Acquiring Sponsorship for My Tiny House Build
This article was originally written a few months ago for my friend Drew's new book, GAINING CORPORATE SPONSORS for your tiny house. I reprint it here with permission. See more about the new book at the bottom of this post.
During my tiny house build, while I didn’t get anyone to just “give me” things for free, I did receive some meaningful discounts and made some great connections in the process. Even now, in our search for the perfect place to park, I am realizing that the process of gaining “sponsorship” for my tiny house boils down to a few simple things.
What do I do? I put myself out there. There’s really nothing to lose, so if I want or need something, I simply ask for it. I even cold-call or “cold-email” companies I like, asking if they would be interested in helping. When doing so, I am clear and honest in presenting my project and my needs, and friendly and passionate in my tone. Usually the uniqueness of the concept is enough to pique peoples’ interest and motivate them to help if they are able.
I always offer something meaningful in return. As a web designer by trade, I ask myself, “Can this individual or company I am approaching use my services in any way?” I maintain a fairly comprehensive website/blog for my project, and always offer a spot on my sponsorship page, if nothing else. If I’m happy with the product I receive, I always write praise for my sponsor on my blog and on facebook – sharing my fondness for their product with the wider tiny house community.
Networking: by this I simply mean to take full advantage of each connection you make. One offer to help can quite easily connect you to a few others who may also find inspiration in your project.
Want a few concrete examples of the points above?
In an unusually rainy spring in Iowa, I realized at the beginning of my build that I would need an indoor space to work if I was going to make any progress before summer. So what did I do? In a meeting with Joel, the owner of Green Building Supply, I casually mentioned my desire for indoor workspace. Joel told me that GBS rented some space in a warehouse/manufacturing building – Creative Edge Master Shop - out in the industrial park. The president of Creative Edge happened to be a friend of my parents’ from back in their university days. I called him and told him what I needed. I mentioned to him that his website could use some work, and he agreed. With that, I had a small corner of the warehouse, and Jim at Creative Edge received some free website consulting in return. I got my house done more quickly and comfortably, and Creative Edge was able to make to make important changes to their website, increasing traffic and conversions for the business.
Creative Edge uses water jets to cut elaborate flooring installations and medallions. They sell their granite and marble scraps at a great discount and have the machines and manpower to easily cut them to size and polish them to be installation-ready. It was my good fortune that this connection led not only to a great indoor space, but beautiful high-end, custom-cut counter-tops for my tiny house kitchen, at an excellent price.
I am very fond of the blue-stain, beetle-kill, old growth ponderosa I used to finish my ceiling and loft floor. How’d I find it? I wanted to use as many sustainable products as possible. A quick Google search on sustainable lumber led me to—you guessed it— the Sustainable Lumber Company out in Montana. I simply emailed them through the contact form on their website. Ryan, the owner, replied the next day and we exchanged a few emails. They offered me a discount on in-stock T&G paneling (cut as flooring, so not beveled). In return, I listed them as a sponsor, and on multiple occasions I let my blog readers and Facebook followers know how much I loved the beautiful wood. I came away with a unique and beautiful product, and they received some passionate praise and exposure to the tiny house market from a real-life user who wholeheartedly supports their business. Win/win for all!
So ask around, put yourself out there, share connections, treat your new friends well, and show them how much you appreciate their support. You will likely be surprised by the generosity you receive.
“We’re building a tiny house - 240 square feet - and we are hoping to construct it out of non-traditional home construction materials and we have identified your product as being one that will not only offer us the structural integrity we need but will also be attractive right out of the box. It would be great to have you on board.” And thus began our venture into gaining partnerships and sponsorships for our Tiny r(E)volution home.
With over 11 years of marketing experience author Andrew Odom couldn’t help himself when it came to letting the world know about the tiny house he, his wife, and eventual daughter would inhabit. Along with cold calls, emails, and handwritten letters, Odom made visits, talked to countless receptionists, and Skyped his way into the inner sanctums of nearly 13 corporations of varying sizes. Now he is prepared to help you do the same. In Your Name Here, Odom talks about everything from the value of social media marketing in your presentation to the traditional 30-second elevator pitch. Laying down his Mechanix Utility Gloves (it’s about marketing people!) and picking up his computer he shares some incredible tools and resources that will help you get started in gaining corporate sponsors for your tiny house project (or almost any other project!)