A Call To Action

Mr. Sponsorship
By Milt Gedo (c)

A Call to Action

As I’ve mentioned before, I often find inspiration for my columns from a variety of sources, and sometimes from an unexpected source. Such is the case for this month’s column.

I was recently reading a book about former U.S. President Reagan. The book discussed many of the qualities he possessed which enabled him to be an effective leader. One of these qualities is described as "a bias towards action". After some careful contemplation, I realized this is an action that all sponsor-seeking racers should try to cultivate. Let me explain:

First, let’s define “a bias towards action”, by demonstrating how Ronald Reagan used it. In an example from the book, when Reagan received a call in the middle of the night regarding the crisis in Grenada, it only took him a few moments of thought before he ordered the U.S. military to invade the small island to restore order. Reagan knew there were Soviet-backed Cuban troops in Grenada, and the invasion would probably add to the already tense U.S.-Soviet relations, but he ordered the invasion anyway. Reagan didn’t postpone taking action to schedule a cabinet meeting, to meet with allies, or to plead his case to the U.N. He knew what had to be done, and he got it done. In its simplest terms, “a bias towards action” is this: Know what needs to be done, and then do it.

Let me share with you a phenomena I’ve witnessed a lot, and have even been guilty of myself. I call it the “working hard at nothing” syndrome… let’s see if you’re suffering from it too. Many racers, when they decide to get serious about sponsorship, will start “working” towards finding a sponsor. They come up with a catchy name for their race team/business. They draw up a cool logo. They have business cards and letterhead printed. They get a dedicated phone or phone line to handle calls from potential sponsors. They develop a website. They create a list of potential sponsors, that is, companies they feel might be a good fit for motorsports marketing. They spend endless hours online and at the library doing research on these companies, getting contact names and mailing addresses and phone numbers. They create a professional proposal, complete with full-color pages and charts and graphs. Somewhere along the way, they realize that sooner or later, they will HAVE to make initial contact with the potential sponsors on their list. But the thought of actually picking up the phone and calling someone they’ve never met, in order to initiate a conversation about sponsorship, terrifies them (as it would most people). So, instead they go back to the library to do more “research”. They work on their proposal again, to get it “just right”. They draw sketches of what their race car will look like with a sponsor’s logo on it, etc., etc., etc.

Do you see what is happening in this scenario? Often racers avoid the difficult part of finding a sponsor, i.e. making the phone calls, by working on something else. This is what I call “working hard at nothing.” As a racer you feel better, because you ARE working on finding a sponsor, right? But the truth is, while all the other work you’ve done is important, NONE OF IT MATTERS IF YOU’RE NOT WILLING TO MAKE THE PHONE CALLS. You can have the best, most deluxe, leather-bound, full-color, gold-leaf professional proposal out there… but if you can’t get your prospective sponsor’s marketing person to agree to read it, you’re wasting your time AND money.

This is where a “bias towards action” is helpful. Instead of putting off making the phone calls under the guise of “working on something else”, take a deep breath, pick up the phone and dial the number. And if that first call doesn’t go as smoothly as you’d like, learn from the experience, adjust your approach, take a deep breath, pick up the phone, and call the next prospect on your list. Even if you make 99 unsuccessful phone calls, the 100th call might be the one that gets you a sponsor. The important thing is that you pick up the phone and make the calls. Don’t avoid it by pretending to work on something else… no matter how “useful” it makes you feel.

As a friend of mine used to say, “If you have to swallow a frog, don’t look at it too long.” 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.