Confessions (and Learnings) of a First-Time Sponsorship Seeker
This is the second installment of a weekly Monday series called Confessions (and Learnings) of a First Time Sponsorship Seeker. To read the first article in the series, please click here.
Ok...here we go, time to put together my first sponsorship proposal.
After reading The Sponsorship Seekers Toolkit I went about following the steps in the book to create a marketing plan, from there a sales plan and then onto the sponsorship proposal itself.
With Mitre 10 (an Australian hardware business) in mind as a potential sponsor, I did my research and came up with a sponsorship proposal that would hopefully create a win / win opportunity.
The sponsorship proposal ended up weighing in at 12 pages and consisted of the following sections...
Sponsorship Proposal #1
My aim was to start off with a catchy phrase so I came up with “Lights, amber, traction...” which refers to the amber lights on a drag racing Christmas tree plus the idea traction; a term used in drag racing and marketing.
During my research I found a number of examples where engaging with local communities was a high marketing priority for Mitre 10. I played with a few ideas and settled on “Drag racing – the perfect vehicle to gain traction with local communities”.
Next was the introduction, a brief yet “colourful” overview of drag racing and an insight into how KO Racing would work with Mitre 10 to create a number of unique marketing opportunities.
Unique Marketing Opportunities
One of the most important parts of any sponsorship proposal is developing a number of unique marketing opportunities.
The seven I created were based on my research into Mitre 10’s marketing objectives and my understanding of drag racing’s unique qualities.
To back up some of my previous statements on the popularity of drag racing and the loyalty of fans I included some statistics from the National Hotrod Association (NHRA). While they are based on the US market, similarities can be drawn with Australia.
I would have liked to use some stats from Australia but they are few and far between unfortunately.
Meet the Team
To humanise the sponsorship proposal I included some information on the team and a run down on the mighty Holden Camira drag car. For non-aussie readers, the Holden Camira has the motorsport pedigree of a mangy mutt.
What would a racing team be without a racing program? I have no idea to tell you the truth. I used the term only when I started thinking about sponsorship.
Previously there was no program, just weekends away racing with the aim of going a few rounds and having a good time. Now the aim is still the same but the racing needs to be structured; hence the racing program.
For 2012 the racing program consisted of 12 race meetings spread across 2 states and 4 tracks. I rang each of the tacks and got estimates of spectator numbers and included some additional racing opportunities further afield.
A did something a little different here. Instead of providing demographic data (age, sex and all that) I created a persona to represent a drag racing fan. I called him Doug.
Doug is an amalgamation of lots of different drag racing fans I have met over the years plus a few assumptions on my part. The idea was to give life to the target audience so the sponsor could make the connection to their brand.
A significant part of the sponsorship proposal was dedicated to a marketing plan and how I would provide engagement with the target audience, coupled with the unique marketing opportunities.
Some of my ideas included...
- Writing PR articles for newspapers leading up to racing events
- How-to articles in motorsport magazines
- The potential of TV coverage at major events
- Team press kit delivered to media staff and commentators
- Internet and social media marketing strategies
- Pit and local store displays
Finally we get to the money. Here I detailed the level of investment attached to the sponsorship plus a summary of the particulars. I’ll go into the nitty gritty of how I came up with the figures in a future article.
Be My Guest
Last but not least I finished up with an invitation for the sponsor to come out to a race meeting and see the team in action. This was followed with my contact details.
I was surprised to hear that people sometimes forget to include their contact details in a sponsorship proposal. Doh!
The next step...
I decided that the best course of action was to send the sponsorship proposal via express mail to hopefully have some impact. In my un-educated opinion I assumed sending a PDF document via email would have even less chance of being opened.
Next I needed the contact details of who to send the sponsorship proposal to. This was much simpler than I thought. I simply rang the head office number and asked; they happily gave me the sponsorship manager’s name, contact and address details.
Once the proposal was ready (I used a program called PagePlus from Serif to put it together) I sent it off to the printers. $40 later I had 4 copies made so I could send 2 and keep 2 for myself.
(Big thanks to Will Trumble of Will Design who did the 3D rendering of my car and trailer included in the sponsorship proposal. Nice.)
I reckon the sponsorship proposal looked pretty good so I sent it off and decided to wait a week before giving them a call to discuss the details.
A week rolled by and I called and left a message. A few days later I left another message. I did this for a few weeks until I was able to reach the person I wanted to speak with.
And...they hadn’t read my sponsorship proposal. Bummer.
It became crystal clear...there is absolutely no value sending a proposal until you have made personal contact with the potential sponsor.
Why?...because sponsorship managers can receive literally hundreds of proposals a week. They simply don’t have the time to look at all of them. You have to build rapport first before you can even think about sending a proposal.
That was my first mistake...there are others which I will share with you in detail in my next article.
On the positive side, I learnt a lot with a 5 minute conversation with the sponsorship manager.
If only I had made that phone call first. Luckily I'm too lazy to repeat my mistakes.
Kym Oberauer is the author and head sponsorship seeker at Practical Sponsorship Ideas; dedicated to sharing experiences, tools and resources to help you find, attract and keep your sponsors happy.