Just had an interesting chat with my brother, Ollie Hancock, who's noticed an increasing number of young drivers using the GoFundMe platform to raise sponsorship these days. I've taken a look and I've gotta say, I just don't get it.
Sponsorship pleas like this one are commendable in their intent, but flawed in the execution due to the vast sums of money required to to go motor racing. It's all very well saying that every penny counts, but why lean hard on friends, family and other contacts for fifty quid here and there that ultimately isn't gonna come close to getting you on the grid? These kind donors all give willingly and want to see you suceed, but they've worked hard to earn that money and you'll be indebted to each and every one of them just as much as one 'real' sponsor signing a company cheque for tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds. The work load in managing, thanking, nuturing and communicating with this vast number of micro-sponsors is at least equal to - if not greater than - that required to find and look after those one or two major backers.
I'm no guru in this area, but I have been raising sponsorship since I was 16-years old that ultimately funded my early career and created the springboard for me to eventually turn pro. I'm wildly grateful and lucky to have been supported over the years by both private patrons, local small businesses and global corporations alike who in total provided over £1m of funding needed to fuel my early career. I used every concept in the book, from a simple 'picnic in the paddock with Sam Hancock' for £200 per head, to a formal public offering of shares in my future that would have seen me listed on the OFEX stock exchange (had it worked!).
I definitely didn't get it right every time and a few of them fled for the hills at the first opportunity, but I was learning on the job and, for the most part, I know that most considered their support very good value. The reason for this? I never begged and I never tried to sell a moving billboard. The sponsor always got something back in exchange, whether it be feel-good factor (private patron supporting a young talent), private driver coaching, track days, hospitality, promotional appearances and yes, eventually, branding and exposure... but frankly the latter is ALWAYS just the icing on the cake as far as the sponsor is concerned (unless you're in F1, Nascar etc).
The game has evolved further still in recent years as the world has become poorer and the costs have continued to spiral - these days just about all major sponsorships (even those in F1) have a significant business-to-business element to them which, if well structured, should see the sponsor actually profiting financially from their involvement!
We'll look more at this in future posts, but in the meantime remember: a good deal is one where both parties genuinely win out of the arrangement, and would be willing to do it again once the deal has run it's course.
Are your sponsors winning out of the deal just as much as you?
What can you offer that has a tangible, measurable value?
Or are you guilty of begging?!