Sponsorship 101 — Get in the Game
Tournament anglers see sponsorship as the Holy Grail, the path to free entry fees and piles of free product. While all of that is possible, the reality is there is more to a sponsorship partnership than exchanging jersey space for cash and products. Sponsorships are like any job; you start out at the bottom and work your way up. Along the way you must prove yourself, work well with others, have good communication and stay professional at all times. However before you can get to that point, you must first develop the relationship, build trust and show your worth. It's go time.
Tournament Background – Tournament successes are obviously a big part of sponsorship, but they may not be as important as you think. While anglers must show some success on the water, often the most successful sponsorships are with anglers who can fish well, but sell better. Keep your list of tournament finishes to a minimum and only include fairly recent examples from bigger tournaments. By focusing more on how you can promote off the water instead of your prowess on the water, you will gain more attention from companies.
Promotion and Sales – This is the most important part of a sponsorship agreement, the question "Can you sell product?" Businesses are in business to make money and not for charity. You must be able to show companies that you can sell products, promote their brand and be an asset to them. You can easily do this by showcasing relevant work history, your education, mentioning tackle stores you have a relationship with and more. Think of anything you have ever done with business or promotion and use it to your advantage. If you are lacking experience, consider taking a marketing class at your local college or get involved with trade shows and public speaking. These are skills that are very important and will help separate you from everyone else looking for that same sponsorship.
Internet- The Internet is the best and worst thing to come along for tournament anglers. I say that because it has made it much easier for companies to find out exactly who a person is. Think about your personal Facebook page, Twitter account, forums and everything else you do online. Most of these avenues are easily accessed by anyone, anywhere. Be careful what you say and how you act online as it can prevent you from landing a sponsorship. Companies really do research anglers before they are even considered. Think about this next time you are online.
On the other hand, the Internet can be your friend. It can show your influence, your digital reach, and your success at promoting yourself and sponsors. In the current time, where social media is a big part of our daily lives, use this to your advantage and tell the online world about what products you use, why you like them and why they are better than the rest. If you really want to make an impression start an online blog and start writing about your experiences and products you use.
Grammar – Nothing shows that you are careless more than numerous grammar mistakes in your communications. As a Pro Staff manager I have seen my company's name and even my own name misspelled. An English degree is not required, but with spell check and many other tools available, there is no excuse for multiple errors. Before you send anything out, have a friend read it or double check yourself a day later. Catching mistakes before you send them out can assure that you will be taken seriously and move to the next level instead of the trash.
Honesty – One common mistake I see from anglers is a resume or email that says "You have great products and I like using them," or any other generic line. The truth is, Pro Staff managers want to know why you chose them, what it is about their company that you like, what products you use and how you can sell more of what they produce. General resumes and cover letters often mean they are just templates that are sent out to every company in the industry. Take the extra time in your resume and cover letter to explain why you want to be part of that particular company.
Making a good first impression is crucial for sponsorship success. Taking the extra time to make sure your approach is professional, specific and honest will go a long ways in ensuring that you are considered for sponsorship.