In the search for sponsorship, it is of the utmost importance to understand what your sponsors do and how they do it if you want to be successful in partnering with them. Companies do not sponsor race drivers because they are in the business of sponsoring racing drivers, they sponsor race drivers because it is a way of furthering their business interests.
In my first “Business of Motorsport” post, I speak with Bob Yusko of Go Bobby, a web hosting and domain registration company on why he sponsors race drivers and what he expects out of this partnership.
Motorsport Prospects: Thanks for taking the time to speak to Motorsport Prospects Bob. Can you explain a little bit about what Go Bobby does?
Bob Yusko: Go Bobby is a web hosting and domain registration company that operates https://gobobby.net/ which is aimed at the North American web hosting market (but can serve anybody anywhere) and https://gobobby.uk/ which is based in the UK and is focused more on our UK customers with all prices in the British Pound. We have also just added https://gobobby.co/ which caters to the Australian market much like our UK site does with prices offered in the Australian dollar.
Go Bobby.net, Go Bobby.co and Go Bobby.uk provide a large number of professional services in the following fields of activity: Domain Registration, Shared Hosting, VPS, KVM VPS, Semi or Dedicated Servers, SSL Certificate and Who Is ID Protection.
The importance of a website to a racing driver
MP: How important is a website to a racing driver?
BY: It is extremely important. It lends legitimacy to a driver that focusing on social media alone cannot give. It also allows the driver to maintain complete control over their content and message which is important for any potential sponsor that might be researching them.
Why does Go Bobby sponsor race drivers?
MP: Why do you sponsor racing drivers?
BY: I have always had a passion for motorsport and because of that passion I have wanted to help out young drivers racing today. Most of the drivers I sponsor are young drivers from karting up into Formula 4 but I do also sponsor a few older drivers.
Ultimately though it is a business decision. I am trying to build awareness for my web hosting and domain name registration business and because motorsport fans tend to be extremely brand loyal, I want those fans to support the Go Bobby brand. I am hoping that those fans that see the Go Bobby.net or Go Bobby.uk logo on a race car will become our customer with all the brand loyalty that goes with it.
Ultimately, the better my business does, the more I will be able to sponsor. If Go Bobby is not making money, I cannot sponsor any drivers.
What a business expects from a driver they sponsor
MP: What are you and other sponsors expecting from a driver that they sponsor?
BY: Like anything in life, stick to your word and live up to your promises. You need to build a relationship with your sponsor that is mutually beneficial. Make sure that you publicly show off your sponsors and know what they do so that you can explain it to anybody who asks. Make sure you thank them every chance you get. Treat your sponsors right both off and on the track. Sponsors will remember how they are treated as much as how much the relationship will benefit their business. The sticker that you attach on the car is not a donation, it is the mark of a relationship between driver and sponsor. Nurture that relationship and build on it.
MP: What do you not want to see from a driver you are sponsoring?
BY: A total lack of recognition and a lack of a relationship. As I mentioned in your previous question, a sponsor is looking for the driver to recognize their sponsor publicly and frequently. Don’t do your initial sponsorship announcement and then never mention the sponsoring company again.
Another important point is for the driver to know what the sponsor does. Work smart. Research the sponsor to understand what they do and how. Ask your sponsors what you want them to tell the fans about your product or service. Talk to your sponsor and make sure you are able to properly express what they do. You have become a brand ambassador for that sponsor and what you say reflects on that sponsor both for good and for bad.
And make sure you have covered the basics! Know how to properly pronounce the sponsors name and be familiar with things like their website address and social media information. Give the sponsor your complete and total commitment because a lack of doing any of these things will probably result in your sponsor not continuing with you beyond the initial year.
Remember that the happier the sponsors you have are, as demonstrated by the logos on your car and how you engage fans and the media on their behalf, the more you will look attractive to other potential sponsors.
How should a driver approach a potential sponsor?
MP: In your opinion how should a driver approach a possible sponsor?
BY: Nothing works better than success. The more sponsors you have, the more interest you will generate with potential sponsors. Do the work. Research the companies you are planning on approaching, make presentations to them, not to show why a company should sponsor you but how by sponsoring you they will be able to increase their business which is ultimately what all sponsors want to do.
It is very difficult to measure Return on Investment (ROI) when sponsoring a driver, especially in the junior ranks so you really need to emphasize the business case for sponsoring you as a driver. Do not try to sell them on things like the glamour of racing. That should be a side-product of their sponsorship and not the main reason to sponsor your car.
MP: What would be your single most important piece of advice to a driver looking for sponsorship?
BY: Do the time and don’t give up unless the relationship is truly not working, which does happen. Try to remain positive and open minded, especially when listening to feedback from a potential sponsor who may or may not commit. You can learn as much from being turned down by a potential sponsor as you could from winning one. And most of all, be patient. It is a lot of work, but it is part of racing and can mean the difference between being on the track or not.
Business considerations for in sponsoring a driver
MP: What would be the single most important piece of advice you would give to a business considering sponsoring a driver?
BY: Make sure the driver is getting your brand out there, whether on the track, in the media or online. Make sure the driver is aware of and understands your product. Make sure that you are communicating regularly, and any misunderstandings are dealt with quickly.
Be patient. In the junior formula you are dealing with kids and young adults. Sometimes there are things going on in their lives that you are not aware of so a bit of patience and understanding can go a long way. Again, it is a relationship and it goes both ways.
Finally, there may be the opportunity to conduct business to business (B2B) with other sponsors on the car which adds to the ROI that you get from sponsorship.
MP: Thank you so much for your time. Where can people reading this find out more about your web hosting and domain business?
(If you are a business that sponsors drivers in motorsport (or would like to) and would like to be featured on Motorsport Prospects to discuss your strategic objectives in sponsorship, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.)