Most of the questions that I get about sponsorship center around the outbound portion of forging a relationship:
- How do I find a potential sponsor?
- Who do I talk in the company about sponsorship?
- What should I put in my proposal?
- How many times should I reach out?
- Should I mock-up my car with their logos so they can see what they’re getting?
- What should I charge for ‘x’ size logo?
But I’ve found that racers, and tracks, who have the most success with finding and keeping marketing partners are looking at it from a different angle and asking this question:
What will make my team sponsor-able?
But we’re all sponsor-able, right? I’m able to deposit that check, I know it!
It’s not so much about being able to accept or accommodate sponsorship.
It’s about building a property that’s worthy of sponsorship. And I don’t mean worthy in a moral sense.
I’m talking about building value into your brand, and then finding a marketing partner that will exchange value (i.e. money, product, access to resources, etc.) for what you provide.
I’m talking about making it easy for potential marketing companies to find you, understand the value of what you offer and build a relationship with you.
So, how do you do that?
For me, it all comes back to branding.
I got an email from a racer a few weeks ago with questions about sponsorship. He had a professional signature line on his email with a link to his website (*high fives*).
But when I opened that website…I was even more impressed with his branding! His website had clear imagery, consistent colors and graphics, an easy-to-navigate interface and just the right amount of information.
It wasn’t anything fancy, expensive or complicated, but if I was someone advising a company on whether to partner with his team (and, yes, I have done and continue to do that!) I would be much more likely to recommend his team over another property because I had a good idea of what his team represented. (If you’re reading this, great job Steve!)
You might think that branding is a fancy or expensive concept reserved only for businesses and ‘big-time’ race teams, but everything that you do, whether you intend it or not, is part of your branding.
Potential marketing partners want to be able to look at what you do – online, on the race track, in the pits, in the community – and know whether their product or service will be a good fit with the audience you attract.
They figure that out through your branding, which is represented by:
- The graphics on your car,
- The consistency of that image on everything else you do,
- Your website (or lack of) and social media channels (or lack of),
- Your messaging (and the clarity and consistency of it),
- The frequency and manner of communication with your fans,
- Your supporting materials, and
- So much more.
It doesn’t take a big investment to make yourself sponsor-able to companies. You can start for free – keeping a clean car and trailer can literally be the first step in building your brand. Then, look at what you already have – a car and a trailer, a race suit, etc. – and think about how you could make the colors or graphics more consistent when you letter the car, for example. You can launch your social media presence, or just take 10 minutes to improve the graphics and photos on the ones you already have.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or headache-worthy. You can make yourself sponsor-able at any level of racing, despite (or because of!) your age, region, experience, income level or time commitments.
That’s what I love about racing. There’s a fan or two out there for each of us. And there’s a company or two that wants to reach them. Your job is to make it easy for them to connect with you!