By Mike Garrison
A Moment with Mike is a weekly opinion column where LiveRC’s Mike Garrison gives his take on hot-button issues, general topics, and conversations within the RC industry. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of LiveRC.
We are closing in on October, and that can only mean one thing…Silly Season is coming fast. If you aren’t familiar with the term “Silly Season”, this is the time of year in which sponsorships for 2020 will be applied for, negotiated, signed, and often announced early. As drivers prepare their pen and paper to update their latest resume results and send out applications, I want to take this time for a few quick reminders regarding sponsorship.
#1) Sponsorship has become far more common than it was 10-15 years ago, however, despite the increasing number of racers receiving sponsorships, they are still important and should be taken seriously. If you aren’t willing to do the work, don’t apply for the job.
#2) NO ONE IS ENTITLED TO A SPONSORSHIP. Never assume or expect to receive a sponsorship. A sponsorship is a job, and as a racer you are the “employee”. You are not entitled to a sponsorship (or a job) with the discount (or paycheck) of your choice without working for it – and working HARD for it. No one starts at the top, and you must earn your way up the ranks through positive representation, results, loyalty, and by showing you are a benefit to the brand.
#3) If you do receive a sponsorship it’s important to remember your role, and that a sponsoring company doesn’t owe you anything. You are working for them, they are NOT working for you. The company survived long before they sponsored you and will easily survive without you – therefore treat them with respect, represent them well, be loyal, work to achieve good results, and do YOUR job as a positive representation of their brand if you want to see the rewards.
#4) Sponsorship can be very beneficial to both racers and companies, but it can also severely hurt local hobby shops. Before agreeing to a sponsorship contract, consider the actual amount of savings it will bring you vs. purchasing from a local shop. Most often sponsorships are percentage off MSRP, not actual the street price – therefore the savings on a kit which has an MSRP of $700 may only provide you a $25-30 savings over buying it from a local shop. Sometimes spending a little bit more to keep your local track/hobby shop in business, and giving you a place to race, is well worth being a “privateer”.
#5) If you are professional enough to apply for a sponsorship, be professional enough to respect your current, past, and potential future sponsors as well. In other words, don’t talk bad about others simply because you are sponsored by another brand or are switching teams. While you personally may not like the products of your existing sponsor, or those used by someone else - be grateful for you what have, thank them for what they have provided you, and in the words of my Mom, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
#6) Last but not least, DO NOT let sponsorship kill your love for the hobby. Too often racers allow the unnecessary pressure of being sponsored lead to added stress, frustration, and a lack of fun when going racing. Believe it or not, winning is not as important as you may think. Majority of the teams you are applying for have their “winning team” lined out, and while wins are good, what they are looking for from you is a positive representation in your area of their brand and products – winning or not. Sponsorships are supposed to be good for your racing, not kill it all together.