Excerpts from the book “DRIVE TO WIN” by CARROLL SMITH
Make a List of Sponsors and Benefits of Sponsorship
The basic idea is to make a list of corporations or individuals whom you think might be interested in sponsoring your effort and a list of the benefits to them of that sponsorship. If you cannot list meaningful benefits on paper, forget it – you are sure as hell won’t be able to do it in person.
The trick is to approach any corporation from the CEO level. Don’t even t h ink about the ad agencies. None of the money that a corporation spends on the running of a race team is billable through the agency. Ad agencies hate us because they see us as taking bread from their mouths.
First of all, you have to find a CEO who can be convinced that he wants to go racing, and that he wants to go racing with you. This man is highly unlikely to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. If the Fortune 500 CEO wants to go racing he will go with Al Unser. You need to find the CEO of a local company that can afford to take a flyer with a little money.
Two Ways to Find Sponsors
- One is through stories that you plant in the media.
- The other is through personal research.
Don’t even think about hiring someone to do this for you – they will do a bad job. The personal approach works best and, besides, at this point in your career, you need the experience.
The way to plant a media story is simple: contact the media outlet, find the editor and make your pitch. If you do it often enough the story will get printed – even if you have to write it yourself. Make very certain that the local media knows about any success you may achieve and make sure that your search for local sponsorship is subtly mentioned in each story.
Then you have to get out there and meet the people who can help you. How you do this is up to you – just don’t do it in torn Levis and a tee shirt. Once you have identified them and arranged to meet them, go in with a solid proposal, not a vague dream. Don’t make the common error of pitching the proposal on the benefits to you and your career – concentrate on the benefits of your proposal to the seductee.
Every Young Driver Should Learn to Play Golf – Well
Aside from the relaxation and social aspect of the game, you can meet a lot of people on the golf course and a great many sponsorship deals have been put together on the links. I even know one legendary team owner who has, with malice forethought, made a practice of arranging to socially meet CEOs at the 19th hole. To a lesser extent, t he same is t rue of tennis.
If you are now saying to yourself, “I could never sell myself like that, it’s just too cold blooded,” then find another line of work. Motor racing is not for you.
We should perhaps note that aspiring touring golf pros have been syndicating themselves for decades. The basic idea is that a “syndicate” of enthusiasts puts up some affordable amount of money each in return for a possible future reward – a percentage of earnings being the most popular. A couple of drivers have arranged this sort of thing with some success.
Another approach is that, in return for limited support at the beginning of a driver’s career, a corporation obtains the right to his services, if and when he makes the big time.
This has always been a business that very few could afford to get started in, let alone progress to the higher levels. Most successful drivers have always had to find sponsorship in order to get beyond the local level and those who have found it have found it themselves.
The only person who is going to make you a star is reading these words right now. If you really believe that you have the talent, the toughness, the dedication and the determination to become a professional racing driver, then get off your butt and get on with it.
Reference: “DRIVE TO WIN” by CARROLL SMITH