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Catch A Sponsor
Reeling in a sponsor can take a lot of patience and first-hand knowledge, keeping in mind sponsors are a must for today’s competitive fishermen.
Soliciting a paying sponsor reminds me of asking a girl for a dance, or even date. Goose bumps soon follow and your worst nightmare is followed by a very possible, "no thank you!"
If you plan on continuing to be a competitive fisherman, or plan to join the ranks of tournament fishermen, you will need to have help from a wide variety of sponsors, or a major sponsor. Keeping in mind that most competitive fishermen are plumb crazy over fishing and don't actually have much time to make money, at least not enough cash to float a full season of tournament fishing.
Sponsor dollars come from a variety of sources and sometimes from the most unlikely places.
Several fishing seasons ago, Fish Fishborne joined the Bass Master's tournament trail and was funded completely by his grandmother!
At the same time, I was funded to fish the Bass Master's tournament trail by a close friend that I played golf with!
Bass pro, Hank Parker, had excellent credit and borrowed $10,000.00 from his local bank to fish the Bass Master's tournament trail and went on to win the Bass Master's Classic!
Today it takes some $50,000.00 up front to fish the modern day Bass Master's tournament trail. All the entries have to have their boats wrapped by their sponsor, so there are dress codes too!
It takes a lot of cold hard cash to fish the Southern Kingfish Association's tournament trail as well. Most competitive teams are fishing from much larger boats today, powered by triple outboards with 300-gallon-plus fuel cells. You will also see some of these huge center console tournament boats rigged with four powerful outboards during the 2006 SKA tournament season.
With fuel selling for upwards of $3.00 per gallon at marina pumps, it could possibly cost tournament teams a grand to re-fuel their boat for the next day of fishing!
Having landed, or simply reeled in a sponsor, also gives the tournament angler an added incentive to do well during the tournament season. For example, a tournament team with a wrapped boat is simply expected to catch more fish than one that isn't wrapped!
To get started on the right foot, be sure to document all your press and television appearances. Most fishermen now have access to the Internet and a scanner. Simply take a tournament photo, or article concerning your fishing team, and scan it. Save it under your documents, which can be later e-mailed to your present sponsors. You can also print out these valuable documents and place them in a folder, which can be used to land a potential sponsor.
One of the very best fishing tools for catching sponsors is a digital camera. Make sure you have one of your friends take several photos of your fishing team as your kingfish boat pulls up to the weigh-in. Also photos of your team weighing in your money-winning catch are priceless and often catch the eye of big money sponsors.
Finally I have preached this for some twenty kingfish seasons now: take photos of your catch on the boat! I still find it hard to believe that most king mackerel fishing teams will not make the time to take a photo of a big kingfish with either the sponsor's logo on their shirt or simply somewhere in the background.
Take the time to apply sponsor names at the bow of your boat, where it will be sure to show up when a photo is taken. Taking pictures with electronics, outboard motors and other related marine products in the background is simply priceless!
However more times than not, tournament teams will plug the gaff hole with cotton balls to stop the bleeding and slam-dunk the kingfish into a fish bag.
Once the bleeding has stopped, take the time to take a few quick photos.
I have to say, the one thing that has landed me my sponsors and countless fishing articles is taking the time to take photos of big fish once they have been landed. I have been paid up to $1,000.00 for taking the time to take a simple photo. You can also sell these photos and at the same time land sponsorship dollars too!
Be sure and wet down your catch first, so that your landed fish looks like it has just come out of the water. Next, make sure that the sun is shinning on the fish; if possible wait until the sun breaks through the clouds so that you have the proper sunlight. Early morning sunlight produces the very best photo opportunities. If it is a cloudy day, use your camera's flash.
Finally, set your digital camera on the automatic mode and all you have to do is make sure that you have good light on your subject and all of the fish appears in your viewfinder.
Once you have taken several photos and documented the tournament results, you are now ready to approach potential sponsors.
Sponsors come in a variety of marine and non-marine related businesses. Boat and outboard motor manufactures are the most common sponsors and are willing to showcase their product on the competitive SKA tournament trail.
With this in mind, I would strongly recommend landing both an outboard and boat sponsorship before soliciting any other likely sponsors. Other marine and non-marine related companies are more likely to sponsor a fishing team that is already sponsored with a boat and motors. This simply tells them that this fishing team has already passed the test!
With this in mind, first approach a boat manufacturer and let them know that you intend to competitively fish on the SKA tournament trail and produce the marketing manager with your team's resume. This is when the on board photos of catches, newspaper articles and television appearances really come in handy!
I would also strongly recommend talking with your local boat dealer first and convincing them that you will help them increase their boat sales with the added exposure that you might have already given them and your hopes of gaining added press.
Your most valuable asset is your local boat dealer!
Believe me there is nothing more important to you and your fishing team than a local boat dealer calling a boat manufacture and telling them that your fishing team would be an asset to their success in selling boats.
Once you have proved your point, the local boat dealer will also help you in landing an outboard motor sponsor. And more than likely, the boat manufacturer will make this happen as well. Make sure that you include your local, or nearest, boat dealer when you are trying to land a boat and outboard motor manufacturer!
Once you have land a sponsorship with a major boat and outboard manufacturer, it will then become much easier to reel in sponsorships from other marine related items. For example, many boat manufactures may use one brand of electronics. Now it comes quite evident that if they are going to sell more products through your local boat dealer, you will need to have this particular brand of electronic on your tournament rigged fishing boat.
Take the time to look at what products have been successful through your local boat dealer. Try not to solicit products that they have not been successful with. Remember the key to your fishing team's success is using marine related products that help sell your local boat dealer's inventory of fishing boats!
There are also many other potential sponsors including soft drink companies, truck manufacturers, food products and even clothing companies. Once you have landed a boat and motor sponsor and have done well on the SKA tournament trail, the time is right for soliciting other sponsors.
Approach these non-marine related sponsors just like you have the marine related sponsors with resumes and a good reason why you can help sell their product with your fishing team's exposure in both magazines, newspapers and television.
Finally make sure that all of your team members wear clean pressed fishing shirts showcasing sponsor logos, when you weigh in your winning catch. Avoid drinking any type of alcohol at the tournament site and conduct yourself in a friendly and courteous manner. Last but not least, keep in touch with your sponsors, keeping them updated of your team's success and you will have reeled in one of your best catches, a team sponsor!