Well, at long last, I’m finally back in New Mexico with my pal Jeff Allison, Owner of Allison Customs, and builder of my Chevelle. We’re working the week together to button everything up on the Chevelle that wasn’t completed for SEMA, and by Memorial Day 2014 I’ll have the car back home in Iowa. I flew down yesterday, and my great high school buddy Aaron is driving down this weekend to help me load up the trailer and we’ll bring her home. Memorial Day is also Laura’s and my 13th wedding anniversary, and I’d love nothing more than to take she and the kids for a ride around the block to celebrate.
As of this writing the brakes are fully done, the rear suspension is done, the exhaust is done, the alignment is done, the wiring is 90% done, and we’re a a few set of parts away from being able to fire the motor for the first time. There are a few items to finish up inside the car (seat belts and A/C controls, mainly), and we should have it able to roll under it’s own power soon.
Funny enough, I figured out that since this all started the Chevelle has traveled about 8000 total miles….but has not driven an inch! If it’s possible, I’m going to take the Chevelle out to hit the last leg of the Hot Rod Power Tours as well! (By the way, if you’d like to read the entire build up of the Chevelle, you can do that HERE!).
It’s been 3 years and 2 months since this all kicked off, and long time blog readers and podcast listeners will recall it all began with Jeff’s gift of free labor to build the car as a way to launch his shop (check out Episode 72). He’s been a long time podcast listener, and while we’d never met in person, the connection we had though the show was what kicked everything off. I can’t help but realize this all started when I’d been self employed for just 3 months, and our youngest daughter was barely 6 months old. A lifetime of things has happened between then and now.
If you’d have told me in 2011 what it would take to get the car to SEMA, and that it would become a magazine star….I doubt I’d have believed it. I won’t try to deny the fact that this entire process has been amazing – I’ve had the chance to see and do a million things because of it – but it’s also been mentally and financially challenging. When we started I didn’t really realize what I was committing to, but I decided that nothing would showcase the power of the connection my podcast show was bringing than to go for it.
1) The Big Realization: I Needed Sponsorship!
By far though, and I can tell you with 100% certainty, without sponsorship of labor from shops and from nearly every part and component company I obtained parts from, this thing wouldn’t have had a prayer of happening financially. The reality is that because of all of that we were able to build a 6-figure car on a 5-figure budget. When the dust had settled, there were over 20 full or partial sponsorships that came into play, and I’m proud to say that every one of them were my first choice to work with. What I wasn’t counting on was that working with sponsors would have far more value than just getting a deal from them – it would put me in a position to have long term, friendly, and profitable relationships with sponsors for years to come.
The reality is that the automotive business is just about financially upside down compared to anything else – custom cars and race cars are typically worth less than the parts that built them – and without sponsorship to fill the void, it’s pretty tough to make it all work (unless you’re independently wealthy – and then it works pretty great).
2) I Created My Own System To Go About It.
Coming up with a method to obtain sponsorship was the trick. I developed my own system of doing it, mainly out of necessity, improved it as I learned what did and didn’t work, and used that approach with nearly everyone tweaking the specific details for each individual one by one. I learned a lot through the process of creating it, the biggest of which is that in sponsorship…..there is really no such thing as free parts, or a free service. In my experience, you must first be worthy of having sponsorship in the first place. You have to have accomplished something of note. (Example: I built The MuscleCar Place for a year and a half before I ever had a single big advertiser – much less a sponsor for my car build. I spent that year and a half building up my name, my brand, and my product.)
Next, if you really want to court and wow a sponsor you have to be ready – and willing – to give far more back in return for what you’ve received, and to become a brand ambassador for the people trusting you. There are a lot of people that may not see it that way, but I’ve found that being a giver first is always the bet policy to go with. Is it easy? No. Is it fast? No. Are results automatically guaranteed? No. But, if you’re willing to put in the work (in my experience at least) obtaining sponsorship is more than worth it!
3) I Want To Teach it to Others!
So why am I sharing this all with you? Well, at the conclusion of my experience of debuting the car at SEMA I was approached by others to learn how I went about doing it, and I realized that the system I had created was fairly generic in nature – meaning it wouldn’t only work for me, but could really be applied to any sponsorship situation in general.
I started sketching down notes on a legal pad of all of the steps, people, resources, and methods I had used over the past few years to get to this point, and when I looked up I had rifled through 6 pages and still had more to go. That’s when I realized – I could show other people how to do this, teach them how to leapfrog my mistakes, and do it themselves. In the end – my approach is very simple and really only comes down to two things:
1) You have to put yourself in a position to be Sponsor Worthy. Initially, this is the “pay to play” segment. You have to put yourself out there first as a sponsor candidate by doing something – or creating something – that can help showcase that you are something special. There are a million ways to slice this, but I can assure you that you need not be a podcast show host to do it.
2) You have to create a professional presentation/portfolio that showcases what you’ll be delivering to the sponsor in return for what you’ll be receiving, complete with objectives and deliverables, and then you need to go about selling it. Once you’ve obtained the sponsorship, you need to follow up with a report on what you’ve achieved on their behalf.
So, without further ado, I have moved forward on this and am creating an online course that will teach my approach to sponsorship, and I’m calling the course “Sponsorship Fastlane!” I’ll be previewing it on Thursday May 29 at 1PM EDT in a free online webinar where I’ll layout the approach and tactics that I took to this whole process, show the system I used time and time again to gain each sponsor, giving the shortcut to teaching something that I put nearly 3 years of my life figuring it out. If you’re a shop or individual car builder (or even an aspiring racer), I think this will bring you a lot of value in your mental approach to it all. Again, gaining sponsorship isn’t easy or quick, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, it can be very worth it!
I’m potentially going to do a few more of the free webinars during the first week of June as well, but right now the only scheduled date is May 29. While I will rebroadcast the webinar for one day after it’ happened live, I’ll be making something special available only for people that are on the live event.
I hope that you’ll be able to attend. Sign up via SponsorshipFastlane.com or just click the banner below!