Buildbase-sponsored Ty Cuthbert is a rising star in go-karting. Ty’s dad Chris explains how he made it all happen with 10 tips on how to get karting sponsors.
Being a brand ambassador for a sponsor like Buildbase is extremely rewarding. It helps to build confidence, credibility and respect, particularly at grassroots level, and you have a great sense of being extremely proud to represent the company.
As Buildbase is a national household name, it’s been a huge milestone for Ty’s progression in gaining further sponsorship and raising his social media presence.
Beyond brand building, the major benefit of sponsors is the financial support they can offer. There’s no doubt that karting and motorsports are expensive, as explained in my blog on How to get your kid into karting. Here are some of my tips for getting sponsors on board.
1. Start early
Karting is expensive to race at championship level and lots of drivers do need financial support, but many people leave it too late. Waiting until you’re moving up to the next level – racing cars – means that you’ll be competing with others who already have long-term commitments in place, so start looking early!
2. Have a plan
A sponsor is someone who wants to invest in an individual or team and they share a joint vision to raise each other’s profiles. It works two ways and both parties can benefit – but there needs to be a plan in place.
Sponsors don’t just look for continual race winners, but someone with common values who will represent their brand well and have the company business at heart.
They will normally want a return on investment, which these days mainly involves social media exposure – sending out the right messages including the sponsors logos. The championships gave Ty’s sponsors great social media and TV coverage, which worked for both parties with increased exposure and social media impressions.
3. Consider your needs
It’s exciting to get brands interested, but don’t overlook your own needs. Ultimately it’s a partnership so as well as thinking about what you can offer, consider what you want in return. We have turned down sponsorship offers from big names in motorsport as they had the wrong intentions for Ty and we saw limited return.
4. Explore existing connections
When looking for sponsors the first place to look is on your doorstep. Look for local businesses that support or are involved in your sport and also consider personal and business connections.
I started with my long term business connections that have consistently been grateful for the referrals and connections I’ve created for them over the years. For example, before Ty started karting I had a fantastic relationship with Buildbase and promoted them through my network just because of the great customer experiences I had. The relationship grew personally and kids were often the talking point.
When Ty started karting I would be asked how he was getting on and it grew from there. Now the conversations have moved on to contacts being happy and amazed at the attention and support Ty’s getting from F1. He was even wished happy birthday by Sergio Perez!
My experience of getting Ty sponsored was never easy, but we required it to race at a high level of karting championships. We persevered for some time. I was lucky that I had a very large business network that I had the opportunity to talk to about Ty’s hopes and dreams for the future. After a number of potential sponsors met Ty in person, they understood his outgoing and passionate personality and his list of sponsors grew from there.
6. Be active on social media
I got social media platforms in place early on so we could start to build a following and direct potential sponsors to a website and YouTube channel. This helped us to gain sponsorship as companies could see where we could proudly showcase them.
7. Keep communication going
A sticker on a kart without any other promotion is not really a return on investment for a sponsor even if you win every race. We go to a lot of time and effort to promote sponsors off track, which Ty loves. Keep your sponsor involved with all the action, good and bad, and let them know how the journey is going. A good sponsor will back you if you return the promotion of their brand.
8. Leverage networking opportunities
Networking your sponsors can also help secure long term commitment. Introducing well-known brands as well as those lesser known can help promote products and services and even build business relationships among those with common interests. I make a lot of business-to-business connections both on and off the track, creating a return on investment for all involved.
9. Be charitable
Your activity doesn’t need to be reserved for commercial sponsors. Ty supports and raises awareness for a number of charities across his social media as a good will gesture and is proud to be invited as an ambassador.
10. Be honest about the future
Be completely honest about what the future end game is and what the journey will look like, so sponsors understand the potential future exposure.
This year Ty is competing as a novice in a much faster class. He has gained four new sponsors who knew from the outset that he would be the least experienced and youngest to compete in a national championship. The sponsors met Ty first and loved his passion and personality following his growing social media presence. They have been proud to offer him their support as they knew they would get a great return on investment.