December 5, 2001 by Rob Newell
In order to maximize business opportunities, a good e-mail setup is a must
Most tournament bass anglers would agree that electronic depth finders are an indispensable piece of equipment for any bass boat. However, while many bass anglers own electronics, sophisticated anglers know there is much more to a depth finder than simply reading the depth of a lake. Savvy electronic users know how to determine bottom composition, analyze structure and even fine-tune their system to see their own lures tracking across the screen.
The same thing could be said for the technological boon of e-mail in the bass-fishing industry. Many anglers have e-mail, but only a few savvy pros know how to get the most from their e-mail correspondence.
"E-mail is of critical importance in any business environment these days, and professional fishing is no exception," says David Simmons, the field promotions coordinator for Yamaha. "E-mail is an effective, efficient mode of communication."
Simmons points out several reasons why e-mail is quickly becoming the communication medium of choice in the fishing industry.
First, travel is a significant part of the tournament bass-fishing business. Anglers and the promotional staffs of companies are on the road a great deal. Consequently, communicating by phone is not always the ideal method.
"Promotional people in fishing companies have many people to correspond with every day," notes Simmons. "Sometimes a game of `phone tag' can take up to a dozen calls to finally connect with a person telephonically. And many times it is a piece of business that could have been done with a three-minute e-mail."
Simmons says that another important aspect of e-mail is that it allows anglers to correspond well beyond the typical business hours.
"I am not going to call somebody at 11:30 at night, but I can certainly e-mail them at that time. So it greatly extends communication capability beyond traditional business hours."
Simmons also explains that e-mails are a written record of correspondence. E-mail can be electronically filed or printed to provide a record of correspondence. Telephone conversations do not have that benefit.
Anglers also need to remember that e-mail should be treated as official business correspondence. The same business etiquette used when writing business letters applies to e-mail letters. Company e-mail addresses are not the place for e-mail jokes, chain letters and "What's been going on"-type banter. When writing business e-mails, get to the point and be succinct.
Tips for e-mail setup and delivery
Simmons provides some pointers about e-mail use so anglers can get the most from their e-mail correspondence.
* Use a proper title in the "subject" heading. Those who have used e-mail consistently are familiar with "spam" or junk e-mail. Many times junk e-mail will have nondescript subjects. For busy e-mail users these titles often get an automatic delete key even before being opened. Do not use vague one-word titles like "update," "report," or "press." Be specific in your title heading. Use personal identifiable markers. For example "John Doe's fourth quarter report," or "John Doe's press clipping from The Smithville Times."
* Set up "auto-signature" on your e-mail. Most e-mail programs have an auto-signature feature that allows a name, return e-mail address, telephone number, fax number and physical address to be displayed at the bottom of every e-mail sent out by you. This can make things much easier. For example, if you request a part that needs to be shipped to you immediately, the e-mail simply needs to be forwarded to the shipping department because a shipping address is already contained in the auto-signature.
* Send quarterly reports by e-mail. As long as sponsors will accept e-mailed reports, this is a great way to save time and money. Simply attach your report or update to the e-mail and send it along.
* Set up e-mail groups. This means going into your e-mail program and bundling individual e-mail addresses into one group. For example, you might label an e-mail group "Sponsors," and then put all of your sponsor contacts' e-mail addresses into that one group. Now sending out reports or updates can be done in one keystroke instead of typing out the addresses each time.
* E-mail exposure links. If you have a photo or a piece of press on the Web that you want to make your sponsors aware of, you can e-mail sponsors (or sponsor group) a particular link. Many newspapers and magazines are now online which makes the tedious chore of physically clipping articles and mailing them to sponsors obsolete.
Just as electronic depth finders opened up a whole new realm of opportunity in the sport of bass fishing, e-mail is opening up a whole new era of communication on the business side of bass fishing. Do not get left in the dark ages. Get an e-mail account and power up your e-mail skills. It just might lead to the greatest hookup of an angler's career.
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 FLW Tour and contributes to OperationBass.com, Bass Fishing and other fishing publications.