With the new season of Formula One starting this weekend, we have been reflecting on the ways that the world of corporate-charity partnerships is similar to the world of the race-track. We’ve come together to share the five key lessons Formula One can teach us about corporate partnerships.
The power of testing
The ethos of Formula One is continuous improvement. Teams are always looking for ways to improve performance. Engineers work on upgrades for months before they make it onto the car on race day. And they are always testing. In wind tunnels, running race simulations and pre-season testing. It’s not until you actually see the latest improvement out on the track that you know it’s making a difference.
Corporate partnerships professionals can learn a lot from this approach. We can practice our pitches in front of our colleagues and test new products with a focus group of business experts. Both of these audiences will provide us with incredible feedback to improve our performance.
The importance of your team
As corporate partnerships professionals, like formula one drivers, we have a tendency to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. We can easily fall into the trap of believing that the success or failure of the partnership totally depends on us. When actually, we are just the face of the partnership. We are completely reliant on the team around us to build and deliver the success we need.
Formula One drivers continually emphasise the importance of the team. The pit crew and engineers back at the factory. Whenever a driver wins a race you immediately here them acknowledge the team.
Corporate partnerships professionals should do the same. You need to ensure that your internal partnerships are as tight as possible. Involve your colleagues from the start and show them the vital role they have to play. By doing this you will transform your ability to win.
Return on investment
For the most part, the Formula One teams that invest the most in their car, drivers and team are the ones who win the most races. This enables them to secure the best engines, drivers and lead the way on innovation.
Corporate partnerships are the same. The charities that invest the most are the most successful. This means investing in vital areas such as training your current team, developing powerful propositions and recruiting new team members. It is unrealistic to expect continuous growth if you don’t grow your team.
Purpose-driven brands will surprise you
Formula One is made up of ten teams, including some of the biggest car manufacturers in the world – such as Ferrari and Mercedes – and Red Bull, the energy drink brand. You might expect Red Bull to be at the back of the grid, but they have actually won eight world championships (four drivers and four constructors).
Taking part in Formula One makes sense for the team at Red Bull. Their mission statement is “giving wings to people and ideas”, and their brand values are all about excitement and energy. The pace of the sport, the exposure to their target market and the opportunity to stand out from their competitors all come together in a way that make Formula One too good an opportunity to miss.
How can you package your partnership opportunities in a similar way? What extraordinary partnership opportunity can you offer to a company so they can demonstrate their purpose?
We love this quote from Lewis Hamilton, “What people tend to forget is the journey that I had getting to Formula One. There were plenty of years where I had to learn about losing and having bad races.” So even though he is the most successful driver in the history of F1 he has experienced plenty of failures.
So much can go wrong in F1. Brakes, engine, tyres fail. Not to mention collisions with opponents and other forms of driver error. Even if you’re the best in the business, success isn’t guaranteed. This means that F1 drivers and teams need to develop incredible bouncebackability. So you didn’t finish the Italian Grand Prix? You need to suck up the loss and dust yourself down, because the Dutch Grand Prix is in a week’s time.
Success isn’t guaranteed for corporate partnerships professionals either. In fact failure is ineveitable. But it isn’t really failure, it’s just a company that isn’t ready to partner with your charity right now. So, dust yourself down and focus on the next opportunity.
If you’ve enjoyed this blog and want to get yourself race-track ready, consider booking yourself onto our Corporate Partnerships Masterclass this April: https://www.remarkablepartnerships.com/event/corporate-partnerships-masterclass-april2021/