What’s Missing From (Most) Motorsports Marketing

In my line of work, I get to see a lot of marketing. From flyers on windshields to social media updates – yep, that’s marketing even if you’re only selling your own image – we come across thousands of marketing messages each and every day.

And we all know that there are people or companies who get it right, and people who’s marketing falls flat.

It’s not wrong. It’s just there. And we aren’t buying what there is(n’t) selling.

Good marketing determines quite a bit of success in racing.

They might post gate times and ticket prices, or results on race night, just like everyone else. And, even though you might not be sure why, something is missing.

It’s the story.

We racing people are practical. We talk prices. We talk times. We talk weights and pressures and RPMs.

And sometimes we forget that we do it all for a reason that has nothing to do with making a shiny thing go faster.

We are too close to the details to see the bigger picture. And that bigger picture is how we market ourselves, as drivers, and teams, and tracks, and event promoters.

Yes, it’s important to know how to tweet, and to actually do that.

But to think you’re going to build a fan base just by putting up results, gate times and ticket prices is a big mistake. And it’s where I see many racing businesses – frankly, businesses in many markets – fall flat.

Want to nurture a new fan relationship? Want to create a new customer?

Tell me why you race. Tell me what you love about the racing business. Tell me why I should care about you and your product, service or team. 

I have a list of tracks, events, drivers and businesses that I want to work with. I didn’t add them to that list because they won a race or sold a lot of tickets to an event.

That may have been how I found out about them, but it’s not why I’ve followed them over the days, months and years.

It’s not just because of the way they do business – although that’s important. It’s not just because of the work they’re doing and the heart they’re putting into it – although that’s crucial.

It’s because I know about it. I know – at least to some degree – their story.

By the way, you’re one of those people.

Think I’m full of it? Maybe. But if you’re reading this, you’re telling me: I want to make my racing business better. I want to be more successful in racing. I care about my racing future.

That’s a part of your story. And that’s why I’m writing this.

So there.

And, by they other way, how do you do it?

Stop thinking about the practical, and start thinking about the personal. 

Your fans are human beings, and so are you.

Fans come to race tracks to see their favorite drivers. They come to enjoy a night out with their significant other or friends. They come to spend time with their family members or entertain their kids. They come to work on a piece of art – ahem – race car. And they also do that, most likely, with their friends and family members.

Fans determine their favorite drivers for a variety of reasons. It might be because of their paint scheme, the way they drive, or, they way they conduct themselves off the track.

And, I’ll give you a hint, in today’s interconnected human-to-human world, that has become almost more important than anything else.

Because we can see what you’re doing. Or at least what you show us you’re doing.

If you want to connect with your customers, connect them with you and your business. Show us photos of people like us in the stands or at your facility. Tell us the story of how you got into racing or who your favorite driver was as a kid. Give us a tour of your race shop. Snap a photo of your adorable kid or supportive boyfriend scraping mud.

All of those things help us add up who you are. And that’s what we’re buying.

We’re buying you. And we can only do that if you fill in the blanks for us.


P.S. Want more on this topic? Grab another post on why stories matter so much in racing here.

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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.