Sponsorship Advice, Part 2 | Performance Racing Industry
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Sponsorship Advice, Part 2
By Annamarie Malfitana-Strawhand on April 22, 2015

The 2015 race season is now underway—or will be shortly—throughout much of the country. And while many racers would simply like to focus their attention on racing itself, it’s just as important to make sure that racing budgets are built to last all season long…and beyond.
 
In addition to converting smaller sponsors into full-season supporters—or up-leveling associate or product sponsors to full-level partnerships—race teams should be focused on how to get sponsors to come back year after year.
 
My previous entry addressed some of the key questions racers and their teams should ask themselves before beginning to create solutions. We also looked at a couple of big obstacles racers face (oftentimes self-imposed).
 
Now, we’re ready to offer race teams some proven solutions to creating long-term partnerships while helping them along the path to success.
 
So let’s get started.

  1. Do Your Research. Before you even reach out to ANY company, make sure your goals and marketing message FIT with theirs. Look at their advertising behaviors. Do they have a history of being “one-hit wonders” or do they believe in long-term advertising? Are they hungry to grow, bold with their marketing, and willing to take risks with creative promotions? See if they are a company that can afford a season-long partnership (look at the other advertising they do and get price comparisons and what they could be spending). Are they growing fast on their own or do you have a way they can grow fast with you? Do they have potential to be able to step up to the plate and spend more with you in the coming months? Look to see how they have grown over the past few years and see how they step up to the plate in their past promotional commitments—they must be good candidates for you just like you must be for them.
  2. Position Of Power. My grandfather had a saying: “Negotiate from a position of power or don’t bother negotiating.” What that means is make sure you hold all the good cards—the ace in the hole, the thing they cannot get or do with anyone else or by themselves. They NEED YOU to be able to do a specific thing that will create the results they seek. Create your powerful and unique marketing perks, strategies, other business relationships (leverage by who you know and can get them to know, too), and even your celebrity power that gives them status they want. They must be excited to latch onto your personal pull in the marketplace. They must want to ride your coattails! So make your brand powerful, unique and irresistible. They will never want to leave you.
  3. Incentives. Give them incentives to want to be a long-term partner. Think about this: When you get a gym membership, are you doing it for just one month? What kind of results can you expect from one month of working out? Show how they get bigger and better results for their company as a full season partner rather than just a few races in the beginning. What’s your growth plan for them, your sales drive plan for them (such as season-long sampling or couponing that they can use continually)? Show comparables to them from the beginning with “social proof” on how you helped another long-term sponsor do this successfully. Were you able to raise good money for a charity that partnered up with you for a full season before? Let them see your potential to bring them long-term customers. Give them rewards to look forward to at the end of the season so they will want to stay on. For example: A season-end party for their employees that have a good year-long safety record —in other words, help them use the partnership for their own year-long business needs.
  4. Exclusive “Real Estate” Packages. Are you offering “timeshares,” or really trying to show them the awesome value of having the “beach condo” all to themselves year-round (hypothetically speaking)? It’s all about creating juicy package levels in your proposals from the beginning. Giving them “Title” or “Presenting” Partnership option from day one is offering the biggest value and best “real estate,” or investment. Title Partner covers your full season budget (including marketing), and they get the “whole enchilada” (full season branding, colors, wrap, and all-exclusive access to you and your team). Make the value of this Title package SO good and exclusive that it really sets itself apart. Give “Primary” sponsorships as “race” packages—“3 race,” “5 race,” “10 race”—with just decals in the primary areas (never full season or wrap with limited access to you and your marketing/brand). Make an incentive for them to want to up-level to “Title” Partner for the full season, and pro-rate a discount if they move up to Title from Primary or Associate levels.
  5. Education. Get to know your marketing language and how it works. “B2B,” “B2C,” “LEVERAGE.” In my Sponsor Attraction School Video Series I share examples of very successful sponsorship programs that I have put together in my past driver/team/track experiences using these principles. Most companies big or small can benefit from you using these strategies in your marketing plan for them, and every level of racing can easily do this. This is a huge pull for long-term sponsorships in today’s market. When you know and understand what they know, you gain their respect while entering into their playing field. Birds of a feather…

Here is the key: Long-term sponsorship is all about the relationship. It’s about building trust and showing your commitment to your partners’ needs. Take the money factor out of it and focus on the relationship, and watch things start to shift in everyone’s favor.
 
Be patient and be strategic—be a leader of your own business, which is your racing career or team. Treat this like a business that has great value, and others will see your value. This is about attraction—show your marketing power and pull them in like a magnet!

Once you’ve planted your sponsorship seeds, nurture them, care for them…and then watch them grow!

 
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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