Sponsorship: The Ins and Outs

Sponsorship: The Ins and Outs

Part 1 - Introduction



How do you get sponsored and keep those sponsors? This is probably the number one asked question of any pro angler or anyone who has sponsors.
    It is very difficult to answer in short simple terms. You have to look at the big picture and realize it is a package deal. What I mean by that is that it is not simply getting someone to sponsor you. Anyone can do that. It is being able to keep and grow that sponsorship into a long term paying relationship. This is where 99% of anglers go wrong. When I say a "long term paying relationship," I mean that in a reciprocal manner. Meaning: both for the sponsor and the sponsored.
    This is the first of a series of articles on sponsorship. I would like to first give you some background on myself.
    First of all, I have several great sponsors. All of them have been with me uninterrupted. I have only ever had to drop one sponsor and I have never been dropped, more on this later. The jest of this is that my relationships have all been long term.
    I have a diverse background but the majority of it is in sales of some type. I am a commercial real estate broker by trade and hold the CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member) designation. This is the "Ph.D. of commercial real estate." Now, I know what you are thinking; this guy has got years of college education. Well, that is not true. I do not have one hour of college education. I tell you that so that you will understand that anyone can do this. I do highly recommend college and if I had my choice it would be in marketing.
    To me there are several parts to sponsorship from the anglers' point of view (this applies to all types of sponsorship, not just fishing).

  • Initial contact
  • Acceptance
  • Keeping the sponsorship
  • Growing the sponsorship

Each of these subjects can be a book on there own, but I will try to put them into a shorter context so that you may adapt your own style to each and move higher up the food chain.
    Throughout this series of articles I will be utilizing information and quotes from some of my sponsors. I prepared a detailed questionnaire for each of them and gave them a month to review these and answer them in as much detail as possible. The three that will be called upon throughout these writings are: Howard Etue of E2 Bait Company, Darin Johnson of Texas Marine, and Joey Couvillion of Bassmedics. I would like to thank them for their time and efforts in getting this information back to me, and ensuring that all of us continue to learn.
    If I had to narrow it down to one single thing that makes some more successful than others with sponsorships, it would be that those who succeed always put the sponsors above themselves. Meaning the sponsor comes first over the angler. This is easier said than done, but if you truly do it and commit to it, you will have them knocking down doors to get to you. These companies all talk to each other and trust me, once they get a great angler who works hard for them they tell their buddies over at XYZ Company. That is, as long as they are not competitors.
    A few things to keep in mind, which fit into all the parts listed above, are listed below:

  • Never talk bad about another person or company no matter your experience with them. It will come back to haunt you.
  • ALWAYS provide detailed quarterly reports at the very least
  • Promote all of your sponsors at every opportunity.
  • Do not wait for opportunities to come to you. Go out and create them.
  • Use email, as well as telephone. You want to stay in constant contact with your sponsors.
  • Learn the names of people in the sponsors' office. Learn what they do and who they are. You will be talking to them every time you call.
  • Know what is going on in every particular sponsor's market segment, to include competitors and what they are up to (more on this later).
  • Make visits to retailers and dealers often on behalf of your sponsors.

You should keep these things in mind at all times in order to succeed.
    The first thing I would like for you to do is to go out and buy a calendar book that has at least medium size blocks for each day of the year. Use this for all of your fishing and sponsor related items. Each time you do anything that promotes or tries to promote your sponsors, you should write it down that day. This will act as a journal of sorts for you to compile detailed quarterly reports when the time comes. It is a great reference to remember what you did and when.
    My goal in writing this series of articles is to give you a deeper understanding of the entire process of sponsorship, not just getting on the team. That is only the beginning of the process of being a sponsored angler. In our next article we will go into detail about the initial contact with a potential sponsor, and learn what it takes to be successful at getting your foot in the door.


Lee Wheeler is a regional professional angler that speaks at promotional events and seminars across Southeast Texas. He fishes the BASS Open Central Division, Texas Tournament Trail, as well as the Southeast Texas Federation Nation Regional tour.

Grow your fishing skills and improve your angling effectiveness.
Subscribe to the free weekly BassResource newsletter.

Tournament Tips

Read More Fishing Tournament Tips