The most frequently asked question from most tournament bass fishermen is, “How do you get sponsors?” Bill Lowen of Brookville, Indiana, who fishes on the Bassmaster Elite Series, explains:
“I think the most important aspect of getting a sponsor is to try to work with a sponsor who manufactures a product you’re already using. If you’re fishing with a product that you already believe in and that’s been highly productive for you, then that makes talking about that product much easier for you. Too, you can explain the benefits that product has had for you much easier and quicker than a product you’ve never used before. Fishermen are smart. They can tell if you’re promoting a product that you’re just getting a check from a company to promote. So, I’ve always tried to align myself with the products I use and products in which I already believe.
“Another mistake I see tournament anglers making is if they go to a company like XYZ and tell the company, ‘Here’s what you can do for me.’ Instead my approach always has been, ‘Let me show you what I can do for you,’ and then I grow that relationship with that sponsor. After I’ve worked for that sponsor for perhaps a year or two, promoting its products, doing in-store promotions and consumer shows and working for and with the company’s reps, then I will have proven my value. This system of obtaining sponsors by proving my worth to them before they offer me a sponsorship has always been the way I’ve worked with my sponsors.
“I’m never going to be that fisherman with my hand out who tells a sponsor, ‘Hey, you need me.’ I want to prove my worth before I ask for the sponsorship. Most often, once you prove your importance to a company, and the company recognizes the value you provide for the company, then that company will approach you about sponsoring you. You don’t have to ask them.
“This concept is foreign to some tournament bass fishermen who approach sponsors and tell the sponsors what he’s won in tournament bassing, or how many buddies he has and give those facts as the reason that a company should sponsor him. But that tactic rarely works. I believe I need to prove my value to a company. Once I’m good enough at helping that company promote and sell its products, then the company will approach me about sponsorship.
“In the beginning of searching for sponsors, I did a lot of work for free for the manufacturers I hope to get to sponsor me. But once again, this system of proving my value to a company has paid off for me. Probably most manufacturers never hear this statement, ‘Tell me what I can do for your company to help promote sales and get you brand recognition.’ Try that, and see if it doesn’t work for you.”