~ just GO for it! ~

Marketing Motorsports Sponsorship with Voice Mail and E-Mail
By Charlie Hayes

To sell sponsorship for your car or team, there is one thing you must get really good at: Communication. And communicating today is largely done via e-mail and voice mail.

Being good at voice mail is, as with most things worth pursuing, largely a matter of practice, practice, practice - and ultimately, learning primarily by DOING it. Practice with friends' answering machines, a tape machine. Make calls to prospects you doubt would be interested in your program, just for the sake of practice where you have nothing "at stake" other than learning.

I've created some informal statistics on our own sponsor search voice mail communication results, which you may find interesting:

1. Out of every ten first calls to corporate marketers, we end up on voice mail about 80% of the time. Conclusion: Like it or not, you need to learn how to deal with it, since 80% of your prospects USE it!

2. Out of those messages, about 25% return my message after one call. An additional 25% respond after a second or third message. And about half do not respond. Conclusion: Voice mail is THE accepted and preferred method of communicating for the Fortune 1000, as well as most small businesses (including ours, I might add.) And, if you will learn it, and practice to get good at it, you can produce perfectly acceptable results - by which I mean you will get to speak to about half the people you want to reach.

The caveat is, of course, you do need to get good at it. Yes, it is work. But how badly do you want to get a sponsor? Remember too that it is all-important to create a message the listener on the other end cares enough about to respond to. In essence, if you leave a message saying, "I have a neat race car, I'll bet you'd love to sponsor it" will get you about 1 response per 100,000 calls!

What about e-mail?

E-mail generally is used to affirm or reinforce actual live conversations. Rarely is a deal DONE with e-mail … but it can be a useful tool and most people have it and use it as an additional tool for communicating. Mind you, e-mail can never replace a voice on the phone, just as a voice on the phone can never replace a face to face meeting. But it can LEAD to the voice on the voice mail, then to the voice in real time, then to the face to face.

Just remember that you are always addressing THEIR needs and concerns. How can you help them sell their product or service? Always be answering that question when you write or call!

So, how do I reach the decision-maker on the telephone?

The answer is partially above in dealing with voice mail. But before you can be effective in getting your message heard you DO need to know to whom to direct it. How do you find out?

This is one of the most complex questions in the game, because the right person will vary widely, in terms of their title or job description, from firm to firm. The easiest way to at least get a LIKELY "Right Gal or Guy" is to call the company reception desk and ask, "Who in your company is responsible for sports or event marketing, or promotions like that?" Then you will probably get steered to the correct person, but not always. It takes some skill and experience to delve more deeply into the company's structure by phone, and it can certainly be done, but I don't have the room here to detail the kinds of sophisticated tools we are talking about. I CAN offer you one more tip on the subject, though: Ask the person at some point in the conversation if there is anyone else "you would need me to speak with about this project, or is the decision yours alone?" Listen carefully to the answer, and design your future actions accordingly!

Marketing Motorsports truly is a science and requires self-discipline, training and practice. But that said, if I have one "Mega-Tip" it is this: Go for it. Just get after it anyway. Don't try to have all the answers before giving it a shot. You will find that the more you do it the better you get, provided you have good guidance from people who know how the game works: I can't say this often enough:

NEVER stop learning. Take seminars, get the books, do the coaching programs, get the right materials. Importantly, try to work with ONE strategy and don't "mix and match." Do what works!

Some of this material can also be found in the book “Get Sponsored” by Charlie Hayes

For more on this and other Sponsorship Marketing issues go to … Where Former driver Charlie Hayes offers Sponsorship Marketing Help for Racers