Let’s say you’re working with a sponsor on a non-monetary basis, meaning they either give you a discount, or they provide you with parts for your race car. This might be a standard sponsorship scheme from the company or something you’ve negotiated yourself to help with costs. As you get more serious with your racing or start to think about climbing the ladder, those discounts and products aren’t going to have the same kind of impact.
When you start to build your brand and career to offer more, you’ll be in a position to ask for more from those existing sponsors.
Now, it can often be hard to turn one of these sponsors into someone who gives money in exchange for working with you, so there are a few things that you need to look into before you approach them.
What other sponsorship do they do?
Look at the other activity they’re doing in motorsport. Who else do they sponsor, for example? Is it all product deals or do they put money into sponsorship too? It’s going to be much more difficult to convince a sponsor to start paying out for sponsorship if they only exchange parts for stickers and tickets. But it’s not impossible.
If the sponsor is doing a lot of gifting of parts or giving discounts within motorsport, you can probably tell that they want to reach a wider motorsport audience. Bear in mind, though, that the discount could just be a way to get your money.
If they’re giving you a freebie, however, think about why because what they’ve given to you is a good indicator of their goals and what they’re trying to get from motorsport.
Also, look into other people the company sponsors and other marketing activity it does because all of this will give you a sense of what it’s trying to achieve. It can also help you to see where the company might be underrepresented in motorsport.
Just with any sponsorship approach, do your research and start to define your sponsor’s goals. You’ll need to refer to this when you pitch.
What else are you going to offer them?
You need to look at what activity you’ve been doing for this sponsor. Now, if they’ve just given you parts or a discount, it might be you’ve just put a sticker on the car and that’s it.
Maybe you’ve thrown some social posts in there, or a couple of tickets but nothing huge. That’s OK. This is what you need to build on.
Let’s say the product/discount is worth £200 over the season but you’re asking for the product/discount plus £2000 for the following season. What are you going to offer that’s worth that extra money?
Do you have a wonderful idea for an event that will help them reach more customers? Do you know how to grow their social channels? Are you going to put them in front of a new audience?
The process here is the same as with any sponsor; new or existing. Work out what you can offer and the direct benefits.
Think about who you are and what you can offer:
- What’s your press reach?
- How many people come along to races?
- What are your YouTube subscribers?
- How many followers do you have on Twitter?
- What’s your equivalent press value?
Think about your important stats, and run with that. These are the numbers that will help to convince the sponsor to work with you on a monetary basis, so look at reach, engagement and so on. Thinking about the stats that back up your benefits is the best place to start.
How to make the approach
You should approach your sponsor lightly, as you would with any warm lead. How you contact them depends on how well you know them. Some might need a formal email or a scheduled call, others might respond better to as WhatsApp message.
Follow the standard pitch format but keep it casual and personal. The nice thing about pitching to an existing sponsor is that they already know who you are. Show your personality but try to hook them while showing off the benefits of working with you on a more serious basis.
Resource: Email pitch templates
Show value in a meeting
When you get a meeting, show your value and talk about the extra benefit you could bring to that sponsor. Your value might be that you have a huge audience; that you’ve got great ideas; that you go to a lot of networking sessions; that you’ve got a nice looking car that could come to events; or maybe you’re already been providing them with lots of benefits but can’t continue to do it for parts-only, so it’s time to discuss how you can maximise the partnership.
Then you need to outline the benefits to the sponsor. It might be reaching more people in motorsport; getting more leads at events; or increasing average customer value through hospitality.
A product sponsorship deal might work for you early on into your career but there will come a time where you need to up your game and bring in more sponsorship for a step up the ladder. If you’ve been working hard for these sponsors so they already see value in working with you, it’s going to be much easier to pitch for a more involved deal in the future.