I get messages almost daily with people lamenting about how they’ve tried searching for sponsorship but it’s just not working. Most drivers are willing to admit that they’re doing something wrong but a handful thinks everyone is to blame but them.

Let me tell you this. It is you and you are doing something wrong.

But that’s OK because you’re here and we’re going to fix it.

Here are the most common reasons drivers fail to pick up sponsorship.

No obvious benefit to the company

I see so many pitches that talk about stickers and branding on race suits, these usually include ‘hospitality at races’ too.

That doesn’t tell me what I’ll get out of it as a business. If you’re desperate to offer stickers on a race car, talk about your reach and who will see those stickers. A sticker on a car that will reach thousands of race-goers, tens of thousands on social media and a wide variety of car enthusiasts in the press, is a much more tempting proposition and the simple idea of a sticker on a race car.

A very defensive young driver told me on Facebook (after he’d lamented about not getting sponsorship) that anyone with a bit of business acumen would be able to understand why a sticker on a race car would be a good thing and that listing the benefits was unnecessary.

Why should business owners be tasked with sitting down and thinking about the benefits when you could just list them out? You also forget that while some people might have started a successful business, they might not have needed to market themselves in this way before. They might not understand the intricacies of PR and marketing so, again, you need to make it obvious why they should sponsor you.

If you’re approaching a business that’s already experienced in motorsport sponsorship, they may already understand the benefits of race car advertising but why is yours different? Why should they sponsor you instead of the ten other drivers they’ve received pitches from that week?

To-do: Go through your pitch and work out if your offering clearly states the benefits.

You don’t understand the business’ goals

In order to understand how your offering can benefit a business, you need to understand their goals. I’ve covered this in detail in Get Paid to Race but it’s relatively easy to find out what a company is trying to achieve.

For the most part, it’ll probably be an increase in sales but a lot of companies will be focusing on getting their product in front of more people or taking the opportunity to network with potential new clients. Look at what the business you’re pitching to is already doing and you’ll be able to tell if they’re looking for more website visits, enquires, wider press coverage or something else you can help with.

To-do: Research the potential sponsors you want to contact next and work out what their goals might be.

A poorly structured pitch

I launched the sponsorship email templates to give drivers an idea of how an email should be structured. Don’t spend three paragraphs waffling about who you are, what you do and your passion for motorsport. While this information might be relevant, it’s not the best place to start.

Introduce yourself but focus on the information that’s most useful to the business owner and will help them make a decision about whether or not they should sponsor you. Make sure to include benefits that align with their goals and genuinely would make a difference to their sales/enquiries/brand image.

Grammar and spelling are also important. Install Grammarly (it’s free) to check your work but also get someone to read through it too.

To-do: Revise your pitch (or take a look at our pitch templates)

You don’t follow up

Emails get missed. Learn to follow up and your success rate will go through the roof. From my own sponsorship hunting efforts, I realised that it takes a number of emails and phone calls before I even got a response, let alone a yes. When researching and writing up the follow up emails for the pitch templates, I noticed that most drivers don’t follow up and when they do it’s stilted and unnatural.

To-do: Follow up on your last five pitches.

You don’t include a call-to-action

What do you want a business owner to do as a result of reading your email? Should they call you, or get back to you with a date to meet? Whatever you need them to do next, make it obvious and be specific.

I tend to invite potential sponsors for coffee or drinks (depending on the kind of company) and list a number of dates that work for me. This cuts out any awkward back and forth.

To-do: Make sure all your pitches include a call-to-action and where you’ve missed them, follow up with a clear next step.

Hopefully, these points will give you something to start working on to supercharge your sponsorship search. If it’s not quite enough, consider grabbing a copy of Get Paid to Race. 

(That paragraph above was a call-to-action, by the way.)

I’m keen to hear where you think you’re going wrong but also what you’re finding success with. Tweet me, @racingmentor or drop me a message on Facebook.