Now that the bulk of everyone’s racing season is drawing to a close, it’s time for us racers to start planning for next season. And no, I’m not talking about rebuilding the engine in your car or ordering that new trick part that’s going to take some creative fabrication and an extended amount of time to install.
I’m talking about the effort that needs to be put forth in search of sponsorship dollars.
We all know that it’s highly unlikely someone is going to walk through the door of your shop and offer you $25,000 to be affiliated with your race team. No, that’s just not realistic. So as racers we need to take this opportunity to head out into the communities that surround the venues we race at and make personal introductions to business owners and managers in an effort to present them with the opportunities our racing programs offer for their businesses. In order to do this, you’ll need three basic things. The first is to have your introductory sponsorship proposal in hand, with multiple copies available for each business. By offering copies to the employees of the business, as well as the owner or manager, you are going to create a sense of excitement throughout the entire workplace. From the secretary that greets you as you enter the building, to anyone you meet during your visit to that business, don’t be shy when it comes to handing out your proposal.
The second thing you are going to need is a professional appearance. Now, I’m not saying you have to go out and purchase an Armani suit, but wearing a collared shirt tucked in to some khaki or dress pants with a belt and dressy shoes is definitely going to help your cause when you approach a business owner, asking them to give you what little advertising money they may have.
The third and most important thing you’re going to need is a plan. You can’t just go out and start talking to people without somewhat understanding their business. If you are unable to talk intelligently when relating the benefits of your racing program to their business the chances that they are going to even consider giving you money are slim to none. Knowing things such as whether or not the business is service or product-related, whether it caters to the general public or commercial clients, how many employees they have and what elements of your program are going to be the most appealing to them is going to give you an edge over anyone else looking to grab a chunk of that business’ advertising budget.
When visiting a business you need to make a point of meeting with the owner or manager. Relying on an employee to deliver your message just isn’t going to get the results that a face to face meeting, however brief it may be, will get for you if you know your facts going in. Even offering to bring your race car to their place of business at this point isn’t a bad idea. You also need to be sure that you get accurate contact information from the decision maker you have met with so that your follow up is done directly to them.
Once you’ve made initial rounds to the businesses you have targeted, give them a couple weeks to evaluate and consider what you’ve presented them with. At that time you should make follow up contact with the decision makers. As was the case initially, a face to face meeting with that individual is by far the best method for following up.
In the next and final installment of this series on sponsorship, I will explain the things we as racers need to do in order to give each sponsor a solid return on their investment and retain them for many years beyond their initial contract.