So you want to be a sponsored fisherman?
It’s the dream of every competitive angler- to get sponsored. You’ve honed your skills and even won a few tournaments. Cashing tournament checks is nice but getting sponsored is the Holy Grail of competitive fishing. The problem is there are hundreds of anglers just like you wanting the same sponsorship. Josh Phillips of Dunamis Rods says he gets at least 15 calls a week and while he’d love to give everyone a chance it’s simply impossible to do. In fact, he received two emails inquiring about sponsorship while we spoke. He can only pick the ones that fit Dunamis the best. The question becomes: how do you separate yourself from the competition?
The #1 thing sponsors look for in a candidate is selling power. Sponsors want you to be able to move their product. Think of it on a business level. Sponsors are investing money in you and expect to be rewarded with dividends in the form of increased sales. The key to getting sponsored is proving to the sponsor that you have buying influence over a large number of people. But how do you do this?
Your goal is to establish a network of dedicated fans that view you as an expert whose knowledge is second to none. You know everything there is to know about fishing. Other anglers see the rod, reel and tackle you use and have to have it. If you recommend a lure they buy it. When people need fishing advice they come to you- you’re the Google of fishing. Josh from Dunamis Rods added that he looks for anglers that people seek out for advice- Anglers that have the ability to call their followers to action.
While there is no better way to brand yourself than shaking hands and kissing babies after winning a tournament social media is a close second. With social media your scope of influence and the reach of your brand are unlimited. I currently have anglers from British Colombia to Baja Mexico to Australia to Upstate NY back down to South Florida that are in my network of influence. While I learn as much from them as they do from me, they do listen on topics I’ve demonstrated knowledge on such as peacock bass. The best part is 90% of my fishing network has come from social media.
So now you know you want to increase the scope of your social media influence but how do you do it? First, be active on all social media platforms- truly the more the merrier. By active I mean you need to consistently post relevant content on all platforms. You must show your audience that you have mastered the subject and truly do know what you are talking about. This can be done by internal or external sources of content. Internal sources are pictures, videos, blog posts or anything else that you create. Outside sources are content that you shared but did not create. You can post links to articles or simply like, share, favorite or retweet someone else’s content.
Now that you’ve proven your knowledge and attracted a following you have to turn your friends/followers into advocates- personal brand ambassadors that will only fish the gear you recommend and will always tell their fishing buddies that your stuff is the best. The greatest way to do this is to engage them. Comment, like, favorite or retweet their content and if they take the time to comment on or mention you make sure you take the time to reply- keep the conversation going! Engaging people in conversation on social media is a surefire way to turn a friend/follower into personal brand ambassadors.
Also, do not be afraid to reach out directly to the sponsors themselves. Introduce yourself to them, friend/follow them and finally engage them. Comment, like, favorite and retweet their content while tagging/mentioning them in your content. This is a great way to break the ice and build rapport with sponsors.
Finally, there are no short cuts. It takes time to build a loyal following but remember quality over quantity. In order to truly be influential you have to have a loyal fan base. Having followers that do not fish are fine to have but will not help you become influential and you can forget about any friends, fans or followers you bought from third parties.
Unfortunately for those of you looking to get sponsored winning tournaments is no longer enough. Sponsors are looking for anglers that have selling power backed by an extensive and loyal following. Once you combine winning and social influence sponsors will be beating down your door!
Written by: Jason Macko
Jason Macko is a South Florida Lunker Hunter and certified social media consultant. Focusing on the South Florida canal system, he is an expert peacock bass angler who also fishes for largemouth bass, tarpon and snook. Before moving to Miami in 2007 he grew up and lived in Upstate NY where he learned to catch bass from his father and grandfather. When not fishing Jason enjoys playing golf and spending time with his wife Lisa. Connect with him on Twitter @laughinpescador!