Racers – Talk about your ideal sponsor’s problems…Seriously
The fastest route to attracting real partners in your motorsport sponsorship ventures is to publish content that speaks directly to their problems and denotes how you could act as a potential solution. That’s the TLDR of this blog. Let’s break this down for all the drivers and riders out there looking to work with new businesses in the 2023 (or whatever year is upcoming) racing season.
Step 1: Define Your Interests
So, you love racing. You’d do anything to get behind the wheel or on the bike in a competitive series. However, chances are, motorsports is not the only thing you’re interested in or have a deep knowledge of. Before I started Ikoniqa, I created high end furniture as an artisan designer of sorts (quite the contrast to what I do now). I’m sure you have your own version of this. With a business or industry in mind that you have a deep interest and knowledge of, you want to start researching exactly what that industry/company benefits from, what problems they may face, and what solutions could be high value to them. I always suggest you pick something you’re passionate and knowledgeable about for three reasons.
1. You will speak their language by default. That’s something most marketing agencies can’t do
2. Your interest and knowledge of their industry will shine through quickly in conversation. This is one of those things you just can’t fake. If you’re super interested, motivated, and excited to work with a company because you genuinely love their service or product, they’ll notice. It’s a soft-skill that weighs heavy in a business’s decision to work with someone.
3. Finding a sponsor or partner becomes a far more enjoyable experience for you. It can still feel like work at times for sure, but once you’re in conversation (see this blog), everything becomes second nature. (then read this blog)
Step 2: Create Content Around Your Niche
That’s step one. Step two is to start writing blogs or social media posts about problems, pain points, or opportunities surrounding that niche. I personally prefer blogs on a website because they’ll get ranked by Google, and thus show up in search result if a company in that industry seeks answers to the problem you’ve identified.
Step 3 - Be Clear, and Be Constrained.
You should make it clear on your website the type of businesses you partner with. This specialization will restrict who you can work with…and that’s the point. You don’t want to a be racer who can work with anyone. You want to be known as an expert for working with a specific group of companies that you know better than anyone else. Nobody wants to work with a generalist. Companies want to work with people who deeply understand their product / service.
Moreover, you don’t even necessarily have to tie the solution back to motorsports either. I think that’s where a lot of people get caught up. The reality is, there doesn’t necessarily have to be any relation to racing with the sponsor or their target market. If you can address the pain points and create new opportunities with them, that’s all that truly matters.
Step 4: Build a Small Team
You might now be thinking “but I’m not capable of addressing their issues on my own”. Likely, you are correct. But who said you’re the one who must do it? Just because you’re identifying problems or solutions doesn’t make you responsible for solving them. However, at the very least, your expertise and interest places you in a management role with your sponsor to oversee that their pain points are resolved.
How does one do this? It’s really quite simple. The sponsorship dollars they gave you… That’s not always to be used 100% on racing. A decent portion of that needs to be allocated to hire/contract people (or yourself) who are capable of executing on your sponsor's needs.
This is how marketing agencies actually function. It’s also how some of the biggest racing teams in the world function. We’re not concerned with the “how do I do X” aspect of marketing, we’re only concerned with the quality of the outcome. What’s great about this model is that is scales from a single person to a team comprised of multiple marketing personnel.
Here’s the cool part. Over time (maybe 2-3 years), you’ll build a small but reliable network of people who can address almost anything future sponsors and partners need to succeed (both in and out of motorsports). And that really is the key to this, time. Nobody becomes known overnight for specializing in a particular sector. But after a few successful partnerships, word will spread quickly within that given industry beyond motorsports.
In a nutshell, I want you to turn your racing career into a small, specialized, and highly focused marketing agency that becomes exceptionally good at building value for a niche that you personally value. The fact that you’re also a racer / race team is just an added bonus.