Racing Sponsorship 101...
An Evolving Guide of Sponsorship Tips for Racers
Tip #5: Don't Let FEAR Stop You From Seeking BIG NAME Partners!
You're a racer... But are you a FEARless one? Let's see!
You've been in this position before: Your car is faster than the 2 between you and the leader, but you got stuck behind them on a bad restart. There's just a few laps left and you know if you can get past them, you'll be battling for the win against your nemesis for tonights trophy. The track's been pretty tight all night but there's a spot in turn 3 that seems to have just a little bit more grip than the others in the outside lane... Heading down the back stretch, the 2 in front of you drop into single file with the leader and that leaves the outer 1/3 of the track open.. It's a LONG SHOT to pass 3, but the door is open for a brief second... WHAT DO YOU DO!?
Great Racing at Southern Raceway in Milton, FL
Assuming you want the win, you overcome the fear of sliding through the corner to the wall and drive it hard & late into the corner!
You take that high line while someone else breaks out at the same time and you head into turn turn 4 with a bit of an advantage ready to drive it hard and fast out of the corner and down the frontstretch and take on your nemesis for the lead!
GREAT JOB... YOU OVERCAME THE FEAR AND NOW CAN GRAB THE OPPORTUNITY TO WIN!
The same could be said for sponsorship searches. You see 'Big Names' of local employers and retailers on the bumpers and fenders of other cars and get 'Sponsor Envy'. Those guys seem to have more money and better gear but maybe less skill then you.
So, the question is, how do they get the sponsors that you haven't been able to get? Have you even tried to get sponsorship from some big names or have you suffered from 'They're Too Big To Sponsor Me' Syndrome? What's stopping you from going after other 'Big Names' that aren't on cars at your track?
2 Stoppers In Finding New Sponsors
Mostly, it tends to be 1 of 2 things, either FEAR or COMFORT, that stops you from going after newer, bigger, more well known sponsors.
Comfort is the most likely because it's no secret that a vast majority of local racers end up with sponsors that they have some sort of a connection to. Whether it's a friend's business, their spouse's employer, the engine shop you've known since grade school or the tire shop you've been buying tires from for years, those are the sponsors you've got because they're familiar and they're easy to work with because you like each other. That's not a bad thing, that's actually incredibly efficient 'relationship selling'... and it's a fact that without a relationship, it's tough to sell!
Let's look at the other limiting factor: FEAR
We're not sure who to give credit to for this, but there's a widely spread acronym that you can see to the left. For some reason, many people are so self-convinced that they'll be rejected that they simply don't even try!
Back to our original question... When was the last time you approached a business that you had NO NATURAL CONNECTION to in order ask them about sponsoring your team?
If the answer is "I haven't" or "It's been a looooong time", then let this be the year you change that! Let this be the year that you go talk to that individual store manager of the well known chain in your area to introduce yourself, start to create a new relationship and see if they might want a little extra exposure for their store at a local entertainment venue! (See what we did there!? We didn't call it a TRACK! MORE ON THAT IN A FUTURE TIP!) After all, they probably run some commercials within the trailers at the local movie theater and they have probably set up a display tent at local festivals, too.
KEY QUESTIONS TO LEARN TO ASK
So, in preparation for approaching those BIGGER sponsors, here are some key phrases you may want to try out... Try them out, change them around and make them your own. But, most of all, understand what they're trying to do and you'll be able to identify more key decision makers within potential partner businesses.
"As this store's manager, are there specific things you try to do in this local area to invite more customers into your store, or are all those decisions made above you?" (This question is designed to find out whether anyone at the local store has any power to make any marketing decisions)
Who handles the localized marketing for (Insert business name) in this specific area? OR Is there a Regional Marketing Manager or District Manager who looks for local marketing opportunities? (These questions are designed to help you find out who it is that is responsible for marketing in the area surrounding the store you're in.)
Questions like these are designed to do one thing... to make sure you're actually talking to someone who actually has the power to make a decision. Yes, many times you have to 'work your way up the chain' to get to the right person, but in order to get deals done, your #1 goal is to sell the program yourself, not rely on someone else to sell it up the chain within their business. So, all of the above questions are designed to give you a chance to start to identify who it is that actually has the power to make decisions. GOOD LUCK finding those people and don't stop asking!
BACK TO THE BEGINNING...
Think back to our original scenario. We challenged you to figure out how strongly you GO FOR IT when faced with a chance to win... Well, here's the reality... Whenever you walk into ANY store, you're also inside a prospective partner's business... and since that's the case, our #1 takeaway for you in this lesson is this:
NEVER PASS UP AN OPPORTUNITY TO IDENTIFY A NEW DECISION MAKER AT A NEW POTENTIAL PARTNER!
Few may actually say YES, but you'll never find those few unless you overcome the FEAR of asking!
If you're not willing to go after BIGGER NAME sponsors, then don't be surprised if someone else shows up at the track with that sponsor on THEIR car next year! So, make sure you're competing for sponsors as hard as you compete on the track. If you pick your lines right, odds start to lean more and more in your favor to come out on top with that new big sponsor!
Remember.... This Sponsorship Tutorial will evolve with another tip every couple of weeks from September of 2014 though February of 2015. If you don't want to miss one, make sure you sign up to receive them all directly via e-mail.
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