With another successful BassMaster Classic in the books, here's a few key pieces of advice if you are an angler, tournament circuit or advertising firm looking for sponsorship:
Most vendors spend $20,000 - $100,000 (More in many cases) to secure a booth, to ship their products and to put their staffs on planes and in hotels for this event.
The reason they invest in participation for events like the BassMaster Classic is to sell product, educate consumers and to build their brand. They must be able to create a return on investment. That means their ability to sell at this show is critical for their company.
For example, the company that invests $40,000 in the booth, product logistics, airfares, staffing etc., needs to sell $80,000 in most cases just to break even. Then the hope is their marketing, brand recognition, videos/media done at the show put them on the plus side over the coming months.
Let's break that down a bit. The 3 show days provides 23 hours of selling time. If they bring a staff of 5 people, in order to do $50,000 in sales, they have to do an order every 2.88 minutes with an average order size of $100.00. Think about that, an order every 2 minutes and that's only for $50,000 in sales which does cover the $80,000 needed to break even mentioned earlier.
You can quickly see why their focus is 100% on their customers at the event. Where their attention cannot be, is listening to companies who haven't bucked up and bought their own booth come pitch them for 20 minutes in their own booth blocking true customers from seeing all of their products, taking one or more of their 5 staff members out of the game for 20 minutes etc.. It's extremely difficult to take the time needed that they paid for to be selling and listen to a local angler who fishes the Friday night lights derby in any state USA for 10 minutes instead of selling.
It's not that companies don't want to make those relationships, it's simply that it's being done at the wrong place and wrong time. It's showing zero respect for their investment and charter for the show. There's a right way to do that and it would be scheduling meetings before or after the show well in advance of the event. It's simply leaving a card with a brochure, that says "we didn't want to bother you at the show, so we left this in hopes we can discuss some opportunities when you get back home."
Thinking back on this show, there's no doubt that I was pulled into at least 8+ hours of discussions with tournament trails, anglers seeking sponsorship, charity events, online marketing, magazine marketing and more. While those are all worthy conversations, again they are being forced to happen during critical hours of the biggest show of the year. That means my available selling time was reduced from 23 hours to less than 15. More than 1/3rd of my time was robbed of doing what we came to do, which was to sell, educate and recoup our investment at the biggest show and investment of the year for our company. And that was just my time which didn't include the time my staff spent with folks doing the same thing.
While we understand the dynamics of the industry, our willingness to engage with an angler, a tournament circuit or an advertising medium starts with respect, class and the ability to understand each others goals with a common drive to help each other exceed them. If you were one of those that showed the opposite of that by demanding time at one of the biggest events of the year for us, then hopefully you will understand why there most likely will not be as much dialog as you may had hoped for in the future.
Always, always, always understand the importance of why vendors are at shows. Understand that if they are pulled away from getting the ROI needed to participate in those shows that they probably won't do them in the future. Is that what we all want? No, we want the shows to continue to grow and the sport to grow. So, help the paying vendors by understanding their goals and needs from a show like the Classic. Then tailor your approach to make sure you achieve your goals without inhibiting theirs. Pick slower times to introduce yourself. Keep the interactions brief and focused and start to build a relationship without stopping them from growing and gaining that return on their investment! At the end of the day, we all need each other from angler to vendor to media, so let's all do the best planning we can to grow together!
Cheers and congrats on another great Classic!