Securing race sponsorships is an important step in race planning: they give your race extra exposure and are a huge help in balancing out costs. While we’ve previously shared “8 Ways to Attract Race Sponsors like Moths to a Flame”, it’s important to understand the ‘what’, ‘why’, and ‘who’ of race sponsorships before diving into the ‘how’. So, race directors, read along for your step-by-step introduction to sponsorships.
What Do You Want?
The first step to securing race sponsorships is to understand exactly what you want to get out of it. There are many different types of sponsorships depending on what you need for your race. Do you need prizes? Media coverage? Credibility? Perhaps you need someone to provide food and beverages or maybe you’re just looking for straight, cold-hard cash.
Of course, it would be nice to find a race sponsor that would provide all these things, but it’s simply not realistic. During your race planning, take a good look at your resources to see what you really need the most. This will affect the companies you reach out to as well as how you present your race to them.
What Do They Want?
This is just as important as what YOU want! Race sponsorships are a two-way street. So ask yourself: what can you offer in return? Depending on the company and their own goals, they may be looking to grow brand awareness, stimulate sales, or bolster community relations. Chances are you won’t know what a company is looking for until you talk to them, but decide what you are willing to offer (logos on race shirts? a booth at the end?) and what you are willing to negotiate before beginning the conversation.
Why Should They Care?
Now that you know what you want and what you’re willing to offer in exchange, prepare to sell it. Sure, you might be able to snag a sponsor with a steal-of-a-deal sponsorship package, but you’ll have to sell them on your race first. Come up with what business folk like to call an “elevator pitch”. It’s nicknamed for its brevity and clarity: you should be able to recite it in the time it takes to go up a few floors and it should be easily understood by anyone who hears it.
In no more than 30 seconds (the shorter the better!), explain who you are and what your event is, what makes your event different, and why they would want to be a part of it. Take our made-up fun run, for example: “The 4th Annual Ma’ & Paws 5K will be held in Townsville on March 13. The Ma’ & Paws 5K is a 5k run/walk for women and their furry friends. The race raises money for local animal and women’s shelters and about 3,000 women participate each year (many of them with their dogs).”
In just three sentences, anyone listening now knows what, when, and where your event is as well as why they should get involved: it supports charity and offers direct exposure to 3,000 local women! This elevator pitch can come in handy in other aspects of your race planning as well. Use it to sum up your event to the press, participants, and permit and policy makers.
Who Will You Target?
Now think about what kind of companies would be a good fit for your race and desired sponsorship type. You can start by exploring your colleagues’ connections. We recommend staying away from the large national brands as these companies receive sponsorship requests on the regular and are unlikely to notice you unless your event is nationally known as well.
It’s not all bad news though! Small companies crave exposure, local companies love to get involved with the community, and both can provide just as much value as the big wigs! Look into local running and fitness companies; they love to sponsor events as your participants are usually right up their alley. If your race supports a charity, look for organizations that are involved with similar causes. And, of course, don’t forget that individuals can be sponsors, too!
Who’s In Charge?
This question applies to your team as well as the potential sponsor. It’s important to keep sponsors happy and coming back year after year, so set a team member in charge of sponsor relations. When it comes to soliciting sponsors, have them thoroughly research the company to find the proper contact and get a feel for the company’s vibe. Are they laidback or super serious? This will help you cater your tone and customize your pitch to really connect with the company.
Start with a personal phone call and, if at first you don’t succeed, follow up, follow up, follow up! You’ll want to search for sponsors early in your race planning: reach out at least six months in advance so that they have time to plan their budget and you can book them before anyone else does!
Once you know exactly what you want to accomplish and who you want to accomplish it with, check out our blog “8 Ways to Attract Race Sponsors like Moths to a Flame” for your next steps! After securing a few sponsors, check out our blog on how to keep the relationship alive.
Now go get ‘em!
Need help with more than just sponsors? Download our guide on how to plan a 5K race here.
To learn more about ChronoTrack, contact us.