Have you considered sponsoring a race team to market your product or services, but not sure when the right time to get started might be?  This blog post will walk through the “rules of engagement” for a sponsorship.  After reading this post, you should have a clear understanding of when the best time to engage a team for sponsorship is.

Having worked with multiple brands with their NASCAR programs, I have seen multiple reasons why companies seek out sports to market their goods.  This direction can come from a change in leadership, a new product launch, a new budget season or simply a new understanding of how sports can benefit your company.

Either way, something has triggered the company to believe they should be investing in sports and specifically NASCAR teams to help accomplish their sales and/or marketing objectives.  There is no magic time of the year to get started.  As mentioned earlier, there are various reasons for engaging a team for sponsorship.  A new budget cycle often drives new sponsorship conversations.  Perhaps your product or service is seasonal – meaning there are peak times of the year that consumers engage with your brand.  You may have a product that is very popular in the spring time and you typically see a lift in sales during that season.  With a seasonal product, you may want to capitalize on the popularity or campaign for stronger sales during a traditionally more dormant time of the year.  Both strategies are triggered by the calendar year.

Let’s say you represent a construction product and the largest construction trade show is coming in January next year.  You really want to make a huge impact and believe that having an association with a NASCAR team could really help you stand out from your competition because NASCAR is so popular within the construction industry.  You plan to sponsor a race team so that you can promote this association at your tradeshow booth where all your target customers will be swooning at the upcoming January trade show.  This decision is driven by the timing of the event.  Just reverse engineer your plan to determine when you need to start conversations with the race team about sponsorship.  In this example, an event is driving the timing for engagement.

NASCAR teams will engage in conversation with potential sponsors at any point throughout the calendar year.  You might be thinking that you want to wait until the off season to start the conversation so that you don’t “bother” the team during the season.  Most race teams have dedicated business development persons that are not involved in the competition side of the team and the sole focus of these sales team members is to sell, regardless of the time of year.   Also, the “off season” in NASCAR is so short and holiday-filled, if you wait to start conversations after the last race of the season, you run the risk of not being ready for the biggest event of the NASCAR season – the Daytona 500.

Rarely do sponsorships come together from start to finish in a matter of weeks.  It doesn’t have to take a long time, but realistically, an investment of six figures or more typically does.  Generally speaking – once a sponsorship is decided on, the assets are agreed to, the dollar amount is confirmed – weeks have gone by.  Again, this doesn’t have to be the case, but many times it is.  We are all busy and have businesses to run that take our attention away.

This brings me to the point of emphasizing planning.  When you get ahead of the timing – knowing a season is coming and reverse engineer your starting point – you plan better.  Meaning you have had more time to think through the decision, how you will use it best, how you will announce the new sponsorship, how you will activate your new assets, who will oversee the sponsorship, what new business opportunities will arise from the sponsorship and how you will address the new business.  There is much value to planning a well thought out sponsorship with the right people.  You don’t have to do this alone either.  I know of several companies and individuals around the U.S. that specialize in strategic sponsorships, helping new companies plan out their launch and execution of the sponsorship.

The best time to engage a NASCAR team around sponsorship is today.  I would encourage you to be upfront and realistic with your timing, but don’t wait.  A team might be in conversation with your competitor and this might block you from being able to work with a certain race team.  Go ahead and pick up the phone, don’t delay.

If we can help you navigate the timing or you have other questions around sponsorship, I would encourage you to contact us.  We are happy to help you plan out the timing of your next sponsorship!