Why ‘Only Winners Get Sponsored’ is a Myth

Having worked at a speed shop for a few years, I can’t tell you how many conversations I had about sponsorship. They generally went one of two ways: either the person was asking for sponsorship or a discount, or the person was lamenting that it was impossible to get sponsorship because they didn’t win. I hear this myth a lot from racers who have mindset blocks around selling sponsorship: how can I sell sponsorship when I don’t win races?  Or, we hear this: It’s easy to sell sponsorship when you’re a dominant, winning team.  Equating wins to sponsorship dollars at most levels of racing is harkening back to the old days of racing, where most of the attention or exposure for the driver (and their sponsors) happened at the track. And the winning driver was the one who got the most attention. That’s not the case anymore. We have countless opportunities each day to reach the people who sit in the grandstands and potentially listen to your victory lane speech. As a property, we can: Put out a tweet or post. Respond to a message. Send an email newsletter. Snap a story. Sign an autograph at an appearance. Say hello at an industry event. Have our apparel worn at a fan’s workplace. Be featured in an article. Be a guest on a podcast or radio show. Be researched on our website. All of these modes of communication – whether they’re things that we’re in control of or not – allow for marketing partners to have a far greater and deeper reach than a victory lane speech over a loudspeaker at a race track. They...

The Power of Small Wins

Big wins. They are what we all live for, right? Being crowned King Kristin (hmm, Roger, can we chat?) at Eldora Speedway’s Kings Royal or the Knoxville Nationals Champion might top your list. Or maybe you’re aiming higher, for a points championship in Formula One or NASCAR. But most of us aren’t just one step away from our IndyCar points trophies. That might be where our dream started, but it’s not going to happen tomorrow, or this year, and we’re mostly okay with that. Why? As long as we don’t quit, we’re still working towards our dreams. But what about those days – or months – when you’re losing motivation? When those big wins are too far apart? When you feel like you’re not making any progress? When you question what you’re doing altogether?  Over the past few weeks, I’ve released just shy of 20,000 words in the Build Your Racing Brand Challenge. It’s been a bigger undertaking than I imagined, mostly because I can’t stop typing everything I think will help you in your quest to build a brand. (Didn’t join at the beginning of the month? Don’t worry – you can still start from Day 1 of the FREE challenge right on over here. There are tons of social media goodies in there, along with mindset hacks (<-just realized I don’t care for that word, thankyouverymuch) and sponsorship insights.) It’s also the middle of summer – the busiest time of the year for us in terms of schedule because we’re racing and so are all of our clients – and I have been up to my eyeballs in...

What is a Racing Brand, Really?

Last week, we talked about one of the best pieces of advice I can give you: don’t wait until you’re winning to build a brand. Smart companies partner with brands, not just fast race cars, in order to reach their audience. Fans become the audience of their favorite brands. In short: if you want to win races, fans and partnerships, build a brand.  If you signed up for the 30 Day Build Your Racing Brand Challenge, you’re on board with the concept. If you haven’t already, you can sign up here.  But it’s important before we dive too deep into the actionable parts of the challenge to build a strong foundation. We need to cover what being a personal brand means, and what it can do for you. What is a Brand Let’s not call Merriam or Webster on this one. I will give you my definition, and we’ll move forward on the pretense that I’m not completely incorrect: A brand is a set of stories, relationships, experiences and expectations that inspire a person’s decision to choose one product over another. You are the product. So is your competition. The relationship you have with a fan (or marketing partner, or media member) helps them decide whether to buy into your brand or not. Those relationships are built on their experience with your brand. That experience is built on a set of stories. And this is my word of warning: even if you are not telling your story, an experience is still being formed about your brand for fans. And it is completely out of your control. If you want...

Don’t Wait Until You’re Winning to Build a Brand

In Ready to make your racing your business? Treat it that way., I talked about how easy it is to chalk up a lack of action on your part to saying, ‘when you get to X turning point, you’ll do Y.’ One of the challenges I get often from racers who want to be successful in the sponsorship arena but aren’t winning on the track is this: “I can’t sell sponsorship (or t-shirts) until I start winning races.”  And if that mindset isn’t enough to stop you in your tracks, there’s always the: “I can’t win races until I have the money (i.e. sponsorship) to compete!” Seems like a catch-22. You can’t win until you’re getting paid, but you can’t get paid unless you win. Sounds like only rich kids with parents willing to dump money into racing are going to make it. And they’re the ones that don’t even need sponsorship! (<- How many times have you heard that one float around the pits?!) Bollocks! (<- I’d say if I was British.) There is a huge misconception in the racing industry that they only ways you can get sponsorship funds are: a) cry poor and b) win races. Oh, and you can c) know somebody, which in negative rhetoric implies that only rich people know business owners, but I believe you can/must achieve the same effect by working hard to build relationships (no matter what your income level). The misconceptions all feed off of one concept: sponsors aren’t driven by business results. They’re motivated by emotions – pulling on the heart strings or the pride of seeing their sponsored car in victory lane. But wait,...

What’s Missing From (Most) Motorsports Marketing

In my line of work, I get to see a lot of marketing. From flyers on windshields to social media updates – yep, that’s marketing even if you’re only selling your own image – we come across thousands of marketing messages each and every day. And we all know that there are people or companies who get it right, and people who’s marketing falls flat. It’s not wrong. It’s just there. And we aren’t buying what there is(n’t) selling. Good marketing determines quite a bit of success in racing. They might post gate times and ticket prices, or results on race night, just like everyone else. And, even though you might not be sure why, something is missing. It’s the story. We racing people are practical. We talk prices. We talk times. We talk weights and pressures and RPMs. And sometimes we forget that we do it all for a reason that has nothing to do with making a shiny thing go faster. We are too close to the details to see the bigger picture. And that bigger picture is how we market ourselves, as drivers, and teams, and tracks, and event promoters. Yes, it’s important to know how to tweet, and to actually do that. But to think you’re going to build a fan base just by putting up results, gate times and ticket prices is a big mistake. And it’s where I see many racing businesses – frankly, businesses in many markets – fall flat. Want to nurture a new fan relationship? Want to create a new customer? Tell me why you race. Tell me what you love about the...

Building an audience? Here’s where to find your fans, marketing partners and media members.

If you’re building a racing business – a team, a track, an event or even a store – you know that you need customers. Customers come in different forms – fans, purchasers, media members, marketing partners or sponsors – and you need to get in front of them to be successful, whether you’re selling a piece of merchandise, a ticket or a story. While making a connection in person is always best, there are only so many opportunities to do so. And that’s why I think social media is the most powerful tool in any businesses’ arsenal today – we can be reaching new fans and building our audience 24 hours a day, seven days a week, no matter where you are. So, if you’re taking building your racing career seriously, and you’re approaching it as a business, you need to be looking to social media to build your audience. Agreed? Agreed. Now that we’re – ahem – agreed, let’s talk about where to find your audience. In the same way that you’re won’t be successful selling life insurance to a kid in the candy aisle, you don’t want to be hammering tweens on Snapchat with, well, life insurance pitches. (No insult meant to the insurance industry – I happily have plenty of it. But, as my friends and family will quickly remind me, I am no longer a tween.) There are a few ways to approach finding the right platforms to build your audience. These two questions should determine how you read the rest of this post: Are you going full-bore in the direction of your dreams and willing to dive into...