is the owner of Fishing Information Services which sells
Combat Fishing and Xtreme Bass Tackle products. He has authored two
books on Lake St. Clair and speaks at seminars across the state.
that we’re at the tail end of the unofficial sponsorship
season (roughly October through March), many of the techniques and
approaches to gaining a sponsorship are still fresh in my mind. Over
the years, I’ve been able to help many anglers to expand on
their opportunities. If you are looking to be sponsored, there may be
something in this article for you.
THE LONG ROAD
anglers with the most success have gone this route. They approach the
sport from a business perspective and develop quality relationships
over the long haul. It starts with an introduction by a friend, a phone
call or email. Over the years, the angler makes themselves available to
support the business. If the business has a staffing or logistics
problem, the angler will devote time to solve it. This will get the
attention of any good potential sponsor. Submitting regular, written
reviews on the company’s product and the success it has
brought is a clear signal to the potential sponsor that the angler is
ready to represent the product on a higher level.
THE BIG WIN
This is probably the most obvious route that anglers recognize. They
get a big tournament win under their belts, then go sponsor shopping.
This approach works because the angler has immediate, positive
exposure. The opportunity doesn’t come along very often
however. If the angler was wearing the logo of the sponsor when they
got up on stage for the weigh-in and photo op, the chances for
sponsorship go way up. This is especially true if the angler mentions
the way a product helped them secure the win.
Big Win Story...
sitting at my desk one summer morning and the phone rings.
“Do you have Great Lakes Craw?”, the person asks. I
place the order then hang up. A few minutes later another call, and
another order for Great Lakes Craw. About a half an hour later I get
another call from one of my regular customers for the same. This is
becoming too much of a coincidence. I ask, “Why Great Lakes
Craw?” and he says, “Didn’t you see it on
www.bassfan.com?” He goes on to tell me how Paul Hirosky won
a Bassmaster Northern Open on Lake Erie and said his key to victory was
the Xtreme Bass Tackle tube, Great Lakes Craw. I had never met Paul but
he made sure the article spelled the company and bait name correctly,
and attributed the win to my bait. Paul and I have no formal agreement
but you can be sure that I will help him anyway I can. He brought in
sales and gave my product strong exposure.
THE SHOT IN THE DARK
walk up to a business owner and ask for sponsorship. There are times
when this works, but it is less likely. You’ll have to talk
with more business and do a lot of legwork. Now and then you will run
across an eager sponsor, but it can be about as often as that big
time to time I hear about an angler who has a good relationship with a
business via other means. The business actually offers them money for
fishing in return for some advertising on their boat and gear. These
are even more rare but almost always very comfortable, long-term
all want free stuff but sponsorship is a business relationship. The
first thing a business should hear from us is: what’s in it for them!
That’s the language of sponsorship. Nearly all of the anglers
I sponsor came from the ranks of anglers who used my product, loved it
then became active in moving my business along to where it is today.
Along the way, many great friendships have developed and we watch each
other go from success to success. That’s one of the aspects
of a close sponsorship/relationship that is rarely talked about.
on good sponsorships doesn’t end in March, but goes year
round as we fish and interact with products and services. Now is a good
time to start to develop a resume for next season too. Volunteer to
help with kids events, tournament circuits that need support and
collect letters of recommendation along the way. Over the long run, if
you’re a positive force in the industry, there will always be
people who will want to be part of your success too!