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Sponsorships in Esports
Gaming culture has seen a massive boom in the last decade. Services like Twitch, YouTube, and social media have made it easier than ever for streamers and Esports teams to grow massive followings. It’s no surprise that the demand for gaming sponsorships is greater than ever.
But navigation the world of gaming sponsorships can be tricky and confusing, especially for someone who’s just trying to get their foot in the door.
Truth is not all sponsorships are created equal. In fact, the term “sponsorship” is often incorrectly used as a blanket term for all partnerships. This not only causes confusion in the gaming community, it also prevents streamers and Esports teams from properly securing the correct level of sponsorship to fit their needs.
Let’s take a look at the 3 primary types of gaming sponsorships and how they work.
- Affiliate Code Sponsorship, a 3way between the sponsor(business), sponsoree (the person or team) and the customer. In a nutshell, the sponsoree promotes a discount code provided by the sponsor to their audience. The sponsor sells its products, the sponsoree gets a commission, and the customers get a discount. Everyone is happy!
- Hybrid Sponsorship, the big sister of the Affiliate code who comes with added perks for the sponsoree, if the sponsoree is popular enough. These perks come in the form of an internal code, which grants greater discounts for only the sponsoree and their internal team members. Additionally, the sponsor might provide discounted or free product to the sponsoree for use in giveaways, contests, reviews, photo shoots, and attending live events. This is often handled on a case-by-case basis and is dependent upon the perceived incremental benefit for the sponsor by providing the additional products.
- Pure Sponsorship, the big league reserved for the elite pro-level eSports teams and individuals with massive audiences and significant influence. With a Pure Sponsorship, the streamer/team are receiving monthly benefits from the sponsor in exchange for promoting the business. These perks typically take the form of free product, a monetary payment, promotion of the sponsoree by the business, or any combination of all three.
Now this all may seem very intimidating, especially when you just wanna play games and make some cash while doing it. So we’ll try and simplify it here.
What do you need first and foremost? Well apart from mad gaming skills, you’ll need to focus on your strengths and find what sets you apart from the rest – your unique selling point. Truth is, to be successful you need to stand out from your peers and make an impact on the scene. That’s what catches the eye of potential sponsors and audiences.
It’s always worth having a look at your competition, look at what they’re doing well and what could be improved on. Is there a crack in the market you can spot and use to slip in?
You have to be smart about it too. You need to identify ideal businesses to partner yourself with. A sponsorship is only as good as the business you are representing. The entire purpose of a sponsorship is to work with sponsors who will support you and enhance the value of your team/stream/channel. So, selecting the right businesses to work with is critical for your success.
It’s a no-brainer, but you NEED to be a customer and fan of the company or be willing and excited to switch to their product before you should ever consider attempting to secure a sponsorship from that business.
So you need credibility. Not only that, but you need to know your audience. Ask yourself what your audience would benefit from and what would they be likely to buy. Think of it this way….you won’t have much success promoting meat to an audience consisting primarily of vegans.
But how do you approach businesses and apply for their sponsorship programs?
Well, head directly to the business’s website. Almost every business will have a designated Sponsorship tab with critical info. Typically a form to fill in will be present where you can share your relevant information. It’s like submitting your resume.
Don’t slide into Twitter DMs like, “Hey bros, hit me up with a sponsorship!” Businesses like a level of professionalism.
So go the extra mile and provide a media kit for your Esports team, including stuff like monthly social impression numbers and tournament results. Keep in mind, this isn’t necessary, but can up your chances of being approved. At the end of the day, the value you are bringing to the sponsor is sales and awareness, plain and simple.
And again, you need to be smart about it. You would never go to a job interview unprepared, why would you apply for a sponsorship without knowing anything about a business? What do they stand for? What variations of their products do they offer? Is there anything new with their business? Where do they stack up to their competition?
And once you do get a sponsor or two, it’s important to maximise your relationship with them. It’s all about marketing. Post about your sponsors on your social media channels, do reviews, giveaways, unboxing videos – get excited, create hype. Hell, get creative and start fan art competitions. It’s all about engagement, with your sponsors and your audience.