First off I want to take a minute to give a big thank you to my sponsors for all of their help. Bob at Magna Charger, George at Belltech, Bill at Baer, Tony at Volant, Steve at Trucksecuirty.com, TJ and Ron at TTI Companies the makers of X-Point and Daiichi hooks, Rick at Maxima line and of course my major sponsor Bass’es Choice. THANK YOU VERY MUCH for believing in me, having faith in me and giving me the opportunity to promote your products. The honor is greatly appreciated and I promise I will not let you down.
Now onto the subject of this article. I’ve recently been asked quite a few times, how does one go about acquiring sponsors? How can I get sponsors and so forth. I thought I’d take the time to write a little something to assist others in there quest to obtaining sponsorship.
The first thing I tell people is that getting sponsors and keeping them is a job. It’s not just, give me stuff, thank you, see ya later bye. There are usually contracts with obligations that you must abide by as well as rules you must follow. It takes commitment and dedication because you will have to give up some of your free time to promote their products. You must be willing to advertise for them and be ethical, as well as a good roll model because the bottom line is, they are trusting you with their name.
I know I have worked the Fred Hall Show, which is a major west coast boating show held in Long Beach CA, for several years now in different sponsor’s booths for 2 to 3 days at time. You must be both knowledgeable and personable because you will meet all kinds of people who are attempting to gain knowledge on why they should purchase your product instead of another company’s product. In this, as well as other situations you must be a good communicator as well as be able to read people.
If you agree to the above then it’s on to the next step. Find out who the marketing or public relations person is within the company. This is usually as easy as calling the operator for the company your interested in and asking them. After finding out who they are give them a call, lay out your basic proposal verbally and ask them if it would be OK if you sent them a formal proposal, which I will discuss a little later, for them to review.
Remember, this initial conversation with them is usually the most important conversation you will have. This is when that old saying about making a good first impression really comes into play. If you come across with a bad first impression chances are even if they say they will review your proposal they won’t. Be friendly, be cordial, be professional and be personable.
OK, so you found the person, you feel you made a good first impression, now forward we go to putting together the formal proposal. Here again, be professional. What you’re attempting to do is you convince them that by giving you some kind of assistance you will increase their sales as well as be a good spokesman for them. Never come across like, “Give me stuff” Make sure your proposal is professional as well as interjecting a bit of personality in it.
Remember, they get hundreds if not thousands of requests daily so you need to stand out from the crowd. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, why should I give this guy my product? What’s in it for me? How can I benefit?
With any sponsors you have to sell yourself and it really helps if you offer them something they don’t already have, an avenue for which they can introduce their products to a whole new audience. Follow up with phone calls inquiring if they had a chance to review your proposal? The big trick to this part is to be a little persistent without being pushy.
When you talk to them remember a few of the personal things they might have mentioned about themselves, make notes if need be and the next time you talk mention it. Example, if they say something to the effect that they have not been able to review it because they have a sick child and have not been able to have allot of extra time then ask when would be a good time for you to call back. When you call back or write them use the official greeting, “Mr. Smith”, its more professional, of course if their last name is Jones then don’t call them Smith, then somewhere in the conversation ask how their child is doing, be concerned about them as people and not as just a free ride because allot of them have the ability to see right through the fake people, remember, they deal with people all the time.
This next step is a very important one. Let them make the decision as to what kind of sponsorship to give you. Be it a full sponsorship, free stuff, or a partial one, meaning you get the product at a reduced price, leave it up to them. The way I handle this is when they ask you what you are expecting from them I tell them any assistance they are willing to provide you with will be fine.
Be ready for rejection because chances are you will get more no’s than you will yes’s. However, no matter what the outcome, ALWAYS, ALWAYS remain positive and professional! You would be surprised just how “Tight” the major manufactures are, if word gets out that your pissy with an attitude problem then you might as well write off the possibility of anyone sponsoring you. I have seen it happen to more than one person in the bass fishing circuit.
So, now you have obtained the sponsorship, what next. Be sure to follow through with your commitments and contractual agreements because once you pick up some major sponsors, like I said above the word can get out that you did not honor your obligations to them you can forget about the possibilities of getting anymore.
Another note worthy item is remember that contract you signed? Did you take the time to read the fine print? Did you over look the part where it mentioned that you would be financially liable if you defaulted on the contract? Yes, you are bound by law to pay full retail value for said items. A lot of times when you get a full sponsorship they ask for a credit card number and you pay the shipping of the item so guess what? They have your number on file and they will charge the card. You then get your statement and next thing you know you’re over drawn. Of course all of this can be avoided as long as you follow through on your word.
A great thing about getting a major sponsor is once again the word gets around that you’re a valuable asset and then other sponsors start to approach you asking if they can sponsor you. I currently have several companies that have approached me and I’m contemplating accepting their offers. I have also turned down more than one sponsor because I did not believe in their product or there was a conflict with a current sponsor. That’s another point worth making. You should really believe in and use their products before accepting a sponsorship from any company and be sure to once again read the fine print of the contract you signed, there just might be something in there.
Anyways, always be sure to thank your sponsors when at awards ceremonies, this will attract more sponsors because you can never tell “Who” is sitting in the crowd. I’ve seen times when “Angler A” was sponsored by “Company A” and a represenitive of Company A just happen to be at an event and Angler A neglected to mention company A as a sponsor during the awards ceremony. Of course company a made a note of this and made a point to be at several more tournaments where Angler A was and after a few more times of neglecting to mention his sponsorship with Company A he was let go.
I could go on and on about the do’s and don’ts on this subject but I think I’ve covered the basics involved. In closing let me say that getting sponsors is a great way to not only help cut back on costs of items you would want and need, but In my opinion, it makes one feel good inside knowing that you have reached that level of expertise in the field, that companies have faith enough in you to give you the honor of representing them.
So, my personal answer to the question are they worth it? Yes they are, though it may not be worth it to everyone. I hope I was able to give you some insite.
Thanks for visiting my site. Be sure to tell all of your fishing buddies and come back soon!
Until Next Time, Good Luck and Tight Lines To Ya!