The PRI show is coming up quickly and I know you’re probably thinking “shoot, I don’t have a sponsor yet for next year!” So you Google how to make a sponsorship deck and print off multiple copies to randomly hand out at booths you walk up to at the show. Now let me ask you, has this method ever actually worked? Put yourself in their shoes, would you give your advertising dollars to some random racer that gives you the same generic deck used by other racers?
A company’s objective at a trade show is to SELL their own products, not to give you sponsorship money. Don’t walk around handing out the same sponsorship deck at every booth; it’s not personal and is a huge waste of time and money. The companies that are showing at PRI won’t be interested in your deck at this point. Here’s why you shouldn’t be bringing your sponsorship deck to the upcoming PRI Show, plus a bonus how-to make your own deck at the end of the post.
December is too late to determine sponsors for the next year. Sponsorships and partnerships have been determined for months at this point. So if you’re handing them a deck at this show, you can bet that it’s getting shoved to the bottom of a pile at their booth, not to be viewed at all. A better use of your time would be to just build relationships, genuinely. Your network is much more valuable when it’s warm, rather than cold-handing people decks. Tony Yorkman, Senior Partnership Manager at K&N brought up a good point on his episode of MeetTheSponsors.com:
“SEMA and PRI, happen so late in the year, if you go to a trade show, you’re just barely getting connected … that’s the last place I want to talk about sponsorship … But if I’m at SEMA and meeting them for the first time, and I don’t know who they are, I’m realistically not going to partner with them this year. I’m not going to make that commitment. I need time to evaluate them. I need time to see what’s going on, and I need time to see how they really fit my plan. I’m always up for having those conversations, but I hate taking on the fly kind of tests, because I don’t want to waste their time, I don’t want them to waste my time.”
These people and sponsors don’t want to carry home brochures in their luggage, they’ve got a ton of stuff to handle already. A printed deck is guaranteed to get lost in the shuffle, especially if you don’t have a pre-existing relationship with the person or company you’re trying to connect with.
Let’s face it: In today’s world, the cold call (or email) or cold sponsorship deck hand-off just does not work any more. Focus on making a great first impression as a friend, not as a salesperson. They know as well as you how important sponsorships are and they won’t be blindsided when you pivot your friendly relationship into partnership territory in the future. But until then, keep it casual! No need to jump into the sales deep end right away at the PRI Show.
If you’re truly interested in working with a company that you already know, like, and trust and use their products so you could give a good testimonial and recommendation, then reach out to them ahead of time via LinkedIn or email, and set up an appointment to meet with them instead of just walking up to their booth and hoping they are available.
So when is the right time to send a sponsorship deck? After you reach out to them on LinkedIn or email and start to build a relationship, then you should set up a meeting to learn more about the company and who their target market is and what their goals are for next year. If the first meeting goes well and you’ve had some discussions about the possibility of sponsorships, then you can present your marketing deck. Don’t pitch it unless they specifically ask for more information about your team and what you can offer. Need some help on making your sponsorship deck? Download my free Roadmap to Sponsorship Decks PDF with my best tips and tricks:
So you’ve got the picture by now: PRI, like SEMA and AAPEX, just aren’t the time to be handing out your sponsorship deck. These shows are the time to scout future partnerships and build genuine relationships for the following season.