Quick Tips: Getting Sponsored  

If you’ve spent any time at all watching the Press Release section on Vital MX, you know it’s sponsorship season in the motocross world. Racers are busy sending out resumes, trying to hook up sponsorship deals for the next year, and manufacturers are already dealing with the deluge of resumes.

No one will ever deny that racing is a costly endeavor, and nearly everyone’s looking to save a few bucks. At the same time, manufacturers are looking to sell more product while boosting their market share and image at the track. When sponsorship deals work out, they’re a win-win for everyone.

So what should you hope to get from a company? Depending on your skill level, the events that you race, your past performances, and what you can do for your sponsors, it could mean anything from a small discount (10 percent), to a pretty substantial discount (40 percent or more). More elusive are deals for free product, contingency incentives for doing well at major events, or actual salaries. Those are reserved for the riders who show that they can really move the needle in product sales, whether it’s through their blazing speed, exceptional PR skills, or some combo of the two.

We asked sponsorship reps at Engine Ice, Leo Vince, EVS, RK Excel, Shoei, Oakley, and RXR for some tips on what they’re looking for, how to apply, and what to put in a resume, as well as some pitfalls to avoid. You’ll find their tips below. Listen to their advice, follow their suggestions (both on what to do, and what NOT to do), and you’ll be that much further ahead of your competitors.

What are potential sponsors looking for? Sure, good results are important, but they also prefer to be involved with riders who present themselves well at the races. Here are some examples?

  • “Often, riders forget that sponsorship is a marketing tool for companies. A tool we use for brand and product exposure and recognition. Riders often forget that it is a contract between a company and them and that they take on big responsibility when they accept a sponsorship contract: They need to represent and display the brands that sponsor them at all times possible.”
  • “I like to see pictures of the rider and bike to see how it all comes together as a package. I always love to see a sano bike. It shows he's committed to having a good presentation at the track.”
  • “They need to understand the ROI…Return on investment. Besides going out to your local race and getting first place, we need a better reason to have you as a part of our company.”
  • “At amateur level, winning counts but it's not everything. Too often, C, B and A riders think that winning the same local race is important. I'd rather have riders who present well, who are very social, who will be loyal and display our company's logo as much as possible and riders who travel a lot, race in different states, race and ride at as many tracks as possible.”
  • “The most important information to include is what the rider plans on doing for the sponsor. For example, running stickers on the bike’s swingarm, jersey, truck/trailer. Mentioning the sponsors name at podium and at any given opportunity. Passing out product stickers, etc., is an excellent way to show your sponsor that you are helping to increase sales, which in turn generates more profit for the organization.”

Among the companies we quizzed, they were split on how to apply for sponsorships. Many use sponsorship coordinators like sponsorhouse.com, mxsponsor.com, and mxresultz.com, and comments like this were common. “I prefer being contacted directly by email, but I think that a sponsorship coordinator really helps. It makes things easy.”

Another company suggested, “Sponsorhouse would probably be the best option they can direct you to the right image that would suit your riding.”

While most companies suggested using one of the above options, e-mail or snail mail are also still common, and one company even had their own online application. This is an area where spending time doing research on a company’s web site can definitely help, since they often list their preferred method of contact. One tip for e-mailers, though, is to keep them down to a reasonable size. “Anything over 1 MB will kill anyone's email and shut us down.” Another company also suggested, “We don’t have a preference as to which method riders use as long as the information they submit is complete and truthful.”

Quick Tips: Getting Sponsored  

So what kind of info do the companies want to see?

  • “The basic info (contact info, phone, email, class, district, series raced) and I think there should also be a section on what they, the athlete, can do for you (the company).  Whether it be setting up a product display at the track or handing out gift certificates at local races…they should want to feel more a part of the company.  Keep in mind that sponsorship budgets are driven by sales and sales only!”
  • “PROPER SPELLING. For school age racers, we would like to know their school level and grades. We want to promote their future as well.”
  • “The most important thing for someone to include in their resume is a list of results, especially from national events.  I get resumes all the time full of beautiful photos, but if I don't see any results, they end up in the round file.”
  • “It’s awesome when kids add the report cards to their resumes and show that they try just in hard at school as they do on the track.”

One thing that nearly everyone agreed on was that keeping resumes down to a manageable size was important. One page for the resume, along with a cover letter is about the maximum. They pretty universally also said that they don’t want or need videos.

  •  “Just present a clean looking resume with history, bio, portrait and riding photos, goals in racing, and what your going to do to represent us in a professional manner on an off the track.”
  • “Photos are good but it's not necessary to overload us with them. Videos we can do without.  We have thousands of resumes to go through and not enough time to look at videos.”

So what are the most common mistakes riders make when sending in a resume?

  • “Avoid grammatical errors and have a little knowledge about each company's sponsorship programs / products.  Most of the companies in our industry have all the info you need on their website for sending resumes in. Please do a little research before you call/email us to inquire about sponsorship.”
  • “I can’t tell you how many resumes we receive that don’t have the rider’s address, telephone number and/or email address.  We were willing to sponsor the rider, but we weren’t able to communicate to the rider that he was accepted. Always - MAKE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION!”
  • “Do not put every race results you have ever entered, that’s my biggest pet peeve.”
  • “Excuses, and listing poor results.”
  • “DON’T submit a resume asking for support when in truth you don’t race any events! That’s the best way to earn a bad reputation in the industry. We require our riders to submit their results quarterly. If you are unable to race your series, you MUST notify your sponsor!”

Want to absolutely ensure you don’t get any support? You can follow in the footsteps of riders in front of you.

  • “Racers who give sponsors the line, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ That’s the fastest way to get on the bad side of a potential sponsor.”
  • “We got a ‘resume’ hand-written by a six-year-old. While I am sure the parents thought it was cute, it was essentially useless.”
  • “Resumes on napkins, resumes with someone else’s results and pictures.” 
  • “I had a nice lengthy communication with B class rider who got upset because his friend who was not winning races was getting the same sponsorship offer. He was not asking for a better offer but rather complaining about his buddy. We had to give him a quick Marketing 411 crash-course.”

How can you make yourself stand out from the crowd in a positive way? Our panel had some suggestions.

  • “Just be honest on your resume and let things unfold the way they're meant to be. Most of the rider support coordinators have a lot of knowledge when it comes to results and big events so you will get busted if you try to B.S. your way through the resume.”
  • “It is just like a job application, treat it as such.”
  • “Racer support is a give-and-take relationship.  The more you represent your sponsors in a positive light, the more benefits you’ll receive in the long-run.  Don’t expect to take and not give back in return.  This is a small industry and reports of bad sponsorship representation spread fast.”
  • “Look for the race support staff from companies that you are interested in when you attend major events.  Walk up and introduce yourself and make a good impression on them.  That way, when they are sorting through the thousands of resumes they receive at the end of the year, you will have a much better chance of being remembered.  Also, send your sponsors updates on your race results on at least a monthly basis so they know you are working hard and representing their brand at the races.”
  • “It’s always good to throw in a little extra bonus and tell the company what good results you have had using their product. Another good one is when people send in photos and they already have your product on the bike. Brownie Points!”
  • “Explain what you can do for your sponsors as far as exposure at the tracks, more and more people ask for small banners. Be loyal. Stay with your sponsors if they take good care of you. Changing gear sponsors every year is not a good statement.”
  • “Winning races and state or regional championships help, but winning is not everything. Brand's exposure counts more. I prefer a bottom 20 rider with our logo on the bike and helmet than a class winner with no return.”

That’s it. Hopefully you picked up some tips that will help you understand what sponsors are looking for, what your responsibilities as a sponsored rider are, and you can go out and score some deals for next year.

Create New Tag
1 comment
Show More Comment(s) / Leave a Comment