While writing continues to be a fun hobby, marketing and promotions still pay the bills in my office as my Millennium Promotions group now celebrates 20 years in fishing. Like many businesses, I’ve found it necessary that the company evolve to meet the demands of an ever-changing marketplace. Let’s face it, marketing today is considerably different than just a few years ago thanks, in part, to social media.
So as I break into my third decade, I thought I’d offer a little inside information for those of you who’d like to know more; perhaps chasing the almighty sponsor dollar and coming up empty.
I once wore your shoes. Today, the bulk of my work is on the other side: working with companies on content creation and better ways to utilize you – the pro staff. So I see what those companies are after, what existing staff offers, and where the two don’t always line up. In order to put our readers ahead of the curve, I thought I’d offer a few tips.
Now, it’s important to remember that not every aspiring pro fits into the same mold. Sure, the young aggressive type, full of technology and knowledge of the latest gadgets, gets all the press. But veteran pros see remarkably good sponsor contracts based on longevity and the ability to communicate to older buyers. So be proud to be old-school; it will pay off.
What I’ve put together here is an overview of how to conduct yourself in the world of sponsorships and media. Consider yourself an insider, as you certainly won’t see this type of material anywhere else.
Tip 1: Stay Reachable
While you don’t have to answer every call out on the water, it’s important to stay easily reachable and return all e-mails and messages as soon as possible. And, for goodness sake, set up your voicemail. Nothing screams “teenager” more than a voicemail box that has not been enabled, or is full.
Occasionally, sponsors and media reps get carried away with texting and demanding immediate answers – everyone does it – but just remember to always get back to them within a day, during normal business hours, if possible. You wouldn’t believe how many of your peers don’t.
Tip 2: Establish Your Social Media
The single most important aspect to this step is creating social pages for your business (as a professional angler) and not utilizing your personal pages for the same role. Sponsors (and most of your fans) don’t care what you cooked on the grill last night, or what your kid did at school. Leave that personal stuff where it should be.
Your business/pro angling pages should include all the aspects of your professional career: fish catches, tournament placements, sponsor blasts and life on the water. And if you can’t find time to post regularly with solid content, hire someone to do it. Professionals in the field will provide you with a more organized, regular look, and you’ll feel secure knowing grammar and tagging are correct.
Tip 3: Up Your Photo Game
I’m baffled when I see pros still posting crappy “selfie” pics. By now, just about every angler has some experience with GoPros or other action cams, or knows the best way to set up their phone to give a great shot. So utilize that technology and take time to stage a few images from time to time.
Basic tips to successful photos and video: Have the sun behind the camera, not behind you. Utilize periods of good light, like morning and evening. And get closer to the camera; especially action cams with wide angle lenses. Get right in there – it makes for compelling shots.
Tip 4: Offer to Help
Today’s media needs are monumental. A glance around the Internet proves it – the amount of content out there is incredible. For that reason, writers and photographers are always in need of subject matter.
At nearly every tournament, savvy pros can get press time simply by making themselves available. Ask the writers and photographers at weigh-in how you can help – you’ll be busier than you think, providing good content to sponsors. An example: one client we manage includes a couple of pros who continually pop-up on the big websites, whether they finish well or not. Their secret is simply networking and staying an extra day at tournament locations, boats floating and ready to help.
There you have it – four quick ways to separate yourself from a bunch of your competition and send a professional message to those who could help further your career. You know, throughout the course of the year, I regularly receive questions and tidbits from pros eager to learn, media members looking for material and companies seeking promotional staff. By all means, e-mail me if you need any help. Contact info is available on the Millennium Promotions website or Facebook page.
Oh, and one other thing: It’s OK to take no for an answer. But if you work hard and continue to communicate with that potential lead, that “no” often develops into a “yes” somewhere down the road. Stay after it.
(Joe Balog is the often-outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)