Get Paid to Race is a book written by Jess Shanahan in 2018. It describes the entire process of finding sponsorship in the world of motorsport. The book is written in a very fun and conversational style which makes it an easy read.
The book gives very detailed but also concise descriptions of how to get sponsors from start to finish. You don’t need any business or sales experience; Jess covers all of those details in her book. She also discussed how to change your mindset and make sponsorship more attractive to businesses.
In the short time that the book has been released, there have been a ton of drivers who have successfully been able to secure big sponsorship deals for their racing career. But it’s not only effective for motorsport, you can use this book to basically sell anything.
About The Author
Jess Shanahan is a British writer who has a background in blogging, fashion and motorsport. Her background story is rather interesting. She started out with a career in marketing but made her name through blogging about fashion. Soon her blogs became big enough for her to attract sponsorship deals and she was being paid by companies to review various products.
She has always had an interest in motorsport, and in 2016 she saw a gap in the market. Tons of drivers were struggling to secure sponsorship for the races they wanted to compete in. She started a company called Racing Mentor.
In 2018 she released the book Get Paid to Race which has been extremely successful. Not only has she written a great book that talks about sponsorship, but she has also established a large network of racing drivers who help one another get onto the grid despite their financial struggles.
Interestingly, Jess used her very own sponsorship principles in the release of her own book. She decided not to lose a lot of money by going to a large publishing company, but rather get sponsorship for her own book. Testament to how effective her teachings really are.
Jess is extremely active on social media channels, and she is more than willing to help drivers out and give any advice they might need regardless of whether you have bought her book or not. The Racing Mentor programme is ever evolving with constant updates and new content releasing regularly through the social media channels.
The Sponsorship Bible
Many drivers have regarded Jess’ book as the ‘sponsorship bible’. The book has been so helpful to drivers that they have deemed it an essential to any racing driver who wants a career in motorsport. It’s an easy reading book with a lot of headings and subheadings so you can quickly find your way to exactly what you need.
The book starts off by talking about what drivers do wrong in their search for sponsorship, and there’s a lot of drivers who go about sponsorship the wrong way. At some point in reading through this you will see a bit of yourself in it. We have all committed these ‘sponsorship sins’ whether it is sending out blanket emails to companies or offering nothing more than a logo on a racecar.
Not to worry though, this book unlocks a whole new level of creativity that you can offer to sponsors who would be willing to pay you a lot of money if you can deliver. The first step the book talks about is building up a following and becoming more well known and recognised as a racing driver. Jess gives a step by step description of exactly how you can do so.
It then moves on to talk about exactly what you need to look for in a company before even approaching them for sponsorship. This is all about researching potential sponsors and seeing if you would actually work well together.
About two thirds of the way through Jess goes into detail about how you can offer value to businesses. This is a crucial part of the book as this is what every racing driver gets wrong. It’s a difficult topic to discuss because you need to think outside of the box if you want to convince a potential sponsor to pay you big money.
Jess gives a few good examples on how you can offer value, but it’s not spoon-fed to you, which I believe is a really good thing. There’s still a need for you to go out and think of your own benefits that you can offer to a sponsor (otherwise everyone would be doing the same thing right?). What I found extremely helpful here is that Jess even features a snippet from one of her colleagues that shows you exactly how to set out a sponsorship contract. It’s always something that I have struggled with in the past.
The final part of the book is all about keeping your sponsors on board for the future and how to keep them happy. This is of course the end goal. You don’t want to keep looking for new sponsors after every season. Keeping your sponsors on your side will keep you on the track, and also help you to attract even more sponsors.
Going through the book has made me look back at my own mistakes that I have made in the process of finding sponsorship. In hindsight, it’s clear as to why it was difficult to secure any sponsorships as a racing driver.
Here are some things that I did wrong and the solutions to those mistakes:
- Making a huge list of hundreds of companies, then compiling a single email asking for sponsorship and sending the same email to all of them.
The solution here is to research one single business and build a proposal based on what will work for them. Look at their target audience and find ways that you can connect your racing career to them. It’s best to do one business at a time, however you could also manage to research 3 or 4 different businesses at a time. If you have done proper research, you could even close a deal without ever building a proposal.
- Not having anything to offer value to the business. I always assumed that any business would jump at the opportunity to have their logo paraded around on a race car just like in Formula 1.
Unfortunately, the truth is that it doesn’t offer much value to the business. Even if you throw in some VIP tickets and using the race car at various events. You need to go into detail about how these factors will actually benefit the sponsor. They want to see statistics and they want to know how it will benefit them. In some cases, you really need to explain your benefits like you are talking to a child who has no business sense. Of course, you might be chatting to the CEO of a huge company, but you need to bring your point across very clearly and tell them exactly what they will get out of it.
A good tip I got from the book for this point was to sit down with a pen and paper and just write down every single idea that comes to mind, no matter how crazy you might think it is. It could even be doing a drive down the street in your racecar. It doesn’t need to be realistic or viable, you can sort out the logistics afterwards. But the more ideas you have written down, the more you have to work with.
- Waiting on the edge of my seat for a single company to reply to my emails.
You have to follow up on your emails. Whether that be with another email or a phone call. Emails sometimes get lost or busy CEO’s forget to reply and ask questions. Don’t assume that because you got no response that they are not interested or that you are not a good match for their business.
Always make sure you follow up after you have made contact with the business. One week is normally a good time frame, but you can even follow up earlier if needed. It’s also a good idea to find one point of contact within the business rather than dealing with multiple different people.
- Going straight into a conversation talking about motorsport and sponsorship.
This topic was actually discussed in more detail in a Racing Mentor webinar rather than the book. It was all about networking with various people in high up positions like CEO’s and Marketing Managers. The key here is to build rapport before you start selling. First show an interest in their lives (people love to talk about themselves). Wait for the right moment to shift the conversation to your career. If anything, you need to have 5 or 6 conversations unrelated to sponsorship before you even think about pitching to them.
- There’s always room for growth, improvement and learning.
You can never know everything about sponsorship, keep learning. The world of sponsorship in motorsport is constantly evolving. People are innovating new ways to market in motorsport and how they provide value to sponsors. You need to be at the forefront of this wave of pioneering marketing in motorsport. That’s how you will be able to close massive sponsorship deals and move your career to the next level.
For example, 30 years ago it would have viable to offer a logo on a race car. But nowadays there are so many different logos on so many different race cars that people just don’t see it anymore. It’s a real thing called marketing blindness, and the Racing Mentor book also touches on this topic. The point is you need to innovate new ways for your sponsors to stand out above the rest.
Racing Mentor has a lot of testimonials. You can find a lot of these on the website and on the social channels. However, there are even more if you have a look around on the various social channels. The Racing Mentor Facebook Group is full of drivers who have successfully gained sponsorship, some who have even closed on deals over $100,000.
Perhaps Racing Mentor’s biggest success story is Toby Trice, a driver in the UK. He was able to gain sponsorship for an entire season in the UK Ginetta racing series through reading Jess’ book and attending her course (more than that later).
Toby has been so successful that he has even been ale to attract new sponsors through his initial success and was featured in BBC News. Jess and Toby are now working together on the Racing Mentor Podcast.
In addition, there are drivers from all over the world who have got big sponsorship deals from reading Jess’ book. These sponsorship deals range from all kind of categories in racing such as karting, single seaters, tin top cars and endurance racing.
Racing Mentor also offers various extras on top of the excellent sponsorship book. As mentioned earlier, Jess is very responsive on all of her social channels and always willing to help out and give advice to any drivers who may need it.
Racing Mentor also offers a 6-week sponsorship course. This is a course you would attend live with Jess as well as a few other racing drivers. The course follows the book as a whole and each in each week you recreate what she says in the book and she gives you direct feedback and advice on how to progress. The course has led to a lot of drivers securing huge sponsorship deals.
You can also find the Racing Mentor podcast on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. In the weekly podcasts they discuss various topics surrounding sponsorship in motorsport and give out great advice. They also select a driver of the week, someone who has effectively put some of the Racing Mentor principles into practice.
The Racing Mentor Instagram page also often posts some useful advice to racing drivers on securing sponsorship as well as motivational posts. Jess regularly hosts paid webinars as well in which she discusses various new ideas and tactics you can use in your sponsorship hunt.
All in all, Get Paid to Race is an excellent book. It goes through the whole process of finding sponsorship very meticulously and it is easy to follow and put into practice. If you are struggling to secure your budget for the next season, I highly recommend investing in this book.