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Sponsor Me - Road Rage

Consider representing the company before asking them for free parts.

Aaron Bonk
Dec 7, 2011

Statistics show that neither you nor your car will ever get sponsored. Sorry about that. Something like fewer than one percent of all sponsorship applications are approved. Truth is, most marketing riffraff will, after a drink or two, admit that the number of sponsorship proposals they actually look at isn’t much higher. Sponsorships are a way for brands to get noticed. If you can’t turn eyeballs toward their company, which ultimately leads to their selling more parts, then there’s really no reason for the two of you to talk. Read on for a few tips that might help keep your sponsorship proposal out of the marketing guy’s trash can.

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What They Want
Businesses (or at least successful ones) evaluate potential sponsorships based on what you can do for them. Better figure out now what exactly that is.

Sponsorships don’t exist to help turn your bone-stock Civic with a racing stripe into the track car that you think it should be. There are thousands of other Honda owners rivaling for the same sponsorship. Chances are a sponsor is going to choose the one that’s already finished.

Telling them how broke you are, hence why you’re seeking a sponsorship, isn’t all that productive, either. How exactly do you plan on effectively representing their company without any money?

Consider representing the company before asking them for free parts. An online forum post positively reviewing the company’s products, coming to its defense in a negative thread, or simply representing the company with stickers at an event goes a long way. Small acts of goodwill like these are exactly what companies expect out of those they sponsor.

How To Approach Them
Stop what you’re doing and learn about the company and its products. Be sure they support your vehicle. If they do, you’ll want to reach the company’s marketing department or whoever else handles their sponsorships. I’ll bet they’ve got a website with the appropriate contact information.

Determine if you’ll be addressing somebody old enough to be your dad and craft your spiel appropriately. A brief phone call or email introducing yourself before submitting your sponsorship proposal won’t hurt.

The Proposal
What’s the most impacting thing that you want this company to know about you? Why should they sponsor you? Let them know that first.

Avoid the “I want whatever you make for my car” mentality. Everybody knows you want parts, money, or both. Now is your chance to be specific. Offering to “run whatever parts they want you to” is vague, greedy-sounding, and unimpressive.

Include clear, well-lit photos of your car. A decent point-and-shoot camera will do. Nothing says “I want free parts but really don’t have much time for all of this proposal nonsense” better than submitting cell phone camera images. Find a simple backdrop, and shoot various angles of your car, preferably early in the morning or late in the evening when the quality of sunlight is best. If you’ve got a tripod, use it.

Looking for a sponsorship is a lot like looking for a job. Poor grammar and bad spelling make it look like you don’t care. If you suck at writing, have it proofread. Typically, a 500-word, one-page proposal will do. Be sure to include information about yourself and your car, previous cars, current modifications, and future modifications. Be thorough, but be short and concise. Some of the most successful sponsorship proposals are just one page long.

Most word processing programs nowadays allow you to lay out text and photos on the same page. Do this. Save your proposal in a file format that you know the rest of world can open.

Consider your email address and, if necessary, create an additional account for contacting potential sponsors. Would you open an email from sparkleboy@hotmail.com?

Additional links to photo hosting sites and forum build threads can be helpful, but don’t rely on those as your sole method of submitting photos. Whoever reviews your proposal is probably lazier than you are and won’t bother clicking on any of them.

Present your information and photos in a pleasing format. A handwritten letter and a couple of Polaroids won’t get you far.

Following Up
You think you’ve done everything right, you’ve submitted your proposal, and you’ve been denied. Or just as bad, you’ve been ignored. Remember that most companies are inundated with sponsorship proposals daily and simply don’t have the time or resources to address each one. While there’s nothing wrong with following up, if your proposal has officially been denied, it’s best to part ways both with tact and courtesy.

Being denied can be frustrating, and while taking some of these frustrations out onto whomever’s responsible for rejecting it may seem like fun, don’t do it. This fickle little industry of ours is a close-knit one. What may appear as a single burned bridge may be several, as marketing slickers from various companies oftentimes share information with one another outside of work. If you’ve been shut down, the best thing to do is reexamine your proposal, try to put yourself in the company’s shoes, and ask yourself: Would I sponsor me?

By Aaron Bonk
408 Articles

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