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Car Show Planning – Getting Sponsors

Car Show Planning – Getting Sponsors is not an easy task. We get several emails throughout the year asking for advice on how to plan a car show and what steps are needed to get sponsors. We cover a lot of good information in our Hosting a Car Show Article but, we wanted to take the time to expand on some other key areas that may help you in the process of planning your event. The information provided is based on our experiences while attending events as a competitor, spectator and as a vendor.

As mentioned above, our car show planning article covers a great deal of information from the planning stages to the layout and judging the event. We wanted to touch on getting sponsors and vendors to attend your event and your obligation to them.

Car Show Planning Proposal

It is highly recommended that you take the time to put together a solid proposal which is a crucial part of your car show planning. It doesn’t matter how small your show is, this proposal is your obligation to a sponsor or a vendor. The purpose of the proposal is to show your commitment to the vendor. You as the promoter want to build a trust and a network and to show the businesses that you have good intentions and you are going to follow through with what you have promised them.

A proposal is the process of outlining the return of investment to the business if they decide to invest with your event. Outlining the cost for each sponsor level and defining what they get for each cost level is recommended.

Some ideas:

Platinum Sponsor: Large logo display (define the specific size) on all flyers and event t-shirts, 20×20 vendor booth space, included in all radio ads, included in all tv ads, banners (define how many) displayed throughout the event (define locations of the banners).

Gold Sponsor: Logo display on all flyers and event t-shirts, 10×10 vendor booth space, banners (define how many) displayed throughout the event (define locations of the banners).

Those are two examples of sponsor levels you can have. Of course what you will offer in your packages can be determined by your car show committee. Make sure if you reprint flyers, t-shirts or promotional items you include ALL of your sponsors. Promoters often have different versions or variations of marketing material but, often leave sponsors off. Could it be an accident, perhaps, but probably more on being on the lazy side of not having oversight.

Entertainment – Car Show Planning

Producing a well rounded quality car show is important and to do that the entertainment line-up is a key factor in producing a good event. Car show competitors spend a good deal of their time prepping their show vehicles, traveling and spending money to attend your event. Depending on how long your show is (all-day, all-weekend, etc.) bringing in entertainment will help make the time go by and more memorable. You cannot go wrong with bringing in an experienced DJ, one who preferably can double as a MC for the event. You will need someone to do announcements throughout the event and keep the crowd entertained by playing music they like.

Some other ideas depending on the venue: Dance competition, BMX stunt demonstration, Movie car (popular cars from well-known movies), Sports players autograph session, games, etc.

Plan Your Car Show Early

You will be competing with several events throughout the year. It’s good to plan early and to set a date as early as possible. You can add your event here for free: Get it listed early so it is on people’s radars. In addition to blasting your event out there on social media, forums, etc., be sure to set-up a Facebook event page and make sure to set it to public view when setting it up so everyone can see and share it. If you do not have a website, Facebook is a great landing page to direct everyone to for your event information. It’s free and easy to set up. There’s more information about Facebook event pages here:

Social Media – Car Show Planning

Focus on the benefits of attending your car show and the people will follow. Social media is a great resource to use while promoting your event. You can reach several hundred to several thousand people in minutes. If you already have a decent following you may not have to purchase advertisements, but to reach a different audience it is recommended. Be sure to set your target audience for people around the location you are hosting the event. Unless you are an event like SEMA, there’s no point in promoting the event to Japan. It’s unlikely people from Japan will come to your show, so focus on the surrounding states / cities.

Once you figure out your social media strategy come up with a game plan to promote your event. I cannot stress enough that this has to be a tricky balance. We talk about establishing a brand in our previous write-up (Hosting a Car Show Article) and that flow has to continue when you post on social media.

Don’t post too much – As promoters get excited when they enlist car clubs, they are quick to post photos of the cars attending the event. Well, you just gave everyone a preview of who is going to be at the show. Leave a little mystery to it and make them wait until they attend the show. Focusing on past coverage that highlights the entertainment videos and photos is a good idea. Snap shots of vendors and their products that will be at the event. Highlighting discounts that will be available at the show is a huge plus to draw in the crowds.

Scheduled Posts – Balancing Your Posts and Marketing

In the early stages of planning a car show there is a common trend of posting about vendors who are coming to the event. It’s great to promote your vendors early, as mentioned above, but the problem is all of the posting takes place in the beginning of the year.  You don’t see too much interaction or anything being published on the page for weeks after. The point being, be sure to continue to interact with your followers and constantly publish updated information about your event. Whether its new vendors who jump on board, entertainment that you hired or discounts available. Constantly putting the vendors and businesses in the spotlight is building a network, relationship and trust and will make them want to return. Having a vendor purchase a booth space for thousands of dollars and they get 1 social media post is not a good look.

Also be sure to post content related to your event. It’s OK to post a news article or something outside of your event to engage your followers, but posting random cars or coverage from other unrelated events is not going to help your profile.

Some Negatives To Think About

It has become common practice for show promoters to become lazy. Promoters get a vendor hooked in and then the business is never mentioned or included in any kind of media here on out. The vendors are left to fend for themselves and pay the registration and that’s the last you hear anything.

Let me explain. If you are paying top dollar for a vendor spot at an indoor event, the marketing team of that show should do their due diligence to promote their event to obtain the highest possible spectator traffic possible. The more traffic that is brought into the show the more everyone benefits. It kinda seems like common sense, but you will be surprised. Everyone should be treated equally, large to small vendors and businesses.

Over promoting one business over the other because the assumption is that the one business can bring in more traffic, etc. can also back fire. That has a potential to drive others away because they will see that favoritism is playing a role as to how the show is being produced. That ultimately can hurt your future for you and you event. As mentioned, depending on how your vendor sponsor packages are outlined is how everyone should be treated, equally.

Don’t over hype your event. Set the bar low, if you don’t have vendors committed, car clubs committed don’t promise people that they will be there based on a brief conversation you had with someone and you made the assumption that the business or club is attending.

Conclusion – Car Show Planning

Take the time to plan your event. We have helped several events throughout the world with positive results. You have to take the time to plan everything out properly and don’t rush anything. All aspects of car show planning are important. The key ingredients above are the responsibility of the show committee to ensure they do everything within their power to take care of the people who support their event. If you are willing to take from the industry you have to be willing to give.

An Infrastructure/Information Technology Manager by day, an automotive enthusiast the rest of my spare time. Most importantly a Father, Husband and a U.S. Navy Veteran! Combining my experiences and skills and came up with the ultimate creation of Armed with a camera who knows where this journey will take me but stay tuned, it's going to be an exciting ride!

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