If you aspire to get to the level some call “professional angler;” view your fishing as a business. As in most “start-up” businesses, the owner must have a level of commitment to his company.
In fishing, for the first couple of years, the majority of backing is going to come out of your pocket. For the last seven years, I’ve consistently spent more money at Bass Pro Shops each year than I do at Macy’s and I am a girl! Trust me, I get it—tournament fishing is expensive.
Still, it’s hard for others to invest in you if you yourself cannot or will not. Nor will sponsors want invest in your business without a high probability for a good return on investment—“ROI.”
Location, location, location!
Something everyone has to consider is the value of their real estate. In fishing, your real estate is your boat, tow vehicle, tournament jersey and hat/visor. Every visible square inch has the potential to make you money.
Logo locations and size should have various “rental rates.” To start, you need to calculate the “hard cost” of your “rental property.” Consider tournament fees, insurance, fuel, oil, lodging, tackle, incidentals and your rig—boat, motor and electronics.
When you look at that number, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But determine the amount of real estate you have to rent out, and the rates you will need to charge to help defray your costs, and you’ll be taking your first step toward getting sponsors.
You need a resume
Before approaching potential partners, create a portfolio or resume. And although you might assume that a fishing resume should focus on your tournament history, that’s not entirely true. Your tournament history is important, but it should not be the focus.
What you are really doing with your “real estate” is selling impressions. How many people will see that logo? How will you engage your investor’s potential customers? How will you increase traffic to investor’s stores or website? Most of these impressions do not occur on the weigh-in stage.
Education, experience, media savvy
Your resume must focus on your education and previous work experience. This communicates your ability to interact with customers, market sponsors and be professional.
Another critical topic is media—creating ink and air time. I cannot stress how important this is on every level—l ocal, regional and national. Give a detailed listing of all of the media you have acquired, this includes website links. And if your name is not Van Dam, Clunn, Houston or Hank Parker you better do something to get your name out there. I say Hank Parker because “Parker” has not helped me any. Sorry Hank!
Your resume should focus also on charity events, community service and public appearances. Sponsors want to know onto what public platforms you will take them. If your events have had high attendance, document the numbers—the larger the attendance, the more impressions you give your sponsors, which increases your value. In the photo below, I'm signing autographs, talking fishing and promoting sponsors at Talladega Superspeedway last year.
Eyes on the road
If you are proposing a boat or tow-vehicle wrap, list your annual towing mileage average and yearly towing impressions. This is a valuable tool for mobile marketing. Your impressions numbers have multiple variables—interstate vs rural highways, highly populated cities vs. small towns. Are you traveling during the day or at night? It can prove time worthy to research these calculations.
How are you different than everyone else?
Next, consider your potential sponsor’s position. There are a million anglers willing to wear a logo for free. They are choosing to run a non-profit organization—something we all do, or have done, while getting in the business. And yes, it is usually necessary to get you started and your foot in the industry’s door.
From a sponsor’s perspective, when they have, say 100,000, weekend warriors, club, regional and state tournament anglers willing to wear their logo for a discount; what can you do for them that can justify them giving you a larger discount, free product or a salary?
Setting your rate
Now it’s time for you to review your resume “portfolio.” Think about your competition, the level at which you are competin. Are you an aspiring tournament angler just getting started, a weekend tournament angler, regional angler/semi-pro, or a professional “this is how the bills get paid” angler? Your answer will help you determine your rate.
Review your costs, what you have to offer, what other anglers on your level are asking and name your price. Things to remember:
1. Setting your price too high can be a complete turn off and land your proposal directly in the trash.
2. It’s much easier to get product than cash, so be willing to accept product that you can sell and turn into cash.
3. Consider what you are proposing to your investor/ potential sponsor. If you were in his/her position, would you invest in your business plan? Does what you are proposing make good “business sense?”
Follow these tips and you’ll show a potential sponsor that you are serious and have marketing potential.
In my next blog …
In my next blog, I will discuss the industry-standard sponsorship levels. They are:
· Product Discounts (level one)
· Product Discount (level two)
· Free product (levels three and four)
· Cash Sponsorship (level four)