There is an old saying in motor racing… “the more money you have; the faster you go!” Well, discounting the fact you have to have the talent it’s still as true as it’s ever been – at any level of your chosen sport. Every year we get approached by drivers, riders, pilots, teams and organisers to a) help them find sponsors, or b) help them look after their sponsors; but there is the other side to the coin… the sponsors – how do they know which driver/rider, team, championship fits with their brand or marketing plan and how can they activate this sports marketing… this is something we can help with but before we start to look at potential returns on the investment we look at ROO (Return on Objectives). Same goes for both perspectives; who do you want to talk to; how can you do it and, maybe most importantly, why.
We’ll break this into ‘For the competitors’ and ‘For the sponsors’… food for thought for both sides of the fence.
1. Keep it simple
Don’t try and do too much. Those in motor sport have been known to promise the world to attract a sponsor… even before suffering the ‘under delivery’ the potential sponsor has been overwhelmed by the amount of work needed and apparent budget needed and been scared off. Develop a workable menu of opportunities but always keep in mind that a potential sponsor may not know anything about motor sport and their reasons for being involved are to benefit their business first – nothing more. So, create your marketing materials accordingly and build a compelling reason for them, in the first instance, to be interested… and think carefully about what would/could/will interest them.
2. Know your market
All too often it becomes apparent that those in motor sport don’t know enough about their own sport; never mind how it fits into the sports marketing landscape. A sponsor has options – what makes you and/or your category more suited than any other?
3. Delivering value
Once you identify what the sponsor needs it becomes clear the deliverables required for value to be realised. What is a sponsor looking for other than you being a responsible, professional competitor that is both a winner and a brand ambassador for them? If they are B2C (Brand to Consumer) it is predominately two things – eyeballs and data… if they are B2B (Business to Business) it will be business networking and generating business opportunities – both require you and your operation to be the ‘honey-pot’.
4. Managing expectations
Marketing budgets are stretched… every £1 needs to perform. Keep in mind the sponsor will, on average, spend a 3:1 ratio – for every £1 they use on the sponsorship they will spend a minimum of £3 in activating the sponsorship. The sponsorship effectively becomes the catalyst for an entire marketing campaign/plan. Don’t expect too much from the sponsor and the sponsor won’t expect more from you than commitment, loyalty, professionalism and support… it’s the support that often matters most. Be, within agreed parameters, available to support their marketing initiatives away from the track (the track action may only be 50% of the marketing focus) and make sure your web and social media activities are an asset to the sponsor. And; only promise what you can deliver.
5. Sponsorship activation
Take the lead on this from your sponsor… they may, for example, have a number of events within their marketing plan that you need to attend so communicate – let them know the challenges such as logistics, testing and race dates, rebuilds and events you have on your calendar so you don’t trip over each other. Simple things such as team livery – don’t try and impress by guessing what the car/bike/aircraft/boat could look like… invest in getting a professional artist’s impression produced and have the sponsor provide their ‘branding guidelines’ as a reference. The more you integrate the sponsor’s brand into your operation the better… all your marketing materials, PR, web and team livery plus
10. Nothing lasts forever