A look inside the businesses of bass fishing, and why you
the businesses that support the fishermen, period.
By Jerry Drazer
Sponsors come in many different capacities, to both the host tournament organizations as well as to tournament anglers. No matter what capacity the sponsor and their sponsorship package may contribute, the bottom line here is that sponsor loyalty begins with you, the bass angler.
In the past year or so, and in the foreseeable future, there may be fewer sponsors as well as a lot less sponsor dollars allocated due to budget cuts. This isn’t good for anyone because these cuts are usually in direct relation to sales volumes. When times are tough, and sales are down, one needs to remember that advertising and promotional budgets are the easiest to reevaluate and/or in some cases simply cut out all together. Therefore, many of the little extra’s anglers have come to expect (or taken for granted) will be eliminated for awhile, some may be permanently it’s hard to tell.
One of the main reasons sponsors come on board with a host tournament organization is because they want your business. Let’s not neglect to remember why the sponsor or anyone else is in business in the first place, to make money. Sure, there are a few sponsors that lend their support because they like the sport, or a particular organization, or person. But, in most cases, sponsor dollars are a derived percentage directly from their promotional and advertising budgets.
A sponsor might view the organization and its distinction as "very good and reputable". Realizing that any organization is only as strong as its membership they try to appeal to these potential customers through the sponsorship package and use of their allocated promotional and advertising dollars. If a sponsor doesn't get a return on their investment through the exposure or through sales they're gone, often never to return.
Welcome, to the business side of bass fishing.
Now, let's analyze four different types of sponsors, their relationship to you, the angler. The four different types of sponsors are pretty straightforward in the name classification I have assigned to them they are: Industry sponsors, Industry/Service sponsors, Non Industry sponsors, and Community Business sponsors.
An Industry sponsor is a business that may be selling a customer specific product or service. This type of sponsor is self explanatory, but here’s an example of a customer specific product to clear things up: If the XYZ Company manufactures Bass Widgets, it’s in their best interest to expose the Bass Widget product line to as many bass fishermen as possible. Every household in the United States won’t use a Bass Widget, not every fisherman will either, but the company truly believes every bass fisherman could use one.
So, rather than waste advertising dollars with a blanket advertising campaign, they advertise by contracting a sponsorship/advertising program with the host tournament organization, and/or some of its anglers. This is essentially called "target marketing", and it eliminates wasted advertising dollars, appeals to the "target market population", and helps keep some of their costs down.
Here’s a very quick and simple example of how "target marketing" might work: The XYZ Company has specifically identified bass fishermen as their "target market". So rather than purchasing advertising in the "ABCD Outdoor News", they come on board as a sponsor of the "DCBA National Bass Trail". Their sponsorship of this organization and the two guys on their pro-staff from this circuit gets their name out at tournaments, includes a one year full page ad in The DCBA Trail Magazine, and on the DCBA Trail Internet site.
INDUSTRY / SERVICE SPONSORS
Industry Service sponsors would include marinas, tackle shops etc… They utilize target marketing as well in many cases. Sometimes they sponsor fishermen, purchase ads, or sponsor a circuit. Or any combination of the three.
They sell industry-related products, as well as provide service and product expertise to you the angler. It’s very important to remember that these businesses don’t just sell product, they also sell service. A marina for example, may handle other boat lines, but wants you the bass fisherman to buy your bass boat from them.
Very often, the same marinas that aggressively pursue the bass fishermen provide outstanding service to anglers after the sale. While you may find a little bit better deal in another state, you may pay above and beyond that difference when it comes to service in years to come. Let’s say you have a problem with your boat during a Tuesday night jackpot tournament, and have a big money tournament coming up on Saturday. They’ll usually find a way to work you in the schedule and get your boat fixed before your Saturday event. Why? Because you’re "their customer".
Non-Industry sponsors products and services usually have nothing to do with the sport of bass fishing. Non-Industry sponsors aren’t usually looking to target just the bass fishermen, but they actually hope to expand their business horizons and support/business in a new market perhaps. They usually sponsor an event, individual, or organization because of the potential to draw in business from a different segment of the market population. This market segment may not be in their existing customer base, but may need their products or services from time to time.
A non-industry sponsor might also sponsor an organization to further an awareness of their business in the local, regional, or national arenas. We all like to bass fish, but our everyday jobs are very diverse. Some bass fishermen are farmers, contractors, carpenters, factory workers, industrial buyers, engineers, as well as high profile business people. Many Non-Industry sponsors get a lot for their dollar, because bass fishing crosses over and appeals to such diverse segments and cross sections of the market population, and the common link is bass fishing.
COMMUNITY BUSINESS SPONSORS
The community business sponsors may not be official tournament sponsors but they have been pre-selected, and pre-solicited "exclusively" by the host tournament organization to provide you with the very best products and services at discounted rates while you're in town.
They provide these discounted rates in hopes of getting the majority of the market share during weekend of the tournament. Community business sponsors would include but not be limited to: hotels, motels, restaurants, and other businesses in a community that are offering discounts to the tournament fishermen while they're in town. They actively want the tournament angler's to shop at their business.
Community business sponsors like hotels/motels usually give a sizable discount in their rates to get you to stay with them. They actually cut their profit margins in hopes that you’ll stay with them and use their facilities exclusively, they are hoping to make up some of this margin though by filling the block of rooms all weekend. You should stay with them, because they provide many "extras" along with the discount. They accommodate the needs of the host tournament organization and to you the angler. These little added "extras" are usually very convenient, and people don't give much thought to them until they're needed.
(An example of a " added extra" would be a free meeting room for the tournament meeting. This gets anglers out of the weather if its pouring rain and windy, and allows them to hear the briefing and visit with friends. Normally, this community sponsor would get upwards of $200-$300 room rental for the evening, but they give it to the organization because they want their fishermen to stay with them.)
Sure it might cost less to pile 4 people in a room and stay at the "Roach Motel", and eat down the road at "The Greasy Spoon", but you need to remember, the community business sponsor supports you, they accommodate you, and do the extra's for you. Like beefing up security in the parking lot to eliminate theft for example. Now, think about it for a second. If theft occurs, or your boat gets vandalized, you won’t be able to fish, equipment wise or mentally. Your whole weekend has been ruined, because you wanted to save a couple bucks.
Now take a look at the sponsors and advertisers within your organization. If you’re in need of a particular product or service you should always give sponsors and advertisers the first shot at your business. Sponsor loyalty begins with you, the bass angler. Shop their shop. Buy their products and services, and while your at it, tell them "thanks".
After all, they’re supporting you, shouldn’t you support them? It’s a two way street…