am constantly confronted by sledders about getting sponsored, not by
me, but by anyone. “How do I get sponsored?” they ask.
of the amateur, as well as professional, racers I came to know during
my career as a racer were very consumed with asking for sponsorships,
but they did nothing to maintain the relationship with the sponsor.
The typical attitude was, “Wow, I got a free belt so now what do I
sponsors is one thing and taking care of them is totally another. It
is a two-way street. Being sponsored is more than just saying thanks
and plastering a logo sticker on your sled. And with the downturn in
the economy, suppliers have tightened their budgets. Available
sponsorships are fewer and harder to come by, which is all the more
reason to take better care of your sponsor.
years ago I had the opportunity to attend, through a mutual sponsor,
a seminar on attracting and maintaining sponsorships. This seminar
was conducted by Kenny Bernstein, who is known in NHRA as having the
longest-standing sponsorship in drag racing with Budweiser and in all
of motorsports second only to Richard Petty with STP. He did not
disclose the dollar amount of his sponsorship; however, it was a very
large amount and most likely exceeded $15 million a year.
went into great detail about maintaining his relationship with
Budweiser. His team would fax race results (we weren’t up to speed
with e-mail then) each week on Monday morning. This was done whether
they finished well or not. It was simply a general report of the race
results. Each day they would fax a progress report as they prepared
for the next race. They also included information on events and
activities that promoted their sponsor.
is just a short tidbit of what the seminar included, so what did I
come away with? It has to be profitable for the sponsor to support my
racing habit. I started to understand that if I received a dollar
amount in cash or product then I was obligated to increase the
sponsors’ product sales by at least that amount for him to break
even and if I wanted to maintain that relationship then I should
probably increase his sales exponentially.
I have a number of sponsors whose product I promote on a daily basis,
from snowmobiles (that would be Arctic Cat … shameless plug) to
riding gear, performance products and even non-industry sponsors such
as Ford trucks, who sponsor me through a local dealer, Willey Ford in
other things, I do appearances at open houses and other events as
well as promote product at trade shows. I also promote product during
seminar presentations, during my riding clinics and also through the
video series Schooled.
I also use YouTube, Facebook and other social media sites as well as
any kind of media that I can take advantage of. I serve as a
spokesperson for many of my sponsors. For industry sponsors I also
provide feedback on product performance and durability, even design
in some cases. My trailers are mobile billboards that are on the road
50,000 miles a year.
Essentially I have
become a marketing company and my sponsors get a very good bang for
their buck. Now, this just doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve spent a
lifetime getting to this point and for a young racer starting out it
will be a long and tough road. It’s about dedication and being
committed to taking care of the sponsors. When representing a sponsor
and whenever in a public setting you need to always conduct yourself
in a professional manner, dress appropriately and use good language.
If this seems like too much responsibility then maybe you are not cut
out to be sponsored. It doesn’t hurt to shake a few babies and kiss
some hands … or is it shake hands and kiss babies? I know you need
to kiss something.
as well list some of my sponsors while I am at this: Boondocker
turbos and fuel systems; FXR Mountain (best riding gear on the
planet); of course Arctic Cat snowmobiles, my ProClimb M800 rips; EZ
Ryde suspension; RCS titanium springs for suspension and clutches;
HMK boots, the Boa Focus laces have become what every boot wants, but
can’t have; EVS protective gear for knee braces and chest
protector; Klim helmets, the F4 ventilation is insane; Boss seats,
what everyone else wants to be, the standard in the industry; 509
goggles, I can see the world through these; Arctic FX graphics, they
keep me looking good; Starting Line Products, their Powder Pro skis
turn now; Toy Skinz wrapping my trailer, can't miss that billboard;
Ford trucks, lovin’ that new 6.7 liter diesel.