The Road to Sponsorship

There is more to the gaining fishing sponsorships than walking into a store and asking for products and support.  What do you want exactly?  How are you going to get it? What is the ultimate goal?  Receiving sponsorships from companies requires planning, a certain business-like approach and a dedicated attitude. 


I have been tournament fishing since 2005, beginning my career fishing the Future Pro Tour.  In 2012, I progressed to competing in Pro-Am tournaments.  Although I have only been competing in Pro-Am tournaments for about a year, I have been a successful business manager and owner for many years.  As a business owner , I have a unique perspective on business marketing and finances as it relates to fishing sponsorships.  In the following series of articles, I am going to attempt to unravel the mysteries behind gaining and maintaining industry sponsorship with the narration of my own personal journey.

Up until this point, I was not interested in pursuing fishing sponsors.  Owning a small business and having a young family, I wasn’t prepared to represent fishing sponsors.  All of my extra time was devoted elsewhere.   As my business has become more established, I can now afford the time to pursue sponsorship opportunities.   Yet, this is a bit of a daunting task.  Where do you begin in order to have the best possible outcome?  This is how I would recommend approaching the situation from a business partnership standpoint.


As a sponsored  representative, you are joining a company’s team to help promote their brand and helping to close the sales loop.  Essentially once you are a sponsored pro-staffer you then become a marketing partner and ambassador for the company. Your time and efforts can be rewarded with discounts, products, and even money.


Before approaching sponsors, an angler must first develop personal goals for themselves and a plan to achieve those goals. Similar to a business plan or a career plan, an angler should establish both short-term and long-term goals for themselves as it relates to fishing.  Ask yourself two basic questions.

1.       Who am I as an angler?

2.       Where do I wish to be as an angler in one, three and five years?

Be realistic when answering these questions in order to provide yourself with achievable goals that include quantifiable milestones.  Determine whether you are ready to make a commitment to a company and which companies that includes.  Do these long term goals include sponsors?  If so, at which point and to what extent?

Now that you have determined your standing as an angler and your desire to have sponsors, where do you begin?  Just like when seeking out a job, do your homework on the company and know their business model.  By investigating the company, it will help you to determine how you can actually help that company as a pro-staffer.  Make sure that you and the company will work well together; this includes personality and working relationships.  Try to establish a connection with companies that you truly believe in their product.  Many companies will be very selective with whom they sponsor, just as you should be selective with the companies that you choose to approach.  Ensure that the goals of the company align with the goals you have set up for yourself.  Once you have established each of these things you will be able to determine the types of sponsorship that are best suited for you and your angling needs. 


Personally, I have decided that I wish to establish a home for my tackle needs.   Next, I would also like to represent a rod and reel manufacturer and eventually, perhaps represent boat and motor companies.  How am I going to achieve this?  How am I going to approach it and ensure I stand apart from the crowd?  I will apply the following concepts when approaching potential sponsors to set me apart from the crowd.  I am going to take a business approach.  I understand that sending in a resume alone is just going to add to the stack that most companies already receive; therefore, I feel that personally approaching the company with a vision and goal will set me apart.  But how will I do this?  It all starts with a mindset. 

Providing value to your sponsors, perhaps even more than they may provide for you, is the main key. Your ability to portray your willingness to help your sponsors will separate you from the crowd and increase your likelihood of success. Now, I am going utilize this mindset and these concepts in my attempt to seek out sponsorships of my own.  Check back in with my in my next article to see how things have developed. I hope to be able share some of my successes and learning lessons with you soon.