It’s a daunting task in this day and age to get someone's attention with a cold email but it's a great way to engage conversation with a potential sponsor especially if you don't know them already. Here’s how my cold email turned into a five figure sponsorship deal.
There is obviously no silver bullet here but a well crafted email can go a long way. Since the cold email I sent to DNSimple CEO worked like a charm, I thought I’d share how I did it in the hopes that you may find it useful for your own sponsorship hunt.
First off, with a cold email, you need to hit it spot on with your potential sponsor and make it to the next logical step: get a meeting.
In order to achieve it, you need to have a good knowledge of who you’re writing to. Hence the need for a little online research.
Do your research – The Stalk phase
Ok maybe stalking is a strong word but learning more about your prospective sponsor will validate your compatibility and also help you adapt your message to resonate with them.
Scour the web for anything you can find. A good place to start is to plainly Google the person’s name. Have a look at their social profile. In other words, get to know as much as possible about them (and of course their company).
Depending on their notoriety they might have a blog, podcast, broadcast of conferences they’ve given or interviews. These gems will help you understand their personality and find the right tone to employ when it comes to craft your cold email.
For instance, I was writing a cold email to an american tech company CEO living in France who runs his company remotely with employees scattered across the globe. Although he built a multi-million dollar business, he’s not your typical suit executive but rather an easy-going, fun and smart guy who enjoy surfing over board meetings.
After listening to couple interviews of him, I knew I could employ a much more familiar and laid-back tone and maybe crack a couple jokes in my message. In other words, it felt like the perfect match since I could actually be myself.
Crafting the email
General rule of thumb is to keep it short. I quickly learned that packing your life story within a short email is pretty hard. Write it freely then try to shave off the fat.
It's all about the intro – make it catchy
From the get go, you need to make it stand out (assume that your recipient is likely to be scrolling through a boatload of emails).
The hard part is to convey your personality through writings. I firmly believe that executives or whomever you may be pitching get bored as hell with emails and will actually enjoy a breath of fresh air coming with yours.
Be entertaining without overdoing it either. Be yourself.
To stand out, I kicked off with a nice French greetings, a reference to my mother language and his adopted country, and brought up an anecdote. The goal was to point out that I actually know who he is and that I actually love DNSimple and that it isn’t yet another unsolicited cold email.
In other word, I attempted to peak his curiosity.
The elevator pitch
Sell the dream. Tell your story with passion. It's your chance to inspire your potential sponsor and give a taste of who you are.
Don’t aim for pity though, instead try to inspire by sharing your passion for your endeavour. (i.e.: don't talk about how poor you are and how life is hard for an athlete)
Don’t fall in the results trap either. Noticed that there are no mention of results in my email?
I kept it that way because results are arbitrary. Every sport is different, every discipline is different. Namedropping my career highlights would have only made my email more complex and frankly uninteresting. Remember that your are selling yourself along with prospect of ‘getting there’ in the future. You’re not looking to get rewards for past results.
Unless of course you are World champion or Olympic medalist, then feel free to drop that bomb anytime!
In this part of the email, I tried highlighting the parallels between myself and Anthony. This part of the email has for purpose to point out the similarities between both of us and why we should work together.
I took the risk to be myself and write as if I was talking face to face and being not so serious. It may not work for everybody but it worked out.
Drop the bomb
Remember the goal of your email is to initiate a conversation. You want a reply. Ideally, you also want a timely reply.
I tried the ‘teaser method’ and it worked like a charm.
I was lucky to get an almost instant reply.
It may not happen for you. Don’t throw in the towel just yet! Once a week or every two weeks, write up a follow up email. Don’t just copy and paste of course but keep the bulk of the message with a mention that you are following up.
Take the time to know more about the person you are trying to reach. Understand their passion and personality. Be genuine and keep it entertaining! Remember that it's purpose is to get you a meeting where you'll be able to further define your offer and what you expect in return.