A Hard Look at Sponsorship

It seems that most tournament fishermen are willing to stop just short of selling their souls to be sponsored. I was recently on a website that had several tournament fishermen listed and their sponsors. Some of these guys had eight or ten sponsors and have never left the ranks of the weekend tournament circuits. Out of curiosity and maybe a bit of envy I started looking at some of the pro staff sections of their sponsor's websites. I stopped looking after three.

The first join our pro staff page told me they would love to have me be a part of their team. All I had to do was sell $500 worth of their products to receive a window sticker and a 50% discount. I'd be watched over by a pro staff director and could be terminated if I didn't continue to prove my worth. The next one also had a hitch. To climb aboard their team you only had to purchase a $200 starter pack which was not even $200 worth of baits. It also included stickers, fliers, and other promotional items that they expect you to buy from them, then give away. The next was the same as above except a bit less expensive at $150. After I buy $200 worth on fishing line, spinner baits, or whatchamacallits how much good will a 50% discount do me?

It amazes me that they have people wanting sponsorship so badly that they would buy it. I'm not shy when it comes to spending money on fishing but I would have to buy hundreds of dollars worth more than I needed of their bait just to break even, when all I would have to do is work an extra day at my job and have more than 50% of what I would have spent with them, but then I couldn't turn everyone green with envy at how successful I am at gaining sponsors.

If you fish the top level tours you already know the ins and outs, but if like me you rarely if ever compete out of your home state you'd be far better of to seek sponsorship from local companies, preferably from someone you already know, or even better yet forget the idea completely. Sponsorship takes up a lot of time and even money. You may offer or be asked to put fliers on windshields at a large tournament for example. How many baits at a 50% discount would you have to buy to justify the travel time, gas, and time it takes to put fliers on a couple of hundred windshields?

Sponsors are looking at this also. If they were to provide you with $1,000 in entry fees how many baits would you have to personally be responsible for being sold would it take for them to start showing a profit on their investment in you? For the vast majority sponsorship is not feasible. Most of us would be far better of to work on improving our skills instead of trying to impress other anglers with our patches and stickers. I'm not saying all tackle companies are like this or that no sponsorships should be considered. I am on one pro staff, and enjoy helping him out what I can, he's local and a good guy. I'm just saying don't expect sponsors to smother you with discounts and entry fees just because you are sporting their logo on your truck, boat, and shirt. They will give you the stickers but expect to pay anywhere from $80 to $150 for their tournament shirt. You need to ask yourself what you have to offer them besides sporting their logos, and telling a few of your friends about them that will make them show an increase in sales due to your relationship with them.

by Steve Masters, Bringitbaits.com ProStaff

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