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Looking For Sponsors?
By Jeremiah Shaver


Over the past year or so Iíve done some extensive research on attaining both tackle and monetary style sponsorships.   My time and effort has culminated in several sponsorship deals, including my first big monetary contract.  Due to my recent success, Iíve since had several anglers ask for advice and tips in gaining sponsors. 

I think the most important thing you have to ask yourself when trying to obtain a sponsor is WHY?  Why should a company give you anything?  I hear this all the time:   Iíve won a few tournaments, so isnít that enough?  If you havenít already guessed, the answer is No.  Companies could care less how many local tournaments youíve won.  All they really care about is how you are going to market their product.   

So what is the first step?  The answer is simple: Get Involved!  Getting sponsors doesnít happen in a weekís time, and they arenít about to work with somebody that doesnít do things outside of just fishing tournaments.  Fishing alone isnít enough.  Get involved with Online forums.  Help participate with weigh-ins.  Go to outdoor expos and seminars, things of that nature.   Become a figure in the fishing industry.

Another idea is to build your self a website.  A website is a great tool for promotion opportunities.  Not only are they cheap to create, they are accessible to millions of people.  Latest polls state that the internet is present in nearly 80% of all homes.  Use your website as a tool to promote yourself and the companies that sponsor you.

 So you think youíve built yourself a decent resume?  How do you go about approaching somebody?  I would recommend starting off small.  Maybe you know a local bait dealer or tackle company.  Go to them and offer your services.  Offer to hand out brochures/flyers.  Talk to them and be open with ideas.   They might not want to give you money but may offer you some discount tackle or products.  Donít turn things like this down.  This is where it all begins.  Start building a relationship with them and it will benefit you in the long run with a good reference when you do try to land that ďbig fishĒ sponsor. 

Ok, now youíre ready to approach that potential monetary sponsor.  Whatís your game plan?  The first thing you want to do is find the correct person of contact.  Make some calls.  Iíve found that you are typically looking to speak with the Director of Sales and Marketing or a Sales Manager.  Remember that you are basically trying to become and independent promotional contractor for their company, so act and speak professionally.   BE PREPARED when you call to speak with them.  Give them a little background information on yourself and why you are calling.   Give them the option of a face to face meeting for your proposal, or offer that you email them your cover letter and resume.   Try not to do your proposal over the phone unless they initiate it!  Donít be afraid to go over a mock interview with somebody to help prepare.  The last thing you want is to be caught off-guard with a question and sound like Porky the Pig as you stutter for an answer. 

Also, just like In a job interview.  Donít come out right away and discuss money.  It will be an immediate turn off and odds are the potential sponsor wonít be interested.   Trust me; they will inevitably bring up the question one way or another Ė ďWhat are you looking for in return?Ē  Be careful with your answer, if you shoot for the fence, youíll probably end up striking out.  Donít be afraid to show them a list of your fishing expenses however.  Include tournament entries, food, lodging, fishing tackle, list things of that magnitude.  Remember just starting out you arenít going to get tens of thousands of dollars.  Be open to negotiations and come up with an agreeable sum that benefits both parties.   

Last but not least, keep your word.  If you promise a sponsor that you plan on doing something.  Do it.  If they want you to hand out flyers or whatever, itís your obligation to get it done.  If for some reason something comes up that you canít fulfill your obligation, call your sponsor and work on something else to take its place.  BE PRO-ACTIVE!!!

 This is my approach.  It may not suit others, but it is a method that has worked for me so far and Iím going to build on it.  What ever happens, donít be discouraged.  You will get rejected, get used to it.  As you find your ďsales nitch,Ē things will eventually go your way.  Keep trying and Best of luck fishing; Iíll see you on the water!!!