Issue 33: What’s it all about anyway?

For years I’ve watched kiting ebb and flow with the economy and those who come and go as their lives change… Sort of like roadside cafe, there are still a lot of regulars and ever so many just passing through.

Now, looking at our relatively small group as a whole I have to ask… What’s it all about anyway?

Nowhere else will you find such a variety of participants at every event… From the very youngest fliers to seasoned senior citizens, kiting seems to make itself available to all regardless of creed, character or physical capacity… I’ve heard of people kicking drug addiction with kites, healing marriages, raising children and finding themselves in other ways… So, this is the potential I see in the faces of fliers and spectators wherever I go.

Those faces change, but kiting continues to evolve regardless… With the same inherent qualities throughout! For all of the things that our activity of choice has to offer, it has not taken quite off like other sports and shows in the USA… Actually, it may be quite the opposite. It seems to me that there are less large festivals and competitors than we’ve had in a number of years past, a few well-known events removing competition from their schedules entirely. On the other hand, much of Europe seems to be teeming with international sport kite community.

So where are the sponsor banners one would normally find at near any other sport or hobby exposition in the United States even when many people cannot directly participate, only spectator? No Coca-Cola or Gatorade sponsorships in the exciting, athletic and artistic venue which is kiting? I’m so confused… No, not really.

We have lots of festivals trying from a grassroots level, which is where a lot of the best ones start up… But, in too many cases there is no successful attempt to keep the show arena going at all times for spectators… We have to bring ’em in, and keep them there all day with an exciting show! I believe that one of the keys here is to delegate a more experienced pit boss to keep fliers ready and on rotation, all the while educating the audience through a good announcer… Nothing clears an area like dead air and no activity. Talk about each flier or discipline, given the opportunity spectators may identify more easily with the show having been educated about the fliers and exploits within kiting.

Here are what Iive imagined to be some of the obstacles to gaining and retaining corporate event sponsorship… As well as some general ideas that may or may not be of use to you, from a flier’s standpoint.

Often we have no ability to reliably predict the wind conditions at our events, without wind and the right preparations there might not be much in the way of a show for sponsors… One possible way to overcome this would be to make sure you have several sport kite fliers or single-liners on hand who are equipped, specialize in 0-wind conditions,  and are specifically up for the challenge. Just secure an area where the next demonstrator can get ready and be able to come right in when the current one is done… It may seem like a lot of work, but if you make sure to give it 100% like this I believe you can satisfy any sponsor and assure their continued support. It doesn’t need to be hectic either, if the fliers are well advised and have a coordinator available, there seem to be no major issues with keeping a show going in this fashion.

Another occasional hurdle is simply getting in the front door with companies, but it would seem to me that an effective approach might be to create a specialized 2-3 minute presentation of the event in question on CD or DVD (computers are great!) including pictures of the crowd smiling and taking their own photos, kids flying, short movie clips of good ballet and team routines, candy drops and more… Then insert a simple but nice two-sided full computer-printed color sleeve which has just a few choice pictures, attendance statistics, a description of your target audience and what kind of advertising or booth space is made available to them, as well as the best points of contact including phone, email and postal address, even a web site if you have one. You realistically have 1-5 minutes before their interest wanes so I would keep it short and really sweet, from the heart and showing the very best for what it is.

Try calling the front desk of these companies, tell them you’re organizing an event that they might like to be a part of, and that you would like to speak with the person who reviews potential sponsorships… Be polite, to the point, and stress the public’s involvement with kiting, how you envision their product in relation the festival as well as any special interest groups that may be involved (i.e. Schools, clubs and news media)… Simply, ask not what they can do for you – ask what you can do for them.

Beverage companies could potentially kick in some support, just check around and see… Here are just a couple ideas: Some are franchised (like Coca-Coca) and have to be contacted in your local area, others are handled nationally like Canada’s branch of Gatorade (owned by Pepsi)… Red Bull handles their promotions regionally, click USA from their drop down menu and look under “Red Bull NA Contacts“… Everyone gets thirsty at these things.

Consideration might be made to the overall character and business practice of any company selected however… Make sure it lends to the feeling you’re trying to convey to your audience, as an unfair connotation may sometimes weaken the very foundation.

Always thank your sponsors periodically through the announcer as well as in any event articles or press coverage… All too often sponsors do not receive enough exposure and event association to justify the cost, prompting them to discontinue sponsorship.

Make a point of requesting logos, banners, and posters from major advertisers and sponsors… There is probably a warehouse or two full of this kind of stuff somewhere. Also, they might be willing to chip in some product or gift certificates for giveaways, prizes and or raffles for “hands on” promotion (depending on the product)… Even a radio spot perhaps.

One of the most tasteful ways I’ve seen to display sponsor banners is along the boundaries of each flying field or on the sides of the sound tent or similar… Placing them to get the best crowd exposure when possible of course, without being downright tacky.

Now remember, we’re not what you call a mainstream venue yet… Sometimes our fields are off the beaten track or in rural towns, so capitalize on this fact instead of playing it down! It’s a relatively unsaturated market for new sponsors. Most importantly, be specific and relatively modest with your requests.

Do you know what some of the benefits are to a potential sponsor for your event?

1 Kiting is unfailingly wholesome and family-safe. 2 Fully unique and memorable impact on the public. 3 Outdoors, athletic and artistic.. It’s contributory to mental and physical health. 4 Always environmentally friendly… No harmful by-products that I’ve seen. 5 It’s a less saturated market, and easier to become recognized when doing sound business.

Newer, upstart companies or those with an outdoors and athletic focus may sometimes be more likely to part with sponsorship dollars to find their own niche with a unique venue.

Now, my own vested interest as a kite flier is simply to see kiting expand as a whole… I would be interested to see what our readers have to say, as I have no experience at all as an organizer and simply wanted to stir the pot and see what we come up with as a group.

If you’d like to comment on this topic please visit the associated thread in our Kitelife Forum.

We heartily encourage fliers, sponsors and event organizers from all over the world to share their views, sponsor contacts, experiences abroad and any other ideas you might have to improve our sport and pool our resources… It’s your help that can make this happen!

Sincerely yours,

John Barresi

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Author:John Barresi

Involved in the greater kiting community since 1990, John is an avid kite flier in several disciplines, has served as President of the American Kitefliers Association, and is co-founder of the Revolution sport kite team iQuad. View John Barresi's Profile →

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