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Vaughters’ visionary cycling sponsorship model

Garmin Director navigates route to pro cycling’s sustainability and growth

Jonathan Vaughters’ article provides a clear and sustainable business model for professional cycling. Although The Geox Paradox, published almost one year ago, foreshadows Geox’s exit from professional cycling, Vaughters’ solution provides an achievable roadmap for professional road cycling to navigate difficult times.  The foundation of the Garmin-Cervelo Director’s business model is: Sustainability, Accountability, Flexibility and Partnership.

Sustainability: Recent sponsor defections clearly illustrate the need for long term contracts between events, teams and, ultimately, sponsors. Vaughters proposes the UCI contractually guarantee teams participation in major events for 10 years. The evaluation criteria would be based on history (not “what have you done for me lately?”), performance and ethics. Today, teams and sponsors are faced with a few options to combat the year-to-year cycle (each with their own consequence): win, win at all costs or stack rosters with riders carrying the most points. One could argue longer term contracts and guaranteed entry would help companies, wealthy benefactors and sponsors avoid the “immediate results today” mentality, and could shift focus to cycling sponsorship’s positive impact on business objectives.

Accountability: If all parties are held to specific ethics and standards, contractually, there could be a decrease in sponsor defections. Drugs, cheating and unethical behavior are obvious. Two areas worthy of exploration are sponsor expectations and measurable results. Why? If a sponsor is guaranteed their team will compete in the Tour De France and they don’t the sponsorship contract is voided. Another option worthy of consideration is to have teams and sponsors contractually agree upon measurable results (i.e. – Sponsor investment will deliver an ROI of increased web traffic of 15%, increased sales of 25%, increased brand recognition of 10%).  Once again, if results aren’t achieved the sponsorship contract is voided. One would believe greater care would be taken before contracts are signed. (Ed. – I am suggesting the example for measurable results. Successful partnerships should always include well defined objectives and results that can be measured.)

Flexibility: The ability to adjust strategy and tactics is as important in racing as it is in business and sponsorship. Options often create opportunity and can help establish a roadmap for success. In Vaughters’ model, sponsors could opt to fund teams guaranteed entry into Tier 1 events, or choose to fund teams that will develop slowly and eventually compete at the highest level. One only has to look at the genesis of teams like Garmin-Cervelo, Team SpiderTech and GreenEdge to understand the merits of building a team (and a brand) slowly.

Partnership: Professional road racing is the pinnacle of teamwork and partnership. Teams, sponsors and events could adopt an environment that fosters collaboration and cooperation to achieve a common goal.  The end result would be success for the team and the sponsor which would facilitate growth for our sport. Vaughters suggests two areas where partnership can help professional cycling. The first is sponsor equity investments (similar to employee stock options). Teams could sell equity when sponsorship dollars are not readily available to cover operating expenses. The second area partnership impacts is perceived value. Limiting the number of teams guaranteed entry into top level events, over 10 years, creates exclusivity and limits the number of sponsorship opportunities. Exclusivity always creates greater value which is a basic rule of economics (supply and demand; when something is in short supply it becomes a more valuable commodity).

Had pro cycling instituted a model similar to Vaughters’ maybe we wouldn’t be witnessing title sponsors exiting the sport. And, potentially prospective sponsors like BigMat would jump at the chance to promote their brand through cycling sponsorship (as they once did as BigMat -Peugeot-IBM).

Think about it.

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

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RECYCLING SPONSORSHIP

Published on 17. Oct, 2011 by Al in Cycling Sponsorship Value, Featured

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RECYCLING SPONSORSHIP

RECYCLING traditional cycling sponsorship strategies could lead to more money and sponsors for all!

The irony of Tony Martin, the world’s best individual time trialist, winning the inaugural Tour of Beijing, for arguably the world’s most successful team, creates an interesting juxtaposition.  Could the contrast be any clearer?  A team that won almost five hundred races over the last three years loses its title sponsor yet wins an international race established specifically to expand professional road racing in the second largest economy in the world! You can’t get any more of a contrast than that!

GreenEdge Cycling and Champion System are prime examples of recycling “tried and true” sponsorship approaches  to ensure sponsorship success and team sustainability. The time and effort invested in branding, messaging and differentiation can pay dividends for cycling teams at all levels.

Develop the brand first: GreenEdge cycling, backed by wealthy Australian businessman, Gerry Ryan, has not signed a title sponsor. However, lack of sponsorship does not deter Ryan from his goal of creating an international  Tier 1 team. GreenEdge intends to compete, win and establish a strong marketing platform for sponsors.  Shayne Bannan, the team’s General Manager, explains GreenEdge’s vision and approach: “We really want to look at our GreenEdge branding and develop the brand, develop the team which puts us in a lot better situation to find a partner. We don’t want to be desperate and go and knock on everyone’s doors. Gerry, in his generosity, is really keen to develop the brand, develop the team which I think will put us in a good situation this time next year.”

Ryan’s sponsorship strategy should help the team accurately qualify and deliver on sponsor expectations to ensure longer-term sponsor relationships and team sustainability which is one of the problems facing our sport.

Create growth and demand in new markets: Champion System believes cycling sponsorship will help increase awareness, visibility and growth for our sport and their brand.  The company recently announced sponsorship of Asia’s first UCI Professional Continental team. Charlie Issendorf, Vice President Sales & Marketing at Champion System put their sponsorship into perspective: “….our goal is to continue our efforts to support professional cycling and to do our part to help its development in Asia.”  This goes hand in hand with the objective of the UCI’s Global Cycling Promotion division to promote and develop cycling in non-traditional markets.

Although Champion is a cycling apparel company, and has a vested interest in the sport, Issendorf’s comments are true for all sponsors: “…..we use sponsorship to help increase brand awareness and having a top level team will certainly increase the endorsement value of what we believe is a great brand.”

The sheer nature of cycling provides an effective platform to increase visibility of a company’s brand, products and services. Cycling’s global growth presents sponsors with an opportunity to reach new customers, sell more products or services and increase market share.

Sponsorship is a two way street: Recycling sponsorship paradigms can help both new and existing sponsors. Companies benefit from cycling sponsorship to promote their brand and reach their target audience. New international races, like the Tour of Beijing, help companies in emerging markets reach consumers in established cycling markets as Europe and North America.

In 2009 the UCI created the Global Cycling Promotion division to help professional cycling gain a foothold in countries outside of Europe. The objective was to develop the sport of cycling and to provide a vehicle for sponsors to connect with consumers in non-traditional cycling markets. However, UCI President, Pat McQuaid’s comments illustrate the motives behind  Chinese companies (and companies in non-traditional cycling markets) interest in professional cycling and sponsorship – “They want the exposure in Europe that sponsoring a bike team can bring.”

Two lessons you can apply from GreenEdge and Champion System on how to get a cycling sponsorship?

  • Take the time to develop your cycling club’s brand and messages. Be sharp, crisp and concise and ensure your messages clearly describe the value sponsorship will deliver. (Example: How sponsorship can help companies make money, save money or project an intended image)
  • Remember that cycling sponsorship helps companies reach consumers and partners in new demographics and market segments. Position your cycling club as a platform to help companies align their products with cycling’s demographic or the Health and Wellness market segment.

Maybe it’s time we all begin RECYCLING  SPONSORSHIP sponsorship strategies. Could lead to more “green” for all of us!

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

References

Champion System forms UCI Professional Continental team, Kirsten Frattini, www.cyclingnews.com, September 30, 2011

Major sponsor unlikely for GreenEdge, Jane Aubrey, www.cyclingnews.com, October 11, 2011

Teams hoping for Chinese payoff from Beijing tour, Andrew Hood, www.velonews.com, October 4, 2011

Q & A: Global Cycling Promotion on Beijing and the way forward, Daniel Benson, September 7, 2011

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Cavendish_winning_stage_in_TDF_Green_Jersey

Letter from Leonard Callejo, Groove Subaru Racing Team in response to “Winning doesn’t guarantee cycling sponsorship!”

Al – you raise very good points that apply to teams at all levels (local, regional, national, worldwide).  Sponsorship is an ongoing, constant process if you want to be able to successfully maintain a team year-over-year.  And the best way to attract new sponsors and to maintain old sponsors is to be able to show a return on their investment. Sponsors are looking to your team as a marketing vehicle that will provide them exposure to their target audience and be an extension of their brand – meaning that by wearing their corporate logo and colors, you will represent their brand as they intend and promote their product or service all of the time, resulting ultimately in increased sales (and at a minimum, increased awareness). Teams that are able to measurably show that thru their activities (such as racing in races, promoting and holding races, participating in fund raisers, doing local community work, etc.) they will in effect be an extension of the sponsors marketing department, and thereby be in alignment with the sponsors marketing goals, the greater the chance they have at securing sponsorships.

Many racers believe it’s all about winning.  Well, as HTC has shown, it’s not all about winning, rather, it’s all about marketing/business. I would suspect that despite all of HTC’s victories, Bob Stapleton’s biggest challenge was showing how much revenue his team generated for HTC as a return on their investment in the team over the years, and if he was able to pull together some numbers, I would assume that compared to other marketing vehicles, the ROI on his team was comparatively much less.

And just like in the pros (e.g., Garmin, Sky, Leopard-Trek, etc.), at the local level the majority of the teams that remain viable year-over-year are primarily bankrolled by one person/company who share in the passion of cycling and recognize that the ROI in that investment, from a business perspective, will be limited.

So the ultimate winning formula in today’s cycling world is to find a wealthy investor/company that has passion for cycling, along with concrete measurable business stats on how your cycling team will be an effective extension of that sponsor’s marketing department and thereby lead to an increase in their revenue. At the end of the day, it’s not about winning more races, rather it’s about winning more customers for the sponsor.

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Winning doesn’t guarantee cycling sponsorship!

Winning doesn’t guarantee cycling sponsorship!

  • 485 wins since 2009 is simply incredible!
  • Losing a title sponsor that heralded your team as a valuable marketing asset is unfathomable.
  • Is HTC’s loss of their title sponsor simply the cost of doing business?

As cyclists and cycling fans we just learned a very important lesson! Winning races alone does not guarantee cycling sponsorship! Even the most successful team over the last 3 years, winning 485 races, is not immune to a title sponsor deciding to walk away. It seems difficult to fathom, in light of HTC CEO Peter Cho’s rousing endorsement of Bob Stapleton’s team and the value sponsorship would bring to the company’s brand: “…we are excited about the opportunity to communicate HTC’s brand value through the great sport of cycling…. “HTC’s sponsorship of Team Columbia-HTC is one step in HTC’s commitment to increasing its global brand value and recognition.”

So, why did HTC have such a dramatic about face? Here are a few thoughts we should keep in mind with regards to corporate cycling sponsorship.

01) Cycling sponsorship is a business! Corporations as Taiwanese telecommunications giant, HTC, invest in sponsorship to achieve business objectives as increasing sales, revenue, market share and competitive position. Companies leverage cycling sponsorship, its global platform and growing demographic as a marketing platform to:

  • Create awareness and visibility for their company, brand, products and services.
  • Increase customer and brand loyalty.
  • Project an intended image and garner positive PR to attract new clients and consumers.
  • Augment existing marketing and advertising campaigns.

Companies don’t sponsor cycling, as the recent velonews.com article “The secret handshake for bicycle racing sponsorship” noted, because they share our passion for our wonderful sport!  In fact, I think one of the comments from a velonews.com reader summed it up best by writing “…Simply riding in the team kit and getting on the podium isn’t enough.” The bottom line, cycling sponsorship is a business!

02) Cycling sponsorship MUST drive business results: Companies expect a Return on Investment (ROI) from their investment in sponsorship. Measurable business results like increasing sales, revenue, market share and competitive position only come from creating (or increasing) awareness and visibility with consumers and clients in the company’s target markets. Cycling sponsorship’s impact on a company’s Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) may be measured through:

  • CPM (Cost per one thousand media impressions; the number of marketing opportunities presented how many people see and/or recognize the company’s brand, product or service in an advertisement, at an event…). The Reuters article “Sponsors see value in backing cycling teams” describes how cycling delivers more affordable cost per one thousand media impressions (CPM) making cycling sponsorship a bargain when compared other popular spectator sports.
  • Surveys, questionnaire’s, focus groups, etc, help identify the impact of sponsorship on recognition of a company’s name, brand, product or service.
  • Codes, e-mail, registration or “opt in”, responses to promotions, traffic (store, event or website): Metrics sponsors will review are – “Did sponsorship have a significant impact on the number of consumers entering a specific code, signing up for something through e-mail, registering on a site on the web or redeeming a coupon?” Most sponsoring companies will quantify how well sponsorship of your team supported a company attaining their business goals by measuring these factors. Which is why it’s critical to qualify what a sponsor expects and what your team can realistically deliver. (More on sponsorship qualification later).

Visibility may also be measured through something as simple as counting minutes of television exposure the team and sponsor receive. During Versus’ coverage of the Tour De France Paul Sherwen noted how one team broke down the number of minutes its riders were on television throughout the Tour. Typically these minutes were in long breakaways where the sponsor’s company name was highly visible to the global TV audience. The minutes were tallied and presented to the sponsor as publicity and exposure which drives awareness, brand recognition, interest and traffic which can result in increases in sales, revenue, market share and competitive position.

03) Meeting expectations: As mentioned in the previous section, clubs and teams need to qualify sponsors thoroughly to ensure they can deliver expected business results. It is vitally important to perform research, engage in discussions and understand how your team will be measured and how the prospective sponsor will measure success (Example: increase in coupon redemptions by 25% over 60 days, increase in survey responses, increases in traffic and sales by 30%). Your club needs to have a thorough understanding of the sponsors business objectives, how you will be measured, over what period of time, and if it is possible to deliver the desired results.

04) Sponsor qualification: Another component of the cycling sponsorship equation is your qualification of a prospective sponsor. To ensure success your club or team needs to evaluate how well sponsorship will help the prospective sponsor reach their target audience and cycling’s demographic.

The sponsor is qualifying you and the value sponsorship of your club or team provides. It is equally important for your club to qualify the sponsor in order to meet their expectations and maintain a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship. To establish a successful sponsorship relationship overlap needs to exist between their market and people who will be exposed to your team through events, races, participation in community service, local or national initiatives, communications or social media platforms.

Simply stated, if a company sells a ubiquitous, industry leading, telecommunications product, but most of their target market are not cyclists or fans of cycling; their sponsorship of a global team is not going to provide the return on investment they expect! It doesn’t matter if cycling sponsorship is a more cost-effective vehicle than traditional sports or advertising methods. Reaching their target audience and driving results has to be the foundation of a mutually beneficial sponsor relationship. If they don’t achieve the expected results the relationship will not last.

Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind.

Always look for new sponsors: Your search for new sponsors should never end. It is a year round proposition which, just like training for a race or major event, never stops. An effective annual sponsorship plan is just like base miles can in preparing for the upcoming season. It’s a continual process which can pay huge dividends by following a structured process. Think about it, when is it ever a problem to have too many sponsors or too much funding?

Lastly, perception means everything! A positive perception by companies sponsoring, or interested in, sponsoring our sport is paramount. Identifying and understanding those perceptions enables your cycling club or team to remove potential barriers and objections which might prohibit a sponsor from investing. As mentioned in “2011 Tour: A recipe’ for sponsorship success use every opportunity to sell the value of our sport to companies large and small, regardless of industry or location. Point out how companies sponsoring professional teams are receiving incredible exposure for their company, brand, products and services. When loyal domestiques go off the front, fry in the sun and are battered by winds for hours, explain how this is a tactic to not just attempt to win, but more so to provide exposure for the sponsors emblazoned across the jersey’s, helmets, shorts and butt! Television cameras, photographers, eyeballs in person, and on television, internet, from smart phone, laptop, are all capturing and displaying the action.

Watching HTC-Highroad fold is not easy for any fan of cycling! However, hopefully, we can learn from this experience and accept that winning races is not the only component in the sponsorship equation.

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

P.S. – Thanks to Bob Stapleton, members of the HTC-Highroad men’s and women’s team and to the HTC company for giving us some incredible memories over the last 3 years! You did it right!

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2011 Tour: A recipe for cycling sponsorship success!

2011 Tour will drive value for cycling sponsorship!

The Tour de France, A.S.O. and the sponsors of the 22 participating teams have got to be licking their chops in anticipation of the unprecedented global media exposure this year’s race will receive. Why? Because controversy fuels discussion, passion, interest, attendance and viewers! Controversy also fuels dollars; think sponsors, advertisers, vendors, tourism, restaurants, etc. You’re going to hear about the Tour and how things unfolds in any and every possible format you can imagine. Sponsors, advertisers, the A.SO., France and participating countries are counting on it!

Fans will pack the roads along the race route while those not lucky enough to attend will watch the drama both on the road and behind the scenes. Cycling and non-cycling enthusiasts are going to tune in, blog, tweet, party and/or protest as the Grand Boucle unfolds. Many will follow this years Tour to witness whether or not, arguably, one of the best Grand Tour riders in history can win his 7th straight, 3 week race! Some will watch to see if the runner up from the last two editions can finally take the final step to the top of the podium. Yet others will watch to see if another “shoe will drop” revealing new revelations of doping, performance enhancement, tainted food, or foreign dispersants or additives are once again found where they shouldn’t be!

2011 Tour Recipe for cycling sponsorship success!

The bottom line: despite ominous comments foreshadowing the demise of cycling, once again, the Tour will be heavily attended and will draw large global audiences to watch the race.

When you mix:

  • 2 parts Rivalry (Contador vs. Schleck and everyone else; Riis vs. Schleck brothers and his old team)
  • 2 parts Intrigue (Is Contador guilty or innocent? Accusations against previous Tour champions)
  • 1 part Conspiracy Theory = Spanish Cycling Federation + UCI + WADA + Court of Arbitration for Sport
  • 3 parts Action (The race itself!)

And, shake vigorously (and the media will)!

You get every sponsor and advertiser’s dream — eyeballs seeing their brand as the Tour and the plot develops. The end result, Tour organizer A.S.O., team sponsors and advertisers are going to take advantage of the extraordinary marketing opportunities presented by global exposure, and will be laughing all the way to the bank!

4 Reasons why the 2011 Tour is a recipe for sponsorship & marketing success!

01) Alberto Contador’s participation is going to drive attendance and ratings! Period!

Whether you like him or not, believe he is guilty or falsely accused (or, receiving preferential treatment) Alberto Contador’s participation in this year’s Tour is fueling increased interest and awareness in the race and in the sport of cycling. Cyclists, journalists, sports prognosticators and fans are taking sides about whether Contador should even be in the race, if he is guilty of using PED’s and blood dopers, and if he will win this year’s Grand Boucle. This year’s event with Contador’s participation is a sponsor, advertiser, marketing executives dream. The Tour will deliver increased visibility and press coverage, along with exceptional opportunities for extensive market reach. It’s a captivating story. From a sponsorship perspective there is nothing better than supporting an event which delivers increased visibility, awareness and interest for your brand! Because increased interest can drive increased traffic, sales, revenue and market share.

02) The Tour and cycling will take center stage for the majority of July! Delivering unprecedented visibility and reach!

The media will continue to pump the bellows of controversy to keep the Contador and Armstrong stories alive!

The cycling journalists, and some of you, have been fanning the flame since the “tainted beef”, clenbuterol, story broke in September, 2010. The aftermath has had more twists and turns than a B-grade movie!

In January, 2011, Sports Illustrated vaulted to the front of the media caravan by summoning ghosts from Tours past when it released its expose “The Case Against Lance Armstrong”. Of course, this was cleverly timed with the interest generated by the NFL playoffs to increase readership and sales. Meanwhile countless professional cyclists have been paraded before us as they were summoned to testify in front of a Federal Grand Jury ala Barry Bonds and Marion Jones.

Not to be outdone, 60 Minutes poured gasoline on the story with its primetime Tyler Hamilton interview. Of course, the interview resulted in a swift and defensive response foretelling the demise of our sport with the quote; “…..this is going to kill the sport of cycling.” (Ed. – Uh, no don’t think so!)

Again, the media is going to make sure every angle of the Tour is covered. For almost an entire month cycling, the Tour de France, and every company sponsoring cycling is going to be the center of attention. Everyone is talking about it. The media has seen to that, as has the Spanish Cycling Federation, the UCI, WADA and the A.S.O.

Why is this good for the Tour, cycling and sponsorship?

Controversy fuels discussion, passion, interest, attendance and viewers! Controversy also fuels dollars; think sponsors, advertisers, vendors, tourism, restaurants, you name it. You’re going to hear about the Tour and how things unfold regardless of whether you want to or not. Sponsors, advertisers, the A.SO., France and participating countries are counting on people watching, reading, texting, talking, debating….And, sponsors are hoping throughout the next month that you see their company and brand name emblazoned across helmets, jersey’s and bib’s!  They want Contador at the Tour! Regardless of whether it is to applaud or boo him (respectfully, the UCI asks). And, they want you to tune in and pay attention! Which leads to my next point.

03) Companies sponsoring cycling get it! And, so should you!

The major sponsors of the 22 Tour teams starting the Tour encompass 22 separate  industries. Think you might have a company in your area that you could approach regarding cycling sponsorship? One that is similar to one of these 22 companies? You bet! Point to the lead sponsoring companies as examples when you approaching prospective sponsors. I mean, check it out:

  • Telecommunications, Cable Providers, Cellular: 4 (Movistar, Euskaltel, Sky, HTC)
  • Banks, Financial Services & Insurance: 4 (Saxo Bank, AG2R, Cofidis, Rabobank)
  • Sports Management Companies: 2 (Leopard, Highroad)
  • Lotteries: 2 (FDJ, Lotto)
  • Rental Car companies: 1 (Europcar)
  • Retailer: 1 (RadioShack)
  • Manufacturing companies: 2 (Quick Step, Lampre-ISD, Omega Pharma, Garmin)
  • Pharmaceuticals: 1 (Omega Pharma)
  • Environmental Products & Services: 1 (Saur)
  • Food Producer: 1 (Sojasun)
  • Information & Software Technology: 1 (Sungard)
  • Natural Gas Distributor:1 (Liquigas)
  • Campgrounds: 1 (Vacansoleil)
  • Plant Food Producer: 1 (DCM)
  • Cycling Foundation & Development Teams: 2 (Katusha, Euskadi)
  • Bicycle Manufacturers: 4 (Cannondale, Trek, BMC, Cervelo)

Non-cycling related companies sponsoring Tour teams: 22 (And, these are only the headline sponsors).

04) What can you do? And, why is the 2011 Tour good for cycling and cycling sponsorship?

See what’s happening? Everyone is talking about cycling in one form or fashion. This is extroadinary coverage of the sport we love. Take advantage of the spotlight cast on cycling. Your club has nothing to be defensive about. The sport is no longer the same it was ten years ago with previous Tour victories being in question. And, it will be cleaner, and better in 5 years than it is today! Companies are still heartily ponying up marketing and advertising dollars to sponsor teams participating in the Tour, continental, amateur clubs and teams and cycling events. (See attached link for more information on companies sponsoring professional teams)

Use this opportunity when cycling has the spotlight to sell the value of our sport to companies large and small, regardless of industry or location. Point out how companies sponsoring the professional teams participating in the Tour are receiving incredible exposure for their company, brand, products and services. When loyal domestiques go off the front, fry in the sun and are battered by winds for hours, explain how this is a tactic to not just attempt to win, but more so to provide exposure for the sponsors emblazoned across the jersey’s, helmets, shorts and butt! Television cameras, photographers, eyeballs in person, and on television, internet, from smart phone, laptop, are all capturing and displaying the action. (Also, see “Tips on how to get a cycling sponsorship”)

Regardless of where your allegiance falls this year’s Tour is going to be good for cycling and and an even better example of how media exposure and cycling drive value for sponsors.

Enjoy the Tour!

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Report of cycling’s death greatly exaggerated!

Response to VeloNews Armstrong Exclusive: “This is going to kill cycling”

Dear Mr. Armstrong:

I have to take issue with your quote“…but this [controversy], at a time when the sport has made significant changes, is going to kill it.” (VeloNews, July 2011)

Sorry, but, no don’t think so!

The sport of cycling is bigger than any individual champion and the myriad of accusers and alleged swirling accusations. As long as cyclists continue to race, fans continue to attend races (or watch broadcasts), purchase bikes and accessories, companies will continue to invest in the sport as a marketing, advertising and PR vehicle. Companies sponsoring cycling get it! They recognize their investment in sponsoring professional, amateur, recreational cyclists, races, events, etc. gives them unprecedented visibility and reach. That’s right; companies will continue to leverage this beautiful sport to drive value and create visibility for their brand, products and services, and to reach their target market and consumer.

So, as long as people are attending European classics, the Giro, Tour of California and Philadelphia Championships, and the impending Tour de France, our sport will be just fine. As far as American racing is concerned, there are tons of races that have endured (and prospered) for several decades: Nevada City Classic, Cascade Cycling Classic, Athens Twilight, Tour of the Gila, Redlands Classic. (See Neal Rogers article “The Key to Longevity – Community”, VeloNews, November 2010).

People are not going to stop riding their bikes, nor will people stop buying bikes (even that particular brand you ride made in Waterloo, Wisconsin). Professionals are going to continue to race, and new riders and racers will enter our sport. All of this will facilitate companies continuing to sponsor cycling in some form or fashion!

What kills a sport is when events are canceled like the 1994 MLB World Series, or entire seasons are canceled like the 2004 – 2005 NHL season (and, potentially the upcoming 2011 – 2012 NFL season). Doping and Performance Enhancing Drugs and associated controversy don’t kill sports alone! Fans losing interest kills sports which subsequently drives away sponsors, ultimately resulting in the sport flat-lining!

Although this might be a painful process for you Mr. Armstrong cycling is going to continue to grow and prosper. New sponsors are entering the sport every year. Sure, some leave, but in the long run, this is nothing more than a back story! Kind of like a good piece of fiction:  interesting plot, protagonists and antagonists, people will take sides, debate and become overly emotional. The sport of cycling has survived decades of controversy, (2) World Wars, recessions and depressions, natural and human inflicted disasters. Our sport has shown it is quite resilient and at the moment is experiencing a renaissance with an emphasis on clean racing. As you mentioned to John Wilcockson, the current controversy might impede sponsorship negotiations with HTC, Team RadioShack, Garmin and Amgen. However, there are multiple, recent examples of global and American corporations stepping up each year to sponsor our wonderful sport.

So, just as the peloton so deftly maneuvers around a crash and continues down the road, so too will the sport of cycling! In other words, the reports of cycling’s death are greatly exaggerated. (Sorry Mark Twain I stole shamelessly!)

I wish you the best of luck in this latest controversy and with your incredible foundation. But, the sport will be just fine.

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

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Tips on how to get a cycling sponsorship!

A few quick tips on how to get a cycling sponsorship!

You cycling club will increase its chances of getting sponsorship by focusing on delivering business value. In other words, the business reasons a company should sponsor your cycling club.

Business value of cycling sponsorship to companies:

Increase brand visibility & sales: Cycling provides a highly visible, and effective, marketing and advertising platform helping companies reach their target audience. Many companies are implementing marketing strategies that take advantage of the continued growth of cycling, the health & wellness market segment and eco-friendly transportation. Innovative companies are aligning their offerings with these trends to fuel incremental growth and sales.

Position your cycling clubs’ activities and initiatives (group rides, rally’s, races, and safe cycling campaigns), community service, and external communications (website, social media, and news releases) as an effective marketing engine to showcase a company’s brand, products and services.

Inexpensive yet highly effective marketing tool: Sponsorship of your cycling club will provide companies with an efficient medium for getting their key 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, marketing and public relations channels.

Lucrative and growing demographic: The cycling demographic is continuing to grow globally and is the second most popular recreational activity in the United States. Cycling sponsorship offers companies additional exposure in our demographic, while providing the opportunity to exploit of the growing healthy, active lifestyle market. Last but not least, the study noted annual median household income for racing, recreational and cycling fans to be $ 75K – $ 95K. This is a great statistic to use with prospective sponsors.

Drives positive image with consumers: Perceived image is extremely important and can often impact sales and brand loyalty. One way companies can bolster image is to demonstrate social responsibility & concern through support of societal concerns, their communities and “green” initiatives. Cycling addresses each of these areas (examples: societal concerns; health, transportation; community; environmental, traffic congestion; “green”; alternative transportation, air quality). Sponsoring cycling clubs and programs helps companies demonstrate social responsibility, philanthropy and community involvement which are a key component to promoting positive PR by “serving the greater good” while driving brand visibility and recognition. (Please see “Secure cycling sponsorship by understanding why companies sponsor” for additional information)

Creates new business opportunities: Sponsorship provides companies with Business-to-Business (B2B) opportunities helping them identify and establish complementary partnerships to drive incremental sales and revenue. The additional exposure sponsors receive to your club’s other sponsors and companies sponsoring cycling events can lead to mutually beneficial business partnerships. (Please see “Leveraging B2B to drive added value for your cycling club’s sponsors” for more information)

Hope this helps your cycling sponsorship efforts.

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

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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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Five reasons cycling sponsorship can drive more visibility and sales for your brand!

Want more Brand visibility? Don’t overlook cycling sponsorship as an effective marketing vehicle!

Don’t believe cycling sponsorship can be an effective marketing vehicle for your brand, products or services? Maybe you should consider the following attendance figures for major sporting events:

NASCAR 2011 Samsung Mobile 500 @ Texas Motor Speedway – 168,400 fans in attendance

MLB 2010 World Series Game 5 @ The Ballpark in Arlington – 52,045 fans in attendance

NFL 2011 Super Bowl XLV@ Cowboy Stadium – 103,219 fans in attendance

Total fans in attendance – 323,664! Okay, that’s pretty good.

But, that’s NOT even a close second! The combined total does not even come close to matching the visibility your brand would get at the largest cycling events in the world.

Two examples:

01) The 2011 Tour of Flanders Professional Cycling Race, a one day event in Belgium had an estimated 600K – 800K fans in attendance! That’s in a country with a total population of 11M people! A one day race outdrew three North American sporting events – combined!

02) The Tour de France has hundreds of thousands of fans watching from the side of the road, each day, every day for 21 days! Stage 20 of the 2009 Tour de France had an estimated 1 million fans on Mont Ventoux! And, that was for the end of the race! That figure does not take into consideration the hundreds of thousands of fans lining the 138km route leading to the final climb up Mont Ventoux!

These are incredible marketing opportunities for your company, brand, products and services. Not only will cycling sponsorship drive visibility, but it will drive increases in awareness, interest, traffic, sales and revenue.

Are you still skeptical about cycling sponsorship’s effectiveness to increase visibility for your brand?

Here are (5) reasons you might want to give sponsorship of a local cycling club, team or event a second look.

01) The sheer nature of cycling provides an instant increase in visibility for your brand. Cycling is continuing to grow throughout the world. Meaning companies sponsoring cycling are cashing in on marketing opportunities by sponsoring clubs, professional teams and cycling events ranging in scope from:

21 day stage races as the Tour de France, Italy’s Giro D’Italia and Spain’s Vuelta a Espana which draw millions of fans globally.

North American stage races such as the USA Pro Cycling Challenge or the Amgen Tour of California.

Charity rides as the LiveStrong Challenge or the MS150.

One day North American races as the Tour of Battenkill, Philadelphia International Cycling Championship and the Hotter’N Hell Hundred.

Cycling gives your company a very visible platform for showcasing your products and services.

02) Cycling sponsorship is typically less expensive than traditional forms of advertising, marketing and public relations. The Reuters article “Sponsors see value in backing cycling teams” describes how cycling delivers more affordable cost per one thousand media impressions (CPM) making cycling sponsorship a bargain when compared other popular spectator sports

03) Sponsorship of cycling provides your company with the opportunity to align with growing societal trends as active, healthy lifestyles or “green” transportation alternatives. This is a great way to capture additional visibility, awareness and mindshare with consumers in these segments. Not to mention, aligning with emerging segments can help to drive incremental traffic, sales and revenue. (See “Employer Health & Wellness Programs – an avenue worth pursuing when seeking cycling sponsorship” for additional information regarding how cycling aligns with emerging trends and societal concerns)

04) Cycling’s demographic covers a wide range of consumers. Pick one and you will find a large group of cyclists in that segment. Cyclists comprise every possible segment imaginable. We are a diverse group of consumers. Whichever segment(s) your products or services address, you can pretty much be assured there is a large segment of cyclists interested in your company’s products or services.

05) Effective platform for communicating your messages and reaching your targeted audience. Consider statements from the following senior executives of HTC, OptumHealth, Sungard and RadioShack, 5-hour Energy and Quiznos! Each executive describes the value cycling provides their brand.

“…..we are excited about the opportunity to communicate HTC’s brand value through the great sport of cycling …. “HTC’s sponsorship of Team Columbia-HTC is one step in HTC’s commitment to increasing its global brand value and recognition.” – Peter Chou, Chief Executive Officer, HTC Corporation

“Professional cycling in the United States continues to grow as a major spectator sport and serves as a great way to reach health-conscious consumers,” he added. “This particular partnership provides a highly visible and mission-consistent opportunity to both advance our message and drive awareness of our products and services.”  Tom McEnery, Chief Marketing Officer, OptumHealth

The Saxo Bank-SunGard Professional Cycling Team represents a fantastic opportunity to gain visibility for our brand in front of a global audience.”Brian Robins, Chief Marketing Officer, SunGard

“This is an exciting time at RadioShack…. “We are re-launching our brand with a new creative platform in early August, and now having Lance on our team – an American icon who embodies the spirit of mobility, connectivity and philanthropy – really allows us to accelerate our brand’s evolution.Lee Applbaum, CMO, RadioShack

“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, President, 5-hour Energy

“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.

06) Business-to-Business opportunities (B2B) – This is one of the major reasons companies sponsor sports as cycling and NASCAR. The biggest returns from a company’s sponsorship investment don’t come from consumers but from other companies! Check out my post “Leveraging B2B to drive added value for your cycling club’s sponsors” for more information on B2B and cycling sponsorship.

Branding, marketing, advertising, PR, cross-branding and B2B opportunities are endless! (your brand or company name could appear on cycling jersey or shorts, water bottles, signage, programs, banners, websites, blogs, cross-branding, etc…..the list goes on and on and on……). Literally millions of spectators and participants will see it!

Lastly, if you are still not convinced of the potential market reach cycling sponsorship provides. Look at the sheer number of cycling clubs listed on www.usacycling.org/clubs. And, the United States is only one market!

So, question – could your brand use cycling sponsorship as a platform to boost its marketing programs? Two examples of mainstream companies riding cycling’s increased popularity are 5-hour Energy and Quiznos. Take a break, give your marketing programs a jolt and smell the coffee (Starbucks sponsors cycling too!)

That’s all for today! Sorry for the length.

P.S. – Note to cyclists and cycling clubs: Use the points in this blog post with prospective sponsors and fundraising donors. It should drive the point home that cycling is an excellent addition to any company’s marketing, advertising or PR campaign.

Thanks for visiting. Remember, until next time, to “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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