UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

A realistic sponsorship timeline

Patience, preparation and professionalism are what the sponsorship game is all about

"How long does it take to get a sponsor?" That is one of the most commonly asked questions in the tournament bass fishing business. One reason that the timing of sponsorships is such an issue is because there is not an industry standard in which sponsorship attainment is guaranteed.

Apprenticeships or intern periods, which put careers on tangible time tracks in other professions, are simply not applicable to the bass fishing industry. As a consequence, there appears to be no rhyme or reason as to the timing of landing sponsors.

Randy Blaukat, of Lamar, Mo., has been a successful professional angler for fifteen years. As a full-time professional angler, he boasts a credible fishing performance record and has been successful at soliciting solid sponsorships. However, Blaukat is quick to point out that there is far more to acquiring sponsors than calling up a company, telling them you are a great bass fisherman and collecting a check.

The Missouri pro attributes his sponsorship deals to three important factors: a belief in the product he is representing, a commitment to the fishing industry in general and plenty of patience. He says that an angler must think "long term" when it comes to courting sponsors. He has found that spending time pursuing a few companies that are interested in providing a long-term commitment to an angler works better than mass marketing to dozens of companies interested only in a short-term deals.

"The first thing I would tell anybody looking for sponsors is that it can be a cruel world," cautions Blaukat. "You have your work cut out for you when you are soliciting sponsors."

Blaukat admits that the quest for sponsorship is extremely competitive. Companies in the fishing industry get letters and phone calls from anglers looking for sponsors on a daily basis.

However, despite the intense competition, Blaukat contends there are ways to make yourself stand out from the crowd.

"I think many newcomers to the sport make the mistake of trying to mass market themselves to too many companies. And they want a deal today," says Blaukat. "The fishing industry is very leery of guys who just have their hand out for a deal."

Blaukat recommends a different marketing approach to anglers who are new to the sponsorship business.

"First and foremost, know a company's product and believe in it before you go knocking on the door. Many guys could not even tell you the product line of the company they are soliciting."

Proving that you know something about the product is the first thing that will help separate yourself from the others. Next, Blaukat advises anglers to send a company correspondence that only communicates who you are, not what you want.

"In the beginning you should simply let the company know who you are and what your intentions are in the fishing industry. Do not ask for anything," says Blaukat. "Over time, as you correspond with the company, prove to them your commitment, desire, and enthusiasm for the sport by reporting your progress. Get to know the local retailer who sells the product, the regional representative of the company, as well as the national people. Check in with all of these people on a monthly basis and let them know what you are doing."

"Hopefully, as you continue to cultivate the relationship, your fishing performance will improve," continues Blaukat. "Only after you know the product inside and out, have a solid relationship with the company, and have an improving fishing record, should you begin to ask about a money paying sponsorship."

How long does courting a sponsor take? "Realistically, you are looking at about five years," says Blaukat. "From my experience, that is how long it takes to develop a solid, sincere relationship with a company."

While a previous long-standing relationship with a company, or multiple national tournament victories will expedite the process, Blaukat says many anglers do not have those luxuries. They must start from square one, as he did.

"Five years may seem like a long time, but companies want a long-term commitment. They want a professional with staying power," he says. "For a fresh face, it takes at least that long to prove yourself."

As a final note of encouragement, Blaukat adds that the sponsors that are hardest to win over are usually the ones who stay with you the longest.

"There is somewhat of a proportional relationship between how long it takes to get a sponsor and how long the sponsorship lasts," he says. "The sponsors that take five to eight years to cultivate are the relationships that will last."

Rob Newell is a freelance outdoor writer from Tallahassee, Fla. He has been actively involved in tournament bass fishing and the professional bass fishing industry, both as participant and a writer, for more than 10 years. He currently fishes as a co-angler on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour and contributes to OperationBass.com, Bass Fishing and other fishing publications.

Tags: rob-newell  business-of-fishing 

/tips/2016-07-28-flw-podcast-128-mark-rose

FLW Podcast 128 - Mark Rose

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-23-1000-islands-day-3-midday-update

1000 Islands Day 3 Midday Update

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-22-1000-islands-midday-update-day-2

1000 Islands Midday Update Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands got started on a slightly different note this morning when FLW’s tournament directors declared Lake Ontario off limits due to hazardous conditions. The change threw a few of the top pros off their primary plans, but regardless the 137-boat field will be cut down to the top 10 after today, so adjustments need to be made in order to qualify to fish the weekend. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-19-flw-podcast-126-icast

FLW Podcast 126 - ICAST

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-14-2017-walmart-flw-tour-schedule

2017 Walmart FLW Tour Schedule

In what has become an annual tradition at FLW, the 2017 Walmart FLW Tour schedule was announced at a press conference and industry gathering held Thursday on the show floor at ICAST in Orlando, Fla. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-12-si-se-puede-yes-we-can

Si Se Puede ... Yes We Can

Mexico’s Lake Zimapan is different in many ways from the lakes to the north such as Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and California’s Clear Lake, but one element it has in common with those famous fisheries is big bass. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-11-5-rookie-lessons-learned

5 Rookie Lessons Learned

People have asked me what my first year on the Walmart FLW Tour was like. Well, it was like running headfirst into a hurricane for a few months. I came out the other side a little battered, bruised and smelling like fish. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-11-flw-podcast-125-scott-martin

FLW Podcast 125 - Scott Martin

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-review-lew-s-custom-speed-stick-lite

Review: Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Lite

Recently I had the opportunity to try one model in particular – the 7-foot, 4-inch Magnum Pitchin’ rod. After fishing with it several times, I’ve concluded that it performs as advertised, is sensitive and lightweight, and is well worth the money. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-reunited-and-it-feels-so-good

Reunited, and it Feels so Good

This year I really had a reunion with finesse fishing. Most of my better tournaments came from fishing some type of finesse presentation. Finesse tactics seemed to always give me a certain confidence about the day. While finesse tactics are nothing new to the game of bass fishing, this year I regained the confidence and joy of catching bass on smaller offerings. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-2016-icast-preview

2016 ICAST Preview

The doors to ICAST don’t open until next week, when everyone gets out on the showroom floor in Orlando, Fla., but there are already plenty of snippets of information available. FLW’s media crew will be there in full force to bring you coverage of the hottest new products, as well as the annual New Product Showcase awards. For now, take a gander at some of the early birds. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-07-flw-canada-kicks-off-at-tri-lakes

FLW Canada Kicks Off at Tri-Lakes

Among these Canadian all-stars was the eventual winning team of Chris Vandermeer of Peterborough and Jeff Slute of Millbrook. Capitalizing on a strong day one shallow-water smallmouth pattern, the duo took advantage of the slick-calm conditions using a silver-hued topwater popping plug to agitate the lake’s bronzebacks into attack. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-30-flw-tour-pro-cooksey-recovering-after-accident

FLW Tour Pro Cooksey Recovering After Accident

Walmart FLW Tour sophomore Dalton Cooksey of New Concord, Ky., is recovering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee following a single-car accident that took place Wednesday afternoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-30-flw-podcast-124-jeremy-lawyer

FLW Podcast 124 - Jeremy Lawyer

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-29-stetson-blaylock-s-recipe-for-a-wacky-rig

Stetson Blaylock’s Recipe for a Wacky Rig

From March until the end of the fishing season I’m going to have a wacky rig on deck. It’s a really effective way to fish anytime the fishing is tough, or if the fish are up cruising banks. Anytime fish are about 5 feet deep or less, I can catch them on the wacky rig. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-28-morgan-claims-third-flw-tour-angler-of-the-year-title

Morgan Claims third FLW Tour Angler of the Year Title

MINNEAPOLIS – Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tennessee, added to his incredible fishing resume by winning his third Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year title Saturday at the FLW Tour's final 2016 regular-season event on Lake Champlain.... READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-24-three-things-by-dd-kentucky-lake

Three Things by DD: Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake did not go the way I intended. I was pumped and ready to rock out a top-20 finish. I had great expectations of myself, but nothing seemed to come together. Practice was dicey, but I thought for sure I could put something together to make the cut. That was until day one came, and the whole vibe of my day instantly went from eager to agitated. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-23-how-to-catch-smallmouths-with-hair-jigs

How to Catch Smallmouths with Hair Jigs

The “right” hair jig for smallmouths is a small 1/16- to 1/8-ounce marabou jig with a round or mushroom-shaped head. The jig is similar to marabou jigs used by crappie fishermen, but bass models will often have a larger, stronger hook and possibly a longer or thicker skirt. Naturally, anglers have their favorites, and there are subtle differences in jigs that make some better than others. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-22-two-exciting-events-to-look-forward-to

Two Exciting Events to Look Forward To

We are in the last stretch of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour. Awaiting us is the Lake Champlain tournament in just a few days. A couple of things will be settled there: the pro field for the Forrest Wood Cup and the Angler of the Year. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-21-tagging-along-with-sprague-in-kentucky

Tagging Along with Sprague in Kentucky

Through the first four events of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour season, Jeff Sprague finished inside the top 20 every time and challenged for the win at Beaver Lake. After stop No. 4 on Pickwick, Sprague took over the lead in the Angler of the Year race. This is the story of his first tournament as the AOY leader – stop No. 5 on Kentucky Lake. Currently, Sprague is preparing for the finale on Lake Champlain. He’s in second place in the AOY standings. READ MORE »