Motorsport is a highly competitive business. It costs a lot of money and teams and drivers will always claim that they never have enough, however deep their pockets!
Money is the fuel that makes the motorsport world go round. Teams and drivers need whatever funds they can get their hands on to keep racing or to develop their careers. However it must always be remembered that the sponsors, who these days largely provide the funds, need to see a return on investment to justify their participation.
In Formula One it has been a fundamental philosophy of McLaren that they have never encouraged the use of the word “sponsor”, as this they believed implied an act of charity. Instead they pioneered the use of the word “partner” or “investor” in the belief that each partner is making an “investment” in the team and are looking for a tangible return.
“Return on Investment” are probably the most important words in any business. If you take the first letters of each word, it spells ROI, which aptly means Crown in French. This undoubtedly strengthens the belief that Return on Investment is indeed King. To develop a successful long-term partnership, it is essential that the sponsorship is fully leveraged across the various marketing and media platforms that are available, to ensure that a good return on investment can be achieved.
Race teams and drivers need to approach sponsorship partnerships in the same disciplined way as they would go racing. It is the team, or driver, who can develop a valuable marketing platform around their participation in the sport, who will stand the better chance of continued long-term success.
PR and Media is one of the most important methods, not only to promote yourself, but also to attract commercial partners to join you, on your motor racing journey. Results on the track are all well and good, but unless anyone sees or hears about it, those podiums will hold less value than they deserve.
A well planned out and consistent PR and Media Campaign can mean the difference between having a successful racing career or having to resign yourself to a desk job. This is why it is so important for teams and drivers to promote both themselves and their sponsors, plus helps to develop business opportunities for their partners.
Commercial sponsorship can be purely financial or through the supply of products and technology, or a combination of both. In Formula One, the teams have marketing departments responsible for ensuring they provide the maximum possible benefit for the companies who invest. This would include business development opportunities with potential companies, through to servicing their requirements by developing promotional, communication and creative solutions to meet the business objectives of each partner.
Now, whilst that applies to Formula One, where the budgets are in the hundreds of millions of dollars, there is no reason why race teams or drivers should not work along similar principles, albeit on a more limited scale, whether that be through internal resource or using a specialist motorsport marketing agency.
First you have to get the sponsor, through sponsorship proposals and presentations, but then, just as importantly, you have to keep them. I like to call this the “octopus” method; whereby you put your arms around the sponsor to give them a big reassuring hug, but also you make sure that they feel so comfortable that they can never escape!
Sports marketing, at whatever level, does provide a number of marketing and promotional benefits. One of the best ways to explain it is to think about joining a gym or health club. Everything is there to help you get fitter. However to achieve this you have to work hard and use all the various facilities available. If you don’t then you are not going to get a return on your investment.
Motorsport marketing is a highly effective and versatile tool. Every company will have its own aims and objectives in a marketing strategy for their brand, products or services. In that strategy they will have planned what they want to promote, whom they want to promote it to, and what message they want to say. With sponsorship, you require a successful sports marketing programme with a natural synergy between the companies brand or product, and the motorsport property, whether that be the team or the driver. This synergy can then be blended into an effective marketing strategy to communicate to the sponsor’s relevant audience.
There are a wide variety of benefits that can be developed from a motorsport marketing campaign, the importance of which depends upon the particular requirements of the sponsor. For example, for some the focus will be taking advantage of the media exposure, whilst others may want to use the name or image of the team or driver to promote their products or services. In addition they may want to use this as the basis to build relationships with clients or staff, or develop business-to-business opportunities.
These days, with the universal use of the internet and social media, PR and Media Campaigns can be developed relatively cost effectively and can be designed to fit with your needs and budget.
There are a number of areas that this could include. For example a website, if you haven’t already got one, is an excellent way to have your portfolio online. News or information updates can be posted or distributed through social media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter, plus regular press releases on race weekend activities.
This is also where Pit Talk Asia can help. Now widely regarded as the authoritative voice of Asian motorsport, the website can assist in a number of ways. For example through publishing press releases, having feature articles or driver profiles, hosting promotional videos or displaying congratulation adverts for podium finishes.
Specialist motorsport agencies, such as Asia Motorsport Development, are in a unique position to help create and execute a PR and Media Campaign. With many years experience in sponsorship management, team management, public relations, and motorsport media, they understand the business of motorsport and know exactly what strategic partners need.
It should always be remembered that sponsorship branding alone will not communicate the complete message for the sponsor. A convenient analogy can be taken from gardening. Once you have planted a seed, it needs to be looked after and nourished in order to grow. In motorsport marketing, you have to look after and cultivate the sponsor and promote using the various communication channels available, in order to maximise the return on their investment.
No matter what your budget, or your level of skill, if you want to be a success, there can be no excuse for not working towards having a good PR and Media Campaign to benefit your strategic partners and yourself.