Cycling Sponsorship for events: How to get it & keep it!

If you have not read “The secret handshake for bicycle racing sponsorship in the U.S.” you’re missing out! This is an extremely valuable article explaining why the Nature Valley Valley Grand Prix and the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival have been extremely successful. David LaPorte, executive director, Nature Valley Bicycle Festival, explains how his event has successfully retained its title sponsor for over a decade by using cycling sponsorship of bicycle racing to help not only meet, but exceed Nature Valley’s objectives!

A few highlights from “The secret handshake for bicycle racing sponsorship in the U.S.”which jumped out at me:

Non-cycling industry companies don’t provide cycling sponsorship because they have a passion or interest in cycling. Companies sponsor cycling for business reasons and motivations. Sponsorship is an important tactic in a comprehensive strategy and marketing plan to drive sales, revenue and market share. Cycling sponsorship is an effective marketing platform for companies to reach their target audience, to attain greater visibility in existing or new market segments. Additional visibility gained through sponsorship drives awareness, which drives interest, which drives traffic to stores and websites, which drives sales and market share. Visibility also drives image for a company (Nature Valley = healthy nutrition alternatives) which can align with cycling’s demographic, and the demographic of consumers following cycling. This helps a company reshape the image of their brand, making it potentially appealing to a wider market segment (or, to a new market segment). This drives dollars!

So having a dominant team or an epic event won’t rake in the cash. If a sponsorship property doesn’t advance the marketing goals of the client, it’s toast. Or, more likely, it won’t have even gotten in the door in the first place.” Look at HTC-Highroad! They have been the most dominant team on the UCI circuit. They have won more races in the past three years than every other team, yet they may potentially lose HTC as their title sponsor. Cycling sponsorship is about delivering business value and helping a company meet their business goals and objectives (increasing sales, revenue, market share; penetrate new markets or segments; drive increases in brand recognition, brand loyalty; drive positive PR for their company/brand etc.). Clubs, teams and events must articulate how and why sponsorship will help achieve companies objectives.


For every dollar a company invests your club, team or event they expect to receive a tangible return on their investment —  increased traffic, increased brand awareness, increased sales, increased market share.

Cycling sponsorship has to deliver ROI for dollars invested. The sponsoring company wants to achieve their goals (increasing sales, revenue, market share; penetrate new markets or segments; drive increases in brand recognition, brand loyalty; drive positive PR for their company/brand etc.). A club, team or event can help companies achieve these goals through participation in events (races, rallies, charity rides, training rides), community involvement (cycling initiatives contribute to “green”, resolving transportation issues, health & wellness), communications (through a club/teams website, blogs, social media, newsletters, press releases, etc.). Activities as mentioned above help sponsoring companies become more visible and aid in reaching their audience. Companies sponsoring clubs or teams involved in community activities help demonstrate their support of important social  and community concerns; this in turn drives a positive image, recognition for their brand and potentially brand loyalty. The bottom line is cycling clubs, teams and events need to position themselves as platform to contribute to a sponsors’ business and PR objectives and philanthropic initiatives.

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

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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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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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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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