Knowing who to approach, how to approach them, and how to ensure that they see the value in the partnership with our club is the key. I stress the word partnership, as this is a give and take relationship. In order to ask a company to donate their products, time, or cash to our club we must be able to show value. Our club has tried various methods of promotion including: jersey logo placement, website logo placement, newsletter logo placement, social media, club membership emails, monthly club meetings with raffles, etc. All of these methods work to varying degrees to allow us to make sure that our sponsors names and products are constantly referenced and associated with and to our club. We offer multiple levels of sponsorship which are established through financial commitment. For instance, our Platinum sponsorship level is $1,000+ in product or $500+ in cash annually and guarantees logo placement on our club jersey and prime logo placement on our website.
Who do we approach? Through the years I have likely contacted 70-80% of all of the companies that would be considered industry related from rod and reel companies to lure manufacturers to clothing manufacturers. We have found that the most likely company for us to develop a partnership with is the smaller private company, such as Hag’s Tornado, or a company just starting out. Many of the larger companies simply cannot support all of the requests that they receive and therefore develop relationships with only the larger organizations such as B.A.S.S. or high level professional fisherman. On the flipside to that, many of the smaller companies or those companies just starting out are eager to get their products and name out to a specific audience where they can build their brand. It is due to this that we have found much more success with companies fitting into this niche. We have also had good success looking to partner with local companies as well. Being that we are based in Florida there are a number of industry specific companies that we have reached out to for our partners such as Culprit or Gambler. Any club or organization seeking sponsor partners should also always make sure to inquire with their own member base as very often there are members who are company owners willing to give additional support to the club or organization.
How do we approach? I have primarily relied on electronic contact to pursue the sponsorships that we have developed over the past five years. Due to the volume of inquiries made it is nearly impossible to reach out to every company that has been pursued via phone or in person. I have worked to construct an electronic communication that is geared to inform the potential sponsor about our club, our various levels of sponsorship, and what we provide as a return for their investment. Our club is very fortunate in that we have a large member base and are in an area of the country where there are great lakes and great fisherman so this gives us an advantage as many industry companies want a presence in Florida. We do our best to personalize this communication to the company or person we are trying to get in touch with as well. One way that we have found to get information on people within the industry to approach is through a publication called ‘Fishing Tackle Retailer’ (FTR). FTR is a great source of information and keeps me up to date on industry news related to companies, products, etc. They also have an annual issue that has almost every company in the industry with contact information. Without this information it would prove very difficult to get some of the information as many websites only have an info email.
How do we show value? In many ways showing value is where I am able to set our club apart from many of the others that inquire about sponsorships every year. I do my best to make sure to keep in contact with our sponsors through the year instead of just asking them to send product and then not getting in touch with them again until the next year. I send emails with feedback that we get from our members. I make sure that all of our sponsors get a copy of our monthly newsletter that goes out so that they can keep up with our club through the year. I reach out to our sponsors to see if they have any new products or announcements that they have that they may like us to communicate to our members. I do my best to send holiday cards each year as well. This is why I believe the use of the word partnership is appropriate. It is the little things that we do that helps us build those partnerships and have long lasting sponsor relationships!
Regardless of the size of your club or organization there are companies out there that will work with you. Make sure to treat them with respect and make them feel as though you are working with them to better both sides and you’ll be surprised at how your interactions will go. Good luck!
Article written by: Michael Press