Sponsorship is a transaction. It’s not a free pass. If you treat a sponsorship as something that doesn’t need to be nurtured, then it will go away.
When a company hands you something, be it a bike, helmet or a graphics kit; it’s not free. There might not have been any money change hands, but you are expected to pay for it through exposing that product to as many people as possible. That’s the transaction. It may not have been expressed at the time, but the company will almost certainly have a level of exposure in their mind that would be acceptable for this sponsorship deal to work for them. There is a value proposition attached to sponsorship and you have to make up your end or the company will feel burned and walk away.
The good news is that its easier than ever to offer value for a sponsor. Social media offers multiple channels that are valuable but fleeting in nature. Yes, you may have given your helmet a plug last week on Insta, but now you’re 22 posts passed that single photo and nobody notices it anymore. Learn to use hashtags properly to ensure the maximum eyes on the product for the longest period. Use Stories and Reels and everything at your disposal, but for the love of the Moto Gods, don’t mix it with your photos from Johnno’s 18th where Stevo and Kelly both spewed on each other and you filmed it in slow motion. Start a separate athlete account if you need to separate life from the business of moto.
If you have the ability to film stuff in decent quality, then start a YouTube channel. You can edit on a phone or tablet no problem these days. YouTube is an underused resource in moto.
Build a small website. You can do this free with Wix or at little cost with Squarespace and both offer decent quality. List all the people that spend their time, money and resources to help you in any way, shape or form so everyone can see it and update the site regularly.
Race when possible. Nothing beats seeing a rider wearing the kit their sponsor sent them on the track. It’s a complete endorsement and can’t be undervalued and the more you are seen the better it is for your sponsor, who will probably ask you where their product was used during the year at some point. You don’t even have to win – just get out and be seen.
Be respectful. There are thousands more riders looking for free handlebars. If you behave like a dick and don’t show any gratitude you will find yourself short on friends and gear.
If you don’t like a particular piece of equipment, have that conversation with the company, not everyone in the pits and at your mate’s house on Friday and Facebook and Tinder. Have a look at the careers of pro riders that shat on equipment constantly. Doesn’t matter how good you are, respect is a two-way street.
Not all sponsors are angels. Some can be difficult or become unreasonable. But keep it professional from your end and if things do fall apart then wish them well and be on your way. It’s a small industry – don’t get into a pissing war that’s settled through who can spread to most rumours and shit-talk.
Give feedback to your sponsors. Send them an email at the very least once every three months and let them know how you’ve got the word out about their product, where you’ve used it and what’s planned next.
Racing isn’t in a great place right now in Australia. You have to go the extra mile to ensure a sponsorship deal. Look how hard Todd Waters and Josh Green work at it and believe me, they’re still not having gear thrown at them like you’d imagine. There are times where both would be faced with justifying what they can offer and they are at the front of the pack in regards to offering exposure with quality content.
Start now. Build slowly. It will pay off eventually and you may just find a relationship with a company that sticks long term.