Herbie "The Hawk" Bagwell
Searching for Sponsorship
[Herbie Bagwell is a natural bodybuilder from Connecticut and has competed in the 2002 N.P.C. Connecticut State, 2003 Musclemania New England, and just recently in the 2004 Musclemania Superbody. Herbie is also one of the only African-American NASCAR drivers on the circuit today. Herbie tells us of his search for sponsorship as a NASCAR driver and natural bodybuilder/ fitness model.]
The search for sponsorship can be the most frustrating acts of attainment one could ever endure especially if you don't have full-time marketing people shaking the corporate sponsorship tree every day.
Imagine competing in sports for years, enjoying success through poles, victories and high finishes, collecting data on successful athletes and how they got there, speaking to countless numbers of experienced people in the business, doing your homework. Your business plan is checked, double checked and triple checked by experienced people in the business.
One company you researched and which you collected data, wants to sponsor someone with the credentials and experience that you have. That particular company believes in your goal and that your vision is in line with that company's mission statement. Then after countless phone calls, e-mails and mailings all of a sudden, it begins to RAIN ON YOUR PARADE. The red flag comes out.
The company that expressed in no uncertain terms, "Yes, we believe in what you are doing, send us your proposal" sends you an email (not a phone call mind you) that says: "Thank you for your inquiry, although your marketing package is very attractive, our company, financially cannot afford to sponsor you, good luck in your endeavors." OK, you think, they don't have the money to sponsor you. That's cool; let's move on to the next possibility.
Then, less than one month later, that same company who told you, "We believe in what you're doing, send us your marketing package," and then cries poor, shows up as primary sponsor of another athlete. You just can't imagine the amount of flames that shoot out of your ears when that happens. What do you think? How does one react? Angry? Disappointed? All of the above? You just sit there with your jaw hanging down, wondering.
I've used that unsuccessful attempt at sponsorship as a learning tool! Yes, strange as it may seem, a learning tool! There are going to be lots no's, I'm sure, until that big "YES" comes along! We've experienced several turn-downs over the past years, one just recently which had all the promise in the world and would have given the company a marketing tool, the likes of which they could have used for dramatic business increases and market penetration among minorities. But that's another story in the Herbie Chronicles.
Ours is a lonely task and there is frequent dejection and frustration. The worst kind is when you never hear anything one way or another. That's more discouraging than ever. And I'll admit I've been in the dumps plenty of times over the turn downs and unsuccessful attempts.
When that happens, who comes to your aid? Who takes the time to lift you back where you started? I've been lucky. My family has always supported me and they share in both my successes and my (hate to use this word) failures - or better yet, my non-successes! My family and my support team has dusted me off and picked me up plenty of times.
It's good to hear a voice on the other line that says with energy, confidence and enthusiasm equal to mine: "OK, so much for that one, let's try another and here's an idea…" and off you go, seeking that elusive sponsorship deal.
We keep calling companies and any business that has a product or brand that would benefit as a sponsor. We talk to them every day about sponsorship - and I'm sure it won't be too long before it's a reality. Herbie Bagwell, Jr. is ready to discuss a deal! With NASCAR giving me the OK to drive Busch North this year, our efforts have recently been turned up several notches. I don't expect to see any long faces for a while (smile)! My being a NASCAR driver and natural bodybuilder has recently found an endorsement with VALEO (www.valeoinc.com) it isn't enough to fund the complete racing project but it is a good start in a positive movement forward. VALEO sponsored my preparations for the recent Musclemania Superbody competition in Miami, Florida.
Until next time, Fly like a hawk and stay humble! God bless.