This week (as opposed to some other weeks, to be perfectly honest), I’m taking my own advice. Many of you have been with me for the nearly two years that I’ve consistently blogged every Thursday, but others are brand new. That’s why I thought it might be a good time to take a broader look at one of the most popular topics here – racing sponsorship – and my philosophy. So, let’s break it all down.
You probably already have an idea of what sponsorship is. When a company gives a race team money, right? Kind of.
The mainstream outlook is that sponsorship is a company giving a race team money to support their racing efforts. The problem with this viewpoint is that it doesn’t reflect what the company gets in exchange for their money. Here, the sponsorship is all about what the company is doing for the racer, not what the racer is doing for the company.
My definition of sponsorship is this: a marketing value exchange between two properties.
I’m not trying to oversimplify here – most people do recognize that companies don’t just give you money to help you. (They get a logo on the car that hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people will see, right?!) But that’s what I see most sponsorship seekers focus on: how helpful sponsorship will be to their operation.
This might have worked in the past for local, mom-and-pop businesses that you patronized, but even those companies – the companies that love you and truly want to support your dream – have become wise to the need for a value exchange.
And the problem is, the math doesn’t work on the amount of exposure a logo gets as compared to the investment.
So, we need to focus on the value exchange and what it will do for the sponsoring company, not what it will do for you.
The Marketing Value Exchange (or How Sponsorship Really Works)
The marketing value exchange is a fancy way of saying ‘here’s what a sponsor gets for their money’.
So what can the sponsor get (and give) for a value exchange?
The sponsor might want:
- Exposure to an audience (made up of people that they want to reach, an important distinction). This can simply be a logo on a race car, but it can also include logos on other properties like your race suit, hauler, pit vehicles, and mentions on your press releases and announcer activation.
- Exclusive access to your audience through marketing content or in-person at events.
- To be promoted via your social media channels.
- Introductions to other business owners in their marketplace for business-to-business relationships.
- Entertainment packages for customer or employee appreciation.
- The list goes on…
What Sponsors are Looking For
This is where the rubber meets the proverbial track. You now know that you can’t just pitch a sponsor on helping you achieve your dreams. You have to present a value exchange.
But you can’t just present any value exchange. You have to pitch the right value exchange for that company.
I’ve worked with – I’d guess – close to a hundred companies on marketing and sponsorship. Maybe more. Every one of them had a different objective, and needed a different set of value exchanges.
So how do you know what value exchange will appeal to them? You could write an entire book on any one of these questions, and this is no exception. But I’ll suggest this: start with research.
Look at the company’s website. See what kind of imagery they’re using and what the people in those images look like. Check out what kind of events and partnerships the company is already involved with. Those are great clues to what kind of audience they want to reach and how they want to do that.
Above All Else…
Remember this: sponsorship isn’t a gift.
Sponsorship is a marketing partnership, and in order to secure that partnership you have to make it more about the company than about you.
Want more? Here are a few of the most popular blog posts about sponsorship and how to activate it:
- Sponsorship Pricing: It’s Too Expensive vs. It’s Not Worth It
- Sponsorship Activation: Earning Your Money (and a Long-Term Partner)
- Finding a Sponsor is Like Online Dating (Or, why sponsorship templates don’t work.)
- Searching for sponsors this off-season? Ask yourself these 2 questions.
- Prove your (sponsorship) worth with real, hard metrics.