Our local eSports sage, Miles Regenass, is back with some advice on how to get your eSports team sponsored.
Last week Miles gave us a brief reality check on how much it costs to finance an eSports team. He pointed out that paying for flights, accommodation, gear and the less important stuff like food and drink to stay alive is going to add up really quickly. After reading that article you’re probably thinking, “Crisis, I need to get my eSports team a sponsor.” Or possibly, “Crisis, I need to marry someone rich to finance my eSports team.” Both of those are good ideas. But both are going to have their own challenges.
How convenient for you that Miles is back this week with some advice on how to go about getting some funds for your team. Via the sponsor route, not the marriage route. Obviously. Let’s start with what not to do.
“The standard thing that happens: you have all these MGOs that have no sponsors, but they have a COD team, and a LoL team, and a Dota team. They send out their proposal and it’s a copy and paste of the Do Gaming League team register site. It’s four pages on who all these players are, what they’ve done, but it’s got nothing on what they want to do for you (the brand) beyond put your name on a shirt. And then they want hardware and flights for 15 people.
It’s not based on expectation. It’s more based on delivery. Teams need to change their mind-set of ‘If we compete then we get sponsors and stuff’.
If I’m a brand and I don’t compete with any of the brands that Energy or Aperture or Bravado have, why wouldn’t I just go to them? What is it that you’re going to offer? And are you going to offer me a podium place? Because if you’re not, you’re going to have to do twice as much work. So it’s tough. It’s really, really hard and I understand the challenges and I feel for the teams.”
So, don’t do the copy and paste thing. Rather learn how to do a proper business proposal and offer the brand something more than just their name on your shirt. Because approaching a brand for sponsorship is a business proposal. They’re going to give you money in return for something.
“A proposal should go like this: This is who we are. This is what we offer. And this is what we want.
If you’re serious about what you’re doing and you actually want money, you have to justify it. You have to deserve that cash. And how do you deserve it? You deserve it by doing something for the people who are giving you money.
What is it you’re going to do? It depends on what the product is. It depends on the brand. Maybe you get sponsored by an ice cream company. Then you promise to go to a mall once a month and promote the ice cream, and eat ice cream, and take pictures of your team with the ice cream. It feels really stupid, but who gives a fuck mate, because you’re going to get your R50k.
But until you promise that activity to the company and then do the activity, and then report on it, we’re not going to get anywhere.”
You need to convince them that the money they gave you was worth it and that they should keep doing it. This is not your parents who are naively going to keep giving you money without any report back on where that money is going. On that note, rich parents are another great way to fund an eSports team.
But back to the business at hand. How do you find a brand to ask for sponsorship and what do you even say to them to convince them to give you some dollar bills? Or rand bills in this case.
“The first thing you need to do is research. You need to pick a brand and research the brand. Understand the brand. What do they do? What is the product? What is their offering? Understand how you can complement the brand, how you can push the message of the brand.
Obviously gaming and the gaming community and eSports are very appealing, high level consumers. We are people who spend a lot of money just to get online. So how do you as a team take that brand and promote it into this consumer base?
The different mediums for the team to promote the brand are massive. You’ve got Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Vimeo, Twtich, and any of the other streaming platforms.
And then there’s engagements. Put a calendar down and say, ‘In 12 months we’re possibly going to attend four live events. And at these live events, this is what we will do. We’ll make one YouTube video for 5 minutes. We’ll do 20 Snapchats, 20 tweets and whatever.’
But it’s useless offering all that stuff if you don’t understand the brand and what kind of messaging they’re looking for. And a lot of times they possibly don’t even know, because they have no direct link with your community. They have no deep understanding of gamers. They just know that gaming is popular culture now, it’s big, and everybody is into it.
There are a lot of very successful companies in South Africa that have nothing to do with gaming, but that want to engage with that consumer market. So think outside the box.
Partner up. I’m just throwing names around, but Adidas, Nike, all these guys. They sell a lot of products in this country. They have a lot of money for marketing.”
You could be the first ever eSports team sponsored by a barbershop. You know, because most shots of gamers are of their faces looking at screens. And there is hair in those shots. And we’re bad at doing our hair. Okay, not the best idea, but it’s that kind of thinking that we need to start applying to our search for funding and sponsorship.
So how do you seal the deal and get a brand to actually hand over some cash for you to spend on things. Responsible things. Definitely not things like champagne fountains and talking robot butlers.
“You have to meet these people. If anybody thinks they’re ever going to get money out of somebody over a Facebook message, without sitting down in a boardroom and having a discussion, they’re smoking their socks. All of this is built on relationships.
When they say, ‘come and meet me’, you’ve pretty much closed the deal. That’s your opportunity to go in and impress them. Impress them with your team members and what dynamic lifestyles they live. This guy is studying to be a doctor, but he still competes twice a week. And this guys an engineer and whatever. Because everybody has a story, and stories are interesting.
Possibly offer to do three months for free. Say, ‘We’re already competing. We’re already going to these events and spending our own money. Let us brand up. Give us the resources, like company CI and the right colour logos and that stuff. Let us promote your brand and we will come back to you after three months with a report. We will show you the engagement. How many tweets and how many follows and retweets and videos. We’ll show you all the activity we created over three months. But then we would like you to consider giving us R10,000 a month or whatever it is.’
That’s the only way you’re going to get it right. You need to create a relationship with these people. And then you need to understand that their job is not to look after you as a team. They’re job is to report to headquarters. Either report on all the work they have done, or report on all the work they haven’t done. But literally, they spend their lives reporting. So make their lives easy, do the follow-up call, phone them once every two weeks. Say. ‘Hey. How are you?’ Generate a relationship.
It’s just about being persistent, finding the right person, engaging with them, offering them something. And then following up. Actually doing what you offer and giving it to them. Saying, ‘Hey, look this is what I did. Do you acknowledge? Do you see what I did for you?’”
And breathe. That’s a lot of info to take in, but that’s what it’s going to take if you are serious about turning your team that plays games in to an eSports team.
Let’s end off with a nice list that we’ll call the ‘Good Luck Have Fun 5-Steps to getting your eSports Team Sponsored’ (Trademark pending). (Not really).
Step 1: Research a brand.
Step 2: Create a proposal.
Step 3: Go have a meeting.
Step 4: Report on what you do.
Step 5: Be a total eSports baller. Responsibly.