Sponsorship Based Business – Auto Racing Edition

You provide value, and your value is all attitude – “We love what we do, we love what our sponsors do and we’re super excited to be able to do this together”

Sponsorship creates a customer/vendor relationship. What value does a race sponsorship bring? It brings recognition to a brand. It brings an attitude of “We chose our sponsor because they are so awesome you really should check out what they do.”  As the vendor serving a customer, your racing team will need to have this attitude permeate its entire culture.  You are creating lasting relationships that benefit you and your sponsors.  This means you do not try to figure out how to maximize a sponsorship or find people who will give you money, you are not trying to talk people into anything. You provide value, and your value is all attitude – “We love what we do, we love what our sponsors do and we’re super excited to be able to do this together”

A lot of what I’ve been reading recently has been about customer-first thinking.  With this in mind, your customer is your sponsor.  This is the relationship to nurture.  Every fan interaction, every media experience must have your customer in mind. In a lot of ways, you’re not in the racing business, you’re in the excitement business and you have to be excited about your sponsors! (See what I did there with that exclamation mark?)

Did you know Starbucks isn’t really in the coffee business?  They are in the real estate business and they are masters of it.  They are so good at it, in fact, that property values of surrounding properties go up.

What does that look like in practice? Let’s look at the historical home value appreciation of areas that now are located within a quarter mile of a Starbucks. A home that is now near a Starbucks would have sold, on average, for $137,000. A home that is not near a Starbucks would have sold, on average, for $102,000.

Fast-forward 17 years to 2014. That average American home has now appreciated 65%, to $168,000. But the Starbucks-adjacent property has far outpaced that, appreciating 96% to $269,000.”  qz.com

In the same way, you’re not in the racing business – you’re in the excitement business.

Life is relational – utilize existing relationships to find someone who is looking to enter into a sponsorship.  Make it known that you’re willing to pay a finders fee.  Make a list of the top 10 people to talk to.  Write 10 different emails.  Send them.  (this is the important part)

Make a 10 item list of the companies you could be super excited talking about. Company or product.  It can’t be fake excitement so be careful.  When you identify these companies, do your research on them.  Take your time, make a presentation just for them. This will take time but it’s worth it.  This could even take months.  Find out who to speak to at the company – there is the potential to have multiple people who have the authority to make a decision – figure out who is the person most likely to understand the value of sponsoring your racing team. 

Once you identify a company don’t go with a beggar’s mentality – you don’t need to beg for a sponsorship – you’re offering a unique opportunity.

This is a business.  You need to have a polished presentation and demographics and marketing ideas etc.  Make a list of 10 marketing ideas for joint marketing efforts – they should benefit you and your sponsors.

Even before you have your first sponsor, start getting excited and posting YouTube videos. Tweet exciting things about the progress of your racing empire.  If you’re going to be in the excitement business you need to start now.  Your first assignment is to come up with 10 ideas for 2-3 minuteYouTube videos.  production value must be high

Ignore facebook for now – you don’t need your friends loving you – they already do.  You need to get strangers to love you.

Think local.  Community banks, local icons (businesses that have been around for at least 30 years).  Local restaurants with multiple locations. Local lowers your cost of travel.

Do some business networking.  Find some meetup groups that are for entrepreneurs.  Ignore anything that is even remotely similar to network marketing or MLM, etc.  You’re looking for groups that are primarily focused on helping each other with support and advice.  It should be free or cheap.  You need to find a group that is comprised of leadership level people – big thinkers.  You want to be in a group where the attitudes reflect a big thinking attitude – where big business is measured by 8 or more digits.  Even though the membership might not represent c-level positions, the group still needs to know how to think big.

Do not attach yourself personally to your presentation and ideas for this.  This allows you to be objective and your delivery or the content of your presentation can improve over time.  If, when you’re done with version 1 of your presentation, you think “This is awesome” you’ve failed.

Talk to business people you know – they might be members of professional networking groups already.  While you may not qualify or be welcome as a member, many times these groups have times where outsiders can come in to make a presentation.  The goal of the presentation might be as a way to let people know of an opportunity, but (and even better if you ask me) it might be a way to help you refine your delivery and content.

“Hi John, are you a member of or know of any professional groups that meet regularly – I’m looking for a group to make a presentation about an exciting opportunity to become a racing team sponsor and would love an introduction.”

Don’t worry about what kind of promises you make, just over deliver.  Deliver radical value.  Do this and the value of a sponsorship will grow, your racing team will be worth more and your revenues will go up and you’ll get better at delivering amazing value.  It’s a virtuous cycle. 

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