How to Get Sponsorship for Your Next Car Build: SPONSOR ME! Please!

Dear Sponsor Man,
Can you sponsor me? You have to sponsor me because my car always gets 100 likes on social media. I will put your sticker on my car and get you 1,000 more fans all wanting your stuff, all you have to do is give me some free products.
Thanks,
Hopeless Tuner

Dear Sponsor Man,
I e-mailed you yesterday but did not get anything back. Don’t sleep on me, I have the car the will make you guys famous. You just need to send me free products.
Thanks,
Hopeless Tuner

Dear Sponsor Man,
I would hate for u to miss out on this chance just because you guys are so slow to response to e-mails. I thought you were better than Company X. Don’t be like them and sponsor me already.
Thanks,
Hopeless Tuner

Dear Hopeless Tuner,
Thank you for reaching out to us about sponsorship opportunities. Please complete the sponsorship application on our homepage and we will review your vehicle.
Best regards,
Sponsor Man

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It can be challenging building a project car, whether you’re a professional motorsports driver or weekend enthusiast—and honestly, it can be very expensive. One way to alleviate this stress is to look for sponsorship, but don’t think it comes any easier. The process of acquiring sponsors requires you to be professional and respectful, no matter how good you are at networking and selling yourself.

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A sponsorship occurs when a manufacturer agrees to give you parts when they believe you can successfully help market and advertise their brand, whether it be through displaying at car shows, magazine features, worth of mouth (like social media) or by posting on forums. If you’ve come here to find shortcuts on how to get companies to give you freebies, then look elsewhere; you’ve come to the wrong place.

You need to understand that this game is 50 percent luck and 110 percent hard work; however, we do have some tips that will hopefully help teach what you need to know in order to be sponsored:

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1. Network.

The best way to land a sponsorship is to network, network and network some more. In case you missed that: network! This is essential in any industry because industry people talk, and they all know each other.

2. Be Patient.

Take your time developing these relationships, much like you would a significant other. It’s not something that happens overnight; this lifestyle, if you’re serious about it, requires dedication. Impressing one company can potentially open many more doors down the road; conversely, burn one bridge and you risk losing out on any opportunities. Don’t force your way in; instead, be friendly and respectful because you never know who you’ll meet or where things may lead.

3. Form Genuine Relationships.

With that being said, it’s good to make a few friends before even thinking a sponsorship is a done deal. Being serious means you’re in this for the long haul, and friends are always helpful when the going gets tough.

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4. Be Professional.

When it comes down to it, be ready to talk business. Know when to draw the line between friendship and professionalism; regardless of your connection, companies need to justify why they should be sponsoring you. Rocking stickers isn’t a good enough reason.

5. Treat It Like a Job Application.

Look at presenting a sponsorship proposal just like a job resumé; sell yourself, make them say “yes"! Understand that they see hundreds of proposals (if not more), and yours needs to stand out over everyone else’s. Keep it short, avoid a novel and highlight what you alone can offer—a little bit about yourself, your car’s spec sheet, any awards and media exposure you can get—make them want you! Know which parts you’re interested in and explain how they’ll benefit by helping you.

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6. Show Them You're Serious.

A good proposal doesn’t just say what you’ve done but will also mention more specific, direct benefits to be gained. Remember what we said earlier about being serious? Spend a little money on using premium copy paper to print your proposalmaybe even have it bound while you’re at it. If you’re providing photos (which we highly recommend), make sure they’re in color. Making it as visually appealing as it is factually appealing.

7. Be Gracious and Respectful.

Don’t forget to include your contact info so they’re able to contact you, and if they do, be gracious for the time they’re giving you; this is also one of those instances where it’s good to understand the concept of “don’t contact us, we’ll contact you”.

Networking with industry professionals is key. Foster these relationships well and you can make good friendships in the process.

Ultimately, you will probably hear “no” a lot (if you even get a response); don’t let that discourage you. Where one company might not be looking for the qualities you have, another might. Keep doing your research on other companies or ways you can improve upon yourself to make your pitch more desirable. In the end, if you want to get sponsored, don’t even think about getting sponsored. The most important thing is that you focus on building your car the way you want it. Your own uniqueness and dedication is what will be your key to attracting companies, not your ability to spam them. It may just be a personal superstition, but I believe you will never get what you want, especially if you’re trying to force it.

Helpful Sponsorship Tips From the Pros

Sponsorship is the name of the game, whether you’re a rookie, a veteran or an expert, and everyone has to play. The more you talk to people and learn how they got sponsored, the more you’ll see how much time, effort and luck was required to get where they are now. Use these varying perspectives as tools and tips to help you get to where you want to be.

To help you get to where you want to be, we asked several industry leaders for their advice on how to go about seeking sponsorships. This is what they had to say:

Robin Kum, The Rookie

"You’re fresh in the scene, desperate to get your foot in the door and have no idea what you’re doing. You can either gripe over others’ opportunities or work hard at making your ownthe choice is yours."

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What does having a sponsorship mean to you?

"Sponsorships are amazing opportunities that help you connect with the automotive industry. Sure the sponsored products are great, but there’s such a satisfying feeling when you are representing someone other than yourself. You feel like your part of the 'in' crowd and it’s addicting; it makes you even more willing to want to help them as much as they are helping you."

How do sponsorships help you accomplish your goals?

"In the short term, it helps you get products you otherwise might not be able to get and allows you to take your build to the next level. In the long run, it opens doors to attend events, shows or other sponsorship opportunities while at the same time learning more about the company, the car and/or the industry in general."

What are your DOs and DON'Ts of asking for sponsorships?

DO:

  • Research the company and products before reaching out to them
  • Be active in the car community
  • Be willing to promote the company
  • Be respectful
  • Be professional

DON'T:

  • Try to force a sponsorship
  • Expect freebies without anything in return
  • Think you are better than your sponsor

Neil Tjin, The Veteran

"You’re on a text message basis with your sponsors and you can quickly get what you need without too much explanation because you’ve already developed that trust, that anything you are working on is for something big."

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What does having a sponsorship mean to you?

"Sponsorships are a privilege and an honor because these companies trust us to not only represents their brand, but also to educate potential consumers about their products. It is important to always go above and beyond to make sure partners are represented professionally, but with grassroots promotion so that everyone can relate."

How do sponsorships help you accomplish your goals?

"Partnering with the companies will help bring credibility to your builds and your reputation. Both parts and monetary sponsorships can help financially with the overall build. Also, if you are working on a brand new car, it can lead to working with the company to produce new products."

What are your DOs and DON'Ts of asking for sponsorships?

DO:

  • Show that you care and know about their products
  • Send a full proposal with rendering, show schedule and media contacts
  • Show them that you will over deliver
  • Provide recaps, feedback or anything to show you are bring a brand ambassador
  • Be professional

DON'T:

  • Ask for free product
  • Use the word “sponsorship” like it means “free stuff”
  • E-mail or call without providing a proposal
  • Lie in your proposal
  • Sell or remove products before your agreement is fulfilled

Matt Powers, The Expert

"You’ve turned a passion into a career and have worked hard to improve your skills. Companies have taken notice to you and you’re paying your sponsorships with blood, sweat and gears."

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What does having a sponsorship mean to you?

"Sponsorships are basically a relationship between a driver, a car and/or a company. It's a trade of promotion and exposure on the car, driver and materials in exchange for product, money, promotion, etc. Basically, when you are sponsored, you are indebted to promote that company in a positive way through attending events and creating media that gets their brand and product exposure."

How do sponsorships help you accomplish your goals?

"Without sponsorship I would have never been able to do professional drifting in a serious manner. My sponsors have allowed me to get where I am today and to do what I have done with drifting. My car would be slow, I would be working on it myself and I wouldn't drive as much. My sponsors support me with product, money and opportunities, which allow me to have an awesome car I can compete with all over the world. It's pretty unfeasible to do this level of motorsports completely on your own dime.

"For example, most important of all sponsors arguably is a tire sponsor and without Nitto Tire, I would have to buy tires (a lottttt) and they probably wouldn't be very sticky. I would be poor and slow. Nobody wants that! Sponsorship helps a driver reach their potential too by opening doors and new relationships. My life is totally for the better because of all my sponsors and it's funny because I used to be scared of sponsorship!"

What are your DOs and DON'Ts of asking for sponsorships?

DO:

  • Keep your proposal as brief as possible
  • Mention how you can promote their brand and be valuable to them
  • List events you attend
  • Specify logo size and placement on the car and suit
  • Reference your other sponsors who will also promote you and give you a bigger reach
  • Include media projects that they can get value
  • List future plans, previous achievements
  • List what you want, why you need it and why you want to work with their brand

DON'T:

  • Be arrogant
  • Be closed minded
  • Be ungrateful
  • Say anything negative about other people and companies – the industry is really small

Harry Kong, Industry Professional

"Everyone wants to be your friend. Everyone wants free stuff. Your tough decision-making will help figure out who’s who."

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What does having a sponsorship mean to you?

"Sponsorships are a form of marketing in which a company offers a product in exchange for recognition. It’s a method to increase brand and product awareness to a target audience outside of traditional advertisement."

How do sponsorships help you accomplish your goals?

"It is a very effective marketing strategy that helps spread the word about the brand as well as the products to a target market. It can enhance the image of the brand while shaping purchasing decisions."

What are your DOs and DON'Ts of asking for sponsorships?

DO:

  • Research the brand and their products
  • Be specific in the type of sponsorship you are seeking
  • What you are “offering” back should always outweigh what you are asking for.
  • Check proposal for accuracy, spelling and grammar
  • Provide references
  • Keep a positive attitude
  • Be professional

DON'T:

  • Put false information or unrealistic goals
  • Talk negatively about other companies
  • Ask through social media
  • Assume companies have to sponsor you
  • Use the phrase “Can you sponsor me?”
  • Send multiple e-mails if you don’t get a response

 

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