What’s it like to manage partnerships in motorsports for some of the most recognizable brands in the world?
Whitney Maenhout, Manager of Partner Strategy at Hulman Motorsports, is responsible for handling Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar sponsorship deliverables for several companies on a day-to-day basis. When she’s not managing partner’s assets at the events on the Verizon IndyCar Series circuit, she is often brainstorming activation concepts and developing sponsorship opportunities from her office which overlooks the entrance to Gate 1 of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
CHARGE spoke with Maenhout to chat about the pressures and perks of working with partners in motorsports.
What makes a successful partnership manager in motorsports?
The first step is to really understand why your partner is involved in motorsports. Are they interested in B2B opportunities with racing teams or would they like to promote their product to fans who attend the races? Are they looking for ways to entertain retailers at-track or would they rather receive venue signage? There are ample amounts of promotional opportunities available through motorsports and it’s helpful to identify the areas that suit your partners well.
Additionally, spend time researching your partners! Take a few minutes each week to look at their website and social platforms. Keep an eye out for articles that mention their other sponsorships. Learn about activations outside of racing that work well for them and how that can strengthen their partnership in motorsports.
How do you manage your time while juggling multiple clients?
Luckily, the partners I manage are spread throughout different time zones. I like to focus on the east coast partners in the morning and spend my afternoons managing groups on the west coast.
Otherwise, organization is key. I keep a running status list for each of my partners which includes what is currently going on, what to keep on my radar for the upcoming weeks and notes for next year. Weekly meetings with my superior keeps the hot items top of mind and allows me to prioritize my schedule.
Everyone has their own methods and practices so it’s really finding what works best to keep you organized. I love lists!
What does the month of May look like for someone who is in partnership management?
Partners recognize the heightened opportunities at IMS so they generally go above and beyond for their brand at Indy 500. We always do our best to support new concepts and increased requests, especially understanding that everyone’s end goal is the same – to keep it “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.