Mr. Sponsorship

Photo by: yoko12

Mr. Sponsorship
By Milt Gedo (c)

Lessons from Elves

This month you’ll see that marketing lessons can be learned from almost anybody… even Christmas elves! As sponsored or sponsor-seeking racers, we need to be aware of changing trends in marketing and we need to “see what works and apply it, and see what doesn’t work and avoid it.” Following is what we can learn from elves:

Do you remember a website last Christmas season that featured dancing elves, and presented the visitor the opportunity to paste a photo of themselves (or a friend, family member, boss, etc) on an elf as it danced around the computer screen to some hip music? The website was called “elf-yourself”, and here’s the first lesson to learn: Which company offered this website? Give yourself a few minutes to think about it, then read on to reveal the answer.

Some say the “elf-yourself” promotion was a success, with 26.4 million people visiting the site, or nearly one in 10 Americans. Visitors to the site increased 99% in October, 89% in November and 29% in December. In November/December their market share of internet users grew 508%, and by December it ranked No. 55 among all websites. A successful promotion, wouldn’t you say? YES… very successful… if your goal is to drive visitors to a website. So, do you know which company offered this website yet? Let me help you by making it multiple choice: Was it A) Office Depot, B) Office Max, or C) Staples?

Critics of this promotion say that while internet traffic was high, it didn’t lead to actual sales. Yes, the elves are cute and funny but they don’t relate to the brand, and the website didn’t list any product specials or sales events, or even a Christmas product “wishlist”. So what was the point of the website? Interestingly, the senior VP of marketing/advertising for the company stated, “We weren’t looking for sales. We were looking to build the brand, warm up our image.” Of the three choices listed previously, this company is running in third place behind the other two competitors… is that a coincidence?

So what lessons can sponsored and sponsor-seeking racers learn from these Christmas elves? I think the first lesson is: Find out what your sponsor (or prospective sponsor) is looking to get from a sponsorship. As we learned from the elves, not every company is looking to increase sales… some are looking to reach other goals, such as building the brand and/or warming/changing their image. What if you present a proposal to a company based on increased sales, but that’s not their primary objective? As I always preach, find out what your sponsor wants, and then give it to them!

Another lesson we can learn is that every action should be analyzed for effectiveness. For example, many racers offer as an “action” to a prospective sponsor a link from their team website to the sponsor’s website. This action might be very valuable to a company that does a lot of sales via the internet, but almost worthless to a company who doesn’t market online. Also, before we offer any actions to a sponsor, we need to analyze it to make sure it will achieve whatever goals the sponsor is trying to reach.

Thirdly, we should realize that even the best intentioned promotions can sometimes fail. In the “elf-yourself” promotion, although it may have helped warm up the company image, ultimately it didn’t increase sales during the busiest shopping period of the year… the Christmas season!

I encourage all sponsored racers to analyze the promotions and programs you have in place for your sponsors and be sure they’re meeting expectations and goals. For sponsor-seeking racers, evaluate your current proposal and your list of actions and be sure you have the ammunition available to GIVE THE SPONSOR WHAT THEY WANT!

Oh by the way, in case you couldn’t remember (or simply didn’t know), the company who offered the “elf-yourself” website was Office Max. If you were one of the 26.4 million people who “elfed-yourself” last year, yet couldn’t recall which company offered the website, perhaps that’s another lesson to be learned from elves… think about it!

Milt Gedo has been involved in motorsports marketing for over 12 years and helps sportsman racers acquire sponsorship through seminars and personal coaching. As an NHRA racer, Milt has a unique perspective on the struggle most Sportsman racers face in their quest for sponsorship. Milt is a full-time racer with sponsors such as KD Kanopy, American Racing Wheels, Goodyear and others. You can reach Milt at 775-727-4955 or cresptmktg@aol.com. For more information about Milt’s acclaimed sponsorship seminar, go to www.sponsorship-101.com. For his ebook, go to www.RacingSecrets.com