Sponsorship In Club Motorsport
This is a general article discussing sponsorship within club motorsport. This has been guided by our team’s own experiences in our first two seasons of racing on the club scene in the UK, so may not be entirely applicable to everyone’s situations or professional series with greater exposure.
Before we discuss who can sponsor you and what you can give them, lets look at the types of sponsorship available:
The first and most obvious is cash sponsorship, this is where a company or individual gives you a sum of money in exchange for exposure or promotion of themselves or their company. This is generally the hardest form of sponsorship to secure, as it requires the sponsor to take money out of their business or personal finances to gain what is usually limited exposure in club motorsport. This conventionally requires a certain degree of desire from your sponsor to be involved in motorsport on a personal level, as it is very difficult for the business case to make sense with a good “return on investment” for the sponsor.
The other major method of sponsorship is in the form of discounted or “in kind” services. This will generally take the form of a company offering a reduced price for products or services in exchange for exposure. This is the most common form of sponsorship and usually the easiest to secure as this doesn’t actually cost the sponsor anything in terms of the cash flow or profit within their business. This form of sponsorship can be highly beneficial to both parties, with good possibility to form an ongoing relationship season on season.
The next stage to securing sponsorship is identifying potential sponsors. So who might actually provide you with sponsorship?
The first place to look for sponsorship, and perhaps most obviously, is among family and friends. Reach out into your network of contacts and see if there’s anyone firstly with an interest in what you’re doing and secondly in a position in which they would be able to grant you some sponsorship. Approach them and show your passion in what you’re doing, you never know who might just take a punt on you, as much as the proposal you’re putting forward. This sponsorship can either be cash or in kind services, although it’s worth noting this is probably your most likely source for pure cash sponsorship.
In addition to this there are clearly specific types of businesses who are likely to be in a position to grant you “in kind” sponsorship, usually small to medium sized businesses. I say this as you’re unlikely to be able to generate any kind of interest from multi-national or maybe even just nationwide companies, as they are usually large organisations where it’s difficult to get into contact with the people who are able to make a decision. Due to this I’d generally advise to ignore them altogether, unless you already have an “in” in your network of contacts, and instead target smaller companies where you’re likely to get a better and faster response.
So now you know the types of sponsorship available or you can ask for, along with businesses most likely to give it to you, how do you go about securing it? The first step is to write a sponsorship proposal. This is a one or two page document, briefly outlining who you are, what you do (in a racing sense) and what you have to offer for a potential sponsor. This document then gives you a “go to” when you need to outline what you intend to offer a potential sponsor. It also helps to give yourself clarity as to what exactly you’re trying to sell to them.
One of the best methods I’ve found to secure sponsorship is while approaching for a quote for products or services from a company. You can simply mention what you do and ask whether there’s potential for a discount in exchange for sponsorship, this would be when you could also offer to send a sponsorship proposal to them. This is likely to be more successful than a cold approach as you’ve already shown an interest in their product so you’ve already begun to establish a rapport and shown interest with the company. If you just email a sponsorship proposal out of the blue it is highly unlikely that it will even be read, let alone considered!
It is important to target these sponsors carefully as you will only be able to give good exposure to a limited amount of companies, your advertising space is finite afterall. Therefore target the companies that you intend to spend the most with according to your budget, and simply then work backwards. This way you’ll maximise the benefits to you that your sponsorship can give.
The key phrase to remember regarding sponsorship, and I’ve already mentioned it in this article, is “return on investment”. This should be at the forefront of your mind whenever discussing or thinking about sponsorship. How can you give your sponsors a good return on what they’re investing in you? This also applies to when you’re asking for sponsorship. Are the company likely to be able to get a return on their investment? If the answer is a definite “no” then you’re likely asking too much of the company. By all means aim high but by being realistic you’ll come across as a far more credible proposition.
So what do you have to offer for a potential sponsor to give a good return on investment?
Firstly and most clearly is exposure from the car during your racing in the year. The key thing to remember with all sponsorship is that it is essentially the business of marketing. You are a marketing platform for your sponsors. If you’re lucky then your series may have some television coverage making selling sponsorship easier. However it is key to remember that the exposure at a club event unfortunately, is mainly limited to fellow competitors and a handful of spectators, most of which are largely switched off when it comes to a company name written on a car. A race weekend is a saturated environment where car sponsorship rarely stands out.
So what else can be offered if marketing at race weekends is limited? This is where you need to stand out and real value for money can be offered. Firstly you should be looking to get your race car, and by extension the names of your sponsors, in as many visible places as possible. This means publications, social media, trackdays, trade shows or even just parked on the street for a period of time (security allowing of course!). Anywhere where people wouldn’t normally expect to see a fully liveried racecar should be somewhere you should try to be. This will give the maximum impact for any of your sponsors displayed on your car. Getting branded teamwear and wearing it away from race weekends is another good and easy way to get sponsors names to new audiences.
You should also offer to help your sponsors out as much as possible. This could be by making yourself available to help at trade shows or their own events, even if the car itself isn’t present. Again you should be thinking about a return on their investment. It doesn’t necessarily mean people buying their product, your time is also a commodity you can offer to them!
Social media is another tool that can be used to your advantage. If you can gain a sizeable following or get your posts mentioning your sponsors shared on popular pages, then the visibility that they can gain increases dramatically. Generating good content to be shared around is a good process to help your sponsors.
The final key point to make about sponsorship is to make sure that your sponsors feel involved and part of something. Your relationship and communication doesn’t end once they’ve supplied you with a service/product/money, that’s only the start. Send them regular updates on your progress in the form of monthly updates or race reports. Mention them to people you meet or get their name out on your own social media platforms. Speak to them throughout the year to see if they have suggestions or want anything from you. By doing these things you make it far more likely that your relationship will continue in future and both parties will be happier in the long run, who knows they may improve the deal you have with them in the new season!
Got questions? Want some help with your sponsorship proposal? Contact through our Facebook page at facebook.com/motorsportessentials