This is a mantra that every business should follow and your race should not be an exception. This starts from the moment you approach potential sponsors. Do not overestimate the number of people who might register or the crowd expected on race day. Be extremely conservative. If you are an established event, you can share with them a timeline of the growth your event has experienced the past few years and offer a reasonable prediction based on actual numbers. If you are a brand new event you need to be even more careful.
Related: How to Attract Race Sponsors
Put everything in writing and you will avoid the majority of miscommunications or misunderstandings. This does not have to be an overly complex document or agreement, but be sure to spell out specifically what the sponsor will provide in terms of dollars, goods, or services and what you will deliver in return.
Also, include a timeline that includes important milestones and deadlines. This can include logos needed for promotional items and social media promotion. Your sponsors can get busy and lose track of these things, so be sure to give them some reminders with enough lead time for them to respond. It can also be helpful to have a single point of contact to communicate with a sponsor. It can overcomplicate things if they are always dealing with someone different or if they have to make multiple phone calls to get the information needed in a timely fashion.
Related: Keeping Your Race Organized with Budgeting and Checklists
When your event date is drawing near and your promotion efforts are in full swing, now is the time to be sure to follow through on all the details. Little things can make a big difference. Use the written agreement you created as a checklist as you go along to make sure that you meet and exceed all of their expectations. Pay careful attention to the use of their logo or any other collateral material. If they are a big company, they will have a style sheet that you will need to follow. No one wants to see 1,000 shirts with their logo on it in the wrong color or font.
If there are any problems along the way that impact your event and/or the sponsor, be sure to immediately communicate the details they need to know and what you are doing to remedy any issue. Do not assume that the problem is so small that the sponsor will not notice. They will appreciate the fact that you are being proactive and handling things in a professional manner.
Once race day is over and all parties have had a day or so to regroup and catch their breath, you should now follow-up with your sponsors while the details of the event are fresh in everyone's mind. Be well-prepared for this meeting with a high-level executive summary of how the event went off and then drill down into more specific data regarding registrations, attendance, social media exposure and any other information that will show them the value they received. You can again use the original agreement as a road map to walk them back through all the specifics of how you met or exceeded the levels of performance promised.
RaceDirector understands the importance of sponsors for events like yours and has robust tools that allow you to manage and grow sponsorship relationships. If you do all of these things, it should be very easy for you to ask for a commitment next year. If you do a bang-up job, you might even find that your sponsors will be looking to get more involved as your event grows!