With more than 30% of Gen Z interested in modding their cars, the automotive brands’ efforts to boost awareness on Social media created a big buzz around car sponsorships.
Things were different when I started displaying my cars at shows about 10 years ago. While the big automakers would spend millions sponsoring motorsport events, partnership opportunities in the custom car scene were limited.
Well, that’s no longer the case, and here you’ll learn how to get your car sponsored.
If you’re looking for racing sponsorship, you might want to check this guide. I’ll take you through the process of getting companies to sponsor a show car.
How Does Show Car Sponsorship Work?
Think of it as a relationship between modified car owners and automotive brands. In other words, a company provides you with parts or services in exchange for exposure.
I remember when I got my first sponsor. A local performance shop gave me a sweet deal on a lowering suspension kit. In return, I had to put their stickers on my Golf IV.
Nowadays, you can get a lot more than discounted parts. In fact, you can modify your car with top-notch goodies for free by becoming an ambassador of a brand.
What is a Car Brand Ambassador?
A car brand ambassador means you’re the face and personality representing an automotive product. Your job is to embody the brand’s values and connect with the community on a personal level.
Being authentic is the key. You’ve got to be truly excited about the modifications received due to a partnership. If you’re genuine, people will respond to that.
When I was talking to my man AJ in regards to his modded Tesla Model 3 feature, he said the following about the main sponsors of RUINED EV:
“I don’t feel like a customer but rather part of the Rohana family, and the same goes with Yokohama.”
That kind of attitude allows him to completely change the looks of his EV for every major show. But here is the thing: while AJ doesn’t physically pay for customizing his car, he puts a lot of time and effort into promoting his sponsors.
So, let’s get into the steps you need to take to benefit from different car sponsorships.
The Guide to Getting Your Car Sponsored
Build First – Then Look for Potential Sponsors
I learned this the hard way when I was starting out. After installing a set of negative offset rims, front lip, and rear wing on a Civic I owned at the time, I thought my car was ready for sponsoring. All I got was Big, Fat NOs.
You must have a solid foundation to stand on, something that says, “I’m serious about this.” Pour your heart into building a car that turns heads and sparks conversations.
That’s just the first step. Remember that companies want exposure. You must bring two things to the table: A car that stands out and people following your build progress.
Learn How to Get Noticed on Social Media
The fastest and easiest way to get some eyeballs on your ride is by building up your social media profile(s). Running a YouTube channel takes a lot more work, and you need to know SEO.
I was able to grow 3 Facebook muscle car pages to a total of 250K+ followers for my former site without paying a penny for ads. The same approach can be applied to a personal profile.
Whether you’re on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or all of them, you can grow and maintain your audience by following my tips:
- Follow big influencers in the custom car scene
- Engage with their audience in the comments
- Follow those you’re talking to, and they’ll follow you
- Post engaging content and reply to comments
That’s all you have to do to get noticed. Just rinse and repeat every day. The more time you spend on this, the faster your social media will grow. Plus, you’ll get a sense of how brand ambassadors create their posts.
Attend Car Shows and Build Relationships
It’s time to hit the pavement and start attending as many events and meet-ups as possible. Not to showcase your current mods but to build relationships.
At This Stage, Networking is Everything!
The goal is to become a familiar face in the crowd. You start recognizing regulars and exchanging nods, swapping stories with other enthusiasts or people from the industry, and opportunities will come.
While my E38 was still an ongoing project, I went on a German car meet-up. I started talking to a guy about the offset I needed to achieve a flush wheel fitment, and we really got along.
It turned out he was a BMW OEM parts rep and arranged for me a set of 19-inch staggered wheels at half price. It’s not like he sponsored me, but the saved cash went for putting rubber on the new rims.
You never know where a conversation can lead. Just keep it real, and be curious. The more connections you have, the easier it will be to find potential sponsors.
Consider the Right Sponsorship Opportunities
I see young guys so obsessed with getting their car sponsored that they’re ready to jump at any offer. That’s just wrong. It’s your build, so be selective. Find a company whose products align with your style; you’ll have to stand behind those customizations.
Here is what my friend Bree said when we were working on her customized Model 3 build story:
“Don’t accept a sponsorship just because the product is free. It should be something you would buy.”
Reach Out Asking Companies to Sponsor Your Car
While reaching out to brands for sponsorships is the final and most exciting step, the reality is there will be many disappointments. To minimize rejections, you need to do your homework. Here are 3 tips:
- Prepare a list of companies you see as potential sponsors
- Educate yourself about their products and brand values
- Write personalized emails and explain how they’ll benefit
Attach only a few photos of your car, and keep the emails straight to the point. No one will look at your entire photoshoot or read 1000 words about why you should get sponsored.
Research other cars each one of the companies has sponsored in the past, and make compliments about the particular customizations seen on those vehicles.
Highlight how your participation at events and social media followers will benefit them. Include screenshots of your best-performing posts related to their niche (wheels, body kits, audio, etc.)
In addition to the above tips, I’ll give you one more that I’ve learned from a friend who is a salesman.
Don’t quit if no one replies to your initial email.
People are busy, and silence doesn’t necessarily mean rejection. Keep sending follow-ups every few days until you get a reply.
I do it all the time, and I often get positive replies after my 3rd or 4th email. If it’s a “No,” at least you know these guys won’t be your sponsors, and you move on.
Last Words on Car Sponsorships
For me, car sponsorships are like business partnerships, with both sides looking for a win-win. You must stand out from all the other car guys asking for freebies.
Master the art of painting a picture of what the automotive brand will gain by sponsoring you. Be professional, be persuasive, and you’ll get the right deals.
It’s a long process, so be patient. It gets easier once you get your first car sponsor.