May 24, 2015

#BestPractices For Winning The Indianapolis 500

In the spirit of all of those marketing articles you click on and then wish you hadn't, here is a list of best practices for winning the Indianapolis 500.

By Vic Montana, Industry Marketing Consultant

The Indianapolis 500 is one of the most prestigious races to win. Steeped in tradition, many men and woman devote their lives in an effort to drink milk in the Winners Circle.

Unfortunately, most race teams make mistakes, and those mistakes cost the race teams the opportunity to win. I have compiled a list of best practices that, if you follow them, will give you a better chance of obtaining a coveted victory.

Obtain Sponsorship. Racing is expensive. If you can convince a major brand to part with ten or fifteen million dollars of money, you will be able to invest in better equipment. Watch television commercials. The brands that spend the most on television are the brands that may be willing to give you money so that you can pursue your dream. This isn't a loan. You will not have to pay back the funds given to you. You may have to sit in a hospitality suit during a golf tournament and consume crostini with company Executives in exchange for a check with seven zeroes on it, but that is a small price to pay for a chance to win a race. Think of sponsorship as Kickstarter for racing.

Take A ClassLearn from the experts. Take a twelve-week "crash course", and build your skills on ovals, road courses, and city circuits. You'll be "up to speed" once you immerse yourself in the racing culture for a few months.

Qualify Fast. Cars that start the race at the front of the field have a much better chance of winning the race than cars that are slow. Be fast!

Where Possible, Pass Cars. In order to win, you have to run at the front of the field. Cars that are not in the top five during the race have a lower chance of winning than cars that consistently run at the front of the pack. If you find yourself running in 17th place, try harder. Be excellent.

Use Pit Stops To Your Advantage. Eventually, you will need to fill your gas tank. Much like pulling your Corolla into the Shell station for fifteen gallons of 87 octane unleaded fuel, your car requires frequent refueling of 85 octane ethanol-infused gasoline to get to the finish line. While refueling, take the opportunity to change tires. Adjust a wing! Make sure you have the best pit crew in the business. But don't pay the pit crew a lot of money, because every dollar spent on the pit crew is a dollar you cannot spend improving your equipment.

Engage With Your Fans. During cautions, you are only driving fifty miles per hour. This gives you a great opportunity to interact with your fan base. Fans are going to have a lot of questions. "Are you going to win the race?" "What is it like to drive for a beloved brand like Verizon?" "Are you hungry?"  So feel free to tweet a handful of messages during cautions. Say something like "We're loose in turns three and four and have too much drag down the straightaway" or "I can feel your energy, keep cheering for me!" Connect your cell phone to the rear wing and take a Periscope or Meerkat of the race - your fans will really appreciate an unfiltered perspective of the event. You may not win the Indy 500, but you can win the Engagement Race with your fans!

Don't Quit. Just because you came out of the pits in eleventh place with twenty laps to go, don't get down on yourself. Quitters never win, and winners never quit.

Use Your Rear View Mirror. Many drivers will attempt to pass you during the race. You do not want to fall further behind. Use your rear view mirror to thwart off the competition.

Have An Omnichannel Strategy. To win today, you need to be successful in all channels. Complement your on-track success with a sound digital strategy. Make sure your fan site is mobile friendly, so that you can win the digital race as well.

Pump Your Fists When You Win! As you cross the start-finish line, thrust your left fist in the air, while steering with your right hand at 190 miles per hour. Thank your spotter, pit crew, and owner. Tweet something to your loyal fans - always put the customer at the center of this magical experience. You are a customer-centric brand driver.

2nd and 3rd Place Pay Well, Too. Only one driver out of thirty-three can win the Indy 500. However, second and third place pay well, and offer the driver the opportunity to stand on "the podium", giving your sponsor considerable marketing exposure. If you are lucky enough to be sponsored by Pepsi or Coke, be sure to have a can of cola in your hand, and take a long drink from the can of cola before answering any questions from the "gotcha media" who roam pit road in search of a larger narrative.

The Next Race Is Only A Week Or Two Away. In the unlikely event that you do not achieve the greatest honor of your career, do not despair. The racing calendar offers nearly twenty opportunities to earn a hard fought victory. #KeepTrying

If you follow my best practices, you, too, are likely to achieve your dreams of winning the Indianapolis 500. #MakeItHappen!