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Sponsorship Do's & Don'ts


fishing user avatarReelady reply : 

Hi guys :)

I see that there is a good amount of younger aspiring Pro's here on this forum, so I thought this info could really help you along your journey in finding sponsorships.

Let me start off my by telling all of you that I am a 41 year old woman, from Ohio, who is living my dream by fishing Pro in the Women's Bassmaster Tour.

Compared to many of the other women fishing the tour, I have "MINIMAL" tournament experience. You see, up North, our tournament opportunities are limited because of our shorter fishing season.

I have had some success though (2 - 1st place, 3 - 2nd place, 3 - 3rd place).

Of course, once I started my sponsorship pursuit, I realized that not one of them ever questioned my past tournament experience!

Right from the start, I told everyone that I knew, that I was not willing to "Sell my Soul" for the sake of sponsorship. This was and is very important to me. You see, I've been fishing for almost 22 years, and I KNOW the products that I use and love. For me, it was just natural to pursue sponsorhip with these companys.

Almost everyone I talked to knew of my game plan, and most everyone said, "Marsh...I think you are setting your goals way too high. You have almost no tournament experience! I mean, there are guys that have been fishing tournaments for years and pursuing sponsorships with these companys, and they are turned down time and time again!"

Had I let what most people told me get into my head, I would be "sponsorless"! But, call me stubborn, call me determined, call me whatever else you can think of (but keep it nice...lol). I kept moving forward with my plan, regardless of peoples opinions.

I knew in my heart that there was NO WAY that I could ever wear a sponsors patch, or promote a sponsors product if I did not feel that this product was the best. In fact, I would be doing a company an incredible disservice if that was the path that I had chosen. My opinion was that I knew what I used. I knew what I loved. I knew what I had confidence in. I was not willing to promote something just for the sake of "sponsorship". I was prepared to fish the Women's Bassmaster Tour with an empty shirt, rather than to accept sponsorship from a company just for the sake of sponsorship. At least I could rest easy knowing that I would NEVER be in a situation where I had to PRETEND that something was the best, even though in my heart, I knew darned well that that is not how I feel.

I've heard time and time again that "The best sponsor is the sponsor who will give you the most".

Well, I am here to tell you that that is NOT true! Your best sponsor will be of the products that you USE and LOVE. Because, when you speak about these products, you speak from your heart, and you speak from your own personal experience. Nothing phoney is going on here, and people sense that. I would absolutely HATE it if I felt that people were always questioning belief in a product, just because they may see their name on my shirt. Let me tell you....the ONLY names that are going on my shirt are the company's whose products I USE, LOVE, and have confidence in!

I've turned down two nice Rod sponsorship offers, because they were not the rods that I use. I've turned down a hardbait sponsorship, because they are not the ones that I use.

But you know what? That's okay with me...I can sleep well at night, knowing that I am not "living a lie".

Anyone who has ever come in contact with me can see the passion in my eyes, when I speak about "ANY" of my sponsors. It's easy to sell and promote something when you believe in it! It would be totally hypocritical of me to ever accept a sponsorship from a company that I didnt believe was the best.

My current sponsors are Shimano, Minn Kota, Humminbird, GAMMA Performance Line, Hamby's Protectors, Loc-R-Bar, and Cooks "Go To" Tackle System. G. Loomis?...well, it's just a matter of time ;)

Ranger boats has also offered me a sponsorship, but we are still working out the details.

So...my point here (sorry, I am a "girl" and tend to be a bit "chatty"...lol) is to "Follow your heart" and pursue sponsorships with companys you have complete and total confidence in.

If you start out by putting the names of those companys on your shirt, than there will be no "Sponsor Hopping". Hold out for the best. You will sleep well at night, and feel great about the names on your shirt.

I also believe that being educated (or at least coming across as educated) is extremely important when seeking sponsorships. You need to show these companys that you have the necessary skills to work "comfortably" with the public. This means 1) Excellent Grammer 2) Excellent spelling 3) Excellent Public speaking skills 4) Excellent salesmanship skills 5)Drive and Ambition 6) Neat appearance 7) Sponsor Loyalty.

Those things that I just mentioned are what the sponsors are looking for. Therefore, if you are concentrating ONLY on your "Tournament" performance, then you are doing yourself an incredible disservice.

Remember, you are pursuing Pro fishing because fishing is most likely your biggest passion. Don't ever lose site of that. Follow your heart, do what you think is right, don't listen to the "nay" sayers around you, and pursue your dream.

Headshots_424.thumb.jpg


fishing user avatarLow_Budget_Hooker reply : 
  Quote

I also believe that being educated (or at least coming across as educated) is extremely important when seeking sponsorships. You need to show these companys that you have the necessary skills to work "comfortably" with the public. This means 1) Excellent Grammer 2) Excellent spelling 3) Excellent Public speaking skills 4) Excellent salesmanship skills 5)Drive and Ambition 6) Neat appearance 7) Sponsor Loyalty.

Those things that I just mentioned are what the sponsors are looking for.

Also, the ability to teach and diversity with all age groups are also factors that my sponsors found attractive.


fishing user avatarFutureClassicChamp reply : 

Great post Marcia.


fishing user avatarcrankin_king reply : 

excellent post


fishing user avatarBrian_Reeves reply : 

Thanks!  I'm going to apply a lot of that to my own hunt for sponsorships here in the CenTex area.  Good post!


fishing user avatarsquid reply : 

See, even those with little tournament experience can get sponsors.  But, remember this, Marcia is still fishing in the big leagues, where the names will show up more often, so might come easier to pick up sponsorships.   Hard to say, cause she WORKED HARD TO GET THEM.  Just MO

Great write up for those who ponder whether it's worth getting sponsors or not.  Follow your heart and not what you hear.

Squid


fishing user avatarReelady reply : 

"Work hard???" Oh my you better believe it!!!! I have spent countless hours gathering information about the company's that I was interested in approaching. Half the battle is getting your information into the hands of the person making the decisions. Trust me, that is no easy task.

I keep a VERY detailed list (in Microsoft Access) of all of my potential sponsors contact information. (How or where I met them, what type of contact (phone, email, in person), date and type (through email or hardcopy) of sponsorship request, (denial,acceptance, submit at later date for review for next year), sponsorship details, and just a "notes" area. Keeping this info straight is really important.

 I've received SO many denials, but that never discouraged me. I expected this because I was approaching a lot of non-industry related companys. This form of advertisement is very foreign to them, and therefore they are reluctant to dive into something like this. Can I blame them? Not really...As a business owner myself, I can completeley understand. At the same time, I'm not going to "Beg" them...that's not my style  :) I know that I have a lot of value, and feel that eventually a potential sponsor will recognize this and approach me. Good thing for me, I'm probably the most optimistic person I know  :)  So yes, even with the record of 50 rejections for every 1 acceptance, I continue my sponsorship pursuit with my head held high.

So what I'm trying to say here, is "Don't give up...Don't fear rejection...and keep focused on your goals...and most importantly....STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF"


fishing user avatarsquid reply : 

I hope all you young ones and some of us older ones are taking notes on what she just wrote here. Lots of info that is very helpful in your pursuit for sponsorships.

Quote from Reelady:

"I keep a VERY detailed list (in Microsoft Access) of all of my potential sponsors contact information. (How or where I met them, what type of contact (phone, email, in person), date and type (through email or hardcopy) of sponsorship request, (denial,acceptance, submit at later date for review for next year), sponsorship details, and just a "notes" area. Keeping this info straight is really important. "


fishing user avatarOkeechobee_Cracker reply : 

You seem very successful Marsh. How far did you take your education if I may ask?


fishing user avatarReelady reply : 
  Quote
You seem very successful Marsh. How far did you take your education if I may ask?

"Marsh"...Now I feel like I'm at home :)

To answer your question...

I graduated High School with a Cosmetologists License in 1983. I was lucky in the fact that my High School offered that training to a handful of young ladies (20)

I furthered my career by obtaining my Managers license and also my Instructors License. I worked in a Salon full time for 5 years before having my first child, Nathan (who is now 18!!! Yikes!!!)

I knew there was no way I could ever go back to work full time once I had Nathan, and stayed home with him for a couple of years.

I had a past client who was a Dentist approach me with an offer to work for him 2 days a week at the Dental Department in a Nursing Home. I took him up on his offer and was trained in four handed dentistry.

Well, I'm a real "Knowledge Hound", so I took my "new" career and attended classes to become a "certified dental assistant" and also received my "dental radiologists" license as well.

This kept me happy for a while, but then I was told about a new license available in Ohio, which would basically make me a "Para-Dentist". It's called an E.F.D.A. (Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary). This certification enabled me to do "cosmetic" dentistry. Meaning, reconstructing tooth structure to bring it back to its original form, or to make cosmetic improvements. I applied at Case Western Reserve Dental School after studying my butt of for the admissions test. There were over 300 test submissions, and only 18 would be selected for the program. To make a long story short...I was accepted into this program and graduated top in my class :) I'd have to say that getting accepted into this program and graduating top in my class are probably two of my lifes greatest accomplishments. :)

Ya know...I could write an autobiography based on all of the many twists and turns my life has taken both proffesionally and personally over the years, so I should do us all a favor and stop rambling....lol I certainly don't want to bore or depress this early in the morning!!!

All I can say is that no matter what curveballs life has thrown at me, I continue to see the positive every step along the way. Yes, some may have caused me to grow up a bit before my time...But it is through lifes "trying" moments that you learn to sink or swim. I heard this somewhere, and thought it was pretty profound..."It is through lifes struggles that you grow in mind and spirit" In my personal situation...that would explain an awful lot :)

Here is a picture of Me, Nathan, and my sister Michelle

9c45re2_1.jpg

And here is a picture of Hanna (my 15 year old daughter) when she stopped to see me at the Ohio Outdoor News booth last weekend. We can be pretty goofy together :-)

march_18_cleveland_sports_and_outdoors_show_H.jpg


fishing user avatarbixbybasspro reply : 

Marcia, well said and good luck to making it to the top.. 8-) 8-) 8-)


fishing user avatarCabela101 reply : 

Well I think Marcia gained a lot of fans from this site when the Women's Tour starts up.  If it hasn't already started.


fishing user avatarlangs15 reply : 

Just a quckie, with the sponsers, do they give you a crap load of stuff or how do they work?


fishing user avatarReelady reply : 
  Quote
Just a quckie, with the sponsers, do they give you a crap load of stuff or how do they work?

Well, I cannot disclose the details of any of my sponsorships, because that would violate my sponsorship agreement. But, I can talk about sponsorships in general.....

Sponsorships vary from one company to the next, they also very from one sponsored "athlete" to the next.

Some offer discounted product, others offer free product, some offer incentives (first place finish will earn you so many dollars extra, top 10 will earn you additional money, ect....) Some will pay for logo exposure in print, or verbal exposure (radio, tv). Some may put you on a regularly monthly salary.

Different sponsors also have different expectations from you. Some may require that you provide them with a certain number of hours doing promo work. Some may pay you for promo work.

Hope that helped...I know it is vague, but that really is an accurate description of how sponsorships work.

Marcia


fishing user avatarlangs15 reply : 

I get the main idea, not sure if when I make it to the NHL, should I get a bass fishing spnserships, well try to atleast.

What is really the minimum age to get a ''big'' sponsership? Like by shimano or something like that? What kinda of torunaments get you exposure, or is it just all about knowing people, as MANY jobs are these days and as in the past?


fishing user avatarbass89fisher reply : 

Hey Marsh I'm 16 and finishing up my sophomore year in high school. If you could have chosen a major for college that would look more appealing to gain sponsorship later on while pursuing a professional career in bass fishing what would it be? Also, how old were you when you began fishing tournaments and bass fishing in general?


fishing user avatarMyKeyBe reply : 

bass89fisher,

I would guess something in marketing. That's basically what you are doing when looking for sponsors. You are marketing yourself and when you get a sponsorship you are again marketing a product to other people.

Keep in mind I have never been sponsored and am just giving some friendly advice. :)

To add to the list of dont's.

DO NOT MAKE YOUR RESUME LOOK ANYTHING LIKE MINE! ;D

http://www.bassresource.com/bass_fishing_forums/YaBB.pl?num=1146307194


fishing user avatarReelady reply : 
  Quote
Hey Marsh I'm 16 and finishing up my sophomore year in high school. If you could have chosen a major for college that would look more appealing to gain sponsorship later on while pursuing a professional career in bass fishing what would it be? Also, how old were you when you began fishing tournaments and bass fishing in general?

Hi there bass89  :)

I would say without a doubt that marketing/sales/business/public speaking classes will help you in pursuit of a professional bass fishing career.

I cannot stress the importance of a good education enough. Forget about your tournament history!!!! It plays a very tiny role (if any at all) role when it comes to sponsorships.

Public speaking is very important, so if you find yourself quivering at the knees every time you think about standing up before a crowd to talk, than that is your clue to figure out a way to get over your fear. You would probably find yourself very suprised at how much fun it can be to "engage" a crowd by keeping them on the edge of their seat in suspense, or causing them to laugh hysterically. I happen to be pretty animated when I speak, so I don't worry much about "boring" anyone with my stories or information. But, like I had said before, if you are truly passionate about promoting this sport, than coming across as enthusiastic and excited about fishing will happen naturally. Heck, I could talk about fishing all day to anyone that will listen  ;D

I've been fishing for almost 22 years, and have been a boat owner for the last 2. I began fishing local tournaments last summer, which is also when they announced the formation of the Women's Bassmaster Tour.

That just goes to show you that even a newer boat owner like me can venture into the world of Pro fishing. All it takes is the drive and passion to be the best that you can be by constantly learning how to better youself in both your angling and boating skills.

Good luck to you in your pursuit  :)

Marcia


fishing user avatarReelady reply : 
  Quote
I get the main idea, not sure if when I make it to the NHL, should I get a bass fishing spnserships, well try to atleast.

What is really the minimum age to get a ''big'' sponsership? Like by shimano or something like that? What kinda of torunaments get you exposure, or is it just all about knowing people, as MANY jobs are these days and as in the past?

I don't believe that there is a minimum age when it comes to sponsorships. Trust me, if a company saw all of the necessary qualities in a young person, I don't believe that they would think twice about sponsorship. I have met many young people while attending these many tackle shows that are absolutely amazing when it comes to interacting with complete strangers comfortably, salesmanship, and product knowledge. So age really has nothing to do with your ability to be an effective communicator or salesman.

Local tournaments will get you local exposure. National tourneys will get you national exposure. Participating on boards like this will get you national exposure. Developing your own website will get you national exposure.

I personally attend just about every local tackle and boat show there is. Well, before my sponsorships, I attended as a guest, but now it seems I am at these shows representing one or more of my sponsors  :)

I love what I do. I love to be there talking about the products that I love. I love meeting and talking with people. Some may not be particuliarly outgoing, so doing this type of work may not be your thing. My advice is to work on getting comfortable interacting with as many different types of people that you could imagine. It really would make your life a lot easier, and my opinion...much more enjoyable  :)

Hope that helped...

Marcia


fishing user avatarGlenn reply : 

Marcia,

Your input is a HUGE help!  Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and helping others.  That's exactly what makes this site so great:  people like you openly sharing and helping.

Thanks!!

Glenn


fishing user avatarlangs15 reply : 
  Quote
  Quote
I get the main idea, not sure if when I make it to the NHL, should I get a bass fishing spnserships, well try to atleast.

What is really the minimum age to get a ''big'' sponsership? Like by shimano or something like that? What kinda of torunaments get you exposure, or is it just all about knowing people, as MANY jobs are these days and as in the past?

I don't believe that there is a minimum age when it comes to sponsorships. Trust me, if a company saw all of the necessary qualities in a young person, I don't believe that they would think twice about sponsorship. I have met many young people while attending these many tackle shows that are absolutely amazing when it comes to interacting with complete strangers comfortably, salesmanship, and product knowledge. So age really has nothing to do with your ability to be an effective communicator or salesman.

Local tournaments will get you local exposure. National tourneys will get you national exposure. Participating on boards like this will get you national exposure. Developing your own website will get you national exposure.

I personally attend just about every local tackle and boat show there is. Well, before my sponsorships, I attended as a guest, but now it seems I am at these shows representing one or more of my sponsors :)

I love what I do. I love to be there talking about the products that I love. I love meeting and talking with people. Some may not be particuliarly outgoing, so doing this type of work may not be your thing. My advice is to work on getting comfortable interacting with as many different types of people that you could imagine. It really would make your life a lot easier, and my opinion...much more enjoyable :)

Hope that helped...

Marcia

I love meeting an talking to new people, I am not shy at all, I love to talk to people I never met nor seen before. How much are the average price to enter a National tournament?


fishing user avatarbasspro05 reply : 

I am just finishing up my first year of college, and I am majoring in business administration.  I am taking a public speaking course right now.  My professor is the author of the text book we use, how lucky am I! This professor has been teaching public speaking and communications classes for forty years, he knows everything and has to be one of the best in the nation.  We have completed three speeches already, my first one was on the history of tournament fishing, my second was on fishing the jig, and my third one was on lure selection.  Not a single person in the class had heard of professional fishing including the professor.  It is so fun to stand in front of the class and present a speech that is about something I enjoy so much.  It is amazing how involved these people get into my speeches.  Afterwards they are asking questions just like a fishing audience would.  The lowest grade I have received on one of these speeches was a 91%, and this teacher rarely gives A's.  This public speaking course is excellent, and I feel like I can get in front of any size crowd and talk comfortably.  I think I am ready to pursue a few sponsors.  Reelady your post has motivated me to get out into the market, thank you.


fishing user avatarSL33P reply : 

I would just like to say to Reelady your input has been greatly appericated by me and im sure by alot of others. Im almost finshed with my Junior year in High school and now im going to be able to prosue a professional career in bass fishing once i get out of high school. All your input has anwsered alot of questions for me and will greatly help me with my search for my college. I could not thank you enough and good luck with your career, I would also love to hear from your tournements success.

-Jeff


fishing user avatarearthworm77 reply : 

Guys one thing you need to understand is that manufacturers are looking for people with marketability. You could be the best fisherman in the world but if you aren't marketable or likable to the public, you will not be a very good candidate for sponsorship. All anglers seem to think that getting sponsored is a great way to get free stuff. Realize that anglers are a dime a dozen. Why would anyone want to pick you? You must stand out from the other 99.9% of people who are persuing the same sponsorships that you are.

Once you understand that you need to be different, then you can get on track and really be serious about obtaining these sponsorships. This is NOT for everyone and certainly not for anyone who is merely looking for free stuff. Manufacturers will see through that quickly.


fishing user avatarHale reply : 

I grew up bass fishing and surfing. Somewhere in my teenage years I decided surfing is something I needed to do as a career. The sponsorship trail in that sport is very similiar to fishing. I started off investing alot of time getting exposure at the tournaments, events, etc. To my dismay it wasn't paying off as I wanted. One fall, the surf expo/convention was in town (orlando) and I decided I was going after a couple sponsors that I always had my heart set on. I went in to that expo without an over-inflated dramatic portfolio, no picutres, videos, or the other 'props' people will use to sell themselves. I went in with the attitude that I was applying for a job. I sat down with the reps and began speaking of my ambitions, goals, history, etc. I was there to convince them that without me their team/company was not as good as it should be (of course without being completely brash/cocky). To everyone's surprise it worked, it worked very well. I signed a full-contract that weekend with a large sunglasses company that paid more than 50k a year (thats a lot of money when your 19). This company signed me without ever seeing videos, pics, or anything like that (with the exceptions of snipits here and there from other sources).

Later on in life... A family friend is big into golf. Has been since he was a child. He had gotten to the point that local tournaments werent enough but needed sponsors to assist his Q school pursuit. He relentlessy searched for sponsors with no luck. I kept telling him how everything worked out for me with my sponsors. Well, he got his game plan together, went to an event as if it were a job fair. He sold himself good and found a private sponsor that would foot the bill of a three year run.

So my point to all this is, you need to approach your sponsorship as job. You are being paid by these companies to provide a specific service. You need to convince these companies you are the right person for the position and that no one else can fill it better than you. As with any job interview, be honest! It's inhumane to not care about the environment or our youth. But unless you have contributed something significant toward this stuff dont mention it on a resume.

I hope this tidbit of advice helps one of you guys find a good sponsor...

(The surfing is over (injury) and Im back to fishing)


fishing user avatarIneedAnewScreenName-93875 reply : 

Great info Hale!!!!!!!!!


fishing user avatarbassin_man reply : 
  Quote
Hey Marsh I'm 16 and finishing up my sophomore year in high school. If you could have chosen a major for college that would look more appealing to gain sponsorship later on while pursuing a professional career in bass fishing what would it be? Also, how old were you when you began fishing tournaments and bass fishing in general?

I would probably say Business Administration would be a good major for college if you want to look more appealling, as you have to take classes in all of the areas that she has listed off.


fishing user avatarfishingtheusa reply : 
  Quote
Hey Marsh I'm 16 and finishing up my sophomore year in high school. If you could have chosen a major for college that would look more appealing to gain sponsorship later on while pursuing a professional career in bass fishing what would it be? Also, how old were you when you began fishing tournaments and bass fishing in general?

:)

Marketing and more sales and marketing. That's what you're doing when you are sponsored. You are marketing your sponsor's products. I know Brent "Brody of the Lake" Broderick fairly well and his major in college was marketing. I believe he said he had a minor in business administration. He got most of his sponsors because of his intelligence and his degree. He is definitely "living the life" now. He also stands out in a crowd. When I first saw him the first thing I noticed was his pony tail. His sponsors told him not to cut his hair because that's what made him who he was. Most of the pros who have sponsors that I've met have a very outgoing personality. You have to be a salesman. That's what the sponsors are looking for is someone who can sell their products. For the most part they really don't care how well you do in tournaments. Of course it is a big plus for them when you pull out a top ten. Tournament fishing is an extremely tough sport. It may not seem so, but when you start putting in 10-15 hours a day on a lake prefishing it really takes a toll on your body. Good physical conditioning is a big plus.




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