Making a Better Pitch

The other day, someone emailed me regarding a sponsorship pitch for an event he was running (he saw a previous blog post and mistakenly thought that I worked for the particular company).  In reading the email, I noticed a few things that he could have done better before sending this cold-email, so I replied back and we had a nice dialogue about it.  With his permission, I’m going to include some of his email below and talk about the things I feel he could have done better (all identifying information has been removed to keep this anonymous).

“My name is XXXXX and I have teamed up with XXXXX to host a SPORT_X event at the XXXXX Arena.  We have a tentative date of ##/##/#### (to be confirmed later).  The arena has the capacity to seat ##,### people.  Our plans are to hold SPORT_X events here every other month.  We have some great up and coming talent here and offering an event like this to showcase these athletes and give them some exposure is necessary.

I believe that COMPANY_X products are currently sold in the arena.  I have met with an arena representative and worked out a deal to have two bars set up on the floor to convenience patrons and encourage sales.  We have plenty of advertisement space available for sponsors to display their logos, hang banners, etc.  The ring mat has large placement areas available if you are interested in displaying your logo on XXXXX and/or YYYYY, I have packages I can send you.  Included in the sponsorship packages are printed space on custom fliers and posters to be distributed as soon as the event date and headliners are finalized. 

My hopes are for COMPANY_X to have the exclusive stage for this event, so please let me know if you are interested in sponsoring us.  These types of events are popular and great opportunities for all involved.  I look forward to hearing from you, and possibly doing business with you to help boost COMPANY_X sales in the arena.”

Now that you’ve read the email, here are some of my suggestions that I think could help in these situations:

  • First of all, it is incredibly tough to make a cold pitch, whether it is by phone, email or in-person, but sometimes you just need to go for it.  However, the more research you can do of the target company in advance, the better.  If we look at the letter, we know nothing about COMPANY_X except that they might sell their product in the arena, and this deal might help boost in-arena sales.  Is the company’s goal to boost in-arena sales?  Even if it, I’m sure they have other larger goals, maybe related to brand awareness, increased distribution, or penetrating a new market.  There is nothing in this letter that ties this particular deal to the company’s strategies or goals, which makes it seem like that the author didn’t spend time doing any research (even if he did).  Remember, you need to understand their business and focus on how the sponsorship helps them, not you.
  • The letter talks about logos and signage and pre-designed packages.  Right now in the initial stage of proposing a sponsor relationship, these inventory details are pretty insignificant.  In fact, for a larger important sponsor, you want to allow for a lot of freedom and creativity.  In this case, the company being pitched really likes to have full control over sporting events that they work with, so maybe a larger presenting sponsorship or naming rights deal would be a better fit.  But if you’re just pitching banners and fliers, you’re probably missing out.
  • The event date is “tentative”, there are “plans” to hold events every other month, and they “possibly” could do business together.  These words and phrases do not suggest much confidence in the event or the relationship with the sponsor.  When you are making a pitch, you need to not only know the sponsor’s business inside and out, but you also much be confident about the value of your own product.  If you’re unsure of your event, the sponsor will have even bigger doubts.

I hope none of this seems critical.  As I said, making cold pitches is an incredibly challenging task.  However, you still need to come into the pitch with an open-mind, having done your research, and with confidence in yourself and your product.  If you do these things, your pitch will get noticed…then the real work begins!