Sponsorship. When most enthusiasts hear that word it means free product. To others it means competitive racing, and still to others it’s a badge of honor. Everyday here at Venom we receive sponsorship requests ranging from professional drivers to local clubs, tracks and of course, RC enthusiasts from all disciplines looking for their first “in” to the world of free or discounted product. In this blog series we will be covering several perspectives of sponsorship, the first being from that of the manufacturer. Later in the series we’ll be bringing you views from our drivers, track owners and local hobby shops so you can see what they’re doing to maintain or improve their “sponsored” status.
Part 1: First impressions count.
Often times when a driver wants to approach a company for sponsorship, their first impulse is to “apply” for a sponsorship either online or over the phone. Many manufacturers have sponsorship information on their websites with specific criteria for applying to their team. It is important to seek this information out and review it before making contact with the company. As in all things, being prepared goes a long way to impress your potential sponsors. Think of applying for sponsorship like applying for a job. There is a pool of people out there competing for the same sponsorship slots and you want to put out the best representation of yourself from the moment you make first contact. If you can, prepare a resume of your RC experience. Why do you feel you deserve a sponsorship? What your plans are to help promote the brand name you are applying for? What influence do you have over your local area/region? Basically: What can you do for US? All of these questions are relevant to any sponsorship applicant even if the company does not request a formal “resume”. Having a well-prepared report for your reason behind requesting a sponsorship goes a long way in the eyes of a manufacturer and shows that you’ve done your homework. Oh, and speaking of impressions, plan on using your Facebook page as reference for all your RC pictures? Better make sure your six pages of kegger party pictures have been removed, because like it or not, it’s all taken into consideration.
Part 2: Know your role.
Most of our sponsored drivers out there are exactly that: Drivers. They compete at a wide variety of tracks, lakes or fields around the country looking to find their place on the podium. We value every one of our team drivers out there, but did you know we offer sponsorships to a much broader range than just racers? We have 4H clubs, tracks, local representatives, shops, flying clubs and more, all with varying levels of sponsorship and commitment. To us, having active representation at the track, helping people with their battery issues, providing a charging station, going to local “fly-ins” and just being active in their RC community has just as much value as our podium placing drivers.
Yet, to be one of these “ambassadors”, you have to go out of your way to provide content to the company so that we have material to help promote YOUR efforts in the field. To provide a battery to a winning driver has a positive benefit for us, but having pictures, race updates, videos, blog posts, and other dynamic content filtering in from a reliable source is the lifeblood of any successful sponsor relationship. Basically, we really like to see what our investment is buying. The more we see from a sponsored individual in terms of content helps us quantify the return on our investment and the more willing we are to increase your discount. That’s right. Discount.
Part 3: Nothing in life is truly “free”.
Here’s where the harsh reality of “free product” comes in. There really is no free stuff. You have to work hard for your sponsorship, and practically no one starts out in the top tier getting product for free. Generally, you will begin with a respectable discount. If you have proven that you can provide constant coverage of your “adventures” in RC hobbies and give the company a constant flow of material to work with, your discount will increase. If we really like the results of your actions, you might earn yourself a tier 1 spot in which we provide you with our products at a 100% discount. Don’t fool yourself though, to get to that level takes a whole lot of hard work and communication with your sponsors.
Sponsorship has to make sense for both parties, and when it does, it works wonderfully. When it doesn’t, it’s frustrating for the driver and the sponsor. If you’re serious about landing sponsorships and keeping them, prepare yourself. Do your homework, and be ready to sell yourself as a representative of their company.
In the future, we will be releasing multiple follow-ups to this blog series, going over the ins and outs of a sponsored driver life, what our existing team members to do keep their sponsorships, how sponsorships can positively affect a local track and finally, what sponsored hobby shops do to earn their right to be called a “Sponsored Hobby Shop”. Until next time, stay safe and have fun out there!
Article Author: Jeff Simon