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  • "In Memory to The Greatest-Devoted Husband,Father,and Stock Car Racer"
    Picture credits go to Nascar.com

    Racin with Tim

    RACIN' WITH TIM---November, 1999

    Sim Racing Sponsorship Tips

    By Tim Kellebrew
    OTR Promotions

    This edition of Racing With Tim is sponsored by Blitzsports

    This column we continue our discussion of sponsoring issues and sponsorship tips geared towards the exciting and emerging sport of simulator racing. This column looks at issues of using your status as a representative of your sponsor's brand and web presence. You want to create the sense that because they sponsor one of the best THEY must be one of the best-in the mind of the consumer. If you are NOT one of the best sim racers in the business-you want to create the sense that there is a special connection and enough hyperbole surrounding your team-so as to NOT detract negatively from your sponsor. In other words, avoid controversy and negative publicity as it will reflect upon your sponsor.

    You build brand awareness wherever you can-established brand references abound through sim racer word of mouth, widespread availability of a brand, and few known problems in the way the brand can actually be implemented into a sim racer's hardware and their compatibility with the simulation programs themselves. Not so established brand awareness can be directly implemented by you into your pitch to potential sponsors by telling them how you are going to get their name out there on the web, into the sim racing community, and in other terms of reach. Unseating a rival is a difficult task for a newer and less established company-but one of their marketing plans is to build brand awareness early on so as to create demand for their product and then to infiltrate the market through increased sales and consequent market presence. So how can you help a brand increase name recognition and consequently sales in a niche market where a competitor's product appears well trenched?

    You may need to market yourself as a sim racer resource. Are you helpful to other sim racers ? Do you have a reputation for winning, or being instructive to help others to win, can you create content at your site that other sim racers can rely upon for effectiveness, importance, and usefulness to their sim racing? Better yet, if you can couple it with being a member of a winning team with a great amount of visibility-you have just enabled yourself some visibility. Visibility, and developing yourself into pronounced visibility is one of the first steps to becoming a hot property that sponsors will be attracted to.

    If you find that you are a hot property-along with the fact that your on the track performance is superb and your rankings are high you have what we call here at OTR Promotions a good potential sponsorship index (how's that for PSI? LOL). Anyway, it is here where sim racers often settle for less than they should. Of course, there are several strategies in sim racer sponsorship different than real racer sponsorships because of the newness of the whole thing, fewer costs involved and other issues. Some of the things we've learned over the last few years of doing this: (a)don't expect a lot of money if any at this point; (b) don't be embarrassed to ask for help with some expenses or other type of equipment needs; (c) finally, if it is a specific type of equipment you are after from THAT sponsor know what you want before you talk to them, and then ask them for it. (That way you won't settle for less because you are flattered by their interest).

    The other strategies are somewhat similar to real racing sponsorships, namely:--- a) state what you need; (b) be willing to negotiate--with the idea of trying to renew or up the ante next year; c) based upon your previous season's successes attempt a renegotiated renewal with the same sponsor next year; d) based upon your successes go for more with a competitor for next year; or tell the sponsor their competitors are pestering you; e)hold out for a better deal; f) get yourself represented by an agent (hmmm...like maybe OTR Promotions) who will negotiate the best deal possible so that you don't sell yourself short, give away the house for little or nothing, or take rejections less personally (let the agent hear all that stuff).

    The bottom line is that you don't have to be a consistent winner or have the team visibility to please a sponsor. Even if you don't it is still possible to get sponsored-just be prepared with what you are going to do for them and be ready to back up your promises with actions and not just words. Make it plain to them what they will get for what they are giving you. In sim racing though, NEVER give away more value than what they are giving away to you There is simply no leverage once you give away your marketing abilities for less than you should. Ask yourself questions: will you help them move product? Can you do a demo at a store for them in your local area during the holiday rush? Can you get yourself publicity-write PR to league mailing lists and do it in a manner that wins people's confidence in the new brand? Decide how much the sponsorship is worth to them in real terms? And finally, if it is worth something to them, what makes the most sense for you in terms of negotiating details of what you want in the sponsorship? In other words-take a good educated guess about what you think you would be providing to them and ask for something of equal worth to you. (Obviously we may not be talking about dollar to dollar matching-as sponsors do want assurance that their sponsorship is profitable-but keep in mind there are other factors to consider than money or increased products sold. There is also the concept of increasing consumer awareness about one's product.). To the sponsor--you will want to find a way to clearly communicate how the benefits of sponsoring you increases their return on investment. Increased awareness, increased sales, and the benefits of being a sponsor in the minds of consumers are good places to start. If you can impact their market share even in a minor way while showing how your actions will correlate with these concepts you will be well on your way to landing a sponsor-even in simulated sports.

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