Grow Your Company Through ‘Ideal’ Sponsorship Programs | Performance Racing Industry
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Grow Your Company Through ‘Ideal’ Sponsorship Programs
By Annamarie Malfitana-Strawhand on July 31, 2015

I am usually on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to sponsorship, working with race drivers and teams on how to properly prepare, attract and manage sponsors. But many of you may not know that I have quite a bit of experience working on the other side of sponsorship—as the “sponsor” or representative of the “sponsor/company” in the motorsports and performance industry.  I have assisted many companies in choosing the right team/driver to sponsor, and also helped them create marketing programs around their sponsorships to make sure they get a good return on their investment.

As a company owner myself for many years, especially when I owned a web development and graphic design firm, I was constantly approached by racers for sponsorship, free services, etc. So I know that business owners get hit up CONSTANTLY for money and free stuff, and I know it can become a nuisance at times—especially when the reason you are even in business is to sell your product and service, not give it all away! Right? 

But there is huge value in sponsoring and partnering with the right team or driver—one that can actually grow your business. They are out there, and I have helped performance companies create these ideal partnerships. But let’s first address what is going wrong in our industry with “sponsorships.” Then, I will offer you solutions on how you can easily fix this in your own business.

So, lets first look at the problem.

Earlier this summer I received an email from a well-known industry leader and company owner in motorsports (let’s call him “J”). I’ve had a great relationship with “J” over the years, and he’s told me many times how tired he was of the way racers come to him for sponsorship and support. If anything, it has caused him to turn down all requests for sponsorship, because he has yet to find a racer who’s approached him in a way that he feels shows that they actually care about the needs of his company. To prove his point, “J” forwarded me an email that he received from a “racer,” and he was livid.  The email was very typical, unfortunately, and I have seen tons of these myself over the years. (In reality, emails like these hurt racers more than they help them). Here is how the email read from “J”:

Hi Annamarie, I thought you may want to see this example of a terrible sponsor request. It is always disappointing to see the thought process that some racers look for sponsors as if they were soliciting donations for a charity rather than promoting a value to the sponsor.:

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 4:47pm May 18
Hello my name is
xxxxxxxxxxxx, and I am looking for sponsors for my 2015 racing season. I was wondering if you would like to help me out by becoming one of my sponsors for this year? Please contact me back for sponsorship options.
Thank you for any considerations you will consider.
Sincerely,
xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
ABC Stock Car

Sound familiar? Do you get emails like this one? I feel your pain as company owners, and this is why I became a coach. I saw a desperate need for proper marketing education in our industry, on both the racer side and sponsor side. This is the only way the sport can grow and keep everyone thriving and in business. It is my mission to teach and assist both sides of the sponsorship realm for everyone to get the best results out of the relationship.

So, as a company owner in our industry today, let’s see what you should be looking for in order to make the best decisions when approached for sponsorship by racers:

  1. Do they provide you a solution you have been needing?
  2. Do they have a strong influence in the industry or in your market?
  3. Do they have an interactive following (social proof they get their fans/counterparts to buy or support things they represent)?
  4. Do they have recommendations from other sponsors or community leaders?
  5. Are they experienced marketers?
  6. Do they put your needs first?
  7. Was their first point of contact with you about sponsorship or more about building a relationship?
  8. Do they show their marketing value in the immediate point of contact that you can “check them out” (website, social media links, etc.)?
  9. Are they willing to go above and beyond a sticker on the car, and if so, what would that be?
  10. What sets them apart from other racers out there that can in turn set your company apart?
  11. Do they have important connections or relationships that can help grow your company?
  12. Do they offer something up front with no strings attached to build trust?
  13. Have they been able to raise money for a charity or drive sales to their own merchandise, or the merchandise of another partner, and if so, how?

Now, let’s go over some solutions for companies whereby they will only attract—and succeed with—ideal sponsorship inquiries and partnerships:

  1. Create three levels of sponsorship programs that are geared to create solutions for your company—set up incentives from entry level to the top level, so they will want to grow into the bigger programs. Everybody wins this way.
  2. Do not try to make salespeople out of racers—most don’t understand how to do that, and it sets everyone up for failure. Instead, make them actual spokespersons and extensions of your company, with a reward plan for referrals and if they are responsible for measurable growth from their partnership with you.
  3. Look for the social media powerhouses—the ones who are really getting themselves out there big already, and who will enable you to tag onto this momentum. This way, your support of them can be measurable if they help grow your social media and web visits.
  4. Create a form on your website for all sponsorship inquiries using the questions above to filter out only the ideal prospects. This form can also build an email database for you to market to people who already have shown interest in your products as well.
  5. Give them tools and education, and coupons to hand out with their own coupon code for easy tracking.
  6. Have codes of conduct, and policies and procedures they must follow so there is no room for confusion on what their responsibilities are.
  7. Create a community environment with your partner teams and drivers for feedback, mutual support with each other, and your company reps—this way everyone helps and mentors each other for success in your partnership programs.

Create “sponsorship programs” with incentives for growth, and create a marketing message and online form to only attract racers who are willing to carry out what you want and need—these are the keys to success for all involved. This also teaches racers to become better marketers for you, and your company grows as a result! Through your ideal programs, you will also help grow the sport as a whole—securing a better future for all of us.

Annamarie Malfitana-Strawhand is a motorsports marketing coach and mentor, motivational teacher, author and speaker. Through her company, Marketing At Full Speed, she draws on 30-plus years of experience as a motorsports professional, combined with her corporate sponsor experience, to guide racers who wish to ascend the sport’s ladder or up-level their teams. Her helpful video tips, advice blog and client success stories can be found on her website, www.marketingatfullspeed.com.

About the Author
Annamarie Malfitana-Strawhand's picture
Annamarie Malfitana-Strawhand is a renowned motorsports marketing mentor and sponsorship attraction coach. Her company is Marketing At Full Speed.
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