Editor's Note: Ernie Saxton has been involved in sponsorship marketing for more than 40 years. He has presented seminars on the subject throughout the U.S. and Canada. His newsletter, Motorsports Sponsorship Marketing News, is now in its 25th year of publication and his motorsports columns appear in a variety of publications. His website, www.saxtonsponsormarket.com, provides free information and a variety of tools that will help you in your sponsorship efforts. He can be reached at 215/752-7797 or by email at Esaxton144@aol.com.

There are many racers who will tell you that they have not been able to secure serious sponsorship. That is usually followed by a long list of excuses why they have not been successful. Some will tell you that it is because of the sluggish economy, others will tell you that they just have not been able to reach the right people and the list goes on. Truth be told most racers are not successful at securing serious sponsorship because they are not prepared properly to seek sponsorship, or they just never make a serious effort.

Notice that we talk about serious sponsorship. That is sponsorship that involves serious money, being paid in return for a serious effort being put forth by the racer, to make sure the sponsor gets a serious return on their investment.

At a Marketing Summit that we had the pleasure to be part of for NASCAR, racing legend Junior Johnson told the group in attendance that you have to give the sponsor a 200 percent return on their investment. We don't know if you have to give them that much, but I would say that you certainly have to give more than you get to be successful.

He also made a point, that we've been telling racers for years-you have to keep your sponsorship marketing efforts a secret. Don't share your information with anyone.

We represented a racer some years back who shared information about his potential sponsor with some friends. He told them that he was 90 percent sure that a well known company was going to come on board as his sponsor as a result of a presentation we'd made. His friends-excuse me, so-called friends-had proposals to the company the next day. Each proposal undercut his price and offered to do more and he lost the deal. That is one very good reason for not sharing information with your friends. It's even more important these days with the sluggish economy and so many racers out there looking for financial support.

Be Prepared
So what should you be doing to secure serious sponsorship? First on the list is getting prepared. You should have a brochure, a selling piece, that gives a potential sponsor a good idea of what you have to offer them, what you are willing to specifically do for a sponsor and offers some information about your race team. This could be a six-fold brochure that can be handed out at personal appearances, mailed to potential sponsors with a cover letter, or is available when someone asks about sponsorship. It amazes us to see how many racers who claim to be looking for sponsorship have absolutely nothing prepared to give to someone who asks about sponsorship.

Now, included in the brochure/pamphlet should be information about the race team, the driver, a schedule, demographics, and a list of things you can do for a sponsor and some photos, plus contact information. Again we're amazed to find that many racers seeking sponsorship offer no contact information.

Keep in mind that if you are looking for sponsorship you are most likely going to have business people call. Your phone should have voice mail with a professional message, and if you have somebody answering the phone for you make sure they are capable of taking a good message. Be sure that you don't have small children answering or leaving cute messages on your phone. Keep in mind that sponsorship marketing is a serious business.