Some years back we represented a racer who chose to pass up a racing event to participate in a parade that had a charity involved. The car dealer sponsor that we had gave us some coded key chains to toss out along the parade route. The result was 21 cars sold to people with the "lucky key chains" and a sponsor that renewed for a bigger deal for the next season. You could offer to do something similar for a business that you are looking to have as a sponsor.

Local Events
Become a supporter of the Chamber of Commerce. Make yourself and your race car available for their activities. Again, this is a great opportunity to attract the attention of people who are in a position to put you in touch with decision makers at their company.

Make sure you have your race car ready for mall shows or race car shows. There have been many sponsorships found with a little effort in this arena but make sure you have your brochures and business cards ready to hand out.

When you participate in these various events make every effort to collect business cards so that you can follow up. If you give out a brochure or business card, get a business card in return. Then work the telephone in an effort to set up a meeting with the person you met.

When you do the shows/events make sure you present a good image. Dress so that people take you seriously. Business casual works just about everywhere but old racing T-shirts, blue jeans, and sneaks just don't cut it.

When setting up a meeting, plan to spend some money. Offer to buy breakfast, lunch, or even a cocktail. People are more receptive to what you have to say, or feel better about you, if they are being treated well. That doesn't mean you have to take them to a five-star restaurant, but it doesn't mean Taco Bell either.

Make sure you keep your website current. A website that is not current is worse than not having a website at all. If you don't have a website you should. It's not hard or expensive to have one created. It's a good selling tool so make it part of your sponsorship offer. You can put a sponsor's link, product information, and more on your website to add value to the sponsorship

Once you have approached companies about sponsorship make sure you keep them informed of what your race team is doing. Create a newsletter that goes out by email or U.S. mail that offers news of what your race team has been doing and is planning to do. Cultivate relationships with your hometown newspaper, radio, and TV station. Get to know the sports staff and keep them informed on what you are doing. Include them on your press release mailing list. If you are not doing any of this, you should be, as it is an important part of sponsorship marketing.

The Meeting
Once you are able to set up a meeting with a potential sponsor, you need to have something to show them. Put together a flip chart of all the key information you have about your team and your sponsorship offer or a Power Point presentation. Keep in mind that this first meeting is a learning experience for both you and the potential sponsor. You want to do a lot of listening so that when you leave you have a good idea of how they market and what they want to get out of the sponsorship.

When the second meeting comes, and there will be a second meeting if you did a good job at the first meeting, you will want to come with a restructured presentation that answers all their questions from the first meeting, addresses how they go to market, and has some added features of your sponsorship program that you did not include during the first meeting.