35“It’s not the rider going across the line with his/her arm raised, but how did the sponsorship affect sales, connect with people and the market?” Michael Aisner, Cycling Promoter
Wins yes, sponsor sustainability...not this time.
Teams can be enormously successful in race results and still lose sponsorship. The key to a successful relationship between sponsor and sport is to target corporate marketing objectives and cooperate in a joint program to get the word out. For sponsorship to continue, bike racers become messengers of corporate marketing, not just the bearers of name brands on jerseys, which is only a small piece of sponsor strategy. Winning may not even be important to the corporate marketing strategy.
A message is marketed in various ways, and there can be many strategies. Athletes are sponsored mostly because of influential abilities as spokespeople, connecting sponsor interests to desired markets. For an established brand, it’s more about driving more consumers more often to the product than publicizing it.
There are other strategies as well. Sometimes the goal is an alignment with cycling’s values and brand for health, active lifestyles, environmentalism, a cause, or particular technologies. The match may be to reach a similar demographic of race enthusiasts to recruit employees or other services. It may be to educate a company about an emerging product line as a research unit with athletic applications. It may be to reach specific markets where races have broad consumer exposure or to send cyclists to retail centers to attract customers thereby appealing to a broader demographic.
This may occur at bike races, but also at events within a sponsor’s industry including expos, trade shows, swap meets, pod casts, websites, email newsletters, and the be all-end all, media exposure. Some live to track media hits to ensure the value of its cycling investment. Others establish ambassador programs where teams represent a brand message at school visits. The value of this type of visibility is tougher to evaluate for measurable impact.
Whichever strategy, cycling sponsorship is an extension of corporate marketing’s efforts to speak to the people they want to reach. Bike racers may need to be concerned about winning – races and continued sponsorship, and the two may be exclusive goals.
Prayer for Marketing & Advertising
“I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 36Romans 9:17
We ask for new ways to present cycling to the world – ways that attract sustainable provision.
Ponder What organizations would benefit from a cycling presence? Affirm I am my sponsor’s representative. Watch your talk because it’s not just about you.
35“Rasmussen College Summit: Sponsorship,” Rasmussen Summit Staff presented “Sponsorship: Getting it, keeping it.” Moderator-Tom Schuler, Team Sports Panelists: Michael Aisner-Coors Classic, David Kutoff-Materials Processing Corporation, Stephanie Scott-Jelly Belly Candy Company, David Wilson-Wheaties. Posted on “Women Cyclists: Articles” www.womencyclists.com
Tom Schuler gets Honorable Mention in this piece. He was one of the original crew within an American sponsorship dynasty that began as the 7-Eleven squad and evolved into Motorola, with eventual ties to US Postal Service and eventually Discovery Channel. Tom has run a number of successful teams proving his longevity as a survivor in the intense milieu of cycling’s well-sponsored teams through quality marketing programs – Team Saturn being the crown jewel thus far, but with Team Type 1 number 1 as a cause sponsorship.
36The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson