This article talks about getting a sponsorship. This is by no means an exhaustive how to, but will get you started. This article is going to be from my perspective, “as a racer”. I race motorcycles but these methods can be adapted to your sport. If you are a racer, runner, skier, RC car racer, or a marathon racer this article will pertain to any athlete pursuing a sponsorship. Sitting around and waiting to be noticed or discovered by talent alone is not the way to get a sponsorship.
First thing is first and we are going to walk you through the process. I have tried my best to make it short, but still turned out a bit lengthy. Most that will not read this article, because of its length, are probably less likely to put in the work to gain a sponsorship. There is a method to this madness and small details make the difference, so pay attention. Racing is an expensive sport. If you are looking to lower the cost of racing and possibly use that money that can be saved to attend a few more events, this article will get you started with your sponsorship search.
The first thing to do is take a step back and look at your track image. If you’re known as the guy who crashes every other race, gets black flagged, jumps starts, and gets a penalized constantly. These things are not the hallmark of a good racer and do not add value to your personal brand. Most sponsors want their racers to be good stewards to their brand. Sponsors want racers to be spokes people and representatives that help sell their product or service.
For example, how can another rider that uses brand “X” want to switch to brand “Y” if the person that is using brand “Y” is always crashing, losing, or is just a plain asshat. What kind of brand would want to support a racer like this? (a not so good brand) Cleaning up your image, acting responsible and professional, being a good sport, and competing fairly is the foundation of a good personal brand. A good personal brand will get you better deals and carry you further in the long run. The more you can do for your sponsor the more they will do for you. Not every race organization hands out a “SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR” award, but I try to do my best to win that award even if it isn’t offered.
The probability of gaining sponsorship your first year racing is slim, but it does happen time to time. If it is your first year racing and you are sponsored, that is great, but it also means that you need to put your best foot forward, do your best, because all eyes are on you from your sponsor and they want to see you succeed. If you succeed so does the sponsor and a 2nd year of sponsorship with better deals is probably coming your way. This brings us to the second thing that should be done if you are serious about gaining a sponsorship. Race as many races as your budget and time allow, and you are physically capable of doing. Six races in a weekend is good size load. Have fun and do your best. Remember if this is your first year racing, your not going to rip it up like Márquez, but focus on having fun and doing your best. A top 5 still looks good to the sponsors even if its not a podium.
Third thing is connected to the first. This is where a good clean track presence comes in. Get good high quality pictures of yourself. Not only racing but also in the paddock, passing competition, cross training, on the podium, and one good picture without a helmet (a glamour head shot). Try to find these pictures throughout your racing season. Lots will be posted on facebook by the photographers, shared among friends, posted on the photographers website, and taken by professional and hobby photographers at the racetrack. Ask around and see who is taking pictures that day. See someone with a camera, ask them if they can get a couple shots of you, or ask them if the photos will be available and where. Pictures help connect the sponsor to a face, a bike, a race number. They also give the sponsors an idea into your performance level, capabilities, and riding style. These pictures need to be saved to your computer or phone, because they will be used for our next step. I literally collect a hundred pictures or more throughout the year. Not because I am egocentric, but because I like to have a nice visual record of the year and a large collection to select the best images from.
So, do you see what we are doing here? We are building ourselves an image, a personal brand of ourselves. We are building ourselves into something we can sell, and obtaining proof of what we do, and how we do it……Professionally
The next thing is the importance of Social Media to your racing career/hobby. Why? Since the sponsors do not know you, this shows them who you are. this is also your outreach to potentially new customers. So who is it that you have an influence on?
- Your track friends on facebook
- The Friends that race around the world that thought you had some killer images on Instagram and started following you
- The Followers that love your tweets on twitter
- The Forums that you Follow, and post to regularly
All these small connections add up and in some way all these followers are influenced by what you do and the brands you use. Even if this influence is something small, like noticing a new product. Sponsors want you to talk about their products and brand. They want you to show others that you are having success with the products they provided you with. Having a good social media profile with a SOLID following is important to the fact nowadays. This is extra customer reach for the company who chooses to sponsor you.
NOTE: Make sure your social media account is relevant to the sport you are trying to get sponsored for. If your account is nothing but pictures of cats and drunk white girl memes, start a new account. This kind of content is irrelevant to any sport other than being a clubbing cat lady and the sponsors will more or less deny you anything. Enter the need of a Friskies Sponsorship HERE.
Now before we start our racer resume, we need to talk about hookit.
So far you have done some races and done some track days. You’re collecting awesome photos of yourself, posting them to your Instagram account and Facebook page, gaining followers, and building a strong friendships along the way. Now it is time to check out hookit.
So what is hookit? hookit is a platform that helps athletes build value into their personal brand and get noticed. Hookit helps athletes keep track of progress made throughout the season. They keep score with three factors, commitment, performance, and reach.
Commitment is determined by how many races were attended and distance traveled to get to those races. Verified Sessions = More Points
Performance is determined by the best 10 results from the past 12 months. Bigger events = More Points (example: CCS Race of Champions at Daytona)
Reach is determined by your social networking reach. Friends on Facebook, Instagram twitter, Things of that sort. More Followers, Interactions, and Travel = More Points
Now depending on your score, you will see programs or aka “sponsorship’s” that you can apply for through the hookit site. DO NOT apply for these yet. We want to send your resume to the actual Brands and their sponsorship address if we can. (Try to go to the source rather than through hookit) We will apply for them through hookit if we get denied the first time. Even though this platform makes it extremely easy to send out a resume that hookit generates for you (hookit resumes are kind of boring). hookit is not the only place to look for sponsorship’s and get your personal brand noticed. Reaching sponsors outside of hookit will be talked about in a bit. After we build our sponsorship resume we will figure out where we need to send them and who to ask for a sponsorship. Do not apply for any deals from hookit yet.
The Racer Resume
So now we have all our key elements in place. Killer social media profiles with awesome pictures tearing up the competition, and a hookit profile that rivals anything we could have put together on our own.
It’s the last race of the season or the last track day for the year and your on your way home. Try to think about this year’s accomplishments, wins, battles, highlights, personal bests, and milestones that were reached. These things will all go into your sponsorship resume. Now try to think about next season. What do you want to accomplish? What classes do you want to race? What races and tracks do you want to race at. Are there race courses or continued education you will be doing? So these two things will definitely need to go into your resume, this year’s accomplishments and next years goals.
Below is how I lay out my sponsorship resume. You can add more if you like, but I feel this is probably the bare minimum. Notice: I do not talk about my crashes or injuries, and I do not post pictures of me crashing. Who wants to support a racer that cant finish a race? My resume was all done on MS WORD and saved as a Word .doc file so I could easily edit it, and then SAVED AS a .pdf so it could be easily attached to an email.
Current Seasons Accomplishments
After you have a baller Sponsorship Resume finished its time to get to work and really think. Think about who you want to support you. Who do you want to help you progress through your racing years. I look at the brands I currently use and make a list of them. All the way from pistons to Tires to leathers. After you have your list, its time to prioritize it. Besides entry fees what costs the most and that you go through the most of in a season? TIRES, then what is the most expensive for the year. this could be track days or it could be fuel.
- Track Days
- Suspension Tuning
- Brake Pads
- Clutch Plates
- Underwear (I get close to having accidents when i’m coming into a corner too hot)
- Footpegs or rearsets
- Sprockets and Chains
- Trailer Restraint Systems
- Frame Sliders
- OEM Parts (This would be a sponsorship from your local shop)
Now That you have your list of prospective Items, it is time to make a list of the brands you want to represent. Always have a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice lined up. If your 1st choice refuses you or it conflicts with another brand, you will have a backup to ask. ( will elaborate what this conflict is in a bit). Example: I will be needing sprockets this year, I send my resume to Renthal first, because they are my 1st choice. Renthal says I do not qualify for any of their programs. Onto, my 2nd choice Vortex. Vortex says I am good enough but also require that I run their rearsets. Since I already have a Woodcraft-cfm sponsorship, this would go against my woodcraft contract. So I go to my 3rd Choice, Sunstar. Sometimes not having a sponsor though is better than having one. It loosens the burden of being pigeonholed to a brand. I turned down a Sunstar sponsorship, because I love Renthal sprockets. I’m not accepting a Woodcraft Sponsorship, because I like Chickenhawk Tire warmers, and I am hoping for a sponsorship from them…… See my point?
E-mail your prospective sponsors. If there is no “rider support” or “sponsorship” link on their website, a simple Google search of the brand with rider support might turn up their program and designated E-mail to their program.
If I cannot find the correct email, a simple email to their support link on their website asking, “Where to send the resume”. 2 sentences long, 1 complimenting their product, and another asking for the email. I have received a friendly reply 9 out of the 10 times I have asked, and the 1 time out of 10 I did not receive a reply at all. RUDE
So What are you offering the sponsors?
- Making their Brand Name more visible and well known
- On the Bike
- On you
- On your Transport Vehicle
- On your hookit Profile
- Their Brand mentioned on the “Race Series” race report
- They want you to use only their products
- They Want Their Brand Mentioned
- In the Press
- On your Social Media Accounts (Find and Use their Hashtags) Do them a favor, and write a good review.
- During Interviews
- During Race Reports
- They DO NOT want their brand badmouthed (If you have a problem with a brand that sponsors you, CONTACT THE SPONSOR. PERIOD)
- DO NOT talk bad about them to the press
- DO NOT talk bad about them on social media
- DO NOT talk bad about them to fellow sportsmen
- DO NOT talk shit about their product to ANYONE
After this you should be getting a few offers and a few heartbreaking denials. “Brand X” wants to offer you 25% off. For your 1st or 2nd year racing. 25% isn’t bad, and it starts a relationship. As years go on, and you get better, and your brands see that you are loyal, better deals “should” come. Think of it this year 25% of $1000 is $250 that might just pay for 4 race entry fees or a weekend racing. There is work involved with the sponsorship, so weigh the work to the benefits. Some of the work, such as reviews, race reports, and social media posts can be bundled, done while in a waiting room, on break at work, sitting in a parking lot waiting for someone, Saturday night after practice, or done while your relaxing with your significant other watching Grey’s Anatomy.
Go Above and Beyond
What you do for one sponsor, do for them all. I could stop there and do the bare minimum for each, but let me explain why I go the extra mile. Let’s say your small local shop is sponsoring you They currently give you a 10% discount for your hard work and for you to just run 2 stickers (2 inches by 4 inches) on your bike. Go a little further. Give that small business the same treatment as a sponsor asking for reviews, monthly race reports, patches on your leathers or protective equipment, add them to your hookit Profile, Show some great images of their shop showroom and staff on Instagram once or twice a month, for the whole year. For the small local shop, ask if they would put your trophies on the wall or next to a display. This extra work will help you maintain a good standing with all your sponsors. It is more work, but when it comes time for you to ask your sponsors next year, they shouldn’t have a problem saying “Hell Yeah we want to sponsor you”.
A season video edit is a great place to start the end of the year. Highlights of you passing, winning by inches, on the podium giving your speech, accepting an award at a banquet, or just showing some cool shots with your sponsors stickers in the view. A simple upload to YouTube so future sponsors can see, and this is just one extra thing that can be done.
And speaking of video, Check out Precision Motos YouTube channel, and make it a point to like, share, or subscribe.
I have had good luck using these methods and I hope this helps. Happy hunting with your sponsorship, and I wish you all good luck this next season.