Are you SPONSORED? (But only in your own mind)
By James Smiley
Many anglers seeking sponsorships think that if they wear a shirt with a big name brand on it other companies will think they are something special and come running. Well, it couldn’t be further from the truth. When you wear a brand that is not specifically helping you out (either paying you cash or giving you a product deal or some sort of promotional consideration that helps you now or in the future) you are de-valuing yourself, and in part, all other sponsor seeking anglers in general. It’s like wearing a sign that your potential sponsors read as, “I’m willing to advertise for your company for free”.
Think about it from the company’s standpoint; why would someone pay you money (or give you any kind of promotional deal) to promote them when you have already purchased a $15 t-shirt and you’ll seemingly do the same thing for them for free. It’s this mindset that drives companies to run the popular “get a free decal or t-shirt with your purchase” marketing campaign instead of spending that money investing in exceptional anglers who will bring them good press and media coverage as well as help them expand distribution in new stores (that’s the job of the sponsored angler). And hey…if you’re not interested in ever obtaining cash sponsorships or getting good product discounts through pro staff deals, then by all means wear whatever you want. But if you really want to get sponsored, don’t sell yourself for free to Company A then ask Company B to give you money for the same results that you’re freely giving to Company A.
A pro angler once asked me, “What if everyone who wasn’t sponsored went fishing this weekend with a plain white t-shirt and no logos on their nice boats or engines?” The answer is that within a year those companies would start to offer more pro staff and reward programs for anglers to sport their brands. I’m not asking you to try and screw companies who don’t directly help you out; we all promote the products we use so to some extent. I think we should all share useful knowledge and brands that have helped us be successful. What I am saying is I do not recommend the sponsor-seeking angler to promote brands if the company is not willing to help the angler in return. I can’t tell you how many anglers I hear every year say, “At the next trade show, I’m going to walk up to the company rep and tell him how much I’ve represented his product this year and then ask him for a pro staff deal. If I get denied, then I’ll tell him I’ll keep representing him anyway because I love the product so much!” If you do that, you probably have less than a 5% chance of getting that company to ever help you. Remember, these guys are running a real business not a non-profit family membership. A businessman would say to himself, “This guy’s great and so loyal. Why spend money on someone who is promoting our products for free when I can take that money and use it for other things within the business?” Think about it folks…and don’t sell yourself short this year.
Good luck fishing.
James Smiley has 8 years of professional sales and marketing experience. He holds a bachelors degree in business administration with an emphasis in marketing. He has worked in the high tech industry for companies such as Verizon, Sprint, and Nextel and is a partial owner of TeleNav.com. James has won 9 tournaments, mostly in Washington and Oregon along with placing in the “money” many times. He also holds three club AOY awards and is President of South Orange County Bassmasters.
James’ sponsors include: Dobyns Rods, Tackle Warehouse, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses, Sunline, Tru-Tungsten, Panic Minnows, Vicious Soft Plastics, Skinny Bear Living Rubber Jigs, and Outlaw Baits. Check out James at: www.jamessmileyfishing.com