The September Effect: Marketing Budgets and Sponsorship

It’s disheartening but appropriate that when I started the work week in Pennsylvania the temperature was about 10 degrees cooler than over Labor Day weekend, when it still seemed like summer. My calendar isn’t the only one saying it’s nearly fall.

Although I don’t head back to the same kind of office I used to, September brings out the same kind of joy and panic I experienced in my ad agency days.  It’s a month full of both reflection on past accomplishments and shortfalls, and opportunities for new growth.

Why? The month of September is often when companies start setting budgets for the next year.

September: You've got some 'splainin' to do.

September: You’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do. Photo Credit: WikiMedia Commons

Seems crazy, right? But it takes a freaking long time for companies to review the last year’s marketing objectives, decide what worked and what didn’t, and roughly hash out what the company plans to do in the future. All of that weighs in on the projected budget.

For many companies, September marks the beginning of the end of the year. At this point, you’ve got two months before the holidays hit and employees begin a downward, tryptophan-induced spiral of elf-yourself videos during conference calls, snooze-button-influenced outfits (and attitudes) and vacation days.

You’ve got to get to workin’ in while the work is still good.

Plus, with media deadlines set months in advance, the media buy calendars are already being turned to December or January. Since you buy ad space in chunks, sometimes guaranteeing a minimum ad spend for the entire year, September is the time that you need start finding a clear vision for the next calendar year.

If you’re not already connecting the dots for how this affects racers, let me do it for you: September is the beginning of the make-it-or-break-it time for racing sponsorship and marketing.

If a company doesn’t at least pencil in racing sponsorship before the budget is set and approved, there’s a small chance they’ll re-assess in January or February of next year. It goes without saying at this point that if you’re planning on racing in 2014, you need to be connecting with companies that are looking to spend money in 2014 right now.

So what are three things you can do this week to get your 2014 sponsorship program off the ground?

  • Define your unique selling proposition: what makes you different as a racer? What type of audience does your team interact best with?
  • Make a list of industries that would want to appeal to that audience, and then break that list out into a few companies within each industry.
  • Do some light research on each company and start connecting with them on social media.
  • In no time, you’ll have a feel for how they communicate with their audience, who they believe that audience is, and if they might be the right fit for you and your fans. Only then you can start the process of opening up a marketing conversation with them.

What else are you doing to ready yourself for 2014 sponsorship pitches? Post your own action items or questions below and I’d be happy to respond!



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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.