Developing Sponsorships: Part 2

Last time I hinted at how I got started with Power-Pole. Now I’ll give you the details. It’s an important part of how I advanced my professional fishing career.

I was talking to T.A. Mahoney one day several years ago when he said he wanted to go to lunch. He wanted me to meet some friends of his. When we arrived, he introduced me to the guys who owned Power-Pole. At the time he was a fairly big dealer for them.

Power-Pole was well-known in the Tampa area but it was mostly in the saltwater markets at that time. They did very little in the freshwater area and less still with bass fisherman. At some point they said to me that they wanted to hang a Power-Pole on the back of my bass boat and that they wanted me to join their pro staff. I jumped at the opportunity.

As a Florida angler, I was a flipper and pitcher. It was my bread and butter in the shallow, weed-choked Florida waters. I knew that a Power-Pole would help me hold my boat in position when I needed to make precision presentations to the bass. What I didn’t know was where my relationship with this fine company would take me.

The next year they wrapped my boat and became my title sponsor. Over time, their popularity exploded. There are very few anglers fishing the Elite Series who don’t have at least one Power-Pole on his boat. Most of us have two, and they’re not back there for show.

The point of this story is to show everyone where an ordinary sponsorship deal can take you. As I said before, T.A. Mahoney and I were both local. I wasn’t making a ton of money off him and he wasn’t making a ton of money off me. And, yet, that relationship put me on my title sponsor.

It would be nice to tell you that Power-Pole recognized my obvious fishing skills, my photogenic face and body, and that they knew I would win the 2012 Bassmaster Classic. But we all know that wouldn’t be true. What they did was take the recommendation of someone who knew me and was willing to put in a good word for me.

And we all know that something else was at work here, too. Power-Pole was making a fishing product that was needed, that worked and that was worth what they were charging for it. It was just about the perfect combination of things for both of us. The thing is, though, none of it would have happened except for my relationship with a local company who was willing to sponsor me.

Think about that the next time you feel that local sponsors can’t pay you enough or that you’re too tired to go to a sport’s show and give a seminar. Work hard for your local guys, and you’ll soon find yourself working hard for the national guys.

I can’t say thanks loud enough to T.A. Mahoney, to Power-Pole, and to all my sponsors!

Also read parts 1 and 3.