NZ Performance Car - - Editorial - Mar­cus Gib­son

Any­one and ev­ery­one loves free stuff; it’s that feel­ing we all got as a kid at Christ­mas, de­mol­ish­ing that pile of presents sit­ting un­der the tree. We are trained to love it from birth, but many fool­ishly seem to think that build­ing a race car au­to­mat­i­cally means the gravy train will un­load on their head. It’s the ul­ti­mate dream, right? Be­ing handed co­pi­ous amounts of money and/or free parts in re­turn for a sticker on your door. Well, that sort of ar­range­ment might have worked in the 1930s, but in th­ese modern times, when peo­ple are hounded by ad­ver­tis­ing 24/7, spon­sor­ship is no longer that sim­ple, and new rac­ers need to un­der­stand that it’s not about their pas­sion as much as it is about busi­ness. NZPC is of­ten in­un­dated by peo­ple ask­ing for spon­sor­ship or the names of com­pa­nies look­ing for drivers, and, 99 per cent of the time, the per­son ask­ing has no pub­lic pro­file, no re­sults, and maybe hasn’t even driven their un­fin­ished project.

I’m not here to beat down on any­one try­ing to make their dreams come true, but I re­ally would like those bud­ding drivers to take a step back, and, if they’re se­ri­ous about do­ing it, do it the right way.

Spon­sor­ship is sim­ply a form of ad­ver­tis­ing, so, un­less it’s your Un­cle Bob’s small busi­ness and he is help­ing you out with some half-priced tyres and not ex­pect­ing a lot in re­turn, you must think of your­self as an ad­ver­tis­ing out­let — just like TV, this magazine, Face­book, or one of the hun­dred other forms you’re com­pet­ing with. You must be able to show an ‘ROI’ (re­turn on in­vest­ment) and, if you can’t, don’t waste your time or that of the com­pany’s. It’s easy to have a Face­book page, an In­sta­gram ac­count, go on Snapchat or Twit­ter, but truly mas­ter­ing th­ese so­cial­me­dia plat­forms takes a lot of work, and if you’re not do­ing at least those ba­sics, don’t ex­pect to get very far.

Some peo­ple will read this and think I’m harsh, but it’s the re­al­ity — spon­sor­ship is not a gravy train, and it never will be. Those peo­ple I know who have suc­cess­fully built brand part­ner­ships work ex­tremely hard to main­tain them. If you just want to go rac­ing on the week­ends and noth­ing else, the pro­fes­sional side of mo­tor sport is not for you. But hey, all is not lost — if your dream is to be the next ‘Mad Mike’ Whid­dett, Shane Van Gis­ber­gen, or Hay­den Pad­don, there are plenty of free on­line cour­ses that will teach you the ba­sics of how to put to­gether a pro­posal and a mo­tor sport pro­gramme. If you’re tak­ing the time to ask for ‘free money’, the least you should do is check out th­ese tu­to­ri­als, or pay a pro to man­age your spon­sor­ship.

Start by fin­ish­ing your car, then build your­self a pub­lic pro­file. Do at least a sea­son of rac­ing to get a name for your­self, some re­sults (hope­fully), and an idea of ex­actly what you ac­tu­ally need from spon­sors. What does your fuel cost for a sea­son? What does your ac­com­mo­da­tion cost for a sea­son? What con­tin­gen­cies are in place if you blow up four mo­tors that sea­son and write the car off half­way through? Th­ese are all ques­tions you need an­swers to. Fir­ing off a half-baked pro­posal ask­ing a big multi­na­tional for mas­sive amounts of money will not get you any­where. Start small and work your way up. It’s cer­tainly not im­pos­si­ble to achieve, but, by the same to­ken, it’s cer­tainly not for ev­ery­one.

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