It is a cliché to say that a majority of a racing driver’s work is conducted off the track in the hunt for often elusive sponsorship, but it is the truth. In these days of tightening company budgets and the often niche-nature of motorsport, raising a budget to finance your ride in an ever increasingly expensive sport is becoming harder and harder.
That is not to say it is impossible. There are a number of resources available to drivers to help them fine tune their sponsorship pitches and thereby maximize their chances of success, many of them listed in the Motorsport Prospects directory. But it is important to start with some fundamentals and none is more fundamental than your story.
Everybody wants to be part of a story and more particularly a good story, sponsors included. Being part of a feel-good story is something that needs to be nurtured and encouraged and it is up to you to make sure that any and all potential sponsors understand and embrace your story. How do you express your story? What if you don’t think you actually have a compelling story to tell? Here are a few tips to get you started. Make sure you take notes as you go through the tips to help you build your story and why a sponsor should be part of it.
This is the number one rule that trumps everything else. People, including sponsors can see when somebody is insincere. You might attempt to pull this off on social media by portraying yourself as somebody you are not and if you are, just stop. You may temporarily get away with it but when the truth comes out (and it always does), the damage to your reputation will be immeasurable.
On top of that, being genuine, being truly who you are is so much easier. Show potential sponsors who you are, not who you want to be.
The fact that you want to be a racing driver is already an interesting story in and of itself
Potential sponsors, especially those not involved in motorsport will already be intrigued by the fact that you are a race driver. They may not understand it, they may never have considered associating with one, but they will definitely be interested in finding out more, out of curiosity if nothing else.
Focus less on your racing and more on your life journey and skills. What have you done outside of racing and how does that drive you in your racing career?
While your success at racing competitively is a rightful source of pride, and you may be an artist of the apex, brilliant at braking and a wiz at winning, most sponsors are less interested in the technicalities of what you do on the track and more interested in who you are and how you became that way as a person. What compelled you to become a racing driver? How did your life experiences up to this time lead you to where you are now? What skill-set allowed you to build a life and career off the track and how did this influence your racing?
Not sure what your story is? Ask family and friends!
We often tend to be shy about who we are and how we became that way. Sometimes it is hard to see what our “story” actually is. It is often very difficult to determine if we even have a story. A great place to start is to ask family and friends. Their perspective of who we are and how we became that way can be invaluable in helping you determine both that you have a story and that it is worth telling. Listen and learn!
Stop focusing on your weaknesses and point out your strengths!
We all tend to minimize our strengths and fixate on our weaknesses. Its human nature. While your weaknesses can and should be part of your story, it’s your strengths that should be emphasized. How did you overcome adversity? How did you forge a path that was your own? How does this strength make you a better driver as well as a better person?
Sharing your story makes you human
Sharing your story makes you human. Often, the person behind the helmet is obscured by the very sport and all it involves. People are so used to hearing boilerplate answers to boilerplate questions in sports that by sharing your story you are humanizing both yourself and the very sport you are asking the sponsor to get involved in. They don’t want to sponsor a racing driver; they want to sponsor an interesting person who happens to race a car or bike.
What are the defining moments of your life?
Start writing down these moments. Talk to your family and friends about them as they may bring up moments and experiences that you only view as ordinary, yet they feel are extraordinary. Write everything down. You are more awesome than you realize.
Nobody knows your story until you tell it
You cannot assume that people know your story, no matter how “popular” you may be in motorsport media. It is up to you to tell your story to those potential sponsors, so that they understand who you are and where you came from. Make sure they hear your story from who and nobody else.
Being vulnerable is being relatable. And the bigger the obstacle you face the more people want to see you succeed. Sponsors want to be a part of that
People often assume that vulnerability is a sign of weakness, but they are mistaken. Sponsors want to be associated with people that have overcome adversity and risen up to a particular challenge. Make sure they know what you have overcome and how you have done so to get where you are today.
Your story is a conversation starter
Your story is a beginning, not an end. It is a way for you to explain who you are and why you are that way. It is an invitation to take part on a journey with you both on and off the track. It is to be part of something extraordinary. But your story is just a taste of what you and the sponsor can accomplish together. Use it as a way to introduce yourself. Once they hear your story, they will be compelled to then follow it up with the inevitable question of how being a part of it will help them. And then you begin the second phase of the relationship, one that will hopefully result in a solid relationship beneficial to both you and your sponsor. That is when you will focus on the value you could bring to a sponsor by being part of your journey.
You have laid the groundwork, you have started the conversation and engaged them. Time to focus on the nuts and bolts of why they should be a part of your team.
These are just a few tips to get you thinking about your story. Write everything down. Review it, revise it and have friends, family and colleagues read and critique it. Everybody has a story. You just may not be aware of it yet. Hopefully this will help you to start the process of discovering it for yourself. So, what are you waiting for? Start now!