As I write this, the offseason is barreling towards us like a train about to derail. Not that I don’t love the offseason…mind you, it’s become the most productive time of the year for me.
In fact, last year’s offseason brought about a lot of changes for me in my business and in our personal life. I was able to do my annual Charlotte and PRI trips, along with adding the Florida RPM workshops and outlining the marketing and PR plan for the Dirt Classic months in advance. Personally, we also took a huge leap when Carl left the job he’d held for over 10 years at his family company to pursue racing as a more full-time profession. I talk more about how that came about in another blog on positioning yourself for opportunities.
This year, the offseason looks similarly up-leveled. I have speaking engagements at the Las Vegas, Indy and Florida RPM workshops, along with the Western Auto Racing Promoters Association workshops in Portland, in addition to our annual PRI and Charlotte trips. And that doesn’t include the racing opportunities that have come our way in Carl’s career.
While the offseason is fun, busy and relaxing all at the same time, I have to admit that life is just not the same without racing. And it doesn’t offer you the same type of opportunities to promote yourself, whether you have a race car or a race track, as racing season does.
With a little bit of preparation, though, before the season ends, you can set yourself up for promoting success in the offseason, when there are no race cars on the track and fans in the stands.
Here are five things you can do in 30 minutes or less to give yourself the materials you’ll need to stay in contact with fans, pitch sponsors, make some money and build loyalty while you still have the opportunity:
- Multimedia. This is the biggest mistake that I see tracks and racers make, and I’m not immune to this either, by the way. While you’re still racing, you need to collect as many photos and videos as you possibly can. You can always photograph property, but now’s your only chance to photograph race cars on the track and in the pits, and real life people on race day. Whether it’s for sponsorship proposals or backgrounds for season ticket promos, it’s critical to get photos of fans in the stands, fans in line (hopefully) happily waiting for their cotton candy or novelties, fans wearing your team or track apparel, fans lining up at the gates, fans surrounding your car, and, did I mention, FANS. Happy fans. You can also grab photos of your crew in action, your hauler parked in the pits (or your pits full of haulers), your driver signing autographs and your marketing activations in action. Don’t have time to do this yourself? Set your wife, sister, crew member, intern, dad or whomever loose with an iPhone. Having photos, even if they’re only decent, is better than having none.
- Testimonials. Those living, breathing people I mentioned earlier? Now’s the time to ask them for a testimonial about your race track or team. Even better if they’ll let you use their name, photograph or even be videoed giving you their feedback. How powerful would it be to be able to drip out testimonials on social media from teams who rave about your track surface, fans who get high fives when they wear your apparel, marketing partners who made sales because of your property throughout the offseason? Testimonials are one of the most powerful marketing tools we have, and I rarely see them used in racing. Be the exception.
- Gather contact info. While you’re out and about taking photos and asking people for their favorite thing about your race track or team, why not ask if they want to join your email list to be the first to know about season ticket specials, exclusive video content or some other promo I know you geniuses will come up with? Don’t stop there, though. Make sure you have contact info for anyone you might need to reach during the offseason professionally, like the track promoter, the teams, marketing partners, etc.
- Say thank you. Individually, to all those people you just
harassedengaged with and publicly. Thank the fans for an amazing season. Give a nod to the teams at the drivers meeting or, better yet, individually in the pits. Boost your partners messaging up one more time in person. online and off. No one ever just showed up at a race track. Every single person made a choice and no matter what end of that you’re on, they, and you, deserve some appreciation. If you think that won’t build some loyalty going into the offseason, think again.
- Sell out. I’m not saying you need to give everything away, but now’s the time to get rid of this season’s apparel, food, unused box seats, and whatever else you’re offering. Put it on sale and watch the magic happen. You’ll make your customers happy, and you get to put that cash in your pocket to tide you over through the offseason. Win-win.
As racing comes to a close, it’s easy to forget what we’ll need and want to have in January or February when you want to promote your content, or in two weeks when you’re ready to pitch sponsors. Spend a few minutes putting your best foot forward and gathering what you need before you’re not able to, and reap the rewards in the offseason.
P.S. Ready to take your program to the next level in 2016? Start now. Kick off your efforts on the right foot, instead of waiting until it’s too late, with some extra consulting or coaching time, or join our hopping free sponsorship success community to connect with and get advice from sponsorship seekers just like you.