Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - Exel Racing team
Exel Racing Team Update: Walking in a Sponsors Shoes

- By: Jeff Ellis

I have heard it said that one couldn't truly understand someone else's position on an issue until they have walked a mile in that person's shoes. Over the past year and a half I have done a lot of walking, standing, driving and running in those shoes. I have been a Brooks sponsored track athlete since 1998, but in the early spring of 2004 I began work with Brooks Canada in the Promo and Marketing department. At that time I was tasked with looking after Special Events and the Athlete Sponsorship program and continue in that position today. What an education I have received in regards to the business end of the sponsorship world. It was this past spring that I had to put my new knowledge to work as I approached my own employer with a sponsorship proposal for a new ski team that I was a part of.

How do I convince a running company that it is worth their while to sponsor a cross-country ski team? How do I convince a running company to sponsor a ski team, when very few ski stores carry Brooks winter running/ski apparel, despite the fact that Brooks Canada has sponsored our National Ski Team for many years? Using my newfound knowledge from the business side of sports, I made a promise to Brooks that the company would make more from our teams existence in short-term measurable gains than what it cost to assist us. Brilliant! Why not try and offer that to all our sponsors?

Let's face it, if we as skiers want help from business, we need to talk on business terms. I have dozens of proposals from athletes telling me from an athletes perspective why it would be beneficial to Brooks to sponsor them.

By the end of this month I will be filling the remaining sponsorship slots for Brooks, and I am receiving half a dozen sponsorship proposals per week. A talented, hardworking and successful athlete sent every proposal that I have read so far. If one of them told me that they had a plan to get their running (or ski) team to buy their next set of team uniforms from Brooks that proposal would get a guaranteed second read.

It doesn't just have to be a set of team uniforms, how about a women's ski day? (See Divas on Skis on the Exel Racing Team website) Why not run an add in a magazine thanking sponsors, or run a charity event in the donors name? Every chance I get to promote Exel's Nordic Walking poles (www.nordicwalking.com) I do so with great pride. Promoting their Nordic Walking line is a top priority for Exel North America, and as an Exel sponsored team that is a priority for us.

It is no secret that cross-country skiing, like so many Olympic sports in Canada, is under funded. This makes privately funded ski teams like the Exel Racing Team ever more relevant. It is teams like the Exel Racing Team, X-C.com, and XC Ottawa that would not exist without the commitment of their sponsors. The Bank of Mom and Dad can only help us so far. Those teams keep a lot of very talented and determined athletes in our sport, which can only help move cross-country skiing in Canada forward.

Thank you to our sponsors, without whom our dreams would not be possible

For more information on the Exel Racing Team or to subscribe to our newsletters please visit www.exelracingteam.com.

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