How to Get a Racing Sponsor —the One Question You Must Be Able to Answer

How to Get a Racing Sponsor­—the One Question You Must Be Able to Answer

You love auto racing, but can’t quite put together the cash to actually put a race car on the grid.  You might be a very good driver, you might not, but you have a strong desire to race and will do just about anything to get on the track.  To go racing you need cash, and lots of it.  Sadly, you were not born into a family with money, and robbing banks has gone out of style.  What you need now is a sponsor.

First, let’s explore the definitions of some key words: philanthropy, supporter, business.  Let’s see how defines these words.
·         phi-lan-thro-py:  Altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement, usually manifested by donations of money, property, or work to needy persons, by endowment or institutions or learning and hospitals, and by generosity to other socially useful purpose.
·         sup-port-er:  An adherent, follower, backer, or advocate.
·         busi-ness:  A profit seeking enterprise.
Let’s be real, racing does nothing for the advancement of human welfare, so I doubt Bill and Melinda Gates will be dropping any race credits your way.  If the sponsor is just giving you money because they like you and enjoys seeing you have fun, then that is not a sponsor, that is a supporter (or a fan).   If you are asking a business to help you go racing, that business will be seeking profit and a return on the investment they put into your racing.    
Ok, so now we know what we are looking for!  You will want to show the potential sponsor (or business) in writing exactly how their partnership with you will bring customers in the door and affect their bottom line in a positive way.  A sponsor should really take on a new title.  I prefer the title “Marketing Partner.”  After all, sponsorship is about marketing.  And if it’s not a partnership, it must be a one way street where one half of the party is the benefactor.  Do you intend for your racing sponsorship or marketing partnership to be a one way street?  Racing with a marketing partner is all about exposure. 
Tasked with generating exposure and sending customers in the door of a business, which of the following two drivers would you choose:
Driver #1 finished 1st in a race but the only exposure the sponsors branding got was a few fans in the stands who saw the car drive by with a logo on the side over 20 laps.
Driver #2 finishes 15th but he put the sponsor’s fliers/coupons on all of the cars in the parking lot, engaged fans by letting them sit in the race car for a picture, and wrote a short, well written story that included the sponsor and made it onto a racing news website.
For my business, I would pick the slow guy in the back who hustles to get customers in my door by promoting my brand and engaging potential customers.  “Brand recognition” just does not cut it, unless the business is a Fortune 500 company, and if they are, they probably won’t be talking to you anytime soon (they are most likely talking to NASCAR racing teams).  Businesses want to see more business, and that’s where you come in.
A sponsor does not really care about how you want to go racing at a higher level, or how many track records you have set, or that you are broke and just need a break.  They care about making more business. 
So, here’s the one question you must be able to answer if you want a racing sponsor:  How will you generate a return on the investment of your potential marketing partner?  If you can answer that question, then you can start talking to potential sponsors. 
But, until you can answer that question, don’t even bother asking.