Sponsorship vs. Donations | How to Get the Most Value as a Business | Give it a Try with the 2022 NAMBA Nationals

Intlwaters

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Chris Wittrig

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Joined
Jan 3, 2004
Messages
494
First I'd like to thank any and all of you that have supported RC boating in any way. It takes a great deal of effort from many individuals to execute what might be hundreds of events across the nation every year. With that said, I'd like to also thank the many businesses and individuals that support events with the products they donate to the event and even those that have supported with cash to help pay for important event assets like trophies. It's this kind of support that complete the racing experience for the thousands of RC Boat Sports Enthusiast across America and even around the world. Thank you!

Today, though, I want to address the support we give back to the businesses that support, us as well as the difference between donations and sponsorships.

Every year a slew of races hit the schedule outside of the annual regional heat racing series. We might want to call these special races. They have a variety of names that end with Nationals, Grand Prix, World Championships, and others. With these events each one of them often contact the same small group of RC Boat businesses for support of their race, usually with the donation of a product that can then be raffled of or included as part of the winning trophy honors. Early on in the new millennium, however, these events were far less common. So much so that certain hosts saw the opportunity to help provide a better experience for race entrants by providing a deeper pool of raffle prize items and receive tremendous support. But as the idea caught on in other regions they saw the well drying up until they decided that the providers of all of these raffle prizes were being strained with all of the request and began to become counterproductive to the value they were trying to provide to the business providing merchandise. The difference being that they were providing a sponsorship and others were asking for donations but calling it a sponsorship. While, technically, there are dictionary definitions of sponsorship that sound very much like the definition of a donation, in the case of motorsports it has become a bit more business case driven whereas a donation in the best case might earn a tax write off for advertising value.

In years past certain hosts have pursued sponsors from business both within and outside of RC boating. When I say sponsorship it means those hosts spent time identifying the business needs of a company that they might be able to satisfy better than they could themselves in exchange for support of an event either through cash or in-kind sponsorship. Most of the time this need is in sales and marketing. Yes this is a lot more work than asking for a donation. It's a lot more work before, during, and after the event. This is the value of a sponsorship in the way of the definition I am focusing on today.

There are many ways a sponsorship can help a business. In the most basic sense, a sponsorship provides visibility. Provided an event, team or individual can draw a bigger crowd with a more interesting subject than the business could do on it's own, this visibility can be valuable. This visibility can come as a banner placed at the event and that might catch the eyeballs of those 30, 40 maybe even 100 pairs of potential customers that attend. Could that prompt a sale? Possibly. It is more likely if the business is set up to take orders onsite. Insane Boats is a good example of this. They have banners on site, are often class sponsors, and place ad in the race program. When a boater broke a throttle linkage and didn't quite have the right parts in their tool box they were… you guessed it...at the top of the boater's mind. Why? Because they invested in filling the air surrounding the environment with their brand so when the boater had a need in that environment their brand was the first that came to mind. Since they had a clearly identifiable point of sale on site it was easy for them to start cashing in on their "Sponsorship".

As an event owner offering sponsorship, I want to try to duplicate as closely as possible that type of return on investment for my sponsors. Unfortunately our market has been diluted with requests for donations where this type of business value is not the goal. A donation, while understood as an act of appreciation and support for its customers during the event, is really above and beyond the good product and service they've already given in addition to the time and effort put in to test and design their product. Realizing this I thought to myself how can we benefit THEM as much as it benefits me for the event I'm helping put on.

All the sponsorships of the 50th Anniversary NAMBA National Championships have been designed with these factors in mind. We are not looking for donations, but rather the exchange for our services that we can provide as an event that can draw a crowd in exchange for your product, service, or cash support. We have already begun providing visibility for sponsors that have signed on through social media posts announcing their participation. This is an effort extending far beyond that of your typical onsite banner display and trophy support where only the people onsite are exposed to your brand surrounding the event. The following are all of the additional ways that the 50th Anniversary NAMBA National Championships Team is working before, will work during, and continue their work after the event to give our sponsors the most business value for your brand or business that we could possibly conceive.
  • Website Brand Presence with Link to Your Brand's Website
  • Brand Description of Your Product or Business Listed on the Event Website
  • Boosted Social Media Post of Your Brand Support for Each Day of the Event Your Brand is Represented
  • Your Brand Mentioned Onsite with Every Class You Sponsor
  • Your Brand Mentioned in our Boosted Social Media Posts with Every Post of the Classes You Sponsor Along With Pictures and/or Video and a Link to Your Social Media Page
  • On-Site Point of Sale Space Designation
  • Name Placed on Event T-Shirt
  • Link to Your Product from Listing of Winners Products Used (i.e., Engine, Hull, Fuel, Oil Base)
  • Customer Leads (Presenting Sponsors and Above)

All of these things help bring real business value, improved "Top-Of-Mind" awareness, and potential sales pipeline for our sponsors. This is real sponsorship value.

Sponsors can also use this knowledge to qualify where you want to sponsor in the future. A business can ask how many attendees do you expect? What type of promotion are you offering through your event? How many people will you reach with my brand outside of the event? How will you reach them? Do you provide drivers back to my business (i.e., Phone Number, Web, Link, Social Media Highlight)? These questions can help a sponsor differentiate between donations and a real business value sponsorship. Upon asking these questions, many event promoters stop asking. This leaves room for the ones willing to really take the time to give bottom line support back to the sponsors.

Are you ready to jump aboard and drive genuine value by being a sponsor at the 50th Anniversary NAMBA National Championship that celebrate the very first running of this special event in 1972? Send me a DM, email me at [email protected], or give me a call at 925.695.4600.
 

Wasted wages

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2006
Messages
1,966
Nicely written...

But, for me personally...first and foremost this is a hobby... When looking for a part, engine, new hull etc., fancy ads, sponsorships, championships, we won last year's event!!, blah,blah,blah doesn't matter to me.
What works in my neck of the woods, and is a solid product does.

Buying from a dealer that is a huge advertiser and sponsor can only drive up the cost of his product or parts..there is no free lunch.
Donating a dozen engines over a year or even a single event costs him money.
And we pay for that in the cost of his products.

I'm not knocking what you are trying to accomplish here, just stating that we, in our daily lives are constantly being forced to deal with advertising. Model boating for me has always been a grassroots experience and word of mouth "what works" type of deal.

I don't want to win national events,,set records... I just want to hang out with like minded boaters and have fun...without all the hype and hoopla of advertising swaying my choices.

Want to do boaters a favor?, advertise in the vendors forum here on I/W...throw a sale once in a while, provide good product and save a racer a few bucks along the way.

Carry on....

Oh, and BTW....clubs make pretty good $$ putting on races and events..isn't that what the entry money is supposed to cover? Trophies and such ?
 

Chris Wittrig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2004
Messages
494
Nicely written...

But, for me personally...first and foremost this is a hobby... When looking for a part, engine, new hull etc., fancy ads, sponsorships, championships, we won last year's event!!, blah,blah,blah doesn't matter to me.
What works in my neck of the woods, and is a solid product does.

Buying from a dealer that is a huge advertiser and sponsor can only drive up the cost of his product or parts..there is no free lunch.
Donating a dozen engines over a year or even a single event costs him money.
And we pay for that in the cost of his products.

I'm not knocking what you are trying to accomplish here, just stating that we, in our daily lives are constantly being forced to deal with advertising. Model boating for me has always been a grassroots experience and word of mouth "what works" type of deal.

I don't want to win national events,,set records... I just want to hang out with like minded boaters and have fun...without all the hype and hoopla of advertising swaying my choices.

Want to do boaters a favor?, advertise in the vendors forum here on I/W...throw a sale once in a while, provide good product and save a racer a few bucks along the way.

Carry on....

Oh, and BTW....clubs make pretty good $$ putting on races and events..isn't that what the entry money is supposed to cover? Trophies and such ?
Some clubs absolutely do make good money putting on races. Others strive to break even while reinvesting as much of the revenue received back into the racer experience as possible. You're absolutely correct that a good number of people are just like you want to hang out and run with like-minded racers. At the same time, though, done properly there's an approach to hosting the event that engages non racers with the goal of gaining membership for the club and the contributions of sponsors and appropriate allocation of funds collected at events, as well as other factors such as local business engagement, helps bring that along. Using these capabilities to reach the next generation of boaters is how the hobby survives past the next, say, 15 years.
 

Brandon Atwell

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Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
1,115
A well sponsored and advertised nationals will most likely attract a larger spectator/ potential future racer base.

A race with let’s say 75-80 guys versus 20 looks like a much healthier and sustainable hobby. They see the potential and then can join a smaller faction (specific club) to work their way into the potential they see.
 

SayMikey

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2003
Messages
12,093
Brad and I put on the 2018 Nitro Nats, we invested in the sponsors who donated product by buying some product from them. in the end We gave all left over proceeds to The Martin Truex Foundation . Somewhere around $3500. This is a hobby where there are more backyard vendors just trying to keep the hobby going. Want to help keep the hobby going? call Jerry order a boat,call Walt get some props or a tank,call Zippy and order something. Keep the chain alive. Go to an event chat with new and old friends and its a good chance a race will break out!
 

Brandon Atwell

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Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
1,115
Also, great points Chris.

I think the point you drove home is we need FaceTime with these grassroots vendors and potential racers. It’s much easier to convince someone to try out a hobby when they know they can get equipment instead of chasing phone numbers and emails that only a few of us may know about. “Sponsorships” as opposed to donations achieve this as you are exposing their business and they are donating to not only boost their traffic but also the traffic of your race.

Social media is the key to reaching more.
 

Chris Wittrig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2004
Messages
494
A Nationals bringing in new Members? Is that really true?
Without question, some sites are much easier to make this a reality than others. Advanced promotion and community engagement can draw people out if they know where to go. Having the chance to host events in the thick of the city is such a huge opportunity that spectator engagement has to be a priority. Showcasing the vendors large and small that can bring those folks into being a casual boater or full blow participant and club member brings value to everybody involved.
 

Wasted wages

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2006
Messages
1,966
People coming to a national type event may be put off by the costs associated with starting out in model boating...

Especially when they see world class boats running....their first two questions are:
How fast do these go ?
And how much do they cost.

If you are honest with them, it scares the daylights out of them for overall costs..and if you point them to a beginner boat or commercially available toy boat, they know they will never be competitive with what they see running on the lake.

What I think what would serve the club and hobby better is to have an event or race geared around commercially available RTR boats...and THEN have all the vendors and sponsors donate better hulls and motors given out as trophies to the winners. This would give them incentive to then "step up their game"
and possibly move up to a gas hull or FE..

It would give them an opportunity to join namba or impba and the local club.
"To race in the RTR race, you need to be a member,,
Here let me get you signed up" ... btw..today's first place in each class is a new xyz hull or xyz motor, your choice..

This would be the way to draw in new boaters.
 

Chris Wittrig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2004
Messages
494
People coming to a national type event may be put off by the costs associated with starting out in model boating...

Especially when they see world class boats running....their first two questions are:
How fast do these go ?
And how much do they cost.

If you are honest with them, it scares the daylights out of them for overall costs..and if you point them to a beginner boat or commercially available toy boat, they know they will never be competitive with what they see running on the lake.

What I think what would serve the club and hobby better is to have an event or race geared around commercially available RTR boats...and THEN have all the vendors and sponsors donate better hulls and motors given out as trophies to the winners. This would give them incentive to then "step up their game"
and possibly move up to a gas hull or FE..

It would give them an opportunity to join namba or impba and the local club.
"To race in the RTR race, you need to be a member,,
Here let me get you signed up" ... btw..today's first place in each class is a new xyz hull or xyz motor, your choice..

This would be the way to draw in new boaters.
That's a great shout out. We actually did just that in NAMBA District 9 and it's called Arrive & Drive. Four ProMarine Phantoms owned and maintained by the District with club members partnering with the guest drivers throughout the race day. The same boats were used for the Kids R Boaters Too class. It's a worthwhile investment especially if the engagement opportunity is taken further to partnering with kids clubs and such, maybe at a City park with the City's participation, to gain interest and show good will in the communities where we race. Perhaps that's where some of the profit clubs make for hosting races could be invested.
 

Roger Hooks Jr.

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2006
Messages
1,234
That's a great shout out. We actually did just that in NAMBA District 9 and it's called Arrive & Drive. Four ProMarine Phantoms owned and maintained by the District with club members partnering with the guest drivers throughout the race day. The same boats were used for the Kids R Boaters Too class. It's a worthwhile investment especially if the engagement opportunity is taken further to partnering with kids clubs and such, maybe at a City park with the City's participation, to gain interest and show good will in the communities where we race. Perhaps that's where some of the profit clubs make for hosting races could be invested.
We had 5 kids this weekend for Kids R' Boaters too. Some kids brought there own boats and we had two new kids.
 

Al Hobbs

Legend of the NW
Vendor
Joined
Aug 25, 2009
Messages
1,654
People coming to a national type event may be put off by the costs associated with starting out in model boating...

Especially when they see world class boats running....their first two questions are:
How fast do these go ?
And how much do they cost.

If you are honest with them, it scares the daylights out of them for overall costs..and if you point them to a beginner boat or commercially available toy boat, they know they will never be competitive with what they see running on the lake.

What I think what would serve the club and hobby better is to have an event or race geared around commercially available RTR boats...and THEN have all the vendors and sponsors donate better hulls and motors given out as trophies to the winners. This would give them incentive to then "step up their game"
and possibly move up to a gas hull or FE..

It would give them an opportunity to join namba or impba and the local club.
"To race in the RTR race, you need to be a member,,
Here let me get you signed up" ... btw..today's first place in each class is a new xyz hull or xyz motor, your choice..

This would be the way to draw in new boaters.
When I retired, I decided to take up Trap and Skeet to fill in some time. I bought a new shotgun, equivalent in price to a nice 80 or 90 twin. The first day, the person next to me was using a $35,000 shotgun. Everything that is fun seems to be very expensive. It isn't just model boats, but golf, trap, any kind of organised racing, all are expensive. What we need to do is make model boating as fun as possible for everyone, newbies, older guys, and families. There are so many classes today, that something will appeal to potential boaters, as long as they know it will be fun.
 

Wasted wages

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2006
Messages
1,966
Al, it's like that with everything,, people always have to show how much money they can spend just to show up everyone else..

It's what made me leave model boating 20 years ago.. it was just getting crazy trying to stay competitive, keeping up with the new widget of the month.

Then the people that started showing up to races in 100K motorhomes, basically shops on wheels, feeling entitled to have things go "their way" and raising hell if it didn't. It was just taking all the fun out of the hobby.

Even small things, like raffles for a motor or hull...most people would buy 10 tickets or so and then find out some high roller bought 200 tickets... pretty much insuring that he'd win most everything...
I mean, if you have that kind of capital, just buy a motor and let us peons have a chance.

I did read once how a guy in Conroe TX entered and won a major bass tournament, with just his John boat, 10 hp motor, and fishing gear from Walmart....all against the pro guys from around the country...

So, I guess the sun even shines on a pigs ass once in a while.. :D
 

Al Hobbs

Legend of the NW
Vendor
Joined
Aug 25, 2009
Messages
1,654
Al, it's like that with everything,, people always have to show how much money they can spend just to show up everyone else..

It's what made me leave model boating 20 years ago.. it was just getting crazy trying to stay competitive, keeping up with the new widget of the month.

Then the people that started showing up to races in 100K motorhomes, basically shops on wheels, feeling entitled to have things go "their way" and raising hell if it didn't. It was just taking all the fun out of the hobby.

Even small things, like raffles for a motor or hull...most people would buy 10 tickets or so and then find out some high roller bought 200 tickets... pretty much insuring that he'd win most everything...
I mean, if you have that kind of capital, just buy a motor and let us peons have a chance.

I did read once how a guy in Conroe TX entered and won a major bass tournament, with just his John boat, 10 hp motor, and fishing gear from Walmart....all against the pro guys from around the country...

So, I guess the sun even shines on a pigs ass once in a while.. :D
After attending more than 40 Nats, APBA, IMPBA, and NAMBA, it is obvious to me that without sponsors and big raffle sales, the local club will lose their butt. And, this has become one of the reasons some clubs refuse to host a Nats.

I do not see any business advantage to sponsoring classes. Most model boaters know what products they prefer and buy that product whether the company sponsors a Nats class or not. Sponsors insure that a big race will not go broke

Normally, at a big race, I sponsor a few classes and donate something for the raffle. At the Dallas Nats, many of my donated raffle prizes were found in the trash. (Mostly radio box seals) If I donate a Nitro product, gas boaters don't want it. The same as for nitro boaters winning gas stuff. At every Nats someone will win a big item and sell it for much less than the manufacturers price.

Raffles are a necessary evil at big races. As a result, every manufacturer and supplier is hit up to provide raffle prizes to 10 or 12 races each year. We do not donate to get advertising, it is to help the club make enough money to justify all the work they put in.

I also buy a large number of raffle tickets, and when I win something, unless it is something I really want and will use, I give it away or ask the club to pull another ticket. No, question, but that I normally win something. But on most occasions I take home a few little items. This year at the IMPBA Internats I won quite a few small items and the largest item I brought home was adonated radio box.

At the 50th NAMBA Nats I did win a big, ready to run gas cat. I don't run gas cat so I handed the boat to someone that wanted it and asked him to donate to the event.

It is up to each of us to decide what we will do to help a Nats turn out well financially. Maybe if we put on higher registration and entry prices, there would be no need for sponsors and raffles. Probably fewer entries as well.

Entries do not pay all the bills. Without spnsors, donations and raffle ticket sales, no one is going to host a big Nats.
 

Chris Wittrig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2004
Messages
494
After attending more than 40 Nats, APBA, IMPBA, and NAMBA, it is obvious to me that without sponsors and big raffle sales, the local club will lose their butt. And, this has become one of the reasons some clubs refuse to host a Nats.

I do not see any business advantage to sponsoring classes. Most model boaters know what products they prefer and buy that product whether the company sponsors a Nats class or not. Sponsors insure that a big race will not go broke

Normally, at a big race, I sponsor a few classes and donate something for the raffle. At the Dallas Nats, many of my donated raffle prizes were found in the trash. (Mostly radio box seals) If I donate a Nitro product, gas boaters don't want it. The same as for nitro boaters winning gas stuff. At every Nats someone will win a big item and sell it for much less than the manufacturers price.

Raffles are a necessary evil at big races. As a result, every manufacturer and supplier is hit up to provide raffle prizes to 10 or 12 races each year. We do not donate to get advertising, it is to help the club make enough money to justify all the work they put in.

I also buy a large number of raffle tickets, and when I win something, unless it is something I really want and will use, I give it away or ask the club to pull another ticket. No, question, but that I normally win something. But on most occasions I take home a few little items. This year at the IMPBA Internats I won quite a few small items and the largest item I brought home was adonated radio box.

At the 50th NAMBA Nats I did win a big, ready to run gas cat. I don't run gas cat so I handed the boat to someone that wanted it and asked him to donate to the event.

It is up to each of us to decide what we will do to help a Nats turn out well financially. Maybe if we put on higher registration and entry prices, there would be no need for sponsors and raffles. Probably fewer entries as well.

Entries do not pay all the bills. Without spnsors, donations and raffle ticket sales, no one is going to host a big Nats.
Al you have been very generous with your sponsorships and raffle donations and I know most everybody recognizes and appreciates that. It's people like you that help prop up the hobby (pun intended because I could).
 
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