Allow me to go through my processes and reasoning's and then you can make up your own mind.
Let’s start with exactly what you are looking for - and the options are fairly obvious:
Money - so you can go play, and Product - so you can go play.
Why don’t we just let that sink in and whilst doing so we can step into the shoes of the entity/person of whom you are asking for one or both of these options.
You have approached a business, quite possibly a friend, a contact of the family, a distant contact of a friend, or maybe a supplier or customer of your own business. Now we shall assume you have gone in with the standard routine, and aside from a few wording differences, this approach seems to be fairly common. I shall keep the example extremely simplistic for the point of discussion.
“Hey there, I have a race car, can I have some sponsorship, either money or product?”
Now ask yourself a question. How different is doing that, compared to charities that ring your house asking for money? The answer is very little. In fact no difference at all. Sure, every now and then it works, mostly because the two parties involved know each other via business, or is a friend of the family etc, and sometimes they agree to it because they feel sympathetic to your cause, to help a friend of a friend, or because they love the sport and want to give too it. But let us be realistic here, how often is this approach successful? One would have to suggest it has a very low percentage.
Do you think that because you are not a ‘professional’ sport, team or driver that you cannot go in with a professional approach?
Time for a breather here; let’s step back to the earlier point of money and product for you to go play. What you are asking for is a form of sponsorship – and that unfortunate word is widely used as an incorrect description, giving disagreeable results.
Take a big example like Christmas in the Park. You will often find this has many ‘sponsors’ – entities that wish to do a good deed, on par with charity. There are plenty of genuine ‘sponsorship’ scenarios around, the common ground with them all is that the sponsor still expects some return branding – and that is the step that trips most amateur Motorsport teams.
A rock solid point is that if you go cap in hand expecting someone to provide you with money or product as a good deed, then you must expect them to look at you as a charity case. If you go to them saying I’ll put your logo on my car, then expect them to continue thinking of you as said charity case.
Quite simply you need to change a word; one single simple word. But, the word comes with consequences, and we’ll get to those shortly.
Firstly remove ‘sponsorship’ from all your thoughts and put the term ‘partnership’ in its place. Now let’s start again. And start with rearranging your thought patterns into the difference between those two words. One is a charity, one is not. So let’s try the question again.
“Hi, I have a partnership proposal for you, would you be interesting in hearing it?”
Suddenly you have a very different scenario with the key being a partnership. Yes, you can still use the word sponsorship, but at all times you must realise and focus on what it really is.
Do you really think Petronas, Mobil, Shell, simply sponsor various F1 cars, or that Red Bull just sponsors a Triple 8 Holden? Not on this planet. They have a very clear business partnership and they simply utilise the word sponsorship for ease in the media and public world. In fact the partnerships are investments. Businesses want to know what it is worth to them, not what it is going to cost. And they will measure it - or they should if they are doing their own job correctly....
And so we head to the consequences of converting from a sponsorship package to a partnership. You must now think differently with your approach. You are no longer just requesting money or product to go play, you are offering a business partnership in return – because if you are not willing to offer your partner anything in return, there is no business to be done.
However a question still remains - What is the partnership?
It’s marketing. Branding. Product awareness.
Now of course you have to deal with this harsh reality. “What on earth can I really offer to my potential partner as a marketing plan?”
You need to prove to them the worth of taking marketing dollars from one outlet and putting it into another, namely you. You need to think about what you will give them in return for them giving to you. And a decal on the car is not good enough.
So, is a clean and presentable vehicle that will show their brand name to all who see it be enough as an adequate return? You may say yes to that – but then you have to ask yourself again “Is that really enough?” and “would I hand over marketing dollars if I was them?”
More often than not, no, it is inadequate. If you want a genuine working partnership between yourself and a business, you have to realise that they will want something in return. It doesn't matter if it is club level or pro level, marketing and partnerships are equal in importance for them all. Once you grasp that, you should fair much better on the hunt.
© Craig Lord, Ontrack Media 2016