In an earlier post, I suggested that most motorsport sponsorship deals these days have a 'business-to-business' element to them and promised that I'd flesh this idea out further for those who may be new to the concept.
The moving billboard is dead
If you race in anything other than F1 or NASCAR and still cling to the thoery that your high-speed billboard is worth a cheque with several zeros on the end, forget it - those days are long gone (unless you are very lucky).
In these times of accountability and massive budget cuts, only one thing talks and that's profit. In fact, even in F1 and NASCAR, I'd hazard a guess that many of the heavily branded sponsorships actually have a B2B element behind them that offers the accountable marketing director a clear and measurable justification for signing the cheque.
B2B sponsorship deals are where you, as a team or driver, can introduce new business to a company - that without you they would not have access to - in exchange for sponsorship money. Critically, the potential profit that the company would expect to make from this introduction should be more that the sponsorship fee. Thus making it a profitable activity to sponsor you. At the very least, it should match the fee so that the sponsorship is percieved to be 'zero cost'.
How do you do this?
Well, there are in theory three parties involved and everyone needs to win out of the deal:
- You / your team etc
- Company A
- Company B
Company A should ideally be a close contact, with whom you have a warm relationship, and is keen to see you succeed. So long as it doesn't cost them any money, they'll do whatever they can to help.
Company B would love to win the business of Company A, but doesn't have a good contact there and, anyway, Company A is already happily in bed with a rival supplier.
Your job is to go to Company B and explain to them that, if they sponsor you, not only do they get all the traditional sponsorship benefits, but also a warm introduction to the top dog at Company A who would seriously consider giving them his/her business if it entices them to sign a sponsorship cheque.
So, in theory, nobody looses anything out of the deal:
- Company A is spending money with a supplier anyway and, so long as the service/product of Company B is just as good, it makes no difference who they spend their money with. (Better yet, they may be able to negotiate even better rates from Company B, making their involvement with you a money-saver!)
- Company B wins a big new client that they wouldn't have had without you and, although they have to write a big, fat sponsorship cheque, they'll still make a profit AND enjoy all the perks of being a sponsor.
- You get to go racing!
So, the reality is that to Company B, the sponsorship benefits of branding, hospitality etc. are really just perks - they don't need them (they may not even care about them), but they're nice to have as the icing on the cake of an already profitable introduction.
This was very much the case behind our partnership (I actually don't think the word sponsorship is quite so appropriate for this type of deal, particularly with companies so scared of the 'S-word' these days) with Hiscox insurance brokers on last year's Jota Aston GT2 car. In the beginning Hiscox really didn't care about the branding/association/hospitality rights etc. All that mattered was the introduction of new business which we were able to facilitate for them but, as you can see from the photo above, once their marketing team were alerted to the rights they now had access to, they really went to town on leveraging the association! This is a great example of a happy B2B marriage that is set to continue in the coming years.
So ask yourself:
Who do you know that is a decision maker in a business and is keen to see you succeed?
Who can you pair them up with that would love to win their business?
Can you do more to facilitate business introductions between your existing contacts?