(038) Fighting The Illusion of Sponsorship: Why My Autocross Sponsorship Program Is Going To Change The Entire Industry

Guys, I am totally blown away by the response I’ve received about the Racers HQ autocross Sponsorship Program.

If there’s one thing you should know about this website, it’s that I am all about giving value and helping people. I’ll go back to that at the end of this article.

As of right now, there is nothing to buy on my site. While that will likely change at some point in the future, the amount of incredibly valuable free content will always outweigh the paid stuff 20 to 1.

And when there is a paid product on my site, it’s value will absolutely blow your mind.

One of my favorite things people are always asking me is, “…what are you trying to sell?” I always have to laugh and reassure them that I am not out to squeeze pennies out of anyone. But that’s just what people are used to these days.

Unfortunately, it’s the same with most autocross sponsorship programs.

Remember, there are companies out there who want to help amateur racers. And they do. But I’m not going to lie, there aren’t many and they’re hard to find.

So is there any practical driver support out there? Yes and no.

There are a lot of companies offering sponsorships for discounts on their products (which they still make a profit on) to autocrossers.

Discounts are fine, but a lot of people are buying those products with the sole purpose of being “sponsored.” Are you really sponsored if you’re paying the company to have their logos on your car?

It seems to me that a lot of companies are taking advantage of the racer’s enthusiasm to form relationships with the hope of actual grassroots motorsport aid.

That’s not real driver support. 

Real driver support is getting money (or free products, or at least deals on products where the company has to absorb a loss) in return for advertising on your car. 

It’s no secret that companies will want to get maximum return from their advertising dollars.

In this case their advertising dollars are the money they give you, or the products they take a loss on to help your racing program.

The problem with autocross is that there are no people watching, because the sport is entirely about the participants.

That, of course, means that a company’s maximum return is likely to be very small.

 

So here’s what normally happens:

  1. A company realizes that there are few spectators in amateur racing.
  2. Rather than gamble on sponsoring a driver and hoping that traditional marketing pays off (logo on car, zero market targeting, essentially blasting everyone seeing it like a mailer ad), they create a fake autocross sponsorship program.
  3. To get “sponsored” the driver simply accepts small discounts on products from the company and plasters their logo all over his ride.
  4. The company makes money directly from the driver who eagerly buys their products at the company’s profit.
  5. The driver is happy because he thinks he’s receiving support. All because he saw that magical word: sponsorship.
  6. The company is happy because they did zero marketing and played on the “sponsored” driver’s dream of getting help doing what he loves.

The silly part is that companies that have nothing to do with motorsports are using this “sponsorship” strategy, and it works.

This is how websites like Hook-It thrive: the illusion of sponsorship. Getting people to buy products that have nothing to do with real driver support. 

Another great strategy that I see all the time? It’s classic. And it’s even more lousy, with zero effort on the part of the company. And it’s so simple.

Companies will create a team of support drivers that they’ll allow anyone to join.

They’ll tell you all about the different levels of support you can earn in the future, give you a few stickers, and say “let’s see how you do.”

Their intention is to give you hope about better support in the future, then step back and let you do their marketing.

It’s cheap, effective, and dirty.

You’ll hear lines like “you need more experience to get more support.” And “if you do well, you’ll move up and get more support.”

This kind of motorsport marketing truly breaks my heart.

It gives drivers false hope and shifts their focus from improving as a driver to pushing products – an effort that will get them nowhere in the end.

Now, let me explain the Racers HQ Sponsorship Program – and why it’s going to change the entire autocross industry.

Let me lay out a few basics.

  1. Blast marketing is becoming less and effective (TV ads, full page magazine ads, mailers, email blasts, etc) and is being slowly replaced by…
  2. Niche marketing. This strategy is simply reaching out to a very specific group of people. It’s the type of people you reach, not the quantity. Because…
  3. Reaching out to a niche reduces wasted effort advertising to people who don’t care about what you’re doing, and provides a higher conversion rate among people who actually do care.
  4. To most companies a conversion is someone who goes to their site and buys something.
  5. To me a conversion is someone who goes to my site and consumes information for free.

I am a huge proponent of grassroots motorsports.

I truly believe that if you love grassroots motorsports, it should be your full time job. And I’m not just saying that, I’m leading by example and doing it.

Within a couple years, running this site will be my entire life. For the past several months I have “worked” long into many nights, skipped countless social events, and pushed hard to create more and more valuable content (it doesn’t feel like work).

While the people in my life look at me and say “Coves, you need to to take a break,” I always say “You might need a break from your work, but I can’t wait to get back to mine.

I love Mondays. I don’t like watching TV. I don’t want to go on vacation. And I hate stopping for trivial things like grocery shopping, doing laundry, or eating.

I love every single moment of racing and running this website. 

All I want is for other people to feel the same way about their own endeavors.

That was the beginning of the Sponsorship Program. The thought of giving financial help to others trying to thrive in amateur racing still gives me goosebumps.

 

At this point I know what you’re thinking…

You’re thinking… “You can’t just give money away for nothing.”

Yep! You’re right!

Now that we’ve talked about what the program does for others, let me explain what the Sponsorship Program will do for me as a business owner.

“The point of the Sponsorship Program is to help grassroots racing drivers achieve success and to tell more people about the incredibly valuable free content on my website.”

There are a number of things the program will do on my end:

  1. If you’ve ever read Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow, you’ll know exactly what I’m about to share. In business, a Purple Cow is something that turns heads. It’s something that only you have that no other business can compete with. In my case, one of my Purple Cows is offering monetary support (in the range of $250-500) to my sponsored drivers. TRUST ME when I tell you this is turning heads. The response I’ve gotten so far has been unbelievable. I am the only company in amateur racing who is doing this.
  2. Since there is nothing to buy, the people who visit the site are often hooked immediately. Having sponsored drivers (with my website/logo on their cars) in different parts of the country is a fantastic way of increasing the exposure of my free resources.Once people are exposed to the site, the monetary sponsorhips often spread like wild fire. Who isn’t excited about being paid for something they love?
  3. By sponsoring drivers who are actively entering autocross races (rather than blasting Facebook ads or something similar) I am targeting a very specific niche. EVERYONE entering these events wants to do better. My website is automatically relevant and absurdly helpful to them, at no cost.
  4. Every successful company has a plan for making their business bigger (often called a marketing department). While most companies are content with spending advertising dollars on actual ads, I am excited to spend my marketing dollars on other drivers instead.

I want to build a tribe of drivers who love and use the website to become amazing.

And let me tell you something: it’s working.

“…I. Am. Blown. Away… This information is freee… Thank you Matt Covert…” – Tom, via Facebook

“The plethora of information is unbelievable and I’ve been reading nonstop since midnight. Thanks for all the info and tips! Keep up the phenomenal work!” – Kyle, via email

“Thank you so much for a great site! I wish I had access to something like your site when I was first getting started.” – Tact, via email

“I continually read posts from Ross Bentley and yourself to gather information.” – Jason, via email

“I appreciate what you are doing and I am glad we share some of the same principles. I hope I can help your cause if the opportunity presents itself.” – Oleksiy, via email

“I really like what you’re trying to promote on the website…It really means a lot to see that there are more ppl out there who want everyone else to go faster also.” – Daniel, via email

“Great article about choosing the best autocross car! It was just what I was looking for and you saved me tons of research and time.” – Denny, via email

“We appreciate what you are doing for the grassroots level and very much look forward to not only being part of the program, but ambassadors for the site.” – Jason, via email

Guys…I am just completely astounded by these quotes. Thank you all so much for the words of encouragement!

So there you have it.

This website is working. It’s all about giving absurd amounts of value for nothing.

Most  sponsorship programs are about helping the company. The Racers HQ program is about helping you.

And that is the entire point of the sponsorship program.

Now, I want you all to pay very close attention.

I predict that my sponsorship program is going to change the entire autocross industry.

Where one person finds success, others will follow.

You watch. Within five years from now (it’s currently April 2016) other companies will be doing the exact same thing as me.

I predict:

  1. These companies will be selling products specifically designed for the autocrosser.
  2. They will offer you money to advertise on your car (if you’re amazing).
  3. You will make money and they will make money.
  4. By then I’ll have created a new autocross sponsorship program that makes this one looks old and boring.

 

Someone you know will love this! Who is it?