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marketing amateur cycling(5 posts)

marketing amateur cyclingel_pato
Oct 1, 2003 12:34 PM
It's getting to be the time of year when teams begin to get organized for next season, and I was wondering if anyone has any advice for securing sponsors for local, amateur teams in our less than stellar economy. What types of things can be put into a sponsorship proposal that will increase the likelyhood of a positive response? Does anyone have demographic info on the spending habits of bike riders/racers, stats on the growth of cycling in the US, or any other figures that would look good to a potential sponsor of a local team and/or bike race? Beyond approaching companies that have ties to friends/family, are certain types of companies more likely to be receptive? Any and all info that current/former team managers, or better yet, anyone on the business side of things who can shed light on what a business is looking for when considering sponsorship/advertising options would help greatly. Thanks.
I'm going through this right nowmaurizio
Oct 1, 2003 1:35 PM
This is a great topic and one that deserves more attention. I am in charge of new sponsorship for our team and it's been a learning experience.
Sponsorship is sales. And it's a numbers game. My advice is to not concentrate on one or two companies. This is the mistake I made last year. We landed one for $5K, but it was scary, down to the wire. This year, I literally sent out and followed up on about 40 color printed and bound proposals. This will be the best year yet for our team as a result.

I think there's a book out there titled - "The Athletes guide to sponsorship." I think it's tailored more towards the individual rather than the team, but it may be a good place to start.
The info you look for is cyber gold. Let me know if you find it. What we have done (farily successfully) this year is find out what niche our team fills. In our case, we are masters in a fairly affluent area, so we play on this key demographic.
Aside from some exclusive bike companies, I've not been asked about our results (we're on top). In all the meetings we've had, the value of what you can do for your sponsor is what is going to close the deal. Also, play on the fact that this is a year's worth of exposure rather than a one time newspaper ad for about the same money.
I work in PR so I know the value of articles, television and such. We play on that. We play on exposure of their businesses in the markets we typically live in.
We play on promoting their products at our races (2 per year), and having contests with drawings (key here) so we can then provide our sponsors mailing lists.
Anything you can think of creatively beyond just putting their name on your jersey will help you.
No one wants to feel like a sucker writing a check to someone who only appears in October to get next years funding.
You're going to have to figure out where you fit with the sponsor and then create a value proposition (the proposal) to get them to act.
Where to start? Friends and Family and business associates are a good place to get leads.
Pick up a copy of Velo News and take a look at jerseys and then figure out how they fit and how that could have been sold to the sponsor.
I'm going through this right nowel_pato
Oct 1, 2003 2:04 PM
Right now it looks like I'm the point man on the team for getting us sponsorships, and I'm trying to figure out what exactly our value proposition is. We're all poor cat 3s, but we're all strong (we'll get good results), and we live in a medium size town with a terrible economy. I think that selling that we'll be hosting a race is a good idea, but when it comes time to plan that race I think the best thing would be to make it an event for the sponsor. I read an interview with the guy from Threshold Sports (SF GP, NYC Crit, USPRO promotor) and he was talking about how amateur racers just want to go and be out of the way and race, but they brought bike racing into town, made it an event, and putting it in the people's faces. He advocated being a proactive marketer of racing rather than just someone putting on a race. I think that if you can present a team as something that's going to be active in the community, put on a high profile race in a place where people that aren't related to the racers will see it (ie, put in a little extra work to get a downtown crit instead of the industrial park), or in some other aspect place your team as a visible member of the community at large you can be more attractive to a sponsor. Other than hosting a race, how can a team do this? Ideas? Anyone?
I'm going through this right nowmaurizio
Oct 1, 2003 2:41 PM
Sell exposure to your sponsors. Beyond what they could get from using that money elsewhere. If you use the event, plan on getting as much info back to your sponsor in terms of leads - This will be useless if your sponsor is a chemcial waste company, etc. In cases like this, you will have to get better acquainted with your newspaper editor/writers and get some copy written about you guys.
Putting on a race is work and unless your team is committed to doing a good job, you will squeak by at best. We have a rule that if you plan on racing the races we hold, you better get there at set up and stay until tear down - no exceptions.
It's going to come down to giving the sponsor back more than what they feel they put in.
re: alternatives...philippec
Oct 2, 2003 1:28 AM
I don't know how relevant the following is, but having just helped balance our team's FY 2003 budget, let me give you some numbers and insight.

Disclaimer -- all that follows relates to my amateur team that is based just north of Paris, France.

In all, we have about 60 riders split between two road squads, a mountain bike squad, a strong cyclocross contingent and a strong juniors/development squad. As an aside the club is based in a strong working class and slightly dis-advantaged area -- this is an important element for our sponsors.

Last year we took in 98000 euros/in-kind donations (roughly equivalent to the same sum in dollars). Our title sponsors (3 in all) popped for 16000, 28000 and 18000, euros respectively. Our lesser sponsors (7) coughed up about 25000 about evenly split between cash and in-kind donations (bikes, gear, drinks, etc...). The rest was earned by the club through the races it puts on and team cash awards earned at away races (these are disbursed to the team members at the end of the year).

The three title sponsors are a graphic design/sports communication firm, the local city and the département (equivalent to a US state). Local/regional government here are very active in the sponsoring scene for a number of reasons including visibility (tourism) and for the "social" role sports clubs play (e.g. youth athlete development, strengthening the "sense of community" in, and projecting a positive image of, the area, etc.).

The money is spent on team kit, upkeep of the team vehicles, hotels and accomodations during stage races, race registration and special club cash bonuses for successful riders (haven't seen any of that money this year!!).

So, while local/state governments are cash-strapped, you shouldn't completely ignore them either. Not that you might have the same success we have here, but it seems to me that cities/counties/states, etc... that don't hesitate to invest massively in sports arenas might (in some rare cases) also be receptive to sponsoring a bicycle team.

My 2 centimes worth...
A+

Philippe