The following is a rundown of things you’ll run into as a sponsored skater. Most of it's common sense. Check out the following ideas and think about applying them into other situations. These suggestions can be useful to even the un-sponsored but really apply to people that are actually direct representatives for companies.Working with Potential Customers
Anytime you are riding, chilling or even traveling, you’ll run into people that are interested in the company you ride for. For the most part, the important thing is to be honest with people and to answer their questions straight up. Give them recommendations that are genuine. If a setup they’re asking about isn’t what they need, point them in the right direction. Let them try your board out, if you got a couple boards in your quiver you might even want to lend one out.
Try hard not to sound like a used car salesman! Be genuine, honest and maybe even humble about your position and your sponsor. It helps to carry a few stickers and maybe even a catalog or two, so you can pass them out when people are interested.
Another good idea is getting a few hundred business cards run up with your name and contact info, so if a person seems interested in getting a deck, or just has questions, they can hit you up personally. In this business, the best advertising is word of mouth and nothing represents that more than a rider happy to help.Working with Shops / Shop Visits
Shop visits and just checking out shops is another way to keep the public and the vendors that sell your sponsors gear happy. Find stores in your area that carry your decks and show up with a few shirts, bag of stickers and a few catalogs. The kids that work in skate shops generally love that they do regardless of awareness of skateboarding tech. So, show up, stoke them out, and maybe meet a few customers. If the owner is cool with it, you can order some pizzas for the crew and just hang out. If the shop is a good distance from where you live or you are traveling and checking out shops, try calling ahead to find out when would be best to visit. If your company has some new hotness dropping, take it with you and show them what you are up to.
If you’re visiting a shop that doesn’t carry your stuff, make sure you call ahead and find out when the manager will be in. As helpful as it is to stoke out the workers, it’s the manager and the skateboard buyer who have the last call on getting your company’s gear in their shops. Bring swag, stickers, shirts and a few boards to show them. If the guys seem very sure they want to carry the boards make sure you get a shop package sent to them from you’re reps and maybe find a way to hook them up with a board. If the shop owners are more "thanks but no thanks", don’t take it personal. Keep visiting just as you were persistent to get sponsored use that same technique for shops.Working with the Cops
The following should be just a basic when understanding of how to deal with authority for any skater, but it takes a greater level of importance you ride for a company. You are now no longer just a representative of all skaters everywhere, you represent your sponsor.
When you are approached by cops the first thing you should do is put your board down, take off your helmet and hold it in your arms. If the cop is making motions to walk towards you, stay put and wait for him to come to you. If he is in a car or is yelling for you to come to him, do so. Only approach him with one person. The others should hang back: it’s easier to deal with authority and the last thing you need is one of your groms getting mouthy out of turn. Then you get an angry cop, a blown spot, and ya gotta lay out a beating.
If the cop is just chill and checking you out, which they sometimes do, just talk to them like a human. Don’t be on the offensive but don’t supplicate yourself to him. Just tell him what you guys are up to and point out that you guys are riding with protection, not destroying property and being careful. Usually this bores the cop into walking away. Before he leaves, make a point to call him by name, "Officer ____", and shake his hand. At this point, introduce yourself and let him know who you ride for and that you appreciate his service. You never know when this cop will get called on you again. If he does he will be "Officer Chill" the second he recognizes you.
If the cop is a full 100% on the Clinical Anger Scale, do not engage. Don’t cross your arms or put your hands on your hips. The second you see the aggressive cop, be prepared to go for your ID if it is on you, If it’s not on you, tell him where you are getting it from before you reach for it (in your car, backpack). Don’t go for it till he asks. He’s nervous and could easily misunderstand the movement. Keep your body neutral, with a non-aggressive stance. Do not argue with the officer as to what you are doing wrong! This is never an argument you win. Point out what you are doing correct, not impeding traffic or pedestrians, using safety gear and not damaging private property. This SHOULD calm him down at least one degree. If at this point it's a simple get lost, then do it! Pack up and go. Next time you see this cop, he will remember you didn’t challenge him and may be more lenient. If the cop has taken ID’s, everyone whose ID was taken should stand in place with hands out of pockets. If the cop seems cool with it, engage in small talk but to not deride or revile authority. It's not cute, rebellious or unique: the cops hear it all day long. When you get your ID’s back, the cop will give you a final warning discussion, usually pointing out what not to do next time. If the cop tells you that you cannot skate there, then ask in a very genuine manner where you can skate. He may have some suggestions, and he may not. After everyone gets their ID back, make sure to thank the officer for his time. Even if he just screamed at you for what you think is no reason for 45 minutes, thank him. Their job is hard and they might just Taser you if you give them an excuse.
The reason I added this section is that it gives the sponsored skater a chance to do something not many can: to put a personal face on skateboarding as an industry. Too many times cops deal with the same stereotypes we all know about defiant skaters and aggressive cops. Break the mold, even if they’re not. If the cop gets out of the can angry and unreasonable don’t let him define you. Help us all out do something to help all skaters and your sponsor. For more reading on authority and skateboarding check out No Comply published by Fun Not Fame. When the Cop knows you are more than just some punk skater you can change stereotypes. When a cop can put a positive face to skateboarding, he’s less likely to treat us all the same.Getting the Word Out
You are now sponsored. Congrats! Now let people know! Start a personal blog chronicling your activities as a sponsored skater. Fill your social networking pages with information about the company and pictures of the boards and events. Use your signatures on community sites to show your affiliation and, help people online. Get yourself on podcasts and talk about the company and what it is doing. Give your friends and family stickers and shirts. Make them represent for you, too! Start a newsletter for the company and ad links and other current information about your company and what other riders are doing. When someone has an event, show up and rep for your company if you can offer them swag and prizes for the event. Get as involved as possible in your local scene and, when you travel, hook up with other riders. On the plane you can talk to little grey-haired ladies about the board you managed to get on the plane. Grannies have grandkids, and grandkids skate!Helping Others get Sponsored
Don’t treat sponsorship like a coveted trophy, a privilege kept all to yourself. All this attitude will do is distance other riders. Instead, bring them into the fold. You can’t get everybody sponsored, but you can make people feel involved by throwing them swag and spare gear you get. If you got a spare unused board, give it out! If a kid needs wheels, swap them for him. If you can’t get them sponsored, let them feel what benefits you do get. If you ride with up and coming skaters that have the skills, personality, and maturity, groom them for sponsorship. Teach them what you have learned, not just skills and style, but how to represent well and be to a company.
Never, ever, hold sponsorship over someone like a carrot on a stick to a donkey. That is just the worst type of treatment. When the rider is ready, approach whoever handles sponsoring and vouch for them. Help the skater get a sponsorship package together and, if the team manager is open to it, set up a face-to-face with the rider. When it all comes down, it’s the rider himself that will attain sponsorship but do what you can to make the attempt successful.Using your ProForms
"ProForms" are the forms that companies give to riders that allows them to buy gear from the company at reduced rates. The important thing to remember is that this is one of the biggest bonuses of being sponsored. Being able to get free gear is cool, but being able to hook people up with awesome deals is even better! If someone is interested in buying a board from your company see what your company’s position is on letting you hook people up. Generally they will be cool with it, as long as you don’t become "a skate shop". If they are then help as many people as you can get boards at a great rate, people will be stoked with you and your company for the hook up. Do not EVER resell any equipment you get from the company, either free gear or from ProForm sales. Not only is this really bad form, but could seriously jeopardize your position with the company. A good rule of thumb is "1=1". If you got a deck free, give it away. If you paid 100$ for a deck from your company, sell it for 100$. If you are that hard up for money, see if they need help in the shop sweeping up. Use those ProForms! Get people on boards!