Sponsorship Tips
Six Sponsorship Mistakes to Avoid
By Milt Gedo

During my 10+ years involved in motorsports
sponsorship, I have seen racers commit just about every
mistake known to man, and I've committed a few myself.
While the title for this article could easily be "100
Sponsorship Mistakes to Avoid", I've decided to narrow
it down to the "Top 6" sponsorship mistakes that I see
committed most often. See how many of these mistakes
you, or someone you know, have committed in the past:

1) Offer the wrong actions or NO actions to a potential
sponsor. When discussing sponsorship, racers need to
realize that "actions" are what they and their race
team have to "sell" to a sponsor. An action ranges
from the simple display of the sponsor name/logo on the
race car all the way to extravagant hospitality
functions, and everything in-between. Any racer who is
SERIOUS about sponsorship should have an "inventory" of
at least 100 different actions they can offer to a
potential sponsor. When approaching a company for
sponsorship, it is likely they will only be interested
in 5-10 of the 100+ actions you offer as a race team.
Your job is to discover which actions your potential
sponsor is interested in... then list those actions,
and ONLY those actions in your marketing proposal.
When your prospect reads your proposal, you want a
positive reaction from EVERYTHING they read... that's
why it's critical to offer the RIGHT actions to a
potential sponsor! I am always surprised at how many
racers will actually approach a sponsor and offer NO
actions! In this day of fierce competition for
sponsorship dollars, don't come to the gunfight without
a gun. If you are not willing to offer any actions
that have VALUE to a sponsor, you need to accept the
fact you will NEVER be a sponsored racer.

2) Target the Wrong Companies for Sponsorship. Not
every company is a good "fit" for motorsports
sponsorship. There are many deciding factors, but two
biggies are demographics (who does the company sell
to?) and the size of their marketing budget. If you
approach a company for sponsorship whose target
demographic is overweight, middle-aged women, you
probably will NOT get a sponsorship from them,
regardless of whom you "know" or how good your
presentation is. Why? Because motorsports generally
DOES NOT REACH that demographic... period. Reread the
previous sentence until it makes sense to you. The
smart racer finds companies whose demographics closely
mirror the motorsports demographic, and pursues them
for sponsorship. The second consideration is budget
size. It makes no sense to pursue a company, even if
they are the "perfect company for motorsports", if
their marketing budget cannot support your sponsorship.
Perhaps that company would be better as an associate
sponsor than a major sponsor. When dealing with
budgets, realize you will probably not get more than
about 5% of the total marketing budget for your
sponsorship. So if you're looking for a $50,000
sponsorship, you need to be targeting companies with a
marketing budget of about $1,000,000 (because 5% of 1
million is 50k).

3) Over-Value Your Race Team and/or Actions. Although
most racers seem to under-value their actions, I have
seen some proposals where the opposite is true. The
rule of thumb is: Don't be greedy... marketing people
are NOT dumb! A racer I know approached a
multi-billion dollar, worldwide company for
sponsorship... and tried to get $20k for merely placing
their logo on the side of his Sportsman race car.
Needless to say, he left the meeting empty-handed.
Most marketing departments see PLENTY of proposals from
racers and race teams, so they have a good feel for
what various actions are worth. Price your sponsorship
fairly and reasonably... don't try to buy your vacation
home in Rio on the back of your sponsor!

4) Set Your Racing Budget Too Low. In the excitement
and eagerness to sign a sponsor, many racers will
accept an offer for less money... without adjusting
their actions! This is a big mistake. If you have
priced your program fairly, and you are offered less
money for sponsorship, there is NO WAY you can complete
all the actions you proposed for less money. The
proper way to handle this situation is to explain to
your sponsor that you're happy to work within their
budget, however you will need to adjust the actions
offered in order to "fit" your program to their budget.
You are dealing with business professionals, and they
don't expect to get anything for "free".

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5) Mail UNSOLICITED Materials and Proposals. Many
racers will spend a lot of time, money and effort to
create a professional proposal... and then they mail it
to someone who NEVER ASKED TO SEE IT! This has never
made sense to me. You are dealing with busy executives
who probably work 60 hours per week, and do not have
time to read all the UNSOLICITED mail that crosses
their desks... no matter how professional it looks.
There is another word for unsolicited mail: Junk Mail!
What do YOU do with all the unsolicited mail you get
at home or work? Sadly, your $50 unsolicited proposal
will meet with the same fate when it hits the desk of a
busy executive. The best way to convert your
unsolicited proposal to a solicited proposal is to call
someone in the marketing department of your prospective
sponsor, and engage them in a conversation about what
you do and how it might "fit in" with their marketing
needs. At some point, if you've done your homework and
targeted a company that is a good "fit" for
motorsports, they'll ask for more information or to
"see something in writing". Now when you send your
proposal to this person, they'll be expecting it...
maybe even looking for it. The chance of having your
proposal read increases dramatically by using this
technique.

6) Give Up Too Soon! Although I'm a racer myself, I
sometimes don't understand my fellow racers at all. I
know racers who will lose in the first round, or fail
to qualify for a race, for weeks and months on end...
yet they always come back to try again. If only most
racers would show that same dogged determination when
it comes to sponsorship! Unfortunately, many racers
will get one or two rejections or get a few doors
slammed in their face, and they'll say, "I can't find a
sponsor... it's not meant to be." Where is that
never-say-die attitude that will drive the very same
racer to come back, week after week, until he becomes a
successful driver? Finding a sponsor is not easy
work... if it was, everybody would have a sponsor! But
it's NOT impossible either. When you get a door
slammed in your face, or another rejection letter, or a
phone hung up in your ear, remember this: The NEXT
contact you make might be THE ONE. And if you quit
now, another racer who had enough perseverance to make
ONE MORE CALL, will end up with your sponsor. Think
about it!