Friday, March 26, 2010

F1 Ferrari Finds Smoke Without Fire

F1 Ferrari Finds Smoke Without Fire
Tobacco firm's continued sponsorship is worth $100 million to Formula One racing team

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nascar teams live and die by their Sponsorship dollars

When you think of danger at the track, oil slicks, fires and five-car pile-ups come to mind. But for the past couple of years Nascar teams have faced an even bigger risk: sponsors pulling out.

Honda sponsorship unlikely to save Indy
Automaker to be announced as new title sponsor for Edmonton event

They will be announced this afternoon as the new title sponsor of the July 25 IndyCar race, a move that completes a Canadian package deal of sorts as they already have their brand on the Toronto Indy event that precedes Edmonton's by a week.

But the sad fact is this; major financial wreckage at City Centre Airport cannot be avoided under the current business model with or without Honda's vital and welcome input. Under Northlands' inconsistent stewardship and Rexall's title sponsorship contribution of about $400,000 per year, the race lost $5.3 million in 2008 and $3.9 million last year. Near as anyone can figure, and that's admittedly a bit of a sketchy enterprise given the Indy Racing League doesn't release attendance numbers and Northlands issues historically inaccurate budget projections, the 2010 race is due for another whopping splash of red ink. It could be something in the neighbourhood of $3 million, which is not a nice neighbourhood at all.

The cumulative loss would be $12.2 million in Edmonton taxpayer dollars to subsidize three weekends' worth of racing. Ouch. There is a cost of doing business but that cost has been exceeded twice over and shows no sign of significant improvement should this event go forward under its current incarnation, and that's appearing less and less likely. Which makes you wonder why Honda jumped on board.

Whatever. Taxpayers are in no mood for massive losses on entertainment ventures, those taxpayers will be going to the civic polls in October and Mayor Stephen Mandel is running again. Now, another whopping Indy loss in July will not cost Mandel his cushy chair at City Hall in October. However, there is every chance he and prospective councillors will be likely to distance themselves from such a publicized dumping of taxpayer dough in the coming months. The current deal between Northlands and the IRL expires after this race and Council is certainly not going to underwrite another lengthy contract when it so obviously burdens the race promoter with so much overhead. There was loose talk about a two-year extension last summer but that vague promise went up in so much tire smoke once the $3.9-million loss had been reported.

Three years of running this event into the ground has convinced those well-meaning but completely overmatched folks at Northlands that the financial model is a wreck. They're right. They're also, as aforementioned, in over their heads. They are not race promoters. Seriously, it's four months exactly until race day and the event has next to no presence in the city.

But as of today it has a title sponsor, a major multinational company in fact, and that represents significant progress. Word is Northlands had outside help in procuring Honda's corporate involvement, and that too is a good thing. Mandel said months ago that the race could come close to breaking even with the right amount of corporate support and while he's probably too optimistic by half, he's been listening to the 16-member Go Indy Committee of local movers and shakers who have ideas and connections. They surely warrant a listen.

But with or without Honda, the bottom line is still the same; the race needs a new business model and new, private-sector promoters. Because, even if you build in the cost of mistakes Northlands made and won't make again, it just cannot be done here under the current conditions without the citizens taking a bath at the end of the weekend.

With "$4.2 million in upfront costs, this is a very challenging business model for Northlands to proceed with. It is difficult to make this profitable," Northlands spokesperson Brian Leadbetter told reporters earlier this year, after a closed-door information session with city council.

"We're committed to reducing expenses further in 2010. That will be a significant exercise for us this year, while looking for new revenue opportunities while we can."

Leadbetter would not comment on Wednesday, but said recently Northlands is indeed beating all the bushes and has applied for $1 million in federal grant money. However, if they are successful in obtaining the grant, it cannot simply be applied to the bottom line, as it is earmarked for new initiatives only, and he wouldn't say how that might be relevant to their race plans.

Northlands is also desperately cutting costs, an act that includes scaling back the amount of those pricey temporary bleachers this year.

In a recent conversation, Leadbetter wouldn't say how many bleachers would be eliminated since it would in some way amount to a breach of their confidentiality agreement with Indy on those ultra-secret attendance figures.

It would also show Edmonton taxpayers how serious Northlands is about cutting the deficit. But hey, a secret is a secret.

It is no secret that the future of the race is tenuous at best and that sad fact may overshadow everything good that happens in late July.

Paul Tracy is allegedly going to race here again for KVR. The Ganassi/Penske duel will continue and Danica Patrick will headline a small clutch of female drivers.

All interesting enough, but because the race is a perennial bleeder, the airport land is in play and the IRL isn't exactly married to Canada, what with U.S. and South American markets beckoning, the suspect future will dominate track talk.

If Edmonton cannot make it work, the IRL may well be ready to move along in 2011.

But nobody in Edmonton or Indy will be saying that today, because there is mercifully a title sponsor to unveil and at least one Honda Indy Edmonton to run

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ready, Trade Show, Aim?

It's springtime, which means it's open season for trade shows. With attendance down across the board at shows again this year, it's more important than ever to have a smart marketing plan in place that will help you reach attendees and also target prospects who cannot attend the show.

You read that correctly. A good trade show marketing plan also reaches out to people who aren't attending the show.

Just because prospects don't have the budget to attend trade shows this year doesn't mean they should be ignored in your trade show marketing. Involving them with clever strategies can help you hunt down leads and bag your best trade show ever.

Start early and often. Start early to build intrigue and excitement around your trade show booth through an email drip campaign about a month before the event. Send an email a week, each highlighting one aspect of your booth -- a new product introduction, sign-up to win promotion, free trial, etc. Send the emails to your opt-in contact list from the previous year and to anyone else who has opted in to receive such emails. Include your booth number in each email.

Stay in contact during the show. The trade show itself provides several opportunities to stay in touch with prospects. While you may want to have a fishbowl to collect business cards for a drawing or giveaway, make sure you ask contributors if they would like to opt in to your mailing list before they throw their card in. Have a special landing page set up onsite that will keep these email addresses separate from your general opt-in list. Make sure you send these prospects an email each night thanking them for stopping by your booth. Your immediate attention will set you apart from other show participants.

Keep current on what's happening elsewhere at the show and blog about it each day. Turn these blogs into an email campaign. These emails will remind your base to come see you, and will keep your other prospects updated on what's happening at the show.

Have a post-show plan. Before you leave for the show, have a post-show plan ready. The day you get back, pull the trigger. Trade show follow-up is the area where most marketers fall down, so your quick movement here will get noticed immediately.

Here's the plan we use that works great for us. We send out an email to everyone who visits our booth, thanking them and saying that they can expect three additional emails over the next two weeks with more information. We give them the option of opting out if they don't want any more information. Then, in our following emails, we send great information, such as a white paper, a video link, and an all-in-one PDF that includes everything we do. Each touch brings prospects along through our lead generation process, and each email is personalized with information from the person they met at the booth. We pepper the emails with photos of the booth, information about the winner of our contest, videos of people at the show and other details to boost their comfort level.

Internally, you can increase the success of your sales reps by giving them the click-through information from these emails. By seeing which links the prospects clicked on, and therefore were interested in, the reps have a conversation-starter and are not going into a call cold.