October 2, 2001 by Rob Newell
Here is an adage from the world of professional fishing: "Getting a sponsor is easy, keeping a sponsor is hard."
In the business world, anglers seeking sponsorship have a difficult challenge: they must prove to companies that their presence in the marketplace has value.
The initial sell is the easy part. Anglers go before companies asking for money with promises of product promotion, exposure, and market impact. Thoughts of increased market share excite companies, so they sign the angler on.
But unfortunately for anglers, companies have profit and loss statements. After paying an angler for some period of time, a successful business entity wants to see exactly how expenditures on the pro staff helped market share. Pro staff programs that show no added value go to the chopping block. Which is exactly why keeping a sponsor is the hard part.
The specific problem in proving added value is measuring, in a quantifiable way, the influence a promotional angler has on the public's purchasing decisions. Since such a complex task requires the help of a qualified marketing firm, the next best effort an angler can make is to document his or her promotional work and forward it to a sponsoring company.
In fact, many fishing related companies require pro staffers to submit reports about their fishing and promotion activities at least once a year, if not quarterly.
Curt Lytle, an innovative professional angler from Suffolk, Virginia, has developed a unique approach to quarterly report writing for his sponsors. Lytle, and his wife Brandy, produce Curt's Current, a quarterly newsletter about Lytle's fishing and promotion activities.
"It started just as a way to keep family and friends updated on all my fishing activities," says Lytle. "Then I noticed that some of the information that I include in the newsletter is the same information sponsors wanted on quarterly reports. So I decided to consolidate the processes."
Lytle says that he had to check with each of his sponsors to make sure they would accept his newsletter in lieu of form reports and each company supported the newsletter.
In each issue of Curt's Current, Lytle carefully documents his media coverage, personal appearances, seminars, and tournaments, for the quarter. He also gives readers notice of his future activities in the upcoming quarter with a printed calendar of his tournaments and seminars.
For each tournament event fished, Lytle provides a brief synopsis of the fishing conditions and his over all performance. Whether he wins or brings up the back of the pack, he relates the important lessons he learned at each event.
Curt's Current is four pages and folds neatly for easy mailing. The newsletter is highlighted with color pictures and informative snippets from the bass fishing world.
While Lytle is a bit guarded about the specifics of producing and formatting his unique newsletter, he reveals that it can be done on most home computer systems and that desktop publishing software is readily available.
"It takes a while to get the first issue laid out, after that it is easier," he says. "It is a great tool for sponsor updates, soliciting potential sponsors, media contacts, friends, family, and even fans," he says.
Lytle is also quick to admit that he is not the only source of ingenuity behind Curt's Current. "My wife, Brandy, does a lot of the newsletter work. I have her to thank for each issue that goes out."
Curt Lytle may not be able to double a company's profit margin as a promotional angler; however, each issue of Curt's Current proves he is doing his part to represent his sponsors to the best of his ability. And that makes the hardest part of sponsorship a little easier.