You are a race driver because you love being on the edge, you like the significance of it all, you get excited by the wheel to wheel action and rinsing a race car around a track gives you emotions that are hard to experience elsewhere.
Many business owners are the same, they also like living a life of variety, self expression, danger, juggling with failure, to love what they do and to compete for success.
These two sectors may look different on the surface but they are both full of Adrenalin Junkies with purpose, with goals!
Drivers seem to forget this, they think that they have to conform in order to get sponsorship, they think that they need to change as a person and become this dull, sensible, figure crunching analyst so they can communicate to companies and sell sponsorship to them.
Which is mistake No.1.
We live in an entrepreneurial age right now, where we are constantly hearing of Bedroom to Boardroom success stories and people getting funding for their ideas.
As a knock on effect we are seeing less old school corporate fat cats representing the companies, instead the flags are being flown by the younger minded execs who have flair and can associate to the buying public better.
Billionaires can be seen wearing running shoes to work and hoodies to shareholder meetings (Mark Zuckerberg to name one). Things are changing, the corporate giants are becoming more open and free spirited.
So again as a race driver do not worry, you do not need to have a lobotomy and go from being this speed freak into a conformer. You do not have to go from making that last lap dive into the hairpin on Sunday to being Mr of Mrs Stiff on Monday in that sponsor meeting.
You must be yourself. You must share the excitement you have in the car to the people on the outside. That same excitement must be communicated to companies so they also get juiced by it. Then sell them on the fact that their customers will also feel this and in turn link their product to this exhilarating world that you can introduce them to (if they want that branding benefit).
In modern business you do not have to conform, you do not have to follow the old rules and you do not have to hide your passion when it comes to business. Virgin, Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, RedBull and so many other companies all pride themselves on doing things their way. They form a movement rather than a traditional business model.
The corporate world isn't what many people think, it isn't full of squares and people who are glorified 'Yes Men'.
Look at these pics to see how things have changed:
Old Style Boardroom
New Style Boardroom
Old Style Office / Reception
New Style Office / Reception
Modern businesses have more colour, they have more curves to their corners and more importantly they have more personality.
Oh and they have slides instead of stairs.....tricky getting back up though ;-)
This design revolution isn't just due to a fashion change, it is a philosophy change driven by the different type of people who run companies now.
You need to speak their 'language' in order to communicate to them. Even your proposals need to echo this philosophy.
Salesmen have had to change the way they sell.
PR and Advertising agencies now have to communicate the personality of companies more, rather than just the product benefits.
All of this shows you that things have changed, after all PR and Advertising agencies are the ones that influence public trends, they manipulate the masses and you should learn from them if you are to effectively sell sponsorship today. They know what sells, how to sell it and how to get results for companies.
This is exactly what you should be offering when pitching your sponsorship partnership.
What am I saying here?
Basically do not approach your sponsorship in a cardboard box way, in a way that doesn't motivate you because if you are not jazzed about what you are selling then the company you are selling to won't be.
You have something genuine to sell here, it is in a dangerous and exhilarating sport, it is glamorous (from the outside) and it is a sport that is fueled by emotion.
So with this in mind why the hell would you sell it in a mundane way?
Your pitch needs to have energy, it needs to portray the sport that you are in and it needs to talk directly to the kind of people who are running these modern companies.
A Great Example
To get my point across I want to use the interview with Pat McAfee, Conor Daly and Dale Coyne as an example.
Pat has just sponsored Conor Daly for the Indy 500.
Pat is also a sportsmen and has the kind of personality that a lot of CEO's have now which is based on being young minded, fresh, energetic, honest and with no limits to what is possible.
They act outside of the box, not just think it.
Company owners and shareholders really do get excited about stuff still, they are human, it is your job to match that excitement with their mission. Then you have a partner.
Just like Pat and Conor did, this partnership was instigated from a simple conversation coupled with what I just mentioned.
Pat himself has the communication skills that would motivate companies to invest in him if he was out there looking for sponsorship.
If you put together a lifeless proposal and a boring ass pitch then company execs who share Pat's outlook (common now) would lose interest in you within seconds.
Just listen to how Pat commands the attention from the media / audience and how his personality changes the mood of the room. If you do just half of what he does in this video whilst in a sponsor meeting then you will increase your conversion rate.
Watch this video and see what you can pick up and if you can get what I am saying here:
All in all YOU MUST BE REAL as a person and have a real opportunity to offer companies, then people will trust you and want to experience more of the emotions that you give them.
This approach will dwarf any other boring proposal meeting that they have that day.
This will be explained more in the up and coming Sponsorship Program.
If you are into sponsorship, you'll be in to this
Video and title still-shot from YouTube