Anglers Sponsorship

Angler sponsorship is many times misunderstood on both sides of the fence. First understand the big picture which is “MONEY”. Anglers need it to fish and companies need it to stay in business. Take a look at how each side could view the sponsorship or endorsement of an angler and the benefits.

How can an angler impact a company within the fishing industry? (Endemic company) The grass roots marketing side is the angler will be using the products, telling other anglers and they will purchase them encompassing a small group that will eventually grow. It goes up from there. Next, many fishermen have a relationship with a tackle dealer or two and hopefully he /she can get the products into that store. If this angler fishes tournaments and does well on your product it can create a buzz and possibly sell great quantities in a short period of time. Example: On the California Delta, anglers caught a 40lb + bag for five fish using a swimbait. A few weeks later during a major event, all of the tackle stores for many miles were sold out of these swimbaits. Another phenomenon was the Bass Elite event at Clear Lake. Anglers spent thousands of dollars on swimbaits. These were two events in a short period of time and these frenzies have happened time and time again whenever a bait becomes the hot item.

General exposure is something I believe the fishing industry does not understand. Exposure is when your name or product is viewed by someone. Exposures have different values; a sticker is small and provides one type of exposure and then a magazine ad is another and the two are very different. When a sticker is viewed for instance it is called an impression. The more times this is seen the better. The bigger or more pronounced the stronger the impression. Companies like Pepsi and Chevrolet receive millions or billions of impressions, in turn causing these brands to become a household name (called branding). These types of impressions are seen by all and don’t adhere to any one market. A magazine ad on the other hand can hit a targeted market where the advertiser has more control of who is going to view the product or service and also the message they want to send. In either case the more exposure an angler can give a company the better, which equates to their value, providing it is in a positive nature. Anglers can provide logo or name exposure by wearing your logo on their shirt or a sticker on their boat and truck.The more often this person is out in public, the more views or impressions the companies receive. A company can also use their anglers in advertisements which is a win, win situation. The company benefits by the ad itself and helps the angler gain notoriety. As the angler gains fame so do the products he promotes. The better and more popular the angler becomes, the more people want to hear about him and products he uses. Then other opportunities arise such as magazine articles, TV shows, and public seminars.

For endemic companies, a sponsored angler can also serve a valuable role in product development. For a new product you need a candid opinion to know the benefits and faults. The benefits can leak out when the faults need to be discussed within the company’s structure. It is valuable to know these things before going to market. Anglers can also provide a valuable resource for working trade shows. For very little money the manufacturer can have several sales reps (anglers) at their trade show booth. The nice thing about having fishermen working the booth is people listen to what they have to say and many times directly purchase the products, unlike a typical salesman. If the manufacturer is creative they might set up a place for the sponsored angler to give short presentations. In addition some trade show organizations may even discount the booth space if you provide a resource to help them attract more people. For the industry companies the sponsored person is similar to an outside sales representative plus a promoter. Many companies don’t use their personnel to their full capacity. Be creative and ask your pro staff what they think and how to get better market penetration.

Non endemic companies (out of the fishing industry) can gain substantially by endorsing an angler. They have the same trade show help, however the angler would act more as a celebrity than a sales person. A fisherman wearing your name across his/her chest can attract a lot of attention. Unlike Hollywood, most consumers won’t recognize a fisherman famous or not, so the company need not endorse only the top few most noted pro anglers. When they see the jersey they will naturally assume they are well known. I have worked several trade shows where people have come to me and said “I saw you on TV last week”, when in fact it wasn’t me just a guy with a shirt like mine. Flattering, but it proves a point; there are very few anglers that get enough TV time to be recognized. With that said you don’t want to put a fancy shirt on anyone, they should have some accomplishments and be an actual competing angler. You want a guy who can talk the talk. Non endemic companies need exposure and impressions whether for a new product or their brand. In short, an impression is a view of the name or product. If a million people see the name flash by, it equals a million impressions. Most companies pay for advertising per impression. ($$$ per thousand impressions) Out-of-industry companies are a valuable resource to anglers as they may provide needed expense money. Industry sponsors usually provide the angler with products or a cash / product package where as non endemic companies usually offer a cash advertising package. The more money the angler has access to, the more he can compete which will enable him to become better at his craft. Exposure to a target market is one key reason to endorse a fisherman. The demographics of the angling community are very attractive to most every company in America. Some industries are better versed in the marketing arena and can substantially help an angler gain more exposure. Utilizing the different marketing venues, an angler can provide millions of exposures per year for an endorsing company. Several marketing venues available for the angler to promote their sponsors are: television, working with local producers taking them fishing, working with outdoor writers and the local papers, posting reports and writing short stories for the internet. In addition an angler may be able to provide great sales support; a walking talking billboard. He may also be available to taking a key employee or client fishing. Each year we see more and more non endemic companies getting into fishing via mobile billboards, anglers travel many miles each week, month and year. A nice truck and boat sporting your logo is a wonderful marketing tool that can provide remarkable results.

The angler, bass anglers are not always savvy in business or marketing. We fish and dream of making a living fishing. Sales and marketing usually take a back seat to the fish. Though we are not usually sales people, we need to learn to be. Sometimes the angler needs to take a step back and realize the value of a sponsorship. You most likely won’t receive a sponsorship because you won one tournament. Who cares, unless it is an Elite or FLW event with extensive TV coverage, then some deals may come across the table. I’m talking about a small local event. When you win even a small event, your ego gets pumped up and you might feel like someone should give you a deal because of it. What impact would that win have on a sponsoring company? Some but not too much, unless it’s an in industry company and you won the event on their product. Example their sales would most likely increase for a short period of time after the event win. From a business stand point say you won the event on Hum Drummer which sells for $4.99 and they sold an extra 100 units because of your win. The company may make an extra $100 profit on that. They in turn sponsor you, give you a shirt, hat, $500 worth of baits and maybe a little money. Now the company is in the hole and expects you to help them out. Hopefully you will, and continue to increase their sales in the area which would make it all worth while. As an angler you need to realize if you cannot increase a company’s sale they cannot afford to endorse you. As a company they look at you in two different ways. One; can you sell their products basically as a sales person, and two; can they use you or your name to promote their product. Most of us are in the one category where we go to the company and ask for them to sponsor us and we show them how we can help them increase their sales.

How do we do this? This has several parts; direct sales to other anglers, helping the company get set up in a new tackle dealer, working with a local TV producer performing on a TV fishing show, writing or working with an outdoor writer to get an article published, reporting on fishing conditions on the internet, taking people fishing demonstrating the companies products, giving seminars on fishing at local tackle dealers or trade shows and then working an open house or a trade show for the manufacturer. All of these are valid reasons for a company to endorse you given you are promoting their products during all of these events. In the last paragraph I said who cares about your event win, let me recant and say I don’t want to discredit it. If you won an event “great job” now put it to work for you. Get in touch with the local paper and get it published, stating the baits, line, rods, reels etc that you used. Get the press and send it to your sponsors or potential sponsors. If you did something outstanding like broke a record or caught an unusually large fish, call or write a national magazine and hopefully get more press there too. The more press (exposure) you receive the more valuable you are. Until you’re a famous angler you will have to work for most any sponsorship you get and when you get one, work hard to keep it. Ensure you give progress reports on a regular basis and keep in contact with your sponsors for any needed help.

Good Luck

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