How To Get Sponsors
The sponsor game. Growing up in New Jersey I didn’t have a lot of help with that over the years and I made a lot of mistakes. But I learned a lot, and became better at it because of it.
In a nutshell, what I’ve learned over the past fifteen years, is that gaining sponsorship is this: Figure out how to help a company sell more stuff and get more people through their doors. That’s the golden rule. That’s the easiest way to describe what sponsorships mean. Sounds easy, but it took me awhile to figure that out.
There are a lot of ways for an angler to do that. From local to regional tournaments, to the guys that want to tour full-time, just adhere to this rule: Present to a company in logical way how you’ll help them sell more stuff. It’s very difficult for them to walk away from that.
It’s broader than just wearing a patch on your vest. It’s exposure. Getting their name out. You can do that in a number of ways: logo positioning – jerseys, wraps on trucks and boats, the web, but they should be track able. Figure out how many eyeballs are seeing it. If you wear X-brand hat on a cable show, you can find out how many homes that show reaches.
Track able sales are another form of sponsorship. Early on, one of my first bait sponsors was Mann’s bait company. I started taking their products to local accounts that weren’t carrying their products. There were a dozen tackle shops in my area that weren’t carrying them. I’d go in with a handful of baits and explain why they’d be great in our area, and leave them samples. They’d call me back wanting to carry them, and I’d connect them with Manns. That was track able.
Another way to track sales are coupons with bar codes. I carry coupons form Dick’s Sporting Goods wherever I go, and give them out to everyone. Every time that coupon is scanned, it’s track able. At the end of the year, Dick’s can see how many sales I impacted.
Exposure through print media and the web is another way to help a company. It’s really easy to do. A lot of local newspapers want people to write about the local fishing scene. Early on in my career, I contacted the Philadelphia Carrier Post, told the sports editor who I was and what I was about, and asked if I could write a column. One thing led to another and I was soon writing a column where I could plug my sponsors.
The web works the same way, plus Facebook, Twitter, and others. Guest-write for websites and actively promote sponsors in social media. It all goes back to how to help a company. You bring eyeballs to them through the web, print, and in person.
I think a lot of people are intimidated by sponsorships, but if you keep these things in mind, it’s not that hard.
It’s about finding contacts. You love company X’s products and you don’t know anybody there. You create a killer resume and send it in, and it gets thrown away. Instead, find out who does the sponsors, the promotions, the marketing – that’s the person you want to contact.
I suggest creating a “package” that contains a cover letter, small bio, photo, business card, and maybe one or two articles you’ve had published. The cover letter is the most important. Write three to five paragraphs on how you’re going help that key person to sell more products. Never ask for anything -ever. Just get across to them you love their product and how you’re going to help them sell more of it. If you can’t do that, your letter will get tossed out. Address it to that contact person. And then follow up with a phone call in about a week and ask, “Did you review my package?” Have your plan in front of you on how you’re going to help them sell more stuff.
You don’t have to have a marketing degree or professional sales background. You just have to have a logical plan on how you’re going to help them sell more stuff. It doesn’t matter if you’re a welder, a businessman, a bus driver; it’s hard to say for a potential sponsor “no” to more sales. That’s critical.
Who cares if you’ve won eighteen tournaments in a row or caught the state record? It’s all about how much sales you can bring to their company.