Here's 12 tips and ideas for everyone.
1. I have read about a dozen marketing and sponsorship books. The best two that I've read are:
The Great Money Hunt by Andrew Waite
Winning Sponsorship by Andrew Waite
Both of these books have a ton of valuable information and tips in them, and are a step by step manual to obtaining and keeping sponsorship. No B.S. is included in these books. It is the same soild principals used by top Nascar, Champ, and F1 teams. If you are serious about obtaining sponsorship, these are the books for you! I've read both these books many times and I still use them often for reference.
2. Another good resource for Sponsorship info is Ernie Saxton's website, www.saxtonsponsormarket.com
There is a ton of free info, tips, and testimonials on this site. I am also a subscriber of his monthly newsletter. The newsletter keeps you up to date on the sponsorship world with press releases and articles from the pros, and is worth every penny of the $85.00 subscribtion price. Sometimes he runs promos on his website, and you can get it for as low as $60. Still, go and subscribe. You will not regret it.
3. Image, Image, Image - Everytime that I visit my sponsor I do the usual stuff; shower, shave, dress nice, make sure all my documents are organized. But just before I leave, I spend a few bucks and have my pickup truck washed. Why? Because I'm sure if I went there with it looking like I just competed in the Baja 1000 someone would take notice, and it would not reflect good on my image and character. Little things like this can make a huge difference. The sad truth is: Normally people with money will only want to do business with other people who have money. You don't have to be Mr. Moneybags, but at least you can look like it!
4. Email - I don't know if anyone has ever thought about this before, but everytime you send an email it records the exact Time/Date that it was sent. It is a small chance a sponsor will notice this, but what if you sent your email to them in the evening or on weekends. The sponsor might view the Time/Date it was sent and say "Man, this guy is a workaholic. If he's this determined, just think what he could do for my buisness!" Like I said, it's a very small chance that they will notice it, but you never know!
5. Promotional Handouts - This year instead of having made the big autograph posters that all the other teams have, I opted to have baseball type Trading Cards made. The Trading Cards are a hit with the kids and are a lot cheaper to produce. I also had Temporary Tattoos made of our primary sponsor's logo. The kids loved these too, and they were extremely cheap to produce - 1,000 for $85. The sponsor thought these were awesome as well! The Trading Cards and Temp. Tattoos were just another thing that set our team apart from the competition.
6. Graphics & Promotional - I've found that it pays to check around, get multiple quotes, and research testimonials before buying any Graphics or Promotional services and work. Some of these firms will screw you over in a heart-beat if you don't check around. They also have a certain lingo for terms in the business. Get to know the lingo so you sound more knowledgeable. To give you an idea, I called a local well-known website designer to get a quote for designing and maintaining our website. The quote was $1,700 per year. After that I called a local part-time website guy in my area. His price was $500! I went with the $500 guy, our website looks great and is updated every week. I also have custom artist renderings designed for our proposals. The renderings have pics of our equipment with the primary sponsors logo and colors. A lot of top pro teams do this. The first guy I called wanted $1,200 per image! Again, I went to a local part-time graphics guy and got a whole package of all equipment pics done for $200. Checking around will save you alot of money that you can put back into your racing efforts.
7. Talk to other teams - Many times people think that talking to other teams and racers is flirting with the enemy. On the track, Yes, but in the pits, No. If you honestly approach other teams and ask them for advise, most of the time they will help you. I have learned a lot from other racers and teams that have been doing this much longer than I have. Sometimes it's amazing how much you can learn from them.
8. Don't be afraid of making mistakes - This is a learning process. I will tell you even though I have had success, I have put literally ton's of work into it, and have still made many mistakes throughout the past few years. Even though I try to avoid mistakes, it is still going to happen. So get over it and learn from it.
9. Don't Be Stupid - I see so many racer's putting their whole proposal on their website. Proposal vampires are out there, and if your proposal is a good one, they will copy your proposal almost word-for-word. I've been a victim of them, and actually I've been a Proposal Vampire myself once or twice. Instead, just put up some marketing info, sport demographics, and your contact info. If someone is interested, they will contact you. I've also seen people put their sponsorships up on eBay. I don't think this is a good idea either. If you take notice it's about a 99.9% chance that someone will buy it. It's a waste of money, and shows for the most part a lack of iniative to go find the sponsor yourself. Plus, then everyone (your competitors in your series) will see your asking price and cut-throat you. All this leads to is poor business ethics. And the whole "Advertise Here" stickers on the side of your car are a crazy and out-dated method.
10. Race Results - To much emphasis is placed on results. Sure I know that your out there to win, but the chances are slim to none. That's why it's called racing! Place your empasis on a marketing program that drives the sponsors sales. Most sponsors that I've dealt with don't care what we placed results wise. They just want to see an increase in sales, period! It is more important to market and sell the product to the fans before and after the race. If you never win a race in your career, but can sell the sponsor's product, you will always have a sponsor!
11. Testimonials - Sponsor Testimonials are great to use in your proposals. I called one of our smaller sponsors the other day to see what he thought of our program so far. The month before I had done a promo/link for the sponsors product on our website. (the promo was not included in our original agreement) The sponsor said that because of the website promo, his website hits had increased over 30% and he was selling them so fast that he could not keep the product in stock! He was estatic and already commited to supporting us for 2008. He also said that no other team that he has sponsored had ever done anything like that before. - (Another small cheap promo lead to a sponsorship extention.)
12. Remember one thing - A business, marketing, or sponsorship plan is only as good as your actions and detication to pursue it. You can have the best plan in the world, but if you don't put in the long hard hours of work to make it happen, it is useless.
I hope these tips help you in your sponsorship pursuits. Good Luck out there!