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Cycling sponsorship – Just as with training and racing; you need a GOOD plan!

What’s your cycling sponsorship plan for 2011- 2012? Bet most of your members already have a pretty well defined training or racing schedule and goals for 2011? What events they plan to race or ride, how many miles they want to log, events they want to crush! It’s a process right? Can’t achieve the goals without a plan, right?

What’s your plan for sponsorship & funding? Especially, in an economy that is still somewhat shaky? Companies are still investing in sponsorship; are you going to be in a position to compete for their dollars? You’ll get the results in the races, rallies and charity events. What’s your plan to turn those results into securing more sponsors?

Think of all the really cool things your club or team could do with extra funding – new bikes, new kit, new support vehicle or van, training camps, road trips…..More sponsors, and funding, can help you get, and do, all the cool stuff you want. Here are a few tips you might find helpful as you “spin” towards your sponsorship goals in 2011.

Start with a budget – How much funding are you getting from existing sponsors? How much do you need to do some of the “cool stuff?” What’s the gap? This number becomes your target!

Make a list – Determine which companies you want to target for sponsorship? Why would they be a good addition to your sponsorship portfolio? Do they currently sponsor other organizations? Could your club or team be able to lend value to their business?

Rank the companies on your list – Now that you have a list, start to rank the companies based on the following factors – What do you know about the company, brand, and products? Who do you know? Is there any relationship that can be cultivated through a referral? Where are they headquartered, and where do they make sponsorship decisions? Could the company be a good potential sponsor based upon their business goals, directions and objectives? Is there potential overlap between what the company wants to achieve and the value your club, team or event can offer?

A few more questions which might be helpful in your ranking system – Is this a company you have approached for sponsorship previously? What happened? Have any changes occurred making your story more appealing to their needs? Are there problems you can solve?

Have a plan – Establish a plan, essentially in the same way you would create a training plan when preparing for a race, a charity ride, a multi-day tour.  The plan should outline how you are going to engage and qualify the companies on your list. A few (components or factors) of the plan you might want to consider are:

Contacts – who do you, know? Is someone in your club, social, or professional network somehow connected?

Social media and web – what’s the company, or contact, saying on their websites and blogs, or in forums or groups? What are they talking about in their press, news releases, media room or RSS feeds? How can you leverage this information? (For more information on effectively leveraging Social Media for Sponsorship please see “Sponsorship Proposal & Social Media”)

Community involvement causes, & philanthropic activities – How involved is the company in the local community? What’s their level of activity? What (and whom) are they supporting? How can you spin this to show your value? (Please see “Understanding why companies sponsor for additional information”)

Action you want to take – what do you want to happen after making initial contact?

Initiate contact – Develop a script, short message to be used in social media, e-mail or introductory letter. What are you going to say, and why should they care? Be sure you follow the model laid out in the post – “An effective cycling sponsorship prospecting script” – focus on why and how sponsorship will help them achieve their goals and objectives. Point out why cycling, your club, team or event is the perfect vehicle to help them. My last post “Articulating the value of cycling sponsorship” provides useful tips and guidelines. Use initial contact as a springboard to additional discussions.

Plan your next interaction – document who you know, and what you need to know about their company, products, market, goals and objectives. Also, work towards having a clear understanding of their process, timeframes and who’s involved (their influence and how to engage them)

Develop and deliver sponsorship proposal – Follow the basic premise of why companies sponsor – to make money, to save money, for image! Sell your story by integrating your club, team, or events value with their goals and objectives, describing how you can help solve their problems. If possible leverage your existing sponsors to demonstrate the value provided. If you don’t have sponsors use examples from pro cycling sponsors to demonstrate the value of cycling. (There are several blog posts dedicated to Developing Effective Sponsorship Proposals I & II, Sponsorship Letters, and Using Quotes & References to secure sponsors).

Follow-Up – you put in the time and effort to do the research, engage in discussions, develop and deliver an effective sponsorship proposal. Follow up! Understand what they liked, what they didn’t, if any modifications or additional information is necessary. If you won – congratulations! If not, consider continuing to nurture the relationship for next year. Or, maybe approach them about a temporary sponsorship arrangement on a smaller scale.

Like I said at the beginning of today’s blog, sponsorship is a process just like training and racing. If you follow a sound, thoughtful process, you will certainly improve your results. Good luck!

Thanks for visiting. Remember, until next time, “keep the rubber side down.”

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