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Special Cycling Sponsorship Report: How The Tour of the Battenkill drives revenue for village & sponsors

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Dieter Drake, General Manager/CEO, Anthem Sport Events, and the mastermind behind the successful, and iconic, Tour of the Battenkill, America’s toughest road race. Our discussion focused on three areas:

  • Why the Tour of the Battenkill has become so successful;
  • How Anthem Sports was able to secure event sponsorship from corporations like Pepsi;
  • The role community involvement played in the races success.

The goal of the interview was to provide cycling clubs key points, and insights, they can use in their event sponsorship efforts.

What key factors contributed to the growth and success of the Tour of the Battenkill?

Race Venue: Dieter discussed how the epic nature of the Tour of the Battenkill; up to 100 miles of racing across 8 sections of dirt roads, with 4,000 feet of climbing; has gained increasing popularity with cyclists who want to participate in European classics style racing in the North America. Being able to race a course, in the vein of the Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix, with 25% of the course comprised of dirt roads is not only different and challenging, but it is extremely alluring and appealing to many pro and amateur racers.

Community Support & Volunteers: Equally important to the races success has been the support from the Cambridge community. Think of it, Cambridge, NY has 1,000 residents, yet Dieter has 400 volunteers from the Cambridge community supporting his race every year! Volunteers provide event support, Fire & Rescue, Police and Infrastructure support.

Why has the community embraced The Tour of the Battenkill?

Problem: A town in need of new sources of revenue.

Cambridge, NY has historically been an agricultural community. The continued transformation of the U.S., away from its agricultural roots, to industry, and now to a service based economy, heavily impacted small, traditionally agricultural towns as Cambridge. Making matters worse was the loss of companies which helped support the local economy. Cambridge like so many other communities needed to find new avenues to drive revenue for the village and local businesses.

Solution: Bicycle racing drives tourism and revenue for communities!

Jason Sumner’s VeloNews article “Battening Down The Hatches” describes how Dieter’s entree’ into event promotion of the Cambridge Valley Balloon Festival Classic bicycle race was the first step in “introducing bike racing – and it’s potential benefits – to an otherwise sleepy town trying to establish itself as a viable tourist destination.” Dieter’s efforts with the Cambridge Valley Balloon Festival Classic, and the Tour of the Battenkill, demonstrated how a unique, well run, bicycle race could provide a solution to a problem for the town. Scheduling the Tour of the Battenkill in April would achieve a couple of objectives:

Draw tourist to Cambridge, NY, during the early spring when “normally you could roll a bowling ball down Main Street and not hit anybody”, creating revenue opportunities for businesses and the local economy.

Help get people involved in the sport of cycling whether they were racing, participating in the Pro/Am Races or Bike Marathon, or volunteering.

Dieter’s strategy and event would help Cambridge and the local economy by:

  • Bringing visitors to town, in a rapidly growing demographic, that would spend money and help provide a boost for the local economy.
  • Driving tourism revenue during a traditionally slow time of year.
  • Promoting Cambridge, NY and surrounding areas as a viable travel destination.

Result: The partnership between Anthem Sports and the Village of Cambridge paid off! The combination of unique appeal of “hard man style” racing, the venue and early spring scheduling attracts 2,500 racing participants, and typically 10 – 15K people during the two weekends the Tour of the Battenkill is scheduled. (3:1 ratio of spectators and family members: racers). An influx of this many people drives a lot of revenue for local businesses, while helping to establish Cambridge as a viable vacation spot!

Why Pepsi sponsored The Tour of the Battenkill?

Cycling provides a highly visible, and effective, marketing and advertising platform aiding companies in reaching their targeted demographic.

Dieter explained how Pepsi leverages a natural tie in with cycling, and the fitness minded, health oriented market, with their Gatorade, Aquafina and Lipton Tea brands. The Tour of the Battenkill provides Pepsi with an efficient way to receive exposure and visibility for their products through sponsorship of the race. Sponsorship enables Pepsi to promote their brands (Gatorade, Aquafina and Lipton Tea) as healthy alternatives to traditional sugary soft drinks. This drives greater brand recognition among racers, participants, volunteers and residents. Pepsi’s marketing includes parking a truck at the races finish line the week before the race, handing out free drinks during the event, along with prominently displaying their logo on the winner’s podium. Additionally, Pepsi viewed The Tour of the Battenkill as an opportunity to promote their brands through grassroots marketing, by engaging local schools and offering “non-sugary”, healthy, beverage alternatives.

Lastly, sponsors as Pepsi can use cycling to drive greater brand visibility, recognition, and awareness on local, regional, national and international levels. Aligning with cycling, The Tour of the Battenkill, and Anthem Sports’ newest races, “The Great American Cycling Series”, will offer additional opportunities for companies to promote their brand and products, while offering cities as Washtenaw, MI; Vail, CO and the Catskills, NY region, to capitalize on revenue from cycling and tourism.

The key Dieter stressed for signing non-cycling industry sponsors is to position sponsorship of your club or event as a major advertising opportunity. Discuss the sponsor’s goals, and how you can drive impressions, value, ROI, traffic and sales. Cycling sponsorship is less expensive than other traditional sports as (football, soccer, baseball, basketball), yet it provides a higher ROI for less investment. (Please see “Securing sponsorship by understanding why companies sponsor” and “Articulating the value of cycling sponsorship” for additional information.

Key takeaways for your cycling club:

  • Actively engage and involve the community in your event.
  • Sell the value of cycling sponsorship in helping companies and communities achieve their goals and objectives.
  • Gain an understanding of the problems prospective sponsors and cities might have, and position the sport of cycling as a potential solution.
  • Use the visibility of cycling as a means for sponsors to drive increased awareness, interest, value, impressions, sales and market share.
  • Discuss why cycling provides higher ROI, with less investment, than many traditional sports.
  • Be creative in your cycling club’s approach to events and cycling sponsorship.

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

P.S. – A very special thanks to Dieter Drake for agreeing to the interview. Really appreciate your time and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with you! Hope to meet you in person someday soon!

Reference articles:

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Cadence Cycling Foundation and cycling sponsorship

What can we learn about cycling sponsorship from the Cadence Cycling Foundation? A ton!

John Brant’s exceptional article “Urban Legend” in this month’s Bicycling Magazine was absolutely incredible describing the Cadence Cycling Foundation’s youth cycling program for disadvantaged, inner-city youth. With more than 100 inner-city children, comprising 13 teams, in Philadelphia, PA; Camden, NJ; and Wilmington, DE, the Cadence Cycling Foundation is achieving Executive Director, Ryan Oelkers’, vision of literally “changing kids’ lives” through the sport of cycling.

Several key points I noted while reading “Urban Legend” illustrated how cycling sponsorship can help programs as CCF address societal concerns while providing a strong marketing & PR platform for the programs corporate partners.

Sponsorship helps address societal concerns while driving brand visibility

Life skills and personal development: Sponsorship creates opportunities for companies to demonstrate social responsibility while driving brand visibility and recognition. Cadence Cycling Foundation’s mission statement  ”helping kids create opportunities through cycling” provides insight into the  important life skills and lessons learned through the sport of cycling. Such skills as: embracing diversity, overcoming adversity, leadership, positive self-esteem, teamwork to achieve a common goal, planning and goal setting, as well as discipline and commitment!

Supporting a program like Cadence Cycling Foundation’s can help companies to achieve their philanthropic goals while helping to directly contribute to the growth and development of our next generation of corporate and political leaders, lawyers, doctors, teachers and politicians. Supporting the program gives inner-city student athletes additional options and opportunities which often might not be available. Corporate sponsors can leverage incremental brand visibility and recognition into increased awareness and interest, driving additional traffic, sales and market share.

Disease prevention, importance of healthy lifestyles and rising medical costs: Cycling helps fight the onset of diseases as childhood obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Leroy Hayes, the team captain, and one of the best junior competitive cyclists in Pennsylvania lost over 100 pounds since he started cycling. As cyclists, our club’s have a great message for companies that want to align their company, brand and products with the active, healthy lifestyle segment. With Physical Education programs being eliminated from many school curriculum cycling programs as CCF help provide a much needed physical outlet for many children. (See “Employer Health & Wellness Programs – an avenue worth pursuing when seeking cycling sponsorship” and “Employer Health & Wellness Programs – Bloomberg News Report Highlights” for more information on how to leverage emerging social and corporate health concerns to engage in sponsorship discussions)

Education and advancement: Participation can help drive improvements in academic achievement opening doors to attend college, and in some cases being able to receive scholarships. The Cadence Cycling Foundation helps students and families understand the college admission process through their Cadence College ConneXion program. Two of Cadence’s athletes mentioned in “Urban Legend” received scholarship offers or accepted scholarships from prestigious institutions as the University of Vermont, Tulane, Drexel, and Bucknell.

It’s good business!

Sponsoring youth cycling programs drives positive PR: Companies providing sponsorship of programs as the Cadence Cycling Foundation will garner positive PR for their brand, products and services. In this case, sponsoring an inner-city, youth cycling program helps demonstrate social responsibility, philanthropy and community involvement which are a key component to promoting positive PR by “serving the greater good”. (Please see “Secure cycling sponsorship by understanding why companies sponsor” for more information)

Cycling is a rapidly growing market segment and demographic corporate sponsors can leverage: The cycling demographic is continuing to grow as the second most popular recreational activity in the United States. According to the National Association of Sporting Goods Retailers study, in 2010 the U.S. had approximately 60+ million people participating in our sport (48 million adults; 14.3 million children). In addition, the study noted the total U.S. spectator base as 11 million people. Cycling sponsorship offers companies as Quiznos, 5-hour Energy, HTC and OptumHealth additional exposure in our market segment, while providing an opportunity to take advantage of the growing global trend of the healthy, active lifestyle market.

Sponsorship can provide valuable networking opportunities: CCF used networking as a key element in recruiting student athletes to participate in the program, as well as recruiting companies to sponsor the program. As mentioned in “How to find cycling sponsorship? Tips on where to start”, networking can yield results for your club. Leveraging personal and professional contacts, business referrals and social media connections can help you identify prospective sponsors. Sponsors have the opportunity to reach consumers through sponsorship; however they also have the opportunity to establish complementary business-to-business relationships which can drive incremental sales and revenue. (Please see “Leveraging B2B to drive added value for your cycling club’s sponsors”)

(Please also see “Cycling sponsorship & lessons learned from the UCI Top 20 cycling teams” and “Cycling Sponsorship News” for additional information on how companies are using cycling sponsorship to drive their corporate goals and objectives)

It’s great for cycling!

Sponsorship of cycling helps to develop the next generation of elite American riders. This is positive because it helps drive increased awareness, interest and involvement for our sport. Not to mention, cycling is a sport people can participate in for their entire lives.

Thanks for visiting. Remember, until next time, to “Keep the rubber side down!”

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Event sponsorship case study: creativity + mall vacancies = cycling sponsorship opportunity

What do rising shopping mall vacancies have to do with cycling sponsorship; particularly for an event? O-p–p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y!

A recent story on money.msn.com describes how shopping mall vacancies are at their highest level in 11 years. Mall’s have not been able to attract consumers, and the consumers they do attract are not spending as much money. This translates into retailers not selling as much merchandise, resulting in retailers moving out of under-performing properties. Believe it or not there is an opportunity for your cycling club to take advantage of this trend by solving a problem (driving more traffic for the mall and consequently more sales for retailers), while helping you secure a really cool venue, driving more visibility and awareness for your club. Still not convinced? Let’s take a page from Chris Grealish’s book who held a national cyclocross event at a shopping mall! That’s right; at a shopping mall!

Chris Grealish, founder and president, of DBC Events and the Victory Circle Graphix Boulder Cup held a wildly successful cyclocross race at Flatiron Crossing Mall in Broomfield, CO. The race was part of the 2010 Boulder Cup weekend and race #6 of the North American Cyclocross Trophy national series. Grealish saw an opportunity to use cycling in a unique venue to increase visibility for cycling and his cyclocross event, while helping to generate a “buzz” in the community, resulting in additional consumer traffic for the mall. Grealish is quoted on the DBC website as saying “The goal is to expose new demographic groups to the sport,” explained Grealish. “What better place to do that then an iconic American gathering place, the mall.

Flatiron Crossing Mall management saw an immediate opportunity when Grealish approached them about the hosting the event on their property.  Kim Campbell, Senior Manager, Flatiron Crossing Mall is quoted:

“(Grealish) was looking for other options and ways to grow the race,” said Campbell, the mall’s senior property manager. “He came and solicited us and we immediately saw potential in the event.” “We see tremendous opportunity…. It’s very community oriented and we want to be a good citizen and support events like this.”….” “When we have an opportunity to bring out 800 cyclists and their families and friends, we hope that that is a benefit to the retailers in the mall,” she said. “It’s a great relationship; it’s a win for everybody.” “Cyclocross seems to be a sport that is really growing and gaining popularity and we see a connection to the community in this event…” Boulder Cup Cyclo-Cross race held in October, 2010 at the mall!

From the mall’s perspective the event provided an opportunity to:

  1. Draw additional consumers from the community, drive incremental traffic for the mall and potentially increase sales for its retailers.
  2. Create positive PR for the mall by aligning with a growing sport.
  3. Attract new consumers from a increasingly growing demographic (cyclists).

So, what do rising shopping mall vacancies and DBC Events’ Victory Circle Graphix Boulder Cup, held at Flatiron Crossing Mall, have to do with your club?

Grealish’s innovation and creativity demonstrates how cycling sponsorship, in this case, of an event, can help to drive more traffic for a mall. Your cycling club might be able to help properties solve the problem of drawing consumers, increasing traffic and sales, through partnership for a similar type of event (example: a criterium, a safety fair or bike rodeo). Additionally, your event might provide your club with exposure and visibility to prospective sponsors. Your event can demonstrate the value of cycling sponsorship in helping sponsors to drive additional awareness and visibility for their company, brand, product or services. (Please see “Secure cycling sponsorship by understanding why companies sponsor” and “Articulating the value of cycling sponsorship” for more information.)

Lastly, properties as shopping mall’s have the opportunity to align with the growing trend of active, healthy lifestyles. Cycling is at the forefront of this trend as documented by the popularity of our sport and our growing demographic. Companies like 5-hour Energy and Quiznos are rapidly jumping on the bandwagon to promote their brand.

The moral of the story? You can find cycling sponsorship opportunities everywhere! Even at a shopping mall!

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

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5 reasons 5-hour Energy can boost your club’s cycling sponsorship success?

5-hour Energy’s sponsorship of Kenda/5-Hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder can provide a boost to your club’s cycling sponsorship efforts.

“Although we are selling over one million bottles a day, we are always looking for new opportunities to reach out to new consumers… We see this as a great opportunity to help this leading team achieve even better levels of success, and as a way to connect with the active lifestyle community that enjoys watching competitive cycling.”

Scott Henderson’s, President, 5-hour Energy, quote illustrates the company’s intentions to use cycling as an effective marketing, advertising and PR platform to promote their brand.

Here are 5 reasons your cycling club should not dismiss the power of this little 2-ounce shot when approaching prospective sponsors!

01) Increase brand visibility and awareness: 5-Hour Energy intends to use cycling sponsorship to augment existing marketing and advertising campaigns and reach consumers in new markets and segments. Scott Henderson, President, 5-hour Energy, quoted in the press release announcing the company’s foray into cycling sponsorship: “…., we are always looking for new opportunities to reach out to new consumers….” During your clubs’ sponsorship discussions be sure to position cycling as a valuable marketing asset which can help prospective sponsors increase the visibility of their brand, products and services, in new or existing market segments. Your clubs’ cycling related activities and initiatives (group rides, rally’s, races, and safe cycling campaigns), community service, and external communications (website, social media, and news releases) provides a very visible platform to showcase a company’s brand, products and services. The growth of cycling, in the U.S. and internationally, also demonstrates a growing market segment which can provide a welcomed “shot” to boost the sale of any product or service.

02) Increase sales and market share: Since its introduction in 2004, 5-hour Energy positions itself as the leader in the 2-ounce energy shot market, selling over 1 million bottles a day! Cycling gives 5-hour Energy the opportunity to attract new consumers by expanding their reach beyond traditional North American sports.  Chad Thompson, General Manager, Kenda/5-hour Energy Team, describes his teams plan to use the 2-ounce shot to deliver a competitive advantage: “……[5-hour Energy] given us a tremendously helpful and legal supplement to assist our racers and staff achieve our objectives (winning).  We all used it throughout our camp and had a unanimous acceptance and love of the product.”

Hmmmm...might be something to that 5-hour Energy

How often do we purchase the same products we see professional cyclists use? The concept of using cycling sponsorship to increase sales is a proven one. Be sure to leverage this with your sponsors. If you need examples simply look to Coors Light, Michelob Ultra and Coca-Cola.

Product diversification is another area companies can exploit through innovative thinking. Scott Henderson immediately noticed a market opportunity while visiting the 2010 Tour de France.

Henderson said. “The interesting thing was, Frankie’s comment to me was, “I see 5-hour Energy on late-night television and in gas stations and it scares me. Robbie Ventura was sitting beside us and he turned to me and said that he loved the stuff. It got me thinking that I have a product that I sell a million bottles a day of but here I have two guys that are almost identical and one loves it and one is afraid of it because he doesn’t know what’s in it and that is the classic problem with 5-hour Energy. That led to this opportunity of moving into the active lifestyle community and educating them that it is a safe product and good for them. What more interesting way to do than through bike racing.” The underlying message to your club is cycling offers the opportunity for prospective sponsors to sell and market products in new and innovative ways.

03) Trigger events such as expansion can be a signal for sponsorship opportunity: Innovation Ventures LLC, 5-hour Energy’s parent company, announced that it will expand operations, investing approximately $ 18.8 million to add (8) new production lines, creating approximately (96) new jobs over the next few years.  Corporate activity such as growth, changes in leadership, new product announcements and mergers or acquisitions can impact a company’s marketing, advertising and PR campaigns. Such changes may present opportunities to sell the value of cycling sponsorship to help companies achieve their business goals and objectives (improve/change image or promote positive PR, reshape brand messages to reach new markets or increase brand loyalty). Don’t miss the opportunity to engage!

04) Align with emerging trends and segments: 5-hour Energy views cycling as “a way to connect with the active lifestyle community that enjoys watching competitive cycling.” Clearly, 5-hour Energy’s sponsorship of Kenda/5-Hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder aligns with the growing global trend of healthy, active lifestyles. Sponsoring a pro continental team competing in an expanded race schedule gives 5-hour Energy access and exposure to more consumers (cycling fans and competitive cyclists), and presents new Business-to-Business opportunities (exposure to companies sponsoring cycling or doing business in markets where races are held). Remember to position the value of cycling sponsorship as a vehicle to align with emerging trends as healthy lifestyles and “green” transportation.

05) To augment existing marketing, advertising and PR campaigns: Sponsoring a professional cycling team will give 5-hour Energy another go-to-market vehicle for getting their messages into the market. Chris Baldwin’s Reuters article “Sponsors see value in backing cycling teams” demonstrates the affordability, reach, and effectiveness of cycling sponsorship to promote a brand increase brand visibility, awareness and sales, vs. traditional advertising and public relations mediums.  Baldwin’s article also stresses the cost-effectiveness of cycling sponsorship using a ratio of cost per one thousand media impressions, or CPM, when compared to other sports.

Well, that’s all for today. I’m in desperate need of a little 2-ounce liquid “shot”. I’ll let your imagination decide what type!

Thanks again for visiting. Remember, until next time, “Keep the rubber side down!”

Resources

Bloomberg Businessweek: Innovation Ventures, LLC

Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership: “Living Essentials Announces Second Expansion of 2010”

VeloNews.com: “5-hour Energy enters cycling with Kenda”, by Brian Holcombe

Cyclingnews.com: “5-hour Energy co-sponsors Kenda p/b Geargrinder”, by Kirsten Frattini

Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder

P.S. – I found this interesting excerpt from Kirsten Frattini’s article regarding 5-hour Energy.

Chad Thompson, the team’s General Manager describes testing of 5-hour Energy’s ingredients: “They did some extensive testing on it and all the ingredients were approved for USADA and WADA lists and our physician as well as their labs, everyone is in collaboration to make sure that everything is on the up and up and completely safe,” Thompson said. “But they’ve sponsored sports that get tested quite a bit. The riders are using it and they love it.”

Scott Henderson, President, 5-hour Energy describes why the product is an acceptable supplement for athletes: “One of the primary deterrents for professional athletes using any dietary supplement is the possibility of cross-contamination with other substances that are banned by the US Anti-doping Agency (USADA) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). According to Henderson, there is no possibility of cross contamination with 5-hour Energy products. “We do all our own manufacturing with two plants in Wabash, Indiana and each of them have six dedicated lines and the only product we make is 5-hour Energy. There is no chance of that [cross contamination] because everything we make is 5-hour Energy and there are no other products made in our plant. The most important thing we have is our brand and the quality behind it.”

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Cycling Sponsorship Case Study: Quiznos “MMMMM…. good” for cycling sponsorship!

Over the past several months two, nationally known, companies have endorsed our sport by sponsoring professional cycling teams or events: Quiznos and 5-hour Energy. And, although you may not use their products, or agree with their strategy to use cycling sponsorship as a vehicle to achieve their goals, their investment in cycling can positively impact your club, team or events cycling sponsorship efforts.

Today we’ll look at Quiznos sponsorship of the Colorado based Pro Challenge, and how you can leverage similar messages to secure cycling sponsorship for your club, team or event.

Quiznos Pro Challenge

Quiznos’ sponsorship of the Colorado based Pro Challenge gives us another major American stage race in the vein of the Red Zinger and Coors International Bicycle Classic of the mid-1970’s and 1980’s. Quiznos’  support will provide a lot of exposure to the mainstream public; helping to spread the visibility, awareness, and interest in our wonderful sport. Not only can the additional visibility help bring new riders and fans into the sport, but it also serves as an example of the effectiveness of cycling as a marketing, advertising & PR platform. The following quote describes how Quiznos’ sponsorship of cycling aligns with their brand, customers, and objectives of supporting the growing trend of healthy lifestyles.

“We always try to stay in front of what most interests our customers. Cycling is representative of the more contemporary American lifestyle and Quiznos customers participate in just this kind of activity….. With the creation of the Quiznos Pro Challenge we aim to promote an active lifestyle while bringing an exciting new pro-cycling event to a growing audience of fans in the United States.” – Ellen Kramer, Quiznos Chief Communications Officer.

In addition, Quiznos’ investment and endorsement  helps to expose companies currently not sponsoring cycling to our sport, it’s growing popularity, it’s demographic, and the potential for using cycling sponsorship to reach their goals and objectives of:

Increasing sales, revenue, and market share

Increasing visibility for their company, brand, products and services

Increase brand recognition and customer loyalty

Changing image

Promoting positive PR

Aligning and penetrating emerging market segments

(Please refer to “Understanding why companies sponsor” and “Articulating the value of cycling sponsorship” for additional information)

Lastly, in February, 2011, Quiznos invested an additional $10 million dollars on top of its initial sponsorship commitment. Rick Schaden, co-chairman of the event, founder and chairman of Denver-based private investment company Consumer Capital Partners and founder of Quiznos, said: “This investment further demonstrates our commitment to the future of the Quiznos Pro Challenge. Showing financial stability demonstrates the event’s ability for longevity in the international sports arena for many years to come.”

For your club, team, or event, Quiznos’ sponsorship of the Pro Challenge provides an opportunity to reference a well known brand, using cycling as a vehicle, to achieve their objectives. You can discuss the reasons Quiznos invested in cycling: brand recognition, market penetration, garner positive PR, and to align with active, healthy lifestyles; using these proof points describing the value of cycling sponsorship to your prospective sponsors.

If you are still not convinced of Quiznos’ commitment to cycling in the United States consider Quiznos’ involvement with Denver’s B-Cycle program. Quiznos is the system wide sponsor for Denver’s B-Cycle, the first large scale, city-wide bicycle sharing program in the United States, further demonstrating their commitment to “green” initiatives, and promoting cycling as a viable transportation alternative.

Thanks again for visiting. Next time we’ll take a look at 5-hour Energy’s sponsorship of the Kenda/5-Hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder!

Notes:

Red Zinger and Coors International Bicycle Classic

John Wilcokson’s VeloNews article “The Pioneers: How major Road Races First Gained a Foothold in North America” chronicles the rise of American Stage Racing in the United States. In the article John writes about the birth of the Red Zinger bicycle race organized by Mo Siegel, founder of Celestial Seasonings Tea Company, and environmentalist, in 1975. John writes that Mo Siegel started the race “to help generate community awareness of bicycling while publicizing their best-selling tea, Red Zinger.” The article also quotes John Howard, winner of the races 1975 & 1976 editions, and multi-national champion, describing the impact the Red Zinger on cycling in the U.S. – “Cycling advanced several giant steps as a result of those early Zingers.” Obviously both Celestial Seasonings and Quiznos had similar motivations, using their support of cycling for brand and product recognition, while espousing the benefits of cycling for healthy lifestyles, and “green” transportation.

John’s article, “The Pioneers”, also discusses the transition of the Red Zinger to the Coors International Bicycle Classic which would come to prominence during a 9 year run in the 1980’s. “The Pioneers” describes how Mo Siegel would eventually sell the event to Michael Aisner, previously the races PR Director, for $ 1. In 1980 Aisner re-launched the race as the Coors International Bicycle Classic which took international cycling to the next level for nine years, in its heyday attracting stars as 5-time Tour De France winner Bernard Hinault, and the then budding American star Greg LeMond.

Denver B-Cycle

Denver Bike Sharing celebrates the launch of the first large scale, city-wide bike sharing system in the United States, with Quiznos as a system-wide sponsor. “Denver B-cycle is the first large-scale municipal bike sharing system in the United States. We are placing dozens of special bike stations (B-stations) in downtown Denver as well as the Cherry Creek and Denver University neighborhoods. Denver B-cycle members will be able to pick up one of the red bikes at any B-station and drop it off at any B-station. That’s why we say it’s magic: a bike that’s there when you need it and gone when you don’t. Bike sharing makes it economical and convenient to use bikes for trips that are too far to walk but too short to drive. As a member, you can use a B-cycle to run an errand, grab lunch, travel from the bus stop to your office, or just get some fresh air. There are as many reasons to use a B-cycle as there are members!” Learn more about Denver Bike Sharing by clicking here:

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Smaller cycling sponsorship agreements provide value for sponsors too!

Smaller scale cycling sponsorship agreements can deliver value for your club’s sponsors, while providing a foundation to build larger, more comprehensive agreements. Understanding the business needs of a prospective sponsor and articulating your club’s ability to offer a solution, can help you establish a complementary relationship which benefits both organizations.

Case in point, my club recently brought on a specialty retailer as one of our newest sponsors.  The retail shop is one my wife and I frequent on a weekly basis. We like their wide selection of products and have come to appreciate the staff’s expertise and knowledge. The location is appealing because it is in an area where we often meet friends for lunch, happy hour or dinner.

Over time, we established relationships with several of the staff members, with them learning more about us, our personal tastes, preferences and interests in the products they carried. This allowed the staff to make recommendations which improved our shopping experience.  During many of our visits I started asking questions about their business, the demographic of their clients, the goals and objectives for their shop, and of course, the organizations they sponsored. I was able to uncover a few interesting tidbits about their store and parent company, and how cycling sponsorship might be an asset to their business.

Here’s what I found.

01) The parent company had been in business for more than one hundred years, and prided themselves on superior selection and outstanding customer service, while providing their clients with the highest quality products across a wide-range of price points.

02) The strategy for attracting clients was based heavily on reputation and word of mouth, more than through advertising campaigns. Hence, advertising budgets were very small at the retail store level, requiring the staff to rely on other methods for reaching clients.

03) The store needed to increase traffic, sales and revenue in order to meet the aggressive monthly objectives set by the parent company.

04) The parent company used extensive sponsorship relationships to promote its brand. However, they were not interested in any additional commitments. Any new sponsorship relationships were handled at the specialty store level. Again, limitations in budget would severely restrict what the store could do on its own.

After several discussions about the value of cycling sponsorship, I scheduled an informal meeting/event with our club’s Board Members and store management. The idea was to provide an opportunity to meet, brainstorm and determine how sponsorship could help both organizations. We spent a couple of hours discussing how sponsorship relationship could help the store achieve its goals of increasing store traffic, sales, revenue and profit with minimal investment. The agreed upon sponsorship relationship entailed the following:

01) The retailer would provide discounts to our club members for products purchased. Metrics would be collected using accounting codes in order to track club member purchases. This would provide a way to identify our members’ impact on sales and revenue. Business Value: Helps the retail store drive additional traffic, sales and customer loyalty. Provides club members with discounts on product purchases.

02) The store also agreed to waive the fee charged for attendance to their monthly events. Members of our club that purchased from the store during the month leading up to the event would be eligible to participate in a club specific drawing. One member would be chosen from the raffle and would attend the event for free. Business Value: Drives visibility, awareness and sales. Also, the events provide a means of differentiation for the store. For club members, this provides another incentive to frequent the store and purchase product.

03) Our club agreed to promote the retailer’s business through our website, social media, forum and newsletter. The first step would be an article about the retailer appearing on the front page of our website, along with associated links to the store’s URL, blog and facebook page. Business Value: Visibility and awareness should drive additional interest, traffic and sales.

04) The two organizations would evaluate hosting special events for the club, and cycling community, in the future. One potential option discussed was introducing the retailer to our other sponsors to facilitate business-to-business relationships, in an effort to drive even more business. Business Value: Exposure to the wider cycling community and to our club’s other sponsors could result in additional visibility and sales for the store.

Although, the initial sponsorship agreement is small, the opportunity exists to expand to a larger contract in the future. Our club worked with the retailer to come up with a strategy using sponsorship to promote its brand, store and products. The key for us was to understand its business, clientele, goals and constraints. Successfully helping the store meet its objectives for additional traffic, sales and revenue, could be the foundation for expanding the relationship in the future. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

That’s all for today! Cheers to our newest sponsor!

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

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