Vaping is much more than an alternative to smoking – this $5 billion industry has become a subculture, full of tech, juice recipes, competitions, conventions, expos, and more. Within this eclectic group of ex-smokers, hobbyists, and hipsters lies an emerging vape economy.
Everyone from coil builders to cloud chasers, vape trick aficionados, vape models, and even vape photographers are all seeking some sort of sponsorship. This can cost free juice, hardware, or even cash, all of which should be part of a vape company’s marketing budget.
Like TV’s Shark Tank, smart investments take due diligence, and grabbing the attention (and marketing investment) of the right company takes more than just a hand out for free product like everyone else. Stand out from the crowd by doing your research and approaching a vape company prepared.
Find the Right Sponsor
Don’t just send out a general template to a million companies you aren’t passionate about. Create a list of vape companies you want to work with, and eliminate those that make the least sense. If you want that premium juice line, you need to focus on what they want, which is to convert your audience into customers.
Coil builders should focus on wick and wire companies, while competition cloud chasers should focus on high VG juice companies. It could even be worthwhile to ask local vape lounges to sponsor you at regional competitions with branded merchandise.
Whatever avenue you pursue, figure out who the best of the best is, and prove to them you’re the perfect solution to help them market and sell their products to an audience they aren’t already reaching.
Invest Your Time and Money
Professional skaters weren’t given their first skateboard for free. Michael Jordan bought hundreds of shoes before Nike started giving them to him, and Jack White bought his own instruments and recording equipment. These people invested their time and money into whatever part-time job, grind, or hustle they could to afford their equipment.
Vaping is no different. To distinguish yourself from everyone else on the street asking for a handout, you need to prove why you deserve it.
Bring credentials like stats to show views and revenue you already generate for yourself or others through online affiliate advertising services like Google AdSense, Amazon Affiliates, and Rakuten Linkshare or offline numbers. Don’t be lazy – put your money where your mouth is with a resume, or that vape sponsorship will go to the next person.
Be Real on Social Media
Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and all the other social media sites have been around for years, and we’re all aware of fake followers, likes, and all that jazz. It’s as obvious as gold farmers in MMORPG’s (that’s massively multiplayer online role-playing games, to the non-nerds) like World of Warcraft and Everquest.
Your account is only 2 weeks old with 20k followers, and only 33 likes? C’mon, son!
Build a real following because numbers don’t lie. Try to build up 5k followers within six months. It’ll take some real effort, but that grind is what it takes to compete. It’s quite an achievement to build past 1k followers, but there are a million other people who have achieved it on any given social network.
If you want to compete with the likes of @VapePorn and @CaliVapers, you have to grow organically through carefully curated content to create a new standard. Overnight success is possible, but it takes 10,000 hours of focused effort over the course of years to achieve it.
Your first impression is always key, so be sure to fully understand a vape company before contacting them for sponsorship. Searching “(vape company) Twitter,” “(vape company) Facebook,” etc., along with reading a company’s website will arm you with invaluable knowledge before speaking to them. You’ll get an idea of how they interact with customers, their brand image, and much more.
Don’t bother contacting a potential sponsor via social media, however – that’s for the fans. You’re a professional business partner in the vaping industry who should send a personal email.
Find your new vape business partner’s email address or contact form on their website, and send a personal note with your intentions (and proper grammar). Include pictures, video links, and any stats to prove how you will create a buzz for them in exchange for free product or payment.
Be Polite, Humble, and Professional
Again, you gotta earn your keep – just because you won a local cloud blowing contest doesn’t make you the next big thing. Every year, tens of thousands of amateurs around the world win freestyle rap competitions, and the combined views of every battle doesn’t compete with an Eminem or Lil Wayne mixtape. Vaping is a business, and you are only as good as your numbers.
Be modest, regardless of what you have, because there’s always going to be someone better. Brand sponsorships in any industry are about properly representing the vape image. Your personality and actions are an extension of the vape company’s brand and public image, so be the type of person you would want to work with.
Whether juice, coils, tanks, mods, or accessories, the vape industry has a big marketing budget. This doesn’t mean money and product is being thrown around blindly. Landing a vape sponsorship means proving you have a following, whether through videos, blogs, or social media. Focus on proving how these numbers will convert to revenue, and you’ll be well on your way to your next vape sponsorship.
Brian Penny is a former business analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower, consultant, troll doctor, and writer. He’s featured on The Huffington Post, Mainstreet, Lifehack, Money Side of Life, Gaiam, HardcoreDroid, and more.
Additional content by Vape Chemist founder Conrad Alberto