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How Sponsorship Really Works- Part 2 With Leo Nulty

Ok, so the first part of this piece may have sounded negative- I’ll try to be more positive this time round. However, I will say that I am constantly astounded by the way most people in Motorsport think sponsorship works. I was recently approached by a race driver asking to get him sponsorship. He said he needed 3k, so if I got €10k, I could keep the rest, which was nice of him! I asked him what he had to offer a potential sponsor and he replied “stickers on the car- sure get someone who is into racing….” This chap is not alone. Let’s face it, logos on a car or bike are simply not enough anymore. I mentioned a sponsor needing a return in the earlier piece and even if you are of the opinion that displaying your machine at his place of business will do the trick, then you are 20 years behind in your thinking.

I have done plenty of sponsorship deals over the years and indeed am working on a few as I type-and I have always pretty much done it the same way. Don’t waste money on generic sponsorship proposals with “Gold Package, Silver Package” etc and send them out willy nilly- you may as well flush your hard earned money down the pan!  Target your potential sponsor first- google them, do your research, find out where they have previously advertised and where they currently do so. If you think you only have one shot, then do a specific proposal to them. By this, I don’t mean inserting their logo on top of your usual proposal- I mean write it again- mentioning key points you have picked up in your research. If you have a chance to meet them initially then this is the best time to glean the information from them. If they have agreed to meet, however briefly, then the door is open. Find out as much as you can about them and their expectations and then get back to them with a tailor made proposal.

I have always had the mindset that by the time you have honed the deal you are pitching to suit the company/brand- you should have so much confidence in it, that should they not go for it, you should think that is a bad business decision for them. You should  be offering them something clearly different (easy) and better (not so easy) than their alternative options.

1212Let’s assume you have landed that sponsor, let’s even assume he has already paid you. This is when your work starts, not finishes! The reasoning for this is twofold, firstly because, for reasons we have already mentioned, you need to make the deal work for the sponsor and secondly, you want to keep him onboard for the following season and subsequent ones after that too! You need to find out a bit about his business- who his customers are, what publications they read, what trade shows they attend etc. (If you sucessfully pitched to the company, you probably already know this stuff though) Then you need to get yourself into these arenas. Even if he owns a corner shop, then you need to send a piece and a picture to the “Local Grocer” magazine and website. If he sells industrial farm machinery, then you need to get into “Farm and Plant”- you get the idea! Most of these specialised publications will be happy to run a small piece, either print or digital, especially when it is relevant to their target market. This might be hard to believe but when it comes to the sponsorship, it’s not about you- it’s about the sponsor!

Most drivers and riders complain about the lack of media coverage that their sport receives but- and I have first hand experience of this- they don’t send any information to the relevant publications. I very very rarely get communications from competitors and when I do, I generally run them. John Kenny is blue in the face asking people to send stuff in for his weekly Motorsport column in the Daily Star and still he struggles for content from time to time- which is incredible when you think about it. Anyway, I digress. My point is that you need to become a salesman for your sponsor- you should try to find out how their business works and if you can make introductions, that may lead to business, then do so.  This may sound as if it only works with a small sponsor but the concept is the same if you do manage to clinch the big one! Remember to send updates to as many media outlets as you can find- and also to your sponsor. They may ask you to add addresses of trade journals or customers to these lists- but if you have done your work, you will already have done this.

Get me, or anyone else, to write and send your press releases, but either way, try to ensure they are correctly written and punctuated. If an editor has to make a few corrections, it is not a big issue, if a piece needs to be rewritten, it is easier for him or her to hit delete than to go to work on it! Also, and this is important, only send a release out if you have a story to tell, preferably a good one. Nobody wants to read a list of excuses or a report on a “workmanlike drive to 16th”

Oh and always remember the quote I used in the first part of this piece

“No matter how many races and championships you’ve won in the past, or how much faster you are than the competition, no company is going to give any amount of money to something that doesn’t have a strategy to produce a return on investment.”


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Motormouth’s Mutterings-  Blog Awards Ireland 2015 Finalist.



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