When you sit down and think about who you want out of a car sponsorship it will help to make a list of what you need. Are you looking for aftermarket parts, cash, or maybe a combination of both? Are the companies who have what you need local to you?
Looking for Sponsors Online
One of the most effective ways to find potential sponsors is to jump online and browse the popular forums for your make and model. The companies advertising on those forums will be great targets, especially the ones who aren’t very active posters in the forum. These businesses are already spending money online and they could certainly be interested in some influential members in the forum they’re sponsoring to help push their products/brand. Check their websites and see if they’re already sponsoring cars/drivers. And start participating in the forums they’re participating on.
In our experience, the toughest parts to get out of a sponsorship are tires and wheels. Not to say it’s impossible, but you might have an easier time landing deals for go-fast parts or accessories. Focus on shops who specialize on your make/model car as opposed to shops who carry parts for several types of cars in the beginning. They would be considered the “low hanging fruit”. These businesses are looking for energetic people to help them grow their business and usually need cost effective ways to do it. Sponsoring drivers who make a name for themselves in the community can be a huge win for them. This is even more true with shops who manufacturer their own parts.
Target the Retailers or the Manufacturers?
Another question is whether you should you focus on aftermarket parts retailers or the aftermarket parts manufacturers? The answer is – both. Again, the companies that specialize mainly on your make and model car are the ones you want to target first, whether it be manufacturers or retailers. And you’ll find that some manufacturers also sell direct. Pay attention to the shops who are introducing new parts and are looking to bring more exposure to those products.
If you have make/model specific events in your market, make an effort to attend those events. See which companies have a presence and be sure to meet them and shake hands. No need to talk about sponsorship opportunities at the events, just say hello and ask them about their products. Let them know that you’re interested in building your car for competition and are in need of race-proven parts. Let them sell you on the product and get their card so you can follow up with them later.
Make a list of companies who make products you need or want. Add stars next to the smaller companies who focus mainly on your make/model, as well as the shops who focus heavily on racing. Further filter that list by the companies who are launching new product lines, especially if those product lines match up with what you need. That will give you a pretty good starting point.
Most people automatically think local when they think sponsorship. Honestly, I’ve never bothered trying to sell local businesses on sponsorships. Unless they are in the performance automotive industry, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle. Your experiences might be different though. Don’t write off local businesses. But keep in mind that you may have a much harder time trying to sell them on the benefits of sponsoring you. In many cases their target audience is the local resident, especially if they are a service oriented business. Not the big group of Mustang or Miata owners in the forum you participate on, and that’s one of your best selling points.
From time to time you will come across a local shop that wants to sell their products nationally, and being their sponsored driver will help them break into the online world and into the forums you frequent – markets they wouldn’t otherwise be hitting. Those types of deals can turn into gold for you. This won’t be the local Jiffy Lube or the Pep Boys stores. It will be the mom and pop shops. Do some research on these smaller shops, check out their website and Facebook pages. If it looks like they could use some help with their online marketing you just might be able to sell them on what you’re doing.