TAKE CARE OF THE PEOPLE WHO TAKE CARE OF YOU
Every kid in the world wants to know how to land that big sponsorship. They spend a lot of time thinking about what a sponsor can do for them. It helps if you turn it around. Think about what you can do for a sponsor.
At the local level there are sponsorships to be had. Don’t count on finding one shop that will buy you bikes and pay all your bills–that might come later. For now, try to think about piecing together small sponsorships to defer the cost of racing. If you can get different companies to supply you with gear, air filters, goggles, brakes and maybe even gasoline, you will be ahead of the game .
- Be organized and reliable. If you want to be treated like a pro, act like a pro. Send a letter and resume to a potential sponsor just as if you were looking for a job. Keep the letter short; no one has time to read page after page of clippings and boasts. Make a follow-up call a few days later.
- Convince a sponsor that you can help them. People in business are smart. They know that if you can sell yourself as a rider, you might also be able to sell products. If you land a sponsor, earn your keep. Ask yourself how many brake pads (or whatever) you have sold for the sponsor. If you haven’t influenced anyone, then try harder.
- Use what works. All too often, riders start bolting on products just because they were free. Free products are no bargain if they don’t work. If there is a problem with a product, help the company make it better. Test it objectively and offer feedback. Don’t just complain; be useful.
- Use what you take. It is dishonest to accept sponsorship for products you don’t use. This happens all the time. You see the sticker on the fender, but the part on the bike is something else entirely. Don’t do it, even if someone is offering contingency money. It will catch up to you. • Wear those stickers. Let people know who helps you. Have the stickers displayed so they can be seen. Replace the stickers as soon as they start looking bad.
- Be open. Don’t hide in your truck at the race. For one thing, you need to be out talking to fans and selling products. For another, you meet most potential sponsors at the racetrack. Make connections, remember names and smile. A good, friendly attitude goes a long way.
- Be aware of the press. At most local racetracks, there is a Cycle News reporter. Get to know him. Be sure he knows who your sponsors are. Make his job easier and you will get more attention in the press.
- Communicate with your sponsors. If a company sends you a set of handlebars and then never hears from you, it probably won’t send a second set. After every race, send out a brief report to the people who help you. Tell them how you did, how many people were at the race and how their product worked. If you do this faithfully, they will remember you next time around.
- Don’t burn bridges. It’s a small industry. Keep your word, even if it costs you money in the short run. All too often, riders switch sponsors in the middle of a season without so much as a phone call. Eventually, they run out of sponsors to burn.