Interview with Peter Szarafinski of LIQUI MOLY

Automotive chemical company LIQUI MOLY recently announced its increased investment in the UK and this was a great chance for me to catch up with the brand to talk about its sponsorship of touring car teams, MotoGP drivers and winter sports events.

As with many large companies, LIQUI MOLY spreads its sponsorship across a variety of different places to maximise its exposure to the public. For pure audience numbers, MotoGP, and the IntactGP team, was the obvious choice with higher viewing figures than Formula One. For international reach, the decision was made to sponsor Team Engstler and its efforts in a range of TCR series.

Both IntactGP and Team Engstler are based nearby to LIQUI MOLY. Peter Szarafinski, head of media relations at the company, explains what attracted the brand to working with these two teams: “Both are located not too far away from our headquarters and we’ve known them for quite a while. This facilitates coordination and ensures that we understand each other very well. Here at LIQUI MOLY we are proud to have a close relationship to our sponsoring partners. They are not a mere ROI calculation in our budget but true partners.

Beyond brand awareness

While LIQUI MOLY makes every effort to measure how its sponsorship activities are benefiting the company’s bottom line, this isn’t always possible so it focuses instead on brand awareness and the other benefits these partnerships can bring. Peter explains how important it is to expose people to the LIQUI MOLY brand: “People do not suffer from too little choice when buying products. To make sure that it is our products people decide on and not the ones from our competitors, we have to stand out. Basically you can stand out by price or by brand. A brand is something which you do not create by yourself but it is something which is born in the people’s minds. This implies that people need to know our brand. This is why brand awareness is so important for us.”

As a racing driver, it’s important to be part of your sponsor’s brand, to help grow it and make sure people know who it is. Once you become a brand ambassador, you need to make sure that everything you do that’s in the public eye (on or off track) is in-keeping with the brand image.

Sponsors can also find value in a number of other ways that go beyond brand awareness and can translate into real-world sales. LIQUI MOLY goes beyond simple brand awareness. Peter says: “This is a very important point. We do not just sponsor certain teams and events, enjoy the brand awareness and that’s it. We “activate” our sponsoring involvements for customer events. To many races we invite more than 100 existing and potential customers. This is a crucial part of our sponsoring strategy. In addition, we have the cars and bikes available to show off at shows.”

The bottom line

I like to bang on about making sure you bring some return on investment for your online sponsors. If it’s measurable then fantastic but don’t get down if you can’t measure every single new customer you bring to a business. Measuring the impact of brand awareness, events, social media and press coverage is notoriously difficult. Larger companies might be able to get some idea of the impact of sponsorship activities but smaller businesses might struggle.

LIQUI MOLY can’t accurately measure the impact its sponsorship has on its bottom line because it’s part of a wider marketing strategy. Peter explains that as long as the business is growing, its activities are considered a success: “Sponsorship does have a positive impact on sales, of course. Otherwise it would be a waste of time and money. But this is a qualitative and not a quantitative approach.

“It is hard to tell what portion of our sales growth is related directly to our sponsoring activities. There are simply too many other intervening factors like sales promotions, newly introduced products, advertising campaigns, economic situation in general, and so on. I am sure that other companies try hard to gain some figures for their excel sheets but to our experience these figures would be in vain. In the end, sponsoring is part of a mixed calculation, which should show positive figures in the end, of course. As LIQUI MOLY is growing year by year, we are on the right track.”

This just goes to show that while it’s all good and well promising a huge ROI to a potential sponsor, you may have to work this into a wider marketing and sales plan. Offering to be part of a business’ strategy can be a big sell, especially if they’re looking for something to entice potential customers, boost their brand or increase their exposure within new markets.

LIQUI MOLY’s winter sports sponsorship

Despite being an automotive brand, LIQUI MOLY makes a point of doing more than just sponsoring motorsport. Peter says: “In terms of brand awareness, you reach a different audience than with motorsports. We did some winter sports sponsoring last year and the results have been very positive. And in terms of incentivising customers it is great to have the chance to offer them events beyond the motorsports sphere.”

This goes to show that not all brands stay within their own bubble when it comes to sponsorship so maybe you should start looking outside of the automotive industry for your sponsors, you could be missing out on valuable opportunities if you don’t explore further.