This story is brought to you by my Motocross Sponsorship Course. You'll be guided step by step throughout the entire sponsorship process while receiving actionable feedback and coaching on your progress, and I've designed it so you can actually get started in your sponsorship journey and be assisted in the process, rather than getting an 'information dump' and being left to your own devices. Click here to learn more.
If you’re looking to secure sponsorship and reduce your costs to go racing, you’ve no doubt hit up your local bike shop for some support.
I recently had Bunbury KTM/Suzuki dealer principal Sander Taber on The Motocross Podcast, and I raised the question of what the shop looks for in riders that it sponsors.
Now the store is one of the biggest backers of motocross in Western Australia - if you go to a race track, you’ll no doubt see a Bunbury KTM or Suzuki logo. The shop supports WA motocross so much, it even has its own race team.
As it so heavily involved, members of the crew are always at the race track, keeping an eye on other riders, their performances, and how they conduct themselves.
And how a rider conducts themselves is one of the first things Bunbury KTM/Suzuki considers when it looks to lend its support - the character and nature of a rider, for them, needs to be actively involved in the sport, and be a respected rider that can represent their brand appropriately.
“Because we’re always at the events and we’re always chatting to people, we sort of earmark some crew as they come through - we also get approached as well,” Taber commented.
“We just work through [them] and pick in - we have our main team where we work with guys who want to jump onboard and run the full team set-up.
“We also do a few side sponsorships deals where they’re maybe not the full fit for the Blue Hire team - maybe other sponsors they have don’t fit in line with that, but we still want to offer those people some support and have them a part of what we’re doing.
“It’s also who are good people around the track and around the racing community, and who are really good ambassadors.”
Now this is why you need to ensure you not only sharpen up your behaviour around the race track, but you also need to sharpen your behaviour and presence on social media.
I’m not saying you have to turn into a corporate robot - you certainly do not need to do that - so to put it simply, just don’t be a dickhead.
Now social media presence and activity also plays an important factor to the Bunbury KTM/Suzuki crew, who are very active on Facebook and Instagram themselves, as it allows them to directly connect with their customers.
You may have seen me write or say this before, but brands and businesses want to use your following - regardless of its size - to build new and stronger connections with customers.
That’s why it’s important you continue to be active on social media, as when you approach sponsors, they will want to get a glimpse of what you’re offering them.
If you're only posting here and there, they're going to find it hard to have confidence in the social media aspect of your offer.
By consistently being active and posting, you’ll also increase your audience size (you can get some content ideas in this article).
“We [look for] that good community rider who gets along with everyone,” he continued. “Social media is so important now with that being such a direct tool to engage with customers, so that’s super important.
“It’s a build-up of results, social media presence and then also being that good clubman that gets along, does the riding and is well-liked through the racing community. They’re the key things we look for in someone who is going to be the right fit to be part of what we have going on.”
So the important thing to take away from this is that you always need to conduct yourself in a manner that won't damage your chances of landing sponsorship down the track (both offline and online), as you just never know who is keeping tabs on you.
The second thing is businesses still see value in a rider’s social media, even at the local level. So while you make think your few hundred followers amount to nothing, a local dealership or service will still see value in, especially if their following is on the smaller side.
It’s also important to remember that value is subjective - just because Bunbury KTM/Suzuki sees these qualities as valuable to them, doesn’t mean another store or business does as well. Another business could expect all this and more, or not even any of these things at all.
So make sure you do your research on how brands are using social media and sponsoring other riders, and if you’re still not sure, you can always ask them.