Today after spending the day on the water making sure I was ready for my upcoming B.A.S.S. Open Tournament I had an interesting thing happen to me. I had just loaded my boat when a gentleman walked up to me and asked if I fished for a living (I had worn my new jersey to make sure it was comfortable and nothing rubbed wrong). With a smile, I replied that it was a dream I was chasing too able to say I earn my living doing what I loved over the next years. Naturally, he asked about my jersey, the sponsors, did I get paid, do I use the products I promote etc. Happily, I answered all of his questions, even explained why I was wearing the shirt during an ordinary day of fishing. Of course, we did what fishermen do, we began exchanging information about what bait we were using, where we were able to find fish while speculating on where they would be in the coming days and weeks.
Half-way though the conversation I realized how easy it was to endorse my sponsors; how readily a person can “sell” a product for a company that they believe whole-heartedly in. I believe as a whole, we have a tendency when we see an opening on social media for a Pro-Staff position that we make ourselves believe the company is a perfect match for us. We buy into the image of the Pro Angler with his jersey, boat and truck covered in names like a Las Vegas billboard and we think THAT is what a successful Angler looks like. It’s what we want for ourselves and we begin to chase that dream, without ever stopping to research the product or company brands and ethics. We want the name on the jersey when in fact, we’ve never heard of the company before much less put their product in our boat. We do all this because we want Pro-Staff behind our name and another space on our jersey taken. I speak from experience, by the way. It’s like an addiction or a popularity contest.
In order for the relationship between you and the sponsoring company to work in unison, the fisherman must know his place. Personally, I think Pro-Staff should stand for ‘Promotional Staff.’ Let’s take NETBAIT for example, I’m on their promotional staff and I’m a crazy believer in their baits. This is my go- to bait when I have an hour left in a tournament and I need to put two keepers in the boat. When I approached NETBAIT to let me promote their products, I shared my passion for their company and what I was willing to do help them promote and grow their business. I never once asked what NETBAIT was willing to do for me. We should keep in mind, these companies have a bottom line and if we aren’t out there helping them grow their business’ then we need to stop slowing them down.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get from beginning anglers is how to get sponsors when you’re starting off. I always give the same answer:
- What products are you passionate about? Go to these companies first.
- What do you feel comfortable talking to someone about? When I was a bank fisherman I shouldn’t be talking to someone about the benefits of a Skeeter over a Nitro. I just don’t have the experience.
- What are you willing to do to promote the company that you’re representing? We all have only so many hours in a day, so don’t oversell and under deliver to the company you’re trying to represent.
I hope these few points help everyone out in their search of finding the partnerships that will take your fishing to the next level.