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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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Cycling sponsorship & lessons learned from sponsors of UCI Top 20 cycling teams

What can we learn about the value of cycling sponsorship by looking at companies sponsoring cycling teams in the pro peloton?

The VeloNews article “The 2011 VeloNews Power Rankings” ranks the Top 20 UCI cycling teams for the 2011 racing season. Reading the article triggered a thought regarding cycling sponsorship – “Wouldn’t it be interesting to identify what sponsors of professional cycling teams are saying about the value of cycling sponsorship to their company, brand, products & strategy?” Specifically, why are non-cycling industry, and non-sports industry, companies investing in cycling sponsorship as a key component of their marketing strategy?

Potentially, as members of cycling clubs and teams, we can learn additional valuable information from the pro ranks. Many of us study, and apply lessons learned from the pro’s – to training programs, executing sound race tactics, decisions about frame technology, finding the lightest or most durable componentry, which  technical wear will help us stay comfortable during a Gran Fondo. Why not do the same with sponsorship? Especially if it helps improve our chances of securing cycling sponsorship, and consequently, improving the opportunity for our voice to be heard for the interests, initiatives, and causes we support as a collective group!

(Ed. note – I stayed away from sponsors which are cycling business related (example – Liquigas-Cannondale; I researched why Liquigas sponsors pro cycling; not why Cannondale does; we know why they sponsor!)

Here is what I found:

Rabobank: http://www.rabobank.com/content/about_us/sponsoring/cycling

VeloNews Power Ranking – #4; UCI Pre-season Ranking – #2

Sponsors business: Dutch bank

Why Rabobank sponsors cycling – Visibility for the Rabobank brand, social responsibility & positive PR.

What Rabobank says about the value of cycling sponsorship – “The Rabo Cycling Plan was established in 1996 as a key spearhead of the strategy for attaining an improved positioning for Rabobank.” ….“Cultural sponsorship provides excellent opportunities for demonstrating Rabobank’s versatility and social involvement. Rabobank supports the development and conservation of the Netherlands’ cultural heritage through its association with cultural partners.”

Liquigas –Cannondale: Liquigas extends cycling sponsorship

VeloNews Power Ranking – #6;UCI Pre-season Ranking – #4

Sponsors business: Natural gas distributor

Why Liquigas sponsors cycling – Visibility & to promote their brand.

What Liquigas says about  the value of cycling sponsorship –  “The President of Liquigas Sport, Polo Dal Lago, announced that Liquigas will continue to sponsor and own a team for two more years and confirmed that both Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali have re-signed with the Italian ProTour team for another two years.”…..”We’re very happy to announce the renewal of our sponsorship. We think cycling is the best means to promote our brand,” Dal Lago said.

HTC-Highroad: High Road Sports and HTC Announce Partnership

VeloNews Power Ranking – #3; UCI Pre-season Ranking – #4

Sponsors business: Mobile phone company

Why HTC sponsors cycling – Visibility for the HTC Brand; use exposure to communicate & increase brand value.

What HTC says about the value of cycling sponsorship – “The HTC High Road Sports partnership is a great match of like minded organizations driven by innovation, excellence and competitiveness and we are excited about the opportunity to communicate HTC’s brand value through the great sport of cycling,” said Peter Chou, chief executive officer, HTC Corporation. “HTC’s sponsorship of Team Columbia-HTC is one step in HTC’s commitment to increasing its global brand value and recognition.”

*NOTE – OptumHealth-Kelly Benefit Strategies is NOT part of the VeloNews Power Ranking or UCI Top20, however still interesting when looking at why companies invest in cycling sponsorship.

OptumHealth-Kelly Benefit Strategies: OptumHealth co-sponsors Kelly Benefit Strategies

VeloNews Power Ranking – NA

Sponsors business: Health & Wellness company

Why OptumHealth sponsors cycling – Visbility & awareness of products & services; align with healthy lifestyle market.

What OptumHealth says about the value of cycling sponsorship – “We are unabashedly proud, vocal proponents of active, healthy lifestyles,” said Tom McEnery, chief marketing officer for OptumHealth. “As co-sponsor of one of the country’s top cycling teams, we can create greater visibility and awareness about the importance of fitness, health and well-being.”

“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.” (Kelly Benefit Strategies Pro Cycling | News | OptumHealth Joins Kelly Benefit Strategies Pro Cycling as 2011 Co-Title Sponsor)

Another reason companies sponsor cycling is cross-branding and B2B. Charles Aaron from the team’s management company, Circuit Global Sports Management, describes the value of companies working together, B2B and cross-branding opportunities in the following quote. “We like to think of ourselves as more than just a cycling team, our sponsors are more like partners with us,” said Charles Aaron “We all share a common interest and goal and we wanted to bring them together to brainstorm ways to help them get the most out of their strategic sports sponsorship.” “We spent a great deal of time discussing how sponsors can work together to make the most out of their investment,” Aaron said. “This included, cross promotional, media and activation strategies for 2011.”

So, what do the examples from professional cycling mean to your cycling club or team? How do the previous examples help to answer the question “Why should a company Sponsor My Cycling Club?” Sponsorship of your cycling club or team can provide a company with the chance to increase the visibility of their brand; which can increase awareness, interest, traffic, and ultimately sales & revenue. In addition, companies interested in promoting social responsibility and consciousness can leverage sponsorship of your club or team to promote a positive image; demonstrating support of emerging concerns as health and environment. Cycling sponsorship can also be an excellent vehicle to reach a sponsors targeted audience by aligning with the growing health & active lifestyles segment. Bottom line – cycling, as demonstrated by companies sponsoring teams in the pro peloton can be a valuable tool,  in helping to reach business goals & objectives. You can refer to the following posts for more information describing why companies sponsor and what corporations are saying about the value of cycling to their brand.

A couple of takeaways

As you approach prospective sponsors keep some of the examples in mind. Focus on the audience you are communicating with – whether through Social Media, a page on your website designed to attract sponsors, a sponsorship proposal or letter, or during a casual conversation. Understand the reason companies sponsor cycling; their motivations – to make money, to save money, and to promote an intended image. Lead the discussion by articulating the value of cycling sponsorship to their company. Cycling sponsorship is an excellent avenue for companies, of all sizes, to deliver their message to the market. Again, draw from the examples of the larger pro teams.

Hope you liked today’s post. I enjoyed researching and writing it. Good luck!

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

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Facebook, blogsearch.google.com, and LinkedIN for cycling sponsorship?

How you can use Facebook, blogsearch.google and LinkedIN to engage companies for cycling sponsorship.

The following example demonstrates how you can identify and engage prospective sponsors simply by doing a little research. This is not as time consuming as you might think.

Company sponsors local charity fundraising event

I was aware of a company that sponsored a charity sporting event in my town, and wanted to learn more about them and the potential for engaging them in sponsorship discussions.

A Facebook search using the name of the event – I was directed to the page for the event, providing me with the company’s event committee contacts and event chairperson. The event’s Facebook page also included local businesses, clubs, and groups who “Like”, participated, or co-sponsored. I also uncovered a link to the company’s committee page for community relations/involvement which outlined a description of the community committee’s’ goals, and how the committee’s goals aligned with the corporate mission. Facebook also provided links to external websites for the company. At this point I had the option of leaving a comment on the event page; however, it would probably be better to see what else I could find.

A Google search using the “company & event name” led me to events landing page on the web. Visiting the page gave the event contact information for sponsorship, along with the information and links describing the charity being supported. Good information to have. I kept digging.

A LinkedIn search using the event committee’s chairperson’s name enabled me to identify this individual as the Special Events coordinator for the company. This is an excellent contact to approach regarding sponsorship.  Looking at this individuals profile also provided valuable information on other employees at the company, including the Marketing & Communications Director for Special Events. It just kept getting better and better!

blogsearch.google.com using the event name came back with a lot of useful information about the event, including impressions from participants. Reading various blogs about the event led me to the conclusion that the company sponsored event was well attended, well organized, and was a success. I could have left a comment on the company’s event committee Facebook page, congratulating them on a successful event. But, I still wanted to do some additional research to see what else I could uncover, and leverage, to help make a favorable first impression. So, I continued.

A Google search using the “company’s name and community events & sponsorship” helped me identify the Director of Marketing Communications & Community Outreach.

A LinkedIn search for this individual showed their profile page, title, common connections, and LinkedIn Groups they participated in. The LinkedIn profile page also showed others from the company sharing similar roles & responsibilities. Just more intelligence one can use. (Please also refer to “Harness the power of social media to increase the success of your sponsorship proposal” which will provide additional tips & hints for effective use of social media)

A Facebook search returned the Director of Marketing’s profile page, and included interests & activities. As it turns out, this was another area I could leverage for initial contact because we shared a common interest. I also had the option to use the success of the company’s event as the basis for initial contact. Again, I could have stopped here, but I still wanted to learn more to make that initial contact really great.

Performing another blogsearch.google.com search using the Director of Marketing’s name returned what I was really searching for! I found out the executive was delivering a speech at a major event. The subject of the speech was to present the company’s position on sponsorship; describing why sponsorship was important to helping achieve their goals & objectives, while being a good steward of the community!  So now, I have information on the company, their goals & objectives, their position on sponsorship, an idea of the types of events they sponsor. Could have stopped here, but decided to go one step deeper. I noticed the blogsearch.google also delivered a lot of additional relevant information including quotes the Director of Marketing gave in news releases, interviews, articles, blogs, and magazines. I read the articles and gained a lot more insight than I had at the outset of this exercise. I now had a lot of information to pick and choose from, which was very relevant, and could help me engage, shape, and guide the discussions towards sponsorship! (Please also refer to “Articulating the value of cycling sponsorship”)

What’s the moral of the story? Information & research are key!

How does the commercial go? “Spending 15 minutes or less can save you a lot of money on car insurance?” Well, in this case, spending 15 minutes or less can help your cycling club, team, or event end up with more sponsorship dollars!

(15) minutes of research and investigation helped me uncover contacts, goals & objectives of the company, the role of community service, events they sponsored, the importance of sponsorship, and the role of sponsorship in achieving their goals & objectives. I could use many different approaches – congratulations on a well run event or, comment on a shared interest. Another alternative could be to comment, or ask a question, regarding the executive’s upcoming speaking engagement. Lastly, I had the option to comment on one of the many quotes or blog entries I found. Not to mention, I had identified multiple contacts within the company, while identifying committees responsible for sponsorship & community involvement. Lastly, I had also identified shared contacts in LinkedIn enabling me to ask for an introduction.

How can this help you?

With a little legwork, and effective use of the web, and social networking, your cycling club or team can quickly uncover information regarding prospective sponsors. Furthermore, you can use this information to start a “meaningful” dialog; tailoring what your initial contact, method of contact, messages, and approach for maximum benefit. Using the web and social media only increases your chances of differentiating your club, team or event from other organizations simply requesting sponsorship and funding using a generic form letter or proposal. Information & focus (on your audience; prospective sponsors in your case) is ALWAYS paramount to differentiation and value! (Please also refer to the sponsorship proposal and sponsorship letter categories for additional information on creating effective cycling sponsorship proposals).

Hope you enjoyed reading today’s post. I enjoyed writing it! If you liked it – leave a comment. If you didn’t – leave a comment. Would love to hear from you!

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

(Ed. note – Tim Ferriss’ book the “4 Hour Work Week” has couple of methods for contacting individuals which typically seem unapproachable. You can find the first one on p.54 in the section “How to Get George Bush Sr. or the CEO of Google on the Phone” under “Fail Better” by Adam Gottesfeld. You can also find the blog post by following this link. The second is on page 172 & 173 under “Comfort Challenge: Find Yoda”. It describes how to use what you found through research to engage an individual. Very applicable to engaging executives in discussions, and very adaptable to various mediums! These are worth the price of the book alone!)

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Secure cycling sponsorship by understanding why companies sponsor

You can increase your ability to secure cycling sponsorship by understanding why, and how, companies use sponsorship to achieve their goals.

When you understand why companies provide sponsorship and funding, and what motivates them, it makes it easier to develop effective messages, strategies, tactics, sponsorship proposals, and sponsorship letters which will get their attention. Leveraging this basic knowledge can help differentiate your club or team, and enable you to develop long term, rewarding, sponsorship relationships, while securing more funding.

Three BIG motivating factors for any company are the desire to make money, save money, and project the “intended” image for their company, brand, products and/or services. Although there are several additional motivations, one can categorize much of the rationale behind corporate sponsorship into making money, saving money, and image. Here’s how.

Making money – anything that can help increase sales, revenue, market share, and profitability is going to contribute directly to a company’s bottom line. Sponsorship of a club, team, or event can help a company to make money by increasing visibility, which in turn can drive increased awareness, interest, and traffic, resulting in increased sales. Your cycling club or team’s participation in events (races, rally’s, group rides…) community activities, initiatives (“Share the road”…) contributes to increased awareness and sales for sponsors. Additionally, your club or team’s use  of the web, social media, blogs, newsletters, and news releases, can also contribute significant dividends in driving visibility, awareness, and ultimately sales for your sponsors.

Saving money – cutting costs, saving dollars, and maximizing expenditures associated with advertising, marketing, and public relations directly impacts a company’s expense budgets, operating expenses and profitability. Sponsorship is a very viable alternative for helping companies improve customer retention and brand loyalty, increase sales and market share, or to penetrate/dominate a new market segment. Sponsorship is also used to augment existing advertising and marketing campaigns by providing a cost-effective vehicle for getting their brand message into the market. Typically, sponsorship of a club, team or event is less expensive, and will provide a faster return on investment than more traditional methods (television, print, billboards, etc.) delivering more “bang for the proverbial buck.”

Image – all companies have a certain image they would like to portray to the public, their existing and prospective customers. Sponsorship can help companies achieve this objective in a couple of ways.  First, companies supporting emerging social concerns as healthy lifestyles are aligning themselves with a growing market which can drive greater visibility, awareness, interest and sales for their products and/or services. Second, by sponsoring a club, team, or event, involved in raising money for a cause (ex. – cancer or diabetes research), will help to drive positive PR, fostering an image of involvement and social responsibility.

As you develop your cycling sponsorship plan determine how your club or team can help prospective sponsors make money, save money, or project their desired image through sponsorship. Taking the company’s view will enable you to develop messages which will clearly demonstrate the value sponsoring your club, team or event can deliver to help them achieve their business objectives. Positioning sponsorship as a solution to a company’s problem will differentiate your club, team, or events request for sponsorship, sponsorship proposal, or sponsorship letter, from generic requests submitted by other organizations.

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

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How to get sponsorship using “The New Rules of Marketing & PR”

Getting sponsorship and funding for your club, team, or event is something we are all wrestling with at one point or another. Securing funding and sponsors can be contrasted to revenue for corporations; it’s difficult to operate without it. Whether your sponsorship goals involve raising money for a worthy cause, advocacy initiatives, trips to events or races, or for equipment, sponsorship funding is the life blood of your club or team. The big question is “how do you get sponsorship and funding?”

David Meerman Scott’s bestselling book “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” outlines how companies, individuals, and non-profit organizations can use Social Media, Websites, News Releases, Blogs, and more, to reach their audience, and consequently achieve their goals. The “New Rules” are directly applicable to helping you become successful in securing funding for your club, team or event.

A few of the points I noted from the “New Rules of Marketing & PR” which can bolster your sponsorship efforts are:

Focus on your buyers’ needs – For a club or team this means putting the needs of those you are approaching for sponsorship and funding first. Think in terms of the problems prospective sponsors are trying to solve – increasing visibility and awareness, increasing traffic to stores, events, or websites; increasing sales and revenue; improving public relations and image by supporting important social issues, etc. Focusing on what is important, and top of mind, to prospective sponsors will enable you to shape your messages, sponsorship proposals, sponsorship letters, and interactions in a manner which will resonate positively with them. In which case, sponsorship of your club, team or event can be viewed as a solution to a problem.

Define your goals – Start by clearly defining what you want to achieve for your club or team, or through an event. Make it quantitative – “we want to increase sponsorship funding by 20% in 2011.” Build a plan describing how you will achieve the goal. Include the problems you can solve for companies. List them. Each should clearly articulate the problem or goal of a company, how your club or team can provide a solution, and the benefit delivered.

Understand your audience – Identifying how your audience views sponsorship, the importance they place upon it for achieving their business objectives, philanthropic goals, public image; gives you immediate insight into how to find prospective sponsors, and how to assist them in finding you. By using keywords, terms and phrases; in your sponsorship proposals, sponsorship letters, newsletters and news releases, on your web and social media sites; you automatically increase your ability to attract companies and organizations that might have an interest in supporting your club, team, or event. The key again is to focus on the audience and their needs.

Customize your content to your audience – Make sure that your sponsorship proposal, sponsorship letter, areas of your website, and all communications geared towards securing sponsorship and funding are customized to address the specific issues of the intended audience. An example – requesting donations (funding) from an individual (neighbor, friend, etc.) is very different from approaching a company for sponsorship. The messages that appeal to an individual vs. a company are vastly different. So, why would you use a generic page on your website, or in a proposal with two different audiences?

Customizing your messages, website, sponsorship proposal, sponsorship letter, and focusing on the needs of the targeted audience gives you a better chance of making sure your value is understood, increasing your chances of achieving your intended goal.

Get your customers to talk about you – There is no better endorsement than to have a happy sponsor talk about what you have provided for their company or organization. Quotes and references can help to illustrate the value your club, team or event provided. Building a reference story describing how one of your existing sponsor views your value is even better! This lends immediate credibility to the value your club or team can deliver. Furthermore, quotes, references and reference stories, lend themselves very well to sponsorship proposals, sponsorship letters, web and social media sites. Not to mention, it also helps to spread the word, helping other companies find you! (See “Using Quotes and References” category for additional information)

Leverage Social MediaUse social media and social networking to find companies that could be prospective sponsors, and as a vehicle to help prospective sponsors find you. Employing keywords and phrases in on your club or team’s web and social media sites helps companies and organizations to find you, while helping you to find them. Effective use of social networking tools as FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter can be used to provide your club or team with better visibility, particularly if you leverage the correct words and phrases (those your audience would use to find organizations to sponsor, or to help them solve a problem). Social media and social networking can help you identify, research, and subsequently engage companies that might be potential candidates to sponsor your club, team or event.

I’ll leave you with one quote from the David Meerman Scott’s book “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” which you might keep in mind as you build your plans, proposals, and letters for sponsorship – “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” tell us to stop advertising and instead get our ideas out there by understanding buyers and telling them the stories that connect with their problems.”

I hope you found today’s post valuable to help answer some of your questions about securing sponsorship. As always, I would enjoy hearing from you and answering any questions you might have. Please feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

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

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Why should a company “Sponsor My Cycling Club”?

If you, your club mates or teammates, are asking this question as you start your sponsorship drive, you are already ahead of the game. If you aren’t asking this question; maybe you should?

But, before we go there, let’s take a step back and take a look at a couple of pros and cons.

PRO: Sports Sponsorship is a multi-billion dollar industry. Companies use sponsorship as a vehicle to get their message into the market, to raise the visibility of their products and company, to attract new clients and consumers, and to promote a positive image. Bottom line, sponsorship is an important component of most companies’ marketing strategy; it helps them make money!

CON: The competition for securing sponsorship is HIGH! Every club, team, non-profit; individuals riding, running, walking, for a worthy cause; are typically asking some company, somewhere, in your backyard for money! So, you’re not alone. But, here is the other piece of the CON equation. If everyone under the sun is sending a sponsorship letter, sponsorship proposal, request for sponsorship, charitable donation request, fund raising request….how is a company going to filter through all of these requests, and determine who to provide with sponsorship and funding? Especially during our current economic times. Is your club or teams generic sponsorship proposal going to get noticed? And, get you funding?

So, here’s the question again – “Why should a company Sponsor My Cycling Club”?

Well, Top Ten Tips for Securing Cycling Sponsorship provides tips and answers for improving your club or teams ability to find, engage, and secure new sponsors. Companies will sponsor your club or team if you:

understand what they do

focus your sponsorship proposal on the benefit to THEM

uncovered a solution to a problem

are creative in your approach

tied the benefit you can deliver to their business and sponsorship goals and objectives

differentiate the value you provide from other organizations requesting sponsorship and funding

can justify their sponsorship investment by demonstrating ROI and value

Go ahead, download the e-book, Top Ten Tips for Securing Cycling Sponsorship, and check it out. IT’S FREE!

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

Al

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SponsorshipInDownEconomy

Received a great question recently regarding trends for sponsorship in a down economy; specifically, if there are industries or types of companies that would continue to invest in sponsorship of clubs and teams?

My answer is that although we are in a down economy, companies are still continuing to invest in sponsorship as a means to “get their message” into the market, create visibility for their company and brand, and demonstrate a sense of community by supporting societal trends and concerns (healthy lifestyles, “green”, transportation issues, work-life-balance, etc.). And, sponsorship is still an excellent vehicle to augment existing marketing and public relations initiatives; not to mention, it is definitely more affordable than traditional forms of advertising.

Here are some interesting points I found while researching sponsorship trends during current economic times:

More companies were planning to invest more sponsorship dollars in 2010 than they did in 2009

Sponsorship is viewed by many companies as an important vehicle to augment existing marketing efforts, while also contributing to their philanthropic objectives (community service, etc.). This is HUGE nowadays because it’s all about spreading good PR and being in touch with what’s happening (healthy living, “green”, transportation issues, etc.). For many companies, being perceived positively, in support of societal concerns, among consumers can mean positive brand recognition (which can lead to more sales)

The majority of companies make their sponsorship decisions in Q4 (between October and December); which means they are making decisions NOW!

Are there specific industries that are more amenable to sponsorship than others; especially nowadays?

I’m not really seeing any industry coming to the forefront either in the research I have performed, or through the personal interactions I have had. At the professional level we’re seeing every possible industry involved in sponsorship in one form or another. At a local level, the cycling club I belong to is in discussions with a premier golf course community for sponsorship! One trend I am seeing though is local companies beginning to sponsor event venues. This is no longer the exclusive territory of the professional sports stadiums and ballparks. An example of the value of sponsorship on a local level is a Toyota dealership paying $ 1.5M to sponsor a park in Lewisville, TX! As of October 1, the official park name will be Toyota of Lewisville Railroad Park. Approximately 582K people visit the park annually for  youth leagues, sports tournaments, and special events as the Panda Cup International Soccer Tournament, American Southwest Conference Women’s Softball Championship, Texas Firefighter Olympics and Regional Amateur Tour (RAT) Skateboarding.

A few key points I will leave you with regarding reasons companies sponsor clubs, teams and events:

As a vehicle to reach their audience and compete in segments they deem valuable to their brand, products and services.

To increase visibility of their products and services in targeted segments and niche’s.

To help create a “buzz” around NEW products and services.

To drive more traffic for their store, website, or sponsored event.

To help drive sales and revenue .

To create additional business for their partners (retailers, suppliers, affiliates, etc.).

To demonstrate a sense of social responsibility and community involvement.

To entertain existing and prospective clients and partners (events).

The bottom line – companies are still investing a portion of their budgets in sponsorship, in spite of a down economy, because it helps them achieve their goals and objectives. By aligning your value with a company’s goals and objectives you can increase your club or teams chances of successfully securing sponsorship.

Here’s my question to you – “why shouldn’t a company sponsor you?”

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

Al

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