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Read this if you want to get sponsors PART 1


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OK, now that I have your attention, I figured that I'd take Flyrods lead and try to help some of you guys out when writing a resume to attract a sponsor. First off, please do not be offended by my blunt...to the point of the matter approach. I certainly will not single anyone out who has posted anything on this forum regarding this.

Why do I think I can help you??? First, I currently have 10 sponsors that I've managed to hold for several years. Next, I also own a tackle company so I know what is expected not only of me as someone who is sponsored, but what people want from me as a sponsor.

I see it from both management and employee perspectives. Maybe I can shed a little light into this often confusing part of the sport. Again, these opinions are only based on my experience and obviously not all companies operate like mine or the ones I'm affiliated with. This is part 1 in a small series of tips put together to help guys.

1- First and foremost, approach this seriously.

Do not contact a sponsor without thinking out your approach. I've seen a few people put up a very short and general post about themselves that explains nothing. No sponsor is going to be attracted by that. Instead, you should have previously thought out what you want to say, your goals, how you can achieve those goals etc. well ahead of any correspondence with a sponsor. This way when those issues come up, and they will, you can quickly get them settled and look smart and well thought out. If you have no intention of following through or actually doing anything for a sponsor, why write a resume then? You are only making it more difficult for the next guy to get a sponsorship.

2- For Godsake, at least have a little knowledge of the products put out by the company you are applying for.

This is the most important thing I look for when determining if someone should be elligible for a position with my company. Here's why-If I use a product and like it, that is the reason why I would solicit a sponsorship. I already believed in this product long before ever getting involved with any type of deal. I do not solicit sponsorships just to wear somebody's patch because having that badge, may turn off a legitimate sponsor who you actually may prefer having. I will go on record as saying, I only have sponsors whose products I use and have used long before being affiliated with them. Because I have confidence in their products, it is easy for me to promote them. I know them inside and out. It would do me no good to wear Joe's Walleye Gibbler's bait company patch if I didn't believe in the products. For those of you who are not currently sponsored and are looking to get sponsors, this is most important. Once you make a decision to go with a company and ultimately you do get picked up, if you have good moral character, you will live up to your end of the bargain and satisfy any promises or deals you made.....not bouncing out for the next company that comes along and conflicts with your current sponsor. In this industry, company owners talk and people do develope bad reputations. If you are not a big money pro angler who is in demand, you could be out before you were ever in.

It is very easy to see that an applicant has no clue about a companys products. Do not write things like "if I like your product, I will promote it or speak about it yada yada yaa!!!! I'm an easy going guy but when I see this on a resume, I flip. Who does this person think he is....Mike Ike??? Listen, all of the companies that are looking for pro staff members likely have a proven line up of products and don't need someone to test their products for them unless IT WAS IMPLIED!!!! You do not want to come off sounding like you are looking for freebies. I'll be totally honest, when I get a resume like this, I stop reading and hit the delete key. Most companies...scratch that, all companies have tested their products so you can't offer anything that they don't already know....unless they specifically ask you to do this.

UNDERSTAND THIS: ONLY THE TOP 10 OR 15 PROFESSIONAL ANGLERS GET A FREE RIDE. Unless you are in the circle that includes, Clunn, Nixon, Van Dam, Icconelli etc. you will not get that perk. This is because they are marketable and the average guy is not. Some weekend guys definately do pull their own weight in a major way, maybe even moreso than the effort of a pro but those professional guys have the access to TV and magazines and that is why they get paid or lavished with free gear.

3- Make sure you let a sponsor know what you can do for them.

Impress them. In essence, you are applying for a job...sort of. You are letting a sponsor know that you want to promote their products in return for whatever you are motivated to do this for, be it a discount on items, free items or even cash. You want to come off as being confident but not arrogant. I get resumes from guys who try to show me that they are hot stuff. I'm not impressed by tournament standings, trophies and plaques. Show me you are marketable and can successfully promote my gear and you might be on your way.

4- Impress the person who will be reading your resume.

Double and triple check your grammar and spelling. Man, if you spell "Sponcer, Sponser etc", you do not deserve the position. Everyone makes mistakes, but the guy who doesn't on his resume will liklely get your spot. A potential sponsor wants the guy who can best represent the company. This includes someone who can speak to people in a clear and concise manner. You are ultimately a reflection of the company and if you can't portray yourself in that manner, you likely will not get a position. Take the time to produce a respectable resume. If you hand in garbage, you will not be taken seriously. Remember this, anyone can go out and catch a few fish, anyone can win a tournament but how you conduct yourself in your resume, your first impression to a specific company is more important than any of those other things.

Some of you guys might need any little advantage you can get, for that reason I recommend a book written by a gentleman who approaches obtaining sponsorships very differently from your average Joe. I read the book and immediately hooked up with two sponsors who I likely would not have ever thought of even trying to get. Take a look at it, www.fishforfree.com

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Having a few hours to absorb what I wrote earlier about getting sponsors and the process of attracting them, I'm back with some m ore thoughts. Consider this Part II

5- Don't get in over your head. I see a ton of younger guys popping up and writing resumes. Many of these guys are not old enough to drive. There is nothing wrong with that but understand that many sponsors won't look at a younger guy because they do not want to be responsible for taking study time away from a young person. They also may feel that school will conflict with any efforts that this young person may attempt. I'll be honest with you, from my perspective, I really do feel that younger anglers can really help me out as a sponsor. I do have one 18yr old on my staff, he currently is ranked number 5 or 6 in the country. His life is fishing and he is done with school so there is no conflict there. I dodged him for years though. He started writing me when he was 15. Although he was a decent angler then I just felt that he could not offer the time I needed him to. My point to the younger guys is do not get discouraged. Try and write a good resume. When I was that young, I was building a local reputation as a decent young tournament competitor. Perhaps that is even more important because you actually learn how to fish better during the process and it will stay with you forever.

As a young guy, it is easy to get overwhelmed with all of this. The allure of being sponsored is a euphoric feeling. Remember a couple of things. A sponsorship is an agreement. You promise something in return for something. Both parties need to live up to their ends of the bargain. With young guys, however experienced you think you are, you must satisfy that agreement and be responsible. I just mentioned experience. I don't care if you have been fishing since you were 5. Unless you grew up as a mate on a charter boat, chances are you lack any experience that a company would be interested in, again, I'm not trying to be mean here.

Start small. If that means wearing apparel from your sponsor or putting his logo on your Big Wheels, do it, man a booth at a tackle show if you can but DO NOT MAKE PROMISES THAT YOU CAN'T KEEP! It is simple, you do not want to disappoint in the long run.

6- Fine Tuning your resume

Understand that your resume likely looks like 99 out of 100 other resumes. That 1 resume that is different will normally be the one that gets its author the spot. Lets face reality again, weekend fisherman are a dime a dozen. If you don't have what it takes or can't put a resume together that will interest a sponsor, someone else will. You need to set yourself apart from the pack, make your approach be different.

I want you guys to look at the resumes on this forum. Many are very good. Most lack 1 key thing and that is simply stating what you can do for the sponsor whose wares you are soliciting. When I read a resume that is sent to me and it doesn't contain any information about how a guy intends to help me, that is it, the lead is dead. I do not contact that person. Remember the #1 rule....have a well planned approach, making a complete resume is part of that.

7- Learn how to market yourself

What?? Yes, this starts at day 1. You must learn how to make yourself marketable as this is the sole factor that can set you apart from everyone else who writes a resume to the companies that you are writing to. This is why the Pro's make the big money.

Here is my strategy on how I did this. Some of it happened quite by accident.

Everything you do on the water can be used to your advantage if you know how to use it. Example:

In the early 1990's I was likely the only guy in my area who was hellbent on the California Finesse movement. I slowly built up a reputation as a solid angler who relied on light tackle. I knew I was the only one doing it, I was winning and I approached a local fishing publication about it. They interviewed me and I became a contributor to their publication as well as having several features written about my tactics. I also began documenting through the NYSDEC all of my big fish. I was getting every bass I caught over 5lbs documented. After a few years I became known as a big bass specialist and it was all documented. I was invited to attend shows, give lectures and seminars and I was about 22yrs old speaking to guys who were twice my age. These guys sat on the edge of their seats waiting for me to inform them. I then began to write articles online for many different websites.

I currently write for the big three.....Bass Resource, Ultimate Bass and Kevin's as well as a ton of smaller sites. Tournament competition, TV shows, radio spots, newspaper articles...these things all will come with time if you know how to market yourself. In all honesty, I have sent out 5 resumes to companies and they picked me up. My other sponsors either contacted me after reading one of my articles mentioning their products or scooped me up at a show after they heard a seminar or lecture I did. My success has been based on marketing myself and how I conduct myself in public. One advantage is that I've been a NYC Police Officer for 11years. I can talk to anyone without being intimidated, that is a big bonus. Some guys just can't speak in public, that may be a requirement to a staff position with some companies. One important thing is that you must be humble and not cocky or arrogant. That turns people off. You may know that you are good, but don't let people think that you know it. There is nothing wrong with confidence. Remember the company your represent is counting on you to be a reflection of their whole consumer approach. If you act unprofessionally, and I've seen guys do it, you will alienate your sponsor and ultimately lose them.

I've worked with some incredible anglers at shows,

Larry Nixon, Jimmy Houston, Jason Reynolds and others, these guys are the Pro's. After a few minutes when the awe wears off you realize they are regular guys. I spent two days hanging out with Larry Nixon and I felt he was just as interested in me as I was in him. It was very cool. I think we both learned something from each other. OK, I'm getting tired, here is where I post a couple of pictures to wow you guys a little and then maybe tomorrow I'll finish this up. Enjoy!



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As a not so young angler, I have just recently been bitten by the tournament fishing bug.

I love to bass fish and I love competition.

My heart used to be in bow hunting for deer and participating in 3-d shoots.

I had a one local sponsor, an archery shop where I conducted all my buisiness. My sponsorship was for discounted product in return for wearing their logo,  promoting their shop, and working in the shop on evenings and some weekends ( when I was not shooting in a tournament ).

Your advice is right on the money.

It's not what a sponsor can do for you, but what you can do for your sponsor.  

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  • Super User

Okay,we all know that you must do what you can to help promote your sponsors,should you get some.You should not forget to build a name for yourself before even trying to obtain sponsors.Sponsors arent attracted to people who just go fishin'.....they want people who can win a tournament or at least get in the money at most of them.The easiest way to promote a sponsor is to be on stage wearing their logos at the weigh-in.....and to get that interview time on stage,it is a MUST to catch fish.

If you can find & catch fish on a consistent basis and finish high in the tournaments you enter,people will talk and your name will get around.Look at EW,he has won several tournaments and whips everyone in his bass club each year.....those guys know what he is capable of doing and those same guys that he calls friends,his potential sponsors call them references.They will stand up for him if a sponsor needs a reference.It's all because he's good at what he does.


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DD, that was the next thing I was going to say in part III.

Unfortunately it is all about what you can do for the sponsor. You see, the pool from which sponsors can cull pro staffers is very deep. Maybe not in quality of the staffer but certainly in quantity. The only way you will be successful in the long run at acquiring and holding sponsors is to put them first over the needs or wants of yourself. It sounds screwy but you must constantly prove yourself to them. If you don't there are a ton of guys who will gladly take your place.

5bass, in my opinion your statement can be both true and false. Tournament wins and time at the podium wearing your colors is absolutely welcomed and a great way to promote your sponsors but neither is completely necessary. I explained earlier that I have 10 guys on my Pro Staff. 6 of them are amazing tournament anglers with credentials that could make heads spin. Even my own resume has a bunch of accomplishments for competitive fishing but I realized long ago that fishing, competing and winning a weekend tournament is really meaningless in the grand scheme of things and I think that unless these are big name events, most manufacturers could care less as well. I include my last season or two on my resume just as a measure that shows I have been active moreso than the fact that I've won. The other 4 guys are intermediate level competitors who I picked up because they were extremely enthusiastic, articulate and I felt could really help me out.

My policy is that I make it a point to only consider anglers who I am confident know my products. I recently went against that and picked up a guy from California who simply had all of the right things to say when I spoke with him. I could tell right away he was into baits like the ones I made although he lacked the experience with my brand. I shot a few questions out at him and I expected him to falter but he shot them right back to me promptly and professionally. I realized he would be an asset and picked him up.

I 100% agree with you that you must build up your reputation and it starts long before you compete. I believe my success with sponsors has been based on that. Essentially this is how you begin to market yourself and get your name out there. That might be the most important aspect of this when you are getting started.....marketing yourself.

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Getting back to this, I should expound on the fact that obtaining a sponsorship is a responsibility. You need to ask yourself why you want to do this in the first place.

Do you want cash? Just starting out??? forget cash!!!!,

Discounts?? likely what most guys get.

Services??? Could be.

Notoriety......we'll get back to that one

Combo of these??? It's possible.

I traverse many websites and I see plenty of anglers who feel compelled to list their sponsors on the bottom of each post. There is nothing wrong with that. However, I see so many guys that have 3 and 4 different soft plastic companies, 2 rod companies etc. I ask myself, were does this guy allegience lie? I couldn't even consider taking on conflicting companies. It simply doesn't make sense that I am promoting one guys products as the best yet I also have another company with similar products who is also the best?? Makes no sense.

I feel these guys wear patches just to feel like they belong to something. I guess it is a good feeling but I would venture to say not too many people would take them seriously. There is nothing wrong with switching companies if you have to but to hold on to conflicting manufacturers just isn't fair to either as nobody gets your best effort. Some people feel that the more patches they have the others will look to them as Pro's. You know what? Pro Staff means Promotional Staff and not Professional Staff.

You're not a Pro unless you buy that 80.00 Pro Card, and even then you're just a guy with a piece of paper. Don't make the mistake of building up sponsors to gain a reputation in the industry. It will always backfire. Instead, lay the building blocks early and gain a reputation to help you attract sponsors. That's the right way to do it. Anybody can get a few sponsors. You have to have the gift of gab. You can be the best speaker and the worst angler and still have a ton of marketability and sponsors. On the other hand, you can be the reigning Paducah Classic Champ but if a wet sock has more personality than you, you are S.O.L.(sorry to my friends in KY).

There are several things I can recommend to you in your quest to achieve the Holy Grail of fishing sponsorship

1- Always be honest and upfront

2- Be prepared to take on and accept responsibility

3- You are likely an average Joe, do not make unrealistic demands, average guys are a dime a dozen.

4- Be different, that is what will set you apart from the competition

5- Be humble, act professional at all times

6- Learn how to spell and properly write a resume. This is your first impression and if you make it FUBAR, you will lose out.

7- Don't get too caught up on a rejection. It happens, learn from it. Generally you will not receive any letter of rejection, there are just overwhelming amounts of requests and they can't always be answered. Don't take it personally. Look over what you submitted and improve upon it next time.

8- Do not stalk. Don't submit resumes to the same companies over and over again, wait a few months....6 or so if you still want to try to attract them. If you become a nuisance, they'll seek a restraining order.

9- Have realistic goals. You not getting your way paid. It is possible to have your deals upgraded in time based on your performance, shoot for that.

10- Have fun, once this becomes a chore, you have nothing!-Good Luck, hope I helped a little.-EW

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Your right Flyrod. I know when I was young the things my fishing buddies caught fish on I wanted to have and the things I caught fish on my buddies had to have. It became a arms race! Joe Joe gets a new rapala I get 3. Plastic worms are hot I get 5 different colors and go back to get more because the water changed colors. Kids buy stuff too. Look at this site and watch what the kids talk about. They are not just talking yo yo baits they are buying lucky craft, senko, topshelf tackle. Take a gander in some of these young kids tackle boxes your mouth would drop. They want the best stuff money can buy because it is a arms race.

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You guys are no doubt correct about young consumers however I feel that the larger companies target the area where the greatest percentage of consumer dollars come from and they consider how often those consumers may buy an item in the future, that said, adults make up the bulk of fishing purchases and that is why they are targetted to a higher degree.

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Said kids often have a pretty easy time of wrenching  the wallet of their parental units.

To a point yes, however, I'm thinking that larger companies that have their products readily available in an X-mart might benefit more from this than a custom bait company that is much smaller and whose only outlet is through the mail.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Good points.

IFrom the other side I have started down the sponsorship road basically discounts and product.

I have been contacted by some.

The problem is lack of support.

I have a tournament or seminar coming up with an opportunity to get their product, catalogs out and

They don't come through with literature much less product..

Also as regional anglers, you in reality, do not get the Medisa exposure like the Big Boys on ESPN.

Much of my / our promotion is one on one.

I often direct clients/customers to a sponsors product via catalog or website.

The Sponsor has not set up anyway to track how many new customers I have generated.

I Have invested time is sponsors that just do not follow through with support.

So I move on.

If I were a company and had a opportunity to market my product I would jump at it.

Remeber most anglers at our levels are given discounts.

So for giving product to a guy at cost he promotes my company.  I wouls also give him discount vouchures for him to hand out. thus created traffic in my store, website etc.

Many Smaller companies do not know how to use an individual who is willing to promote their company for basically nothing.  

The larger companies I believe in the past have gotten burned by being to generous.

Basically scenario:

Angler approchaces company A.

I will wear your logo and speak,use and promote your product when possible.

Company gives angler discount.

Most companies stop here.

Company A should say Here are discount cards. coupons, discount codes etc. to give to other angerls to get them to at least come to Co. A's  store or try the product.

This whole scenario really costs Company A nothing but in return reaches customers they would have never seen.

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  • 4 months later...

Great post earthworm77, it's nice to get another perspective on the sponsorship issue.

Most of the posts are on how to obtain sponsors from the anglers stand point but you are giving it from the companies stand point which is a rare post. Telling the anglers that may approach you or another company about a sponsorship what they should have in thier resume is a huge help, thanks.

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Guys, again, I really don't like to promote unsolicited reviews but if you are serious about trying to gain a sponsorship you really do need to look at this book/eBook from www.fishforfree.com and www.fishforfree2.com

There are two parts and the second one comes with a draft of an actual sponsorship letter. If you have no idea how to go about this, or little experience or simply want a different angle than the masses, this is a small investment towards reaching your goal.

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Guys, again, I really don't like to promote unsolicited reviews but if you are serious about trying to gain a sponsorship you really do need to look at this book/eBook from www.fishforfree.com

There are two parts and the second one comes with a draft of an actual sponsorship letter. If you have no idea how to go about this, or little experience or simply want a different angle than the masses, this is a small investment towards reaching your goal.


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