Whether you’re a track promoter or a team owner, things are about to get real. Real busy, that is.
With the racing season upon us, nights in the garage / at the track are going to get longer and the time you can devote to ‘extras’ – what marketing is, like it or not, to many of us – becomes shorter and shorter.
It’s really easy, and common, to hit July or August before you order your apparel, get around to inviting sponsors (or potential marketing partners) to the track, or realize you missed a holiday promotion you wanted to run. It happens to all of us (or maybe just me).
So, I put together a list of ten things that you can handle, or schedule, now, while you still have at least a little bit of breathing room, so that your season runs smoothly and you reach your goals for the season without overloading the last few race weekends of the year with everything you forgot about earlier.
- Social media channels – If you don’t have them setup already, please do it now. (And, if that’s the case, just pick one and do that well to start with. Then branch out as you get your social-media-sea-legs.) If you’ve been quiet all winter, it’s time to stretch those thumbs and start putting information out about your first event, any partner news you have and your 2016 car or apparel designs, for example. If you’ve been active this whole time, bravo! You’re in the minority, but you’re surely a #DirtyMouther indeed! (P.S. Need guidance for your social channels? Check out the Social Media blog category for tons of free information here.
- Calendar – One of the best things I ever did for myself was actually log our intended racing schedule into my calendar. Yes, I know we race two nights a week. And I know when most of our mid-week specials are off the top of my head, too. But taking it out of my brain and putting it on a calendar made a huge difference in terms of scheduling my own workflow, knowing when I had to book hotels and flights and so much more. I use Google’s calendar which I can share with our team, marketing partners and family members, so that they can see our schedule as well. It’s worth the hour it takes now, for reasons that we’ll also talk about later.
- Apparel – If you’re planning on ordering apparel for the season, aim for a delivery right before some of the biggest apparel-selling weekends of your season. Then, work backwards to build in a few weeks for design and printing. If you’re planning on debuting your apparel at, say, the Firecracker weekend at Lernerville Speedway in June, you probably want to get the ball rolling in early May. If your big event is at the King of the Carolinas, for example, at Carolina Speedway in October, though, I’d plan on ordering in July or August so that you can start chipping away at sales ahead of that event. You don’t want to sit on inventory all winter. Put the order date on your calendar.
- Promotions – Want to do a Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Memorial Day themed giveaway? Now’s the time to block out when that work is going to happen on your calendar. If it’s as simple as creating a graphic two weeks out, then put that reminder on your calendar. Maybe you’re doing a discount code on your website that your programmer will need time to set up? Give her a month’s notice, if possible. Put everything you can think of in terms of seasonal promotions on your calendar and back the work out so that you’re not rushing around at the last moment in an attempt to execute it well.
- Financials – Do yourself and your accountant, or wife (<- if Carl ever goes missing during tax season, I really don’t think a jury of my peers would convict me…), a huge favor by keeping track of your financials from the beginning. It can be as simple as creating a manila folder for receipts and check stubs or setting up a full-on budgeting spreadsheet. Try to do something now to keep your program in line before it gets out of hand so you don’t run out of money in July.
- Sponsorship acquisition – Oh yeah. Remember that time I told you that attracting marketing partners happens year round? And budgets are often determined in August and September of the year before? Seems like you’d have to be on your game to be pitching potential marketing partners about halfway through the year, then, right? Right. I know, it’s lofty. But if you build in time (say, an hour every single Sunday of the year?) to consistently work on attracting new partners and fulfilling the activation promises you’ve made to your current ones, you’d never fall behind. In fact, you’d be way ahead of your peers and you’d feel the benefits within a few months, in my opinion, if not right away with your current partners.
- Marketing materials – If you’re doing appearances, repping your partners at the track or in the community, and/or pitching new potential partners, you’re going to need marketing materials. This might include autograph cards, catalogs or materials that your partners will provide on request (schedule that, too!), sponsorship proposals, stickers, apparel and more. Build in a few weeks before you’ll actually need them, and put that date on your calendar so you don’t end up spending four times as much as you budgeted at Fedex Print Center after Overnight Prints forgets to overnight your prints multiple times. (Just me? Probably not. But my fault, nonetheless, for not putting it on the calendar.)
- Photos – If you’re creating marketing materials, putting information out on social media or updating your website, you’ll probably need photos. Nice ones. And not just of the car (or the cars on the track). Now’s the time to pick a photographer to either hire or ask to help you with acquiring those images. There are a lot of things to keep in mind on this front, but above all I would recommend two things: ask permission to use images, even if they were shared publicly, and pay the photographer to remove the watermark if you need to. Beyond illegal and being bad for your image, stealing photos is rude. Don’t be a jerk. Your mom is on Facebook and she taught you to have better manners than that.
- Team – Oh boy. Team morale might be at an all-time high (who’s ready for racing season?! *team cheers*) or low (WE’RE NOT READY FOR RACING SEASON! *crying*), dependeing on how you’ve handled the off-season. It’s time to welcome everyone back – whether you’re paying them to be there or not – and set a positive tone for the year. Treat them to some new team apparel, dinner or a simple ‘thank you in advance for all of the time you’re about to commit to my dream’. It makes a big difference. And schedule doing that again in the middle of the season and at the end, if you’re not doing it already.
- Hit the ground running – more suggestions, if you’ve got the time.
Ready to take 2016 by storm? Me, too.
P.S. If you’re not already a member of the free DirtyMouth Sponsorship Success Community, feel free to join over here on Facebook. There are lots of great pieces of advice, articles from people other than me and words of encouragement to benefit from. And we have some exclusive happenings planned only for that group over the next month, so request access now to join the fun!