Gaining Sponsorship

Gaining Sponsorship
Attending a “Meet the Pros” event prior to a tournament.
Fellow fishermen often ask advice for gaining sponsorship for their fishing team. I have been fortunate to be associated with some great sponsors and am by no means an expert, but I will share some things that have worked for me. It is no secret that competitive fishing gets expensive and with gas prices rising faster than this year's redfish weights, sponsorship can be a godsend.

In one of my earliest articles in TSFMag I discussed how to build a resume. One of the key items to consider in resume preparation is how to make yours stand out from others. Potential sponsors are approached from all types of people looking for money for their cause, and not all relate to fishing.

Auto racing teams to little league teams, everybody is looking for financial support. The shear number of requests mean the majority will get turned down. So right from the get-go, an angler is at a disadvantage.

So why even bother? It's simple- If you can convince a businessman that he can increase sales by investing in your enterprise, you can get sponsorship. Even though lots of anglers get turned down; there are teams getting new sponsors every day.

When approaching sponsors in today's competitive market, just sending a resume may not create the kind of impact that gets you noticed. Put yourself in a sponsor's place and consider what you would want to see; fishermen's resumes asking for money because of all the great finishes they've achieved, or a marketing proposal emphasizing how a fisherman is going to increase sales?

Whatever is sent to a potential sponsor should make them say, "This is unique," or, "This sounds interesting."

There are some basic things that most every fishing team can offer sponsors. Advertising in the form of displaying the sponsor's logo is something anyone can offer. Almost every angler offers to wear a custom jersey or wrap the boat with a sponsor's logo. These are pretty basic so I will not go into detail, but I will say that anglers need to convey how displaying their logo will translate into sales or exposure for their company. Who, where, and how many people will see the logo; what are the demographics of those seeing the logo? How will people that see the logo increase the company's sales? These are some things a good marketing proposal should contain.

What can anglers offer? Fishing trips. The sponsor can use guided trips for entertaining clients, rewarding top sales people or giveaways at their store. Again, the key is don't just say, "If you sponsor me, I can take you fishing."

Give the potential sponsor ideas on how they can use the trips. Maybe the sponsor is not interested in fishing. Well, you can take them or their clients on nature tours, birding tours, or evening cruises. Think outside the box.

What other types of exposure can be offered to potential sponsors? Let's face it; no matter how good you are you cannot win every tournament. It would not be right to say you are going to have media exposure when you win. The best exposure is to have something that is constant and not wholly dependent on winning.

Living in a small town, I started writing articles for the local newspaper when my team finished well. Local papers appreciate having articles submitted.

You can represent the sponsor on the internet, there are plenty of outlets from chat rooms to online fishing articles.

There are fishing magazines. Hey, I started by submitting articles to the Bay City Tribune and thought I might as well try to write for the best saltwater fishing magazine in Texas, and here I am. I may end up being knocked out by a fellow tournament fisherman that writes better or offers more; but I just treat it like a tournament, always do my best, be myself, be honest, and what is meant to be will fall into place.

Ok, enough about ideas on how to take over my place here every month. Let's touch on some other ideas for sponsor exposure. Sponsors need help. Make a proposal to help the sponsor at tradeshows, fishing shows, boat shows, etc. Tell how your presence in the booth or at a store can draw customers and increase sales. Offer assistance with moving in, setting up, and tearing down the booth during shows.

Look for things you can learn to make yourself more marketable. I am a certified Texas Angler Education Instructor. The Angler Education program through Texas Parks and Wildlife is a great way to help teach the next generation and interested people about our great sport. The Angler Education program can be presented at a sponsor's store or business. It not only ends up teaching others, it also gets the sponsor's name in front of the buying public.

What special skills do you have? Maybe you are good at computers and can build websites, maybe you can create computer graphics or are good at fixing things. A proposal can offer your skills in return for something. Nothing is off the table; if you are thinking that a sponsor would not go for your idea, think again, it may well be the new idea a business is looking for. Who knows, maybe that deer sausage you process each year would be something you could use to work a deal.

Last, the internet is loaded with information. Snoop around and learn what good proposals look like, learn marketing terms and the lingo of businesses. A successfully sponsored team does not have to work its fingers to the bone to be successful; it just has to work harder than the other teams, kind of like the bear in the woods. I don't have to run the hundred yard dash in 9.0 seconds, I just have to run faster than you.

So is there any canned success formula? No- find what works for you and approach sponsors whose products you use and believe in. It really is transparent when someone is trying to say how great a product is and their heart is not in it. Don't give up, there are plenty of closed doors and dead end trails, but like fishing, the more you learn, the better you get and pay dirt will eventually be struck. Keep the bottom line in mind. What is your proposal doing to increase the sponsor's sales?