I am attempting the seemingly impossible here by giving you the best possible sponsorship advice in a blog post that takes around 5 minutes to read.
To pull this off I am going to keep things simple, very simple, yet give you the most effective information as possible.
Sounds a bit contradictory but hey, let's give it a go.
Setting The Scene
As a driver you are always looking for sponsorship, it doesn’t matter if you are a highly paid F1 world champion or a driver trying to raise funds for your first ever club race, sponsorship or financial investment is a vital part of your racing.
Not only is it vital but it is also your duty as a driver to make sure that you are winning in this area.
More time is to be spent on attracting sponsors/investors/partners than any other single activity. More than you spend on the driving and fitness aspects, combined.
You are not just a sportsmen/women, you are a brand that has commercial value. That commercial value is your key to getting on track and must be communicated to people who can invest in what you have to offer.
It's a driver's goal to be in someone’s boardroom every week, screw that, it should be your goal to be in front of someone who can help you Every Single Day.
Deep down you know this isn’t possible in reality but this is the kind of standard you need to have and the level of dedication you need if you are serious about getting a company to pay for your racing.
It should be your goal to have no white space on your calendar.
In saying this it always surprises me just how little most drivers know about this area of their sport, they can turn in a pretty good lap time and are getting good results in the gym but they suck when it comes to generating money to go racing.
If you want to race in this day and age then this kind of short fall just won't cut it.
I Was Rubbish To Start With
I certainly sucked at this when I was a young driver, I spent all the time I had sat on my Mother's computer putting together sponsorship proposals and sending them to every company I could think of.
Even with all this time I was spending I still failed to get a penny from companies initially. It makes me cringe when I think back to what my cheap looking proposals would have looked like next to all those other high quality glossy proposals the companies would have received from other sportsmen.
I Loved The "No's"
I used to get excited when I even got an acknowledgement letter in the post saying - Thanks but no thanks.
I think I heard every reason under the sun for why they couldn’t allocate some of their budget for my racing, but in essence as I look back now they were not saying no, they were just saying - Give me something of some value.
I just wasn't talking their language in terms of meeting their goals, I was thinking selfishly and if you strip down what I was offering them it was little more than stickers on the car and hospitality. Why I thought they would pay tens or hundreds of thousands for that I don't know, that’s how deluded I was.
It wasn’t until I was in the higher level cars did I start to understand how to get sponsorship and backing from companies. Just before I left the cockpit to pursue my true passion of coaching I personally set up a deal of over £300,000 for the team I was with. It was at that moment that it finally clicked how to do it, or at least a way of doing it.
If you know my teaching in this area then I pulled this off by using my 'PR Company Partnership' strategy.
The Basic Understanding
To get your head around sponsorship I want you to imagine that the business world is run by leeches.
Not humans but leeches.
The owners of companies want to extract and suck out the blood (money) from the market. They need this blood to thrive and survive.
By providing consumers with a valuable service or product they get to fulfil their own dreams and pay their bills.
Don’t get me wrong many companies are also very giving and charitable but again in being charitable they are still fulfilling some kind of genuine agenda or goal of theirs.
So all in all companies and enterprises are always desperately seeking something that is important to them.
This Is How Sponsorship Works
As a race driver or someone trying to get into racing then you have a simple task consisting of:
Select a handful of companies
Find out what they want, their goals and their needs.
Through Motorsport design a 'Product' that will help them achieve these goals
Communicate what you have and get their feedback.
You are basically understanding what a company wants and seeing if what you have to offer can genuinely help them. If so then you sell it to them.
In fact you are not after 'sponsorship', you are helping companies grow through sport.
In return you get paid a certain amount that allows you to drive.
Nowadays you cannot just sell a sticker on a car and expect it to pay for your budget.
Instead, you have to be a corporate growth consultant.
So in order for these humans to pay you a phenomenal amount of their hard earned money you need to offer something that they ‘Desperately Want’, plus you need to convince them that you are the best route to getting it.
So what would that something be?
Well it’s not rocket science, what feeds every business?
It’s obviously money, all businesses need more profit. The business world is a very unstable and competitive place right now. The longer you spend in business the more chance you have of going bankrupt, business owners are bloody gladiators nowadays, they know that if things are going well then there is probably a storm around the next corner.
You can no longer invent something and live off that success for long periods of time, those days are gone.
Even McDonalds are having to flood their menu with other food types because they know that they will struggle to survive if they don't. They are worried right now.
So in order for you to get sponsorship you need to prove to a company that they will benefit big time if they invest in what you are offering them, and it needs to be a quick return.
You must supply your sponsor (client) with the following:
That’s all you need to do. You need to show them a strong business plan that uses Motorsport to earn them more money and/or more clients.
This is something I forgot when asking them all for sponsorship in my earlier years, instead I just saw things from my perspective. I somehow believed that offering them a race car in their livery and offering them race tickets would somehow answer all their marketing needs and be worth a fortune to them. Dumbass!
The Mindset Needed
Never come away from these two main objectives, even if you use your racing as just a side benefit, you still need to go out there and find this company more clients and in return they earn extra money and get the marketing that your car can provide. The marketing should not be the main sales point.
The reason marketing is not a strong sales point for you is because most marketing is digital now, a company would prefer to spend £50,000 on a smoking hot search engine loving lead generating website than on a sticker for your race car. No one really remembers the sponsors on the side of a car, even with hours of TV airtime. It just isn’t that valuable at the moment in the current business world. There are too many other ways to get more publicity from.
The sponsorship world is also a very competitive place and your racing cannot even hold a candle to some of the other technologies out there now.
Attracting sponsorship isn’t a complicated task, it can be scary when you don’t understand business but essentially all you are trying to do is meet the needs of others in order to meet your own.
Find out what the main objective of your target is and brainstorm which ways your racing can provide this.
Then go sell it to them or at least have a meeting with them to explore viable options to see if it fits well or not.
If not through your racing then who else do you know who could help you increase the revenue of your prospective sponsor and in return your racing benefits?
You have to think in a win win way with these deals. When you crack this once you will have found your way and it can be repeated over and over again.
I urge you to spend more time studying business and more time on this part of your game, if you do then you will achieve things that far out weight what you can achieve on track.
This is a big subject but don’t let people fool you into thinking that you cannot pull this off, simplify it down and start small, from there you will figure things out and see just how simple the process is.
For Drivers Who Are Serious...
If you are serious about sorting out this area of your racing then you take a look at this video below.
We recently created Get The Drive which is an online training program for drivers and riders who need to find sponsorship in order to race.
The solutions in this program are working in Motorsport right now in the current climate. It will teach you the best sponsorship strategies and all the other ways that you can get the race seat you want, you have many options and ways of getting that drive.
Here is the intro video:
You can listen to the first 40 minutes for free by clicking here.