There are a lot of nice cars out there, and there are a lot of motivated car customizers. However, not all of them deserve sponsorship. Why? The reason for this is because the relationship between the sponsor and the sponsored must be a mutually beneficial one. First and foremost – Sponsorship is absolutely not the process of trying to get free parts for your project because you cannot afford to buy them on your own. If that is how you view sponsorship, then please read this article very carefully.
Sponsorship, and the act of being sponsored by a manufacturer, is entering into a contract with a brand that you have a sincere interest in promoting. Many companies require that you sign a contract to gain sponsorship, and they can even have monetary penalties if you do not fulfill your requirements. As you can imagine, any aftermarket company is going to receive hundreds (if not thousands) of sponsorship proposals each year. Therefore, in order to gain sponsorship, you will have to set yourself apart from everyone else out there with a cool car or truck that is in the same position as you.
1) Your Proposal Is Your “Sales Pitch” – Do not expect to be taken seriously (or in most cases even considered) for sponsorship without a professionally designed and laid out sponsorship proposal. If you cannot be bothered to take the time and effort to put together something nice and professional showing why you are worth considering, how is that company you are trying to get product from supposed to believe you will take the time and effort to properly support them as your sponsor?
2) Never, EVER Just Expect Free Product – Now more than ever, companies have to be smart with their marketing dollars. Long gone are the days where free was no problem in the automotive aftermarket…that was more than 10 years ago folks. Partial sponsorships are the norm in the industry these days, with most companies having established discount structures based on a set of pre-determined criteria requirements. Only the highest profile builds are ever considered for anything beyond that, and the people behind those builds you likely already know their names.
3) If You Act Entitled, You Will Likely Be Disappointed – If you approach a sponsorship opportunity with your hand out, chances are you will walk away empty handed. By being granted sponsorship, you are basically becoming a brand ambassador for that company. You are effectively asking to become an extension of the marketing arm of that company, and will be a representation of that brand at all events and functions. If you are not prepared for that responsibility, you should not be asking for sponsorship.
4) Do Your Research – A company wants to know that you know their products, and therefore would be able to properly promote them, before they consider entering into a partnership. If you can’t do the research beforehand to know what products are right for your project, what they do, what is involved, and why you want/need them, then you should not be asking to receive them at a discounted price. Nothing makes you look worse than asking for sponsorship on a vehicle that a company makes no products for.
5) How Is This Project Special – Set Yourself Apart – Any company you send a request to will be looking for much more than local car show participation and willingness to apply a vinyl sticker to their vehicle. Especially for products with a price tag that is well into the thousands of dollars (such as a Supercharging System), an aftermarket company is looking for guaranteed exposure, such as letters of intent from established magazine editors stating their intention of featuring your car in their publication upon its completion, or references from other aftermarket companies who intend to feature your vehicle at SEMA, or at other high profile venues.
6) Show and Tell – No proposal could be complete without either photos or renderings. High quality photographs are a plus, but if you do not have current photos, or the vehicle is in the middle of the build process, a rendering of how the finished build project is expected to appear is required (rendering firms such as Gurnade, Inc. or Eye Kandy Designs are a great source to help your ideas come to life even before the build has begun).
7) Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How – A sponsorship proposal should attempt to answer the basic questions, while also instilling a sense of excitement and purpose. Who are you? What separates your build from the rest? What can you bring to the table that will be of value to the sponsor? When and where will your completed project be seen/exhibited/raced over the next 12 months? How can you improve a sponsor’s business by working with you? Compulsory elements that cannot be left out of any proposal are a detailed modification sheet, list of other companies or brands already involved with the project, and a minimum 12 month event schedule where the vehicle will be featured or on display.
8) Being A Brand Ambassador – As stated above, being a sponsored individual is like becoming a representative of the company that is sponsoring you. You will need to know about the products on your car, and you will be expected to be capable of answering questions about the products at the shows/events/races that you attend during your period of sponsorship. Just reading off a roll call is not enough. How did the suspension parts improve the handling of your car/truck? How did the Supercharging System improve the performance? How did your performance tires change the overall drivability through X conditions on the street/track or in acceleration/corning? Why should someone else also look at these products for their own vehicle? You get the idea.
With these things in mind, you should have the right attitude and the tools necessary to craft a great proposal and possibly even get your project sponsored.