It's that time of the year; track season is wrapping up and we (along with many other motorcycle companies) are beginning the process of selecting the people who will represent our brand next year. If you're reading this you know that means a sponsorship opportunity! Now... how does one go about obtaining one of those sweet, sweet sponsorships?
How it started vs. How it's going
From the standpoint of a business owner in the business of outfitting racers, the process of selecting riders is a little bit more difficult than it used to be. Before social media and live streaming on-demand events, the formula was simple: "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday"! What that meant was we wanted to select the fastest person possible in hopes that they'd get on a podium and therefore on a TV screen or magazine page somewhere. We'd run an ad in said magazine or put a commercial on the race program to piggyback that success, then wait for the phone to ring.
Today we don't have to wait for races to be broadcast, nor do we need to wait for results and photos and ads to be printed in magazines weeks after the fact. We are blessed with instant gratification via streaming races, on-demand content and hundreds of social media updates across numerous different platforms. This extends beyond racing and bleeds into trackdays, even street rides. Facebook pages focused on trackdays and street rides and YouTube channels with instructional videos produce recognizable personalities whom others begin to recognize, but also individual or sporadic posts or videos which might que the interest of others in the community. With this in mind, we can recognize that there is less of a need for recruiting only the fastest racers in the top tiers of motorsport.
Last season we did something unprecedented and offered a number of sponsorships to trackday riders. This surprised some self-proclaimed fast racer dudes who proceeded to put the trackday riders down by telling them they weren't worthy of sponsorships, and poking fun of Bison for offering them in the first place. Here's the deal: I'd rather offer a sponsorship to a good person with an active, positive social media presence than I would a fast racer with a bad attitude.
My point here is not to discount the importance of bringing aboard good, fast, high-profile racers. Rather, I'm trying to emphasize that anyone with a motorcycle and a social media presence can be marketable. After all, the odds are if you're reading this you fall closer to the club racer/trackday rider niche than MotoAmerica/WSBK racer. Am I right? You're looking for any bit of help possible, from brakes and oil to helmet and leathers. The good news for you is, not only do I understand - I live this on both sides of the equation! I still scrape together funds for trackdays and races, and I'm always looking for a sponsorship here or there to meet my budget for the next event... yet I'll spend the month of November locked away reviewing potentially hundreds of Bison sponsorship apps. I'm going to tell you how I personally select my favorites from the pile!
Knowing now that we may have hundreds of apps to rifle through when selection time comes, you're probably wondering how to make the biggest impact possible with your submission. The first thing to consider is the length of your presentation/resume/pitch. As you can imagine, we don't want (or need) a novel. Most companies would echo that sentiment and tell you it's far more important to just get to the point: What are you going to bring to the table for us? After all, even a discount rate sponsorship is an investment on the company's part and we want to know what to expect as a return.
I prefer a single page presentation or resume with a photo or two, a list of prior accomplishments and plans for the upcoming season. We do like to see a quick paragraph about you and why you think you'd be a great ambassador for the Bison Track brand. Lastly - and this is one many people seem to discount - there is something to be said for prior brand loyalty! If you're an existing Bison customer you're already on our short list, bonus points if you've made Bison posts on social media or referred folks to us. It always amazes me how many people write us and essentially say "I've never bought anything from you but I'd love to rock some free stuff"! As you can imagine, that's a tough sell. That's not to say we haven't selected new clients as sponsored riders, but again the pitch and proposed return better be pretty strong.
Just this morning someone messaged me on Facebook and asked what format I'd prefer to see a resume in; print, a digital page, or a nice rider website? I had to give that a thought. Print is my least favorite media, as it just gets shuffled around and takes up space. A slick digital page is fine (and can be printed as needed), but a complete webpage with navigation can be accessed from anywhere using a web browser. Most importantly a webpage is impactful not only to potential sponsors but also fans who might be Googling you up, and the information is always real-time (assuming you're updating it appropriately). That comes back to selling yourself as a brand and demonstrating an easy way to show potential exposure and therefore, return on investment. If your page has been up for some time, be sure to include visitor information and other pertinent stats. If your site is new, be sure to tell us your plans for driving traffic next year. The unique part about this format thing is everyone has their own preference, so having a digital (printable) page or pamphlet listed on a functioning website is certainly the best possible scenario.
Maybe now you're freaking out a little. "I don't have a digital page created, let alone a website!" Maybe you don't even have a rider resume prepared! Listen, it's all good. I would say the higher your aspirations for racing and investment from us, the more content and stats you should be sending. If you're a trackday rider or fledgling club racer, simply filling out the Bison sponsorship app and adding a photo or two is just fine. Shiny, slick forms and websites are great for the pros but we're really just looking for you to tell us what unique qualities you bring to the table.
The most important thing of all: Just be yourself! If you're a fast racer who's on the podium every weekend, definitely include those stats but remember, we're looking for as much positive (keyword) exposure as possible here. So, maybe winning club races isn't where you bring the most value. What does your social media look like? Do you have a dedicated, active racer page on Facebook? Maybe a YouTube channel? Are you a rider coach or mentor? All of these are examples of ways you can bring exposure to our brand without standing on a podium, and in many ways they are more valuable than being fast.
Getting the ball rolling
So how do you apply for a Bison sponsorship? Well we've made things as simple as possible by providing that outlined sponsorship application (available during our sponsorship application window of October 1-Oct. 31). You can also upload photos and a rider resume via that link. As always you can email or call us with any questions during the process.
Hopefully this blog helps quell any anxiety you had about applying with Bison Track. Just a quick disclaimer here, this blog was written strictly from my own personal perspective and may not reflect the thoughts of others in the industry. What works when applying with one company may not work at all with another! Remember it's a little bit of a numbers game - the more companies you contact the more opportunities you'll find. Apply to all you can... unless we're talking about riding gear. In that case you should definitely be putting all your eggs in the Bison basket!