Searching for sponsors this off-season? Ask yourself these 2 questions.

It’s the conclusion that everyone comes to at some point in their racing career, if not every single season – ‘we need more sponsors.’

We don’t just hit that wall in racing – it’s obviously a problem in business, too. In order to survive, we need more customers. Side note: It’s worth mentioning that for you to be able to thrive instead of just surviving, you also need to get deeper investments from your current or future sponsors. But that’s a discussion for another day.

So, why don’t you have more sponsors?

Chew on this: there are really only two ways for you to form a partnership with a sponsor. Even though there are a lot of variables, the general equation is pretty straightforward and can be boiled down to the following:

  1. They find you. This can happen in a variety of ways – through your fan network, social media, word-of-mouth, at the race track, through your personal connections. They’re your ideal customer and they sign on to your sponsorship program. (In the grand scheme of things, how they find you actually matters a lot but it’s not important for this discussion.)
  2.  You find them. This can also happen in a variety of ways with the right content. You’ve reached the right audience, they’re your target customer, and they sign on to your sponsorship program.

Most racers make the mistake of focusing on the beginning of the equation – how you find or get found by sponsors. Yes, that’s hard and requires time and dedication.

But the bigger problem is identifying the potential sponsor as your ideal marketing partner. Because it doesn’t matter how many businesses you reach if they’re not right for your program.

That’s where the math gets torturous. And if you’re human (unlike me) you hate math:

You’ll get the same results by targeting 1,000 of the wrong businesses as if you literally didn’t do anything at all. Except you will have wasted your time and money.  
Because if you’re smart, you’re spending some money. You can’t have ROI – return on investment – without an investment, friends.

That’s why it’s crucial to focus your efforts on identifying the right kind of potential sponsors. So here’s where the questions come into play. You need to ask yourself:

  1. Who is my program right for? Get really specific on who you are, who your potentials sponsors are and what they’re looking for. It goes without saying, I think, at this point in our relationship that the size of their wallet is not the most important quality in a sponsor.
  2. Is what I’m doing in my program speaking to them? Put yourself in their shoes. What do they want? What are their business goals? Yes, it’s probably to make more money. But it’s not always by getting more customers. Sometimes it’s by getting deeper investments from customers they already have like we talked about above. Sometimes it’s by making their employees happier and more loyal => more productive.

Think about what you’re putting out there (and how you’re doing it) and it will start to get clearer in your messaging how you can solve their problem.

Yes, it’s important to reach potential sponsors. But the more you focus on identifying and attracting the right types of people, the better your results will be for the same or less effort. Pretty sweet little cycle, right?

Go get ‘em, tiger,


P.S. If you want a great example of why knowing who you are is important to finding sponsors, check out this great interview (below) from Bloomberg TV this week with NASCAR driver Ricky Ehrgott and his new marketing partner David Potter of Platinum Wealth Partners. Potter discusses where the value lies in racing for his business, which should make it clear that every business has a different reason for getting involved in motorsports. Ehrgott clearly knew what his program offered when he got hooked up with Platinum Wealth Partners.

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About the author

Kristin Swartzlander Kristin Swartzlander is passionate about applying business sense to racing 'nonsense' in hopes of growing the sport of dirt track racing. She is a business strategist who works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them learn how to use public relations, marketing and social media to achieve their goals. Learn more about social media, marketing and racing sponsorship on the DirtyMouth blog.