Talk to Daren Cole, marketing manager for Skeeter Boats, about paid pro staff positions and you'll talk about the total package.
"We look at several factors when selecting our top pro staff positions. No two pro staffers offer the same things. There are, however, several core factors that we take into consideration when making our choices. Obviously, the more of them a pro can offer, the more likely it is we'll use him or her."
The factors and choices he's referring to include the following:
1. Promo-ability — In the language of Skeeter Boats, "pro" stands for promo-ability, not professional.
National recognition by fishing fans is very important to us. We look at the angler following any potential pro staffer has before making our decision. We like promo-ability. It's important that local anglers view our pro staff as knowledgeable, that they respect their ability to fish and that they like and admire him or her."
A word of caution is in order here. Cole is talking about selling boats, so he uses the term promo-ability rather than professional. That doesn't mean, however, that professionalism in its broader definition isn't important. Looking and acting the part matters.
Not shaving in the morning; wearing filthy, sweat stained shirts; using foul language in public; or conduct that reflects badly on the brand will not be tolerated.
2. Understanding marketing — An understanding of marketing principles is critical.
We want our pro staff to have a solid working knowledge of marketing, promotions and advertising. And, we expect them to work those principles on their own. Our men and women are expected to bring something to the business that we can't always do on our own or with our existing team. They should add something to Skeeter Boats."
Cole also wants anglers who understand the basics of the industry.
"A basic understanding of boat manufacturing, knowledge of our distribution concepts and solid dealer relationships matter to us. They're part of the overall package we're looking for in a top pro staffer. We want men and women who can answer questions from the buying public in an honest and knowledgeable fashion. That's the way we build a long-term relationship with our customers."
3. An ability to catch fish — After all, this is about fishing.
"Fishing and finishing at the top — or at least near the top — is critical. We want our pros to be successful. That'll keep them and us before the fishing and outdoors public. And, to be blunt, it's the only factor that's not subjective at some level. Either you do catch fish or you don't. It can be measured."
4. Financial stability — Being financially stable and reliable is critical.
"Our top anglers all have the resources to last more than one season. We don't want men or women who are operating on a shoestring or who might not be back next year. Our relationships are designed to be long-term and stable. We want our anglers to be the same way.
"Also, we want our top people to have more than one major sponsor. They cannot — and should not — rely solely on one or two sponsors to pay the bills."
5. Work with the media — An ability to work amicably and effectively with the media is very important.
"Media relationships are important and the best ones are a two-way street. Pro staffers must be able to place our brand in the media and they must be the type of angler who has the media contact them. There's no substitute for that."
As a practical matter, that means doing interviews when you've had a tough day, lost a big one at the boat or simply finished below where you should have. It also means being available for photos when you're tired and would rather get something to eat or go to bed.
And, most important of all it means talking to the media and returning their telephone calls promptly. That's the easiest and quickest way to develop a media presence in the fishing industry. As one writer puts it, "Call me back and I call again. Don't call me back, and I won't call you again."
Developing a top position with a boat company like Skeeter isn't easy. This is a serious company looking for serious men and women.