I’m often asked: ‘What is the best way to approach a potential sponsor?’ Now, I go into this in quite a lot of detail on the Get Paid To Race course and the Get Paid To Race book, but I’ll outline it briefly here for you.

I struggled with this when I first started out. I would just send generic emails and never get any response but as I honed my skills and brought in more from my sales and marketing background, I began to create a process.

First off, before you even think about contacting a potential sponsor, you need to know yourself and your audience inside out, you need to know exactly what benefits you can bring inside out, and you need to do your research on the sponsor.

Step 1: Research the sponsor

Doing proper research on a sponsor is probably a lot more detailed than you’ve been used to. I use something called the Researching for Profitability Method (RPM) and the idea of this is that you do a really, really deep dive into everyone you contact. Yes. Everyone.

This means you’ll be contacting fewer people, but every pitch will be tailored so it’s way more efficient. At the very least, you’ll get replies. You won’t just get ghosted. (Following up is an important part of this too!)

This research method looks at previous activity, who the business is sponsoring, the kind of audience it targets and so on.

Here’s my process:

  • Googling the brand name and looking at some of the results on the first page
  • Seeing whether the brand is advertising in magazines,
  • Looking at whether it’s been featured in the news
  • Going through all its social feeds to see what its goals might be there
  • Reading the website to get a sense of the brand tone and voice
  • Searching for the brand name on social media to see what others are saying about it

From all this, and whatever else you come across in your search, you can begin to build a picture of what the business is trying to do.

If I’ve had the chance to speak to a decision maker before or during the research phase, I also take the time to ask about their business including how they get clients.

Step 2: Define the sponsor’s goals

All of your research should tell you what a business’s goals are.

Think about why the business is doing that activity and what results it’s looking to achieve.

It’s these goals you need to refer back to when you pitch. So, for example, if you know that a business is posting a lot of gorgeous imagery on its Instagram, but is doing it sporadically, you could perhaps offer to help make their posting more consistent by offering your own images.

And feel free to mention why this is good for them because consistent posting leads to more engagement and more followers.

Follow the format of relating something you offer to the business goals then detail the direct benefits of that activity. You might do this with one hard-hitting thing per pitch or you might detail a few smaller things, it all depends on the business but should be clear from your research.

Step 3: Send the sponsorship pitch

Once you’ve researched and defined goals, you need to send the pitch. Use your common sense here. Sometimes it’d better to say hello to the CEO on LinkedIn, sometimes it’s better to email the marketing manager, and sometimes you’ll have more luck hopping on the phone.

Resource: Relationship-building templates

However you pitch, make sure you use your research to really tailor what you can offer to the business. And don’t forget to mention the benefits!

Think about whether your pitch stands out over ones other racing drivers might be sending. Business owners and decision makers get a lot of sales emails in their inboxes, you need to cut through that by offering something impressive and piquing their interest int he subject line and first paragraph.

Resource: Email sponsorship templates

It’s important to really show how what you can do will benefit a company as this is what gets them thinking and gets them excited about what you could do to help reach the business’s goals.

I’ve had a lot of success with this method, as have Racing Mentor students. It might take time to do all that research but as you get better at it, you’ll get quicker. Not to mention, your reply rate will go through the roof.

Use this method and your pitches will be more effective, and even if someone isn’t interested, they’re more likely to get back to you and say so because you’ve taken that time to get personal.

If you’d like to learn more about RPM, how to conduct deep research, and define a sponsor’s goals, it’s covered in detail in the new Get Paid to Race course.

Share your experiences of researching and pitching over on the Racing Mentor Sponsorship Community on Facebook.