms. If we look at Shaun White, he gained publicity by winning major competitions. However, he also has that signature red hair which is why he is appropriately nicknamed, “The Flying Tomato.” Another good example would be Mark Frank Montoya. He is the bad boy of the snowboarding world, portraying the stereotypical “gangsta” image idolized by much of the nation’s youth.
So how did these snowboarders attract publicity? Quite simply put, they were always in the public spotlight. Tradeshows, interviews, magazines, and photo shoots are a few of the many avenues that generate attention. Of course, they are professional. Getting an editorial in a popular snowboarding magazine wouldn’t be an easy task for an amateur. A great tactic for amateurs is to use promotional products like those offered by Quality Logo Products. These work great for giveaways, contest prizes, and branding. Another method is by appearing in videos or starting a blog.
The term “uniqueness” is pretty self-explanatory. What makes you stand out from the crowd? Do you have any attributes that define you? I’m going to use Shaun White as an example again. He is an innovative snowboarder obviously, but he also has that trademark red hair. So without sounding sexist, the male community is attracted to his skills as a snowboarder, but you can bet that the younger female crowd is captivated by his crooked smile and bushy red hair. So White can attract attention from several demographics (some of which may not even like snowboarding).
A lot of a person’s unique features can be found in their personality. Unique personality traits can range from being funny and sarcastic, to being a thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie who is always doing something crazy. Aside from personality, some snowboarders will rock only specific types of apparel, or ride one brand of snowboard.
A website, blog, or video channel is a great way to set you apart. As an example, let’s say you always ride your snowboard shirtless despite freezing temperatures. While this may be deemed as crazy by the majority of folks, those same people will forever know you as, “that guy who snowboards shirtless,” proving you with indirect publicity. Another idea would be to start a YouTube channel documenting your quest to conquer a new trick. Obviously the first few attempts are most likely going to end in failure, but most viewers will continue to watch your series of videos to see if you finally land the elusive trick successfully.