Car Show Articles and Reviews

Applying for Car Sponsorships

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By: Jeff Cantagallo, CarShowz.com

Disclaimer: There are so many different directions I can go in with this write-up as we all have different experiences and what each of you want to accomplish out of a sponsorship. Some are just starting out in the show scene, and some have been doing it for years. Below is to help give you a better understanding of how to present yourself and what you can offer a sponsor.

The first thing you need to do, as a competitor and a potential sponsoree, is decide, “What do I want out of this sponsorship?” and “What am I willing to do for this sponsorship?” Are you willing to travel? Are you willing to allow the sponsor to trailer your vehicle across the country (if so, make sure there is a contract outlining the insurance and responsibilities)? All of those details and possibilities need to be thought out before you apply for a sponsorship. All sponsorships are negotiable, keep that in mind. If you come to the table and let a company know you are willing to pay half and you are applying for a partial sponsorship, let them know. Do your research, find out what the product costs and present to them what you are willing to offer. They may work with you or they may tell you, here is what we are offering. Also, take into consideration the installation costs, etc. if you are not installing the product on your own.

Companies are not going to ‘just hand out’ products. You may luck out and get a couple of local businesses that may offer you free decals, tint, or wrap. Be sure to negotiate the length of time you are willing to advertise for that business. I would recommend a contract that is signed by both you and the business.

A good example of a well-established sponsorship/relationship is race car drivers (Drag racing or any racing really). I mention “relationship” because that’s what it is about in our industry. It’s a two-way street. I mention the race car example because it helps create a picture of how it works. The cars, records, passes down the track are seen by all enthusiasts who are into racing. Whether it is reading about a record someone broke, times laid down on the track, the latest technology and innovation being used in the cars. Sponsorships are not handed out to everyone and anyone. They are earned. Again, what can you do to get noticed? Sponsors want tangible results and with racing there’s no hiding it, you win or you lose; and it is a great way to display their products in action.

The question that comes up is what can you do for my company? It’s just like applying for a job. What can you do to set your resume apart from the rest? It’s not always about the car you are modding. Some companies want an ambassador, someone who will represent their product well, potentially help drive business to them and their distributors.

Here are a few suggestions to help get you started. These are just suggestions, not all sponsorship cases apply, but this will help get you started in the right direction.

  • Start by getting together a modification list. (Interior, exterior, performance, audio/video, etc.)
    Companies are going to want to see what you have done to your ride. They want to see that you are taking the initiative to get the ball rolling and you’re not out to just get free parts. Listing future modifications is also good. But this can get tricky. Unfortunately, our scene is polluted with people who run their mouths. Perhaps they were dropped on their heads when they were babies and are looking for attention. So, if you are going to list out future mods, be sure to be truthful and plan on having those mods installed within a reasonable amount of time. If you don’t have the money or the means to have the part installed, don’t list it. Again, the companies want to see what you have planned. People come and go from the scene. If you plan on sticking around, let them know by informing them of your future plans, but be reasonable with how you deliver that information
  • List your vehicles current exposure. Magazine features, music videos, calendar shoots, etc.
  • List the past and most importantly, future shows you are attending. The key here are shows that have high numbers in spectators and the best potential for exposure (i.e. TV show, photo shoots, magazine coverage, etc.). Attending 20 local shows in a season with 100 cars is great, but may not be appealing to a national sponsor. This case may not apply to all sponsor scenarios; there may be a local business that prefers you attend all local shows or a national sponsor may have a targeted market in your area. A diverse show schedule, attending some of the larger shows may be more appealing to a national sponsor. It is in your best interest to ensure there is a class your vehicle can compete in if you are attending a larger travel show. If you are just starting out in the show scene, I would recommend attending as a spectator to get a feel of the show atmosphere and see what you will be classed up against.

The most important thing is the delivery of the above information. I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to take your time and put together a solid sponsor package. “What can I do to set myself apart from the rest?” Companies are flooded with requests left and right. And I will put money down that most requests come via email and Facebook.

The most effective way is in person, but not always logistically possible. I recommend talking to the companies representative at the shows, get them used to seeing your face, your ride and let them know you are everywhere they are. Network; get as much contact info as you can. <<< “Without being too much of a pain in the a$$…haha.”

There are a few ways to capture the information we outlined above and present the package to a sponsor. Of course, depending on your budget, you chose what best fits you. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • An old school portfolio, along with a cover letter, briefly introducing yourself and outlining your request for a full or partial sponsorship. Stay to the point; remember this is just like applying for a job. Your goal is to get your foot in the door, so keep it brief. Check out Walmart or a local office supply store for a portfolio style folder. Something you can attach photos to and looks professional. Please, Please, Please be sure to spell check.
  • Another option, to spawn off from the first one, you can burn photos to a CD/DVD. Capturing an overview of your vehicle mods (interior, exterior, performance, audio, etc.) This is a great way to also include photos of your ride at shows. To prove to the sponsor you have attended events.
  • A website is a good way to set your vehicle apart from the rest. If you don’t have the skills but have some cash you are willing to pay someone to design it for you, this may be an option. This is also a great way to keep an up-to-date running log of events you attend.

The above ideas are just some of the ways to get the ball rolling. There are “sponsorship” companies out there that claim they will help you, but honestly you will find it more rewarding by creating your own network and doing the foot work on your own. Not knocking those companies, just saying a lot of folks get forgotten about.

An enthusiast, a Father, a Husband, and a U.S. Navy Veteran. The Creator of CarShowz a hobby gone mad and a passion for anything on wheels. Armed with a camera who knows where this journey will take me but, stay tuned, it's going to be an exciting ride!

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