Welcome to Part 4 in this 6 part series where I’ll explain everything you need to know to attract sponsors and become the rider that companies WANT to support!
In the last post I showed you how to stand out from the crowd and look like you mean business. If you haven’t read Parts 1-3 yet I recommend checking them out, but you will still get a lot out of this post even if you don’t.
Here’s the breakdown of the series:
Part 1: What Is Sponsorship? – The 3 Main Types of Sponsorship Deals
Part 2: Who Would Sponsor Me? – Switch your Mindset and Think Like a Marketer
Part 3: Stand Out! – Get Noticed and Prove You Mean Business
Part 4: Your Sponsorship Packet – Plan Ahead and Create a Winning Sponsorship Packet
Part 5: Hustle – Seal the deal!
Part 6: The Perfect Promoter – Keep Your Sponsors Coming Back for More
Part 4: Your Sponsorship Packet – Plan Ahead and Create a Winning Sponsorship Packet
Now that you understand the different types of sponsorship deals available (Part 1), have made a list of at least 10 companies who are likely to say “yes” (Part 2), and know how to set yourself apart from your peers and look like a professional race team (Part 3) let’s talk about how to plan out your season in advance and create a professional sponsorship packet that won’t be ignored.
Before you start any conversations with potential sponsors your need to do some prep work. I recently had a job interview for a new job within my company (yes we still have to interview even if we already work there). I knew several of the people in the group and already had a few conversations with the team and their manager to get a feel for the new position and I was very confident in my chances… maybe a little too confident.
Normally I will obsessively prepare for an interview by making a list of relevant projects and prior experience, and practicing my answers to tons of mock questions that I anticipate they may ask me. In this case either out of laziness or overconfidence I really didn’t prepare much at all. I showed up to the interview about 10 minutes early and used that time to look over my resume and try to “cram” for the interview.
When it was my turn I walked into the room, sat down, and one of the first questions they asked me was “why do you think you would be a good candidate for this position?” and I froze! DUH! This question probably gets asked in every interview on earth and it totally stumped me right off the bat. I stumbled over my words and rambled off some incoherent stream of buzzwords and sloppy descriptions of my qualifications but it was downhill from there. My lack of preparation set the tone for the rest of the meeting and shook my confidence right from the start and I never recovered.
Preparing for a meeting with a potential sponsor is the SAME as preparing for an interview because in a lot of ways they are “hiring” you to promote their company. If you walk in over-confident and unprepared you will look foolish and will destroy your chances of getting a deal.
In the rest of this post I’ll tell you what you need to do to be prepared and to put together a winning sponsorship packet that will blow them away.
1. Plan Your Season
Well before the season starts and before you start gathering sponsors you need to sit down and plan out your goals for the race season, both on-track and off-track. This will accomplish two things: 1) it will help you focus your efforts on what is most important to you and 2) it will give your sponsors an idea of where you are in your career and where you are headed.
Here are some examples of goals for the season:
- Win at least 3 class championships
- Place in Top 5 overall in Washington and Oregon
- Race at least 1 regional event
- Qualify for nationals
- Get an article published in Road Racing World
- Reach 1,000 fans on facebook page
- Find a race coach / mentor
In addition to mapping out your goals for the season you should create a personal Race Season calendar with every motorcycle related event you plan on attending this year. It should include race events, track days, race schools, bike nights, motorcycle shows etc. This will help you plan your season, determine your required budget and give sponsors an idea of how much exposure they will be getting by supporting your race team.
You may want to use your estimated budget to set a fundraising goal to give sponsors some context for how much money you plan to raise.
2. Create a Sponsorship Packet
Once you have written down your goals and planned out your calendar for the season the next step is to create your sponsorship packet. This will be a brief packet that you give to every prospective sponsor to show them who, what, when, where, and how this sponsorship deal will work and exactly what value you can provide them. In many cases this is the only thing a potential sponsor will have to make a judgment on you and your race team, so it is worth investing some time and effort into creating something with a wow factor.
Here are the 3 key components of a winning sponsorship packet:
- High-resolution, professional pictures (see my resources page for a link to some local motorcycle photographers). I would include the following:
- A headshot
- A shot of your race bike
- An action shot of you on the track
- Race Resume (here are some pictures to use as examples)
- Basic background info on your experience, what bike you race, what kind of racing, etc.
- Highlights of racing results from previous year
- Race Season schedule for the season
- Goals both on the track and off
- Cover Letter (see below for a template)
COVER LETTER TEMPLATE
Make sure to do some research on the company you are contacting so you know something about their business and know the name of the person(s) who will be reading your cover letter so you can personalize it specifically for them.
“Dear Mark Cuban,”
Briefly explain who you are and why you are contacting them. Include 1 main highlight from your previous results and your biggest goal for the season.
“My name is Eric, 2 time 650 Supersport class champion and top 5 plate holder in WMRRA, and I would love to partner with [company name] as our race team battles for the overall championship in the Washington Motorcycle Road Racing circuit!”
Describe what value you can provide and the benefits they will receive by sponsoring you. (Part 2: Who Would Sponsor Me? gives a brief review of this). In addition to the points mentioned in Part 2, you may want to briefly summarize your social influence and promotion strategy.
- Motorcycle events you attend (bike nights, charity rides, etc)
- Volunteer contributions (track day control rider, novice race school coach, etc.)
- Forums / blogs where you contribute (“Premier member of [xyzforum.com] for 5 years with over 3k posts”)
- Team website / social media pages (“5k website views/month and 1200 facebook fans”)
- Sponsor’s name/logo will appear: decals on race bike and trailer, on team banner, t-shirts and posters, in race program of every race event, and anywhere results are published
- Race reports published for every race and sent to all sponsors (also promoted on website, forums, and social media)
- Results published in road racing world (goal to get feature article this season)
You don’t need to include all of these examples but a sentence or two letting them know how much exposure they can expect to receive will help them see the value you can provide.
If you are going through the effort of creating a sponsorship packet then I am going to assume you want to raise a good chunk of money. Don’t be afraid to set an aggressive goal, but don’t be greedy. Plan out your race season and estimate your budget for the year and base your fundraising goal on that number (you can use this track season budget calculator to create your budget).
In this section briefly explain the major costs of your race season and what your fundraising target is.
“This season I am planning to attend 4 track days, 1 track school, and 8 race weekends across WA, OR, and CA. Entry fees, tires, transportation, and other associated costs are estimated at $12,000, with an additional $3,000 for required maintenance on the race bike. This brings our total fundraising goal to $15,000.”
[CALL TO ACTION]
I recommend creating a few “levels” of sponsorship support and limiting the amount of sponsors you allow at each level. This may sound counterintuitive when trying to raise money, but the more logos you have to fit on your race bike and companies you have to remember to promote throughout the season, the less attention each one will receive (remember you want to make sure you are providing value to them, not just taking their money). This strategy also creates “scarcity” which can be an effective marketing technique.
Here is an example for a fundraising goal of $15,000 from 10 total sponsors:
“We are very excited for this race season and to partner with new sponsors but in order to guarantee each of our sponsors get the attention they deserve, we are only accepting offers from 10 companies at the levels shown below:”
- Level 1: $500-$999 (4 spots available)
- Level 2: $1000-$2499 (3 spots available)
- Level 3: $2500-$4999 (2 spots available)
- Level 4 – Title Sponsor: $5000+ (1 spot available)
- Race team named after title sponsor
- Team colors chosen to match title sponsor logo
- Title sponsor name and logo appears first on all publications
- Title sponsor logo largest size and most prominent position on race bike, trailer, banner, t-shirts, and posters
You can fill in the details for the other levels giving each level below the title sponsor slightly smaller logos, less prominent positioning, etc.
In this section give them a final call to action, a reminder of your value proposition, and thank them for their time.
“If you are interested in partnering with a championship race team and gaining positive exposure for your company, contact me soon to reserve your spot [email] or [phone]. I sincerely thank you for your time and for your support of the motorcycle community!”
Your finished cover letter should fit on a single page and be clear, concise, professional, and inspiring. Have a few friends proof-read it for you before you finalize it.
Your entire sponsorship packet should be 2-3 pages depending on whether you have a separate page just for pictures, or if you incorporated them into your resume.
This may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but if you break it down and knock off one thing at a time you’ll be surprised at how quickly it will come together. I’m not saying it won’t take some hard work, because it will, but if it were easy, everyone would do it! To get something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. The only thing stopping you from getting sponsors now is you, so stop reading about it and get out there and make it happen!
Start right now by jotting down your goals for next season to get your juices flowing. And if you are really ready to commit then post your goals in the comments so we can cheer you on along the way!
Next up is Part 5: Hustle – Seal the deal! Now that you’ve put all the work in, it’s time to get out there make it happen!