Whether it’s your first time on the racing grid, or you’ve had previous experience, finding sponsors can be daunting. Your offer to a sponsor must be more important than just a logo on your livery design. Being focused, ambitious and talented are just some of the qualities required to become a racing driver but that doesn’t necessarily translate to marketing and business skills. Your personality and skills are all great selling points for a sponsor, but without knowledge in the marketing industry it can be difficult to translate those selling points into a proposal. We’ve gathered together some great tips to help you begin your journey to gaining sponsors, giving you a leg up on the competition and helping you reach that pole position.
It’s difficult to recognise which companies will, or won’t, be prepared to sponsor you. The first course of action is to ask the question ‘Why?’ Why would this company be prepared to sponsor me?
Sponsors are best suited when they align with your goals, which means a great place to start is to identify your goals and cement your USP – Unique Selling Point.
Your USP can easily be broken up into three sections:
Local Sponsors – Appealing to your community (whether it be national or local) is a great way to start sourcing your sponsors. Being local to the business that offers you a deal means you can both benefit from perks such as appearances at local events and attractions, or allowing the sponsor to experience the events and lifestyle that their ‘local sporting hero’ attends.
Age – Being a young driver has both pro’s and con’s, but playing to your strengths is a great way to secure some amazing sponsorship deals. A young driver is malleable in the eyes of a sponsor, making them a great candidate to become a brand ambassador. A sponsor can mould a young driver into the perfect person to support their brand. On the other hand, an older driver has their own pro’s and con’s. Though they’re less malleable, the experience under their belt and a greater understanding of marketing and PR means they’re ready to go for a sponsor.
Selling Your Story – Every year on the various talent shows that appear on TV, there’s always a rags to riches story that makes it far into the competition (and often wins). Why? Because it sells. Humble beginnings look great for sponsors, not only because everyone loves an up and comer, but because it shows you’re a hardworking, passionate and talented individual that is prepared to take the required steps to reach the top. Not everyone has a humble beginnings story, but if you do – don’t feel intimidated to talk about it.
Self Starter – Though somewhat related to the point above, someone that funded their first season, whether it was in karting or motorsport, still looks great for a sponsor. It takes a lot of dedication to build your brand from nothing, and that reflects well in a sponsor’s eyes. Don’t be afraid to display your attributes. A creative, passionate drive for the sport is a perfect way to catch the attention of your perfect sponsor.
Everybody is different, and there may be points above that do not align with you – or you may have identified a USP not listed – that’s fine. Your USP and brand relates to you and your personality, so there isn’t a cookie cutter guideline. The best person to sell yourself, is you, and identifying those USPs is just the first step.
Once you have your USPs, it’s time to start listing your potential sponsors. Research a list, and begin looking at the potential sponsor’s business plans, goals, USPs, company philosophies and, arguably the most important, their marketing strategies and campaigns. Once you’ve researched these, you should be able to streamline your list to a suitable group of sponsors that align with your own USP and be a great fit for your brand.
You’ve found your list of potential sponsors, but now you need to make first contact. There are various processes you can follow:
Social Media (Networking) – We are lucky to live in an age where any and all businesses have some form of online presence. You’re most likely already on Twitter and Instagram, which can be a potential platforms to reach out on, but an updated LinkedIn page is the perfect solution to approaching your sponsors. Identifying key decision makers within the companies that you’re looking to approach and messaging them directly via LinkedIn is great for beginning to build those relationships.
Email, Phone or In Person (Direct) – A direct approach is one of the most difficult ways to make contact in the current age. Due to the fast paced nature of today’s business world, most business owners and decision makers don’t have the time to respond to every email, phone or impromptu meeting that comes their way, but it doesn’t mean it’s not a potential option. As long as you stand out from the crowd, and offer a unique and attractive proposition, you may find some doors opening for you. Though the prospect of approaching a sponsor directly may be intimidating, it’s definitely an avenue worth exploring. A friendly face sporting team colours is a great first impression for your potential sponsors, allowing you to show off your social skills and personality that otherwise wouldn’t shine through social media. Although it may be difficult, a foot in the door is one of the best first approaches you can give to a potential sponsor.
Creative Events Showcasing your Brand (Invite) – Creative Media Events are a great product to offer potential sponsors, so why not give them a preview in the form of a Creative Media Event designed specifically with your sponsors in mind? An event shows you have the creative and organisational skills to pull it off, as well as helping the sponsors become more familiar with your brand and allowing them to get to know you at the same time. What’s better than an event that showcases your personality, and gives you a chance to impress your potential sponsors?
We understand the difficulties of approaching companies in person or via Social Media, or even hosting and planning your own event, but with just a small team behind you these tasks become a lot easier. At We Are Go, we’re a knowledgeable team with backgrounds in Design, Social Media, Event Management and Networking. If you’re struggling to approach sponsors, find out more on how we can help here.
You’ve outlined your USP, and you’re about to approach one of your potential sponsors. You know why you’ve chosen this sponsor, and why you’re approaching them, but now you need to convey that to them. This is easier said than done, so how do you go about it?
Discuss the Reasons for Contacting Them
When dealing with other people’s time, you don’t want to waste it. In both your initial approach, and the eventual sponsorship proposal, it’s important to outline why you’re contacting them. This should be unique, and show you’ve actively researched the company and tailored the proposal to them. No one wants to be part of a generic copy and paste job. It’s important to ensure your proposal directly relates to the sponsor and, in doing so, is inviting.
Outline the Benefits of their Sponsorship
As we discussed above, every second of a sponsor’s time is important. As little as we’d like to agree with it, sponsors are not interested if you’re not bringing anything to the table, so outlining what you’re going to do for them immediately is a great way to get their attention. It’s easy to say they’ll be getting ROI (return on investment) and Social Media exposure, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into something tangible. Reinforcing your statements with ideas is a perfect way to do this. Asking the question: ‘How?’ to any points you want to put forward gives you a great framework to start building on the benefits you offer.
How you will Achieve Sponsorship Activation
Sponsorships are not a one-way street, it’s important for your potential sponsors that they receive benefits from helping you achieve your dream job. Once you understand the importance of sponsorship activation, it’ll allow you to be more flexible and creative with your ideas. We mentioned above that Creative Media events are a great way to offer something for your Sponsors. This not only includes events where you work alongside your sponsor, but also inviting sponsors to events that you yourself have been invited to. Of course, events are not the only way sponsors can gain value from supporting you. Discussing a Social Media Strategy with sponsors is another great way to get them on board. Supplying them content in the form of photos/videos etc. that they can share across their social channels is another great way to achieve sponsorship activation. The companies you approach are related to the motorsport industry and are looking for the stepping stone between them and the rest of that industry, which is exactly what you’re aiming to fill. Once you have strategies and ideas in place that can offer tangible results for your sponsors, you’re well on your way to having a complete proposal.
Like we mentioned at the start of the blog, the best person to sell yourself, is you. Though there are rough guidelines to follow when creating your Sponsorship Proposal, it needs to be unique. It needs to ooze with your personality and stress who you are as an individual. Offering their logo on your website and car is something they’ve seen hundreds of times, you need that extra push to help you stand out from the crowd. Don’t forget to include metrics and numbers in your proposal. It’s cliché to say you can increase the social awareness of a sponsor, or provide an ROI. Providing statistics and figures of your actual data of your social profiles, website traffic and other platforms that you use can greatly increase the quality of your proposal. Most importantly, be honest. Be honest about your goals, what you want to achieve for the season, whether you plan to appear often in TV interviews, whether you’ll be winning races or getting on the podium. An honest proposal, backed by figures, is a great way to stand out from the rest of the competition, ensuring your potential sponsors know exactly what they’re getting into.
Your proposal does not need to be page after page of information. It should be concise and straight to the point. View it from the eyes of the reader. Consider whether a lengthy paragraph of text is better suited to bullet points, or whether less essential information can be removed for the first contact. You’re only looking to sell yourself, not hand over everything about yourself.
It can be a daunting task creating a proposal by yourself. At We Are Go, we’ve managed sponsorship proposals in the past, securing various sponsors. For more on the work we’ve done in the Motorsport Industry, check it out here.
What Content Can I Use to Enrich my Proposal?
As a motorsport driver, you have a pool of great content that you can use to enrich your proposal. With frequent attendance at race events, you have a bank of pictures, videos and other media content that’s perfect to share with your sponsors via their own social media (and your own!). Unique content like this is perfect for engaging with the fans, as they follow you and your sponsor for the behind the scenes content that you will end up posting. You’ve most likely heard the phrase ‘Content is King’ when talking about digital marketing. This is true for any industry. A Motorsport Driver who has a great Social Media presence is already more enticing to a sponsor than one who doesn’t regularly update their profile. Creative content and Social Media presence is more likely to gain you an investment.
Your proposal needs to be more than just sending off an email and a large file. As we’ve discussed prior, there are various ways to get in contact with your potential sponsors, but how do you convert that contact into a presentation that will make your proposal inviting?
Software to Create Your Proposal
In short, if you can use it, Powerpoint is one of the best tools to creating your Sponsorship Proposal. If you don’t have access to Powerpoint, Google Drive offers a free version with Google Slides. Creating your proposal as a presentation is a powerful tool, as it allows for you to convey the important facts and figures whilst still remaining aesthetically pleasing. A well designed Presentation is a great way to get across your proposal, if you know how to use it.
Formatting and File Type
Simply put, a PDF file is the best way to go. A PDF document is a file type that’s easily opened on any device, being viewable on mobile, desktop or tablets without the difficulty of installing any third-party software. PDFs also support images, videos and links. The only downside that comes with a PDF file is due to the size. As we’ve mentioned previously, with the fast pace of the current business world, sending an email with a large file could be prone to being ignored. This is why it’s important to establish that first connection before-hand, as we’ve also mentioned above.
Designing Your Presentation
Before you save and send off your presentation, you need to ensure the design is aesthetically pleasing. We understand as a Motorsport Driver, design is not a skill that you prioritise. Unfortunately, potential sponsors may not look at your proposal with this in mind.
If you believe you are limited with your design skills, do not hesitate to get in contact with us – check out our Sponsorship Proposal here.
If you’ve waited longer than 7 days for a response for your Sponsorship Proposal, it’s important to follow it up. We’ve mentioned the fast-paced business world a few times in this blog, meaning that sometimes a Sponsor may take a look at your Proposal with the intention to reply, and never get around to it.
It’s integral to not seem pushy or desperate when following up with a proposal. Simply ask for any follow up questions regarding the presentation, feedback and whether they’re interested in going forward with the project. This second contact can be done via email or phone call, but ensuring you’re following up on your proposals is a great way to open doors you may have initially thought were closed.
There’s a lot to digest and unpack when it comes to gaining sponsors. To receive tips and how to progress as a Motorsport driver, sign up to our mailing list below.
We understand the entire process can be very daunting. For more information, or for advice and guidance on how We Are Go can help you secure sponsors and progress with your Motorsport career, contact us today.