Builders: Top 10 SEMA Show Car Sponsorship Proposal Do’s and Don’ts

The SEMA Show
The SEMA Show

The SEMA Show features over 1,000 project vehicles that entice enthusiast buyers by showing how they can be customized. When submitting a proposal for a SEMA Show sponsorship, here are the Top 10 SEMA Show Car Sponsorship Proposal Do’s and Don’ts from SEMA:

  • Do: Get your proposal in early. The sooner you have all the pieces into the manufacturer, the more time you have to potentially discuss the proposal with selection board representatives.
  • Don’t: Keep calling once you get your proposal in. One follow up contact or call is appropriate. Anything else after that is likely to be interpreted as hounding. OEs can get hundreds of proposals, and there is nothing gained by repeated contact attempts.
  • Do: Have a bullet-point summary of your important details (two pages at most) so the vehicle concept and your own credentials can be presented quickly and succinctly.
  • Don’t: Include a picture frame around your rendering or send in a poster-sized image. It doesn’t help, and it only makes it more difficult for the deciding members to move and display your proposal.
  • Do: Remember this is a process, and our industry is built on relationships. Keep track of all your contacts, and keep in mind, just because you might not succeed this year doesn’t mean that’s the end of it.
  • Don’t: Ignore how the finished vehicle itself would ride if driven on the streets. For 99% of OEs, keeping it real is good. There’s a place for wild and crazy, but most times the goal would be to produce a vehicle that respects the OEM’s engineering strengths without compromising practical driveability.
  • Do: Have some kind of long-term plan, whether it includes media coverage, car show dates, school assemblies, or even hypothetical events. The more detailed, thoughtful, and plugged into the automotive world you show yourself to be, the more you appear to be someone they can’t turn away.
  • Don’t: Submit an unoriginal plan you know will be exceptionally popular. If your proposal duplicates what everyone else is doing, it may become irrelevant no matter how well it’s designed and executed.
  • Do: Keep your OE sponsor involved in any changes that might happen along the way. The last thing they need is a surprise at the Show when they come to find your project vehicle and don’t see what they were expecting.
  • Don’t: Change your theme midway (without informing your OE) because it’s easier or more likely to get done in time for the Show. You made a commitment during the proposal stage, and that’s what you need to deliver.