Bass Pro Tour Pro James Watson and BASS Elite Series Pro Gerald Swindle working the Lure Lock booth at 2020 Bassmaster Classic.

Getting the Most Out of your Pro Staff

Five Tips on Activating and Making the Most Out of Your Investment

The term pro staff is a common one and thrown around in the outdoor industry heavily today.  From top level national touring fishing pro’s, or hunting television personalities, to brilliant content creators or a massive group of grass roots field staff, all these promotional staff members play an important role in helping further a company’s marketing message and product promotions. 

With the proliferation of social media and growing use of pro staff, here are five tips on how to fully activate your pro staff, and produce the greatest return on your investment.

1. Invest the Time

Starting a pro staff is easy – there are hundreds of eager anglers, hunters, and sports enthusiasts looking to be a member of a pro staff.  Maximizing, mobilizing, and motivating that staff is where the real work begins.  If you are going to create a pro staff, you must dedicate the time, either internally, or through a third party to effectively manage this staff, engage with them, and ultimately grow your brand’s awareness, consumer preference, and ultimately consumer sales and loyalty.

Bone Collector crew signing autographs at the Archery Trade Show in the G5 Outdoors booth.
Text message with a brands pro staff

2.  Communicate and Communicate Often

You can’t read the mind of an individual on your pro staff and they can’t read your mind, so having an open line of communication and an on-going dialogue is paramount at making the most of a company/pro staff relationship.  From clearly communicating contract deliverables, to providing direction or feedback on social media posts, or just checking in to see how their newborn child is or congratulating them on a great finish at an event, it all makes a difference and strengthens the relationship.  Formal items should still be communicated via e-mail or mail, but immediate requests and check ins are made easy with today’s technology of texting.  I have on-going text threads with all my pro staff, so it’s easy to check back on previously discussed items.

3.  Tracking…Don’t Let it Wait

Waiting to evaluate a pro staff’s performance until the end of the year isn’t fair to that individual, nor is it fair to yourself, it puts an immense amount of stress of both parties and it leaves no time for the correction of the ship.  At a minimum an audit of your pro staff should be done twice a year or if you have a seasonal business, twice per season.  Doing so allows you to provide feedback to that individual midway through the year so they can “double down” on their activities for you if needed, or it may open up the door for an opportunity that will move the needle for the brand or specific product.  There are several apps that can help you track your pro staff.  I utilize AnglerTrack.net and their sister website AmbassadorTracket.net to review all my pro staff’s activities on a weekly basis via their dashboard.  It is simple to use, and allows me to see who is active on social media, and how effective they are at promoting the brand.  I’ll do a formal audit of the deliverables in pro staff contracts every four to six weeks, depending on the time of year.

Screen shot from Angler Track

4.  Look for Opportunities and Ask

As the saying goes, “you don’t know if you don’t ask,” this applies to the management of your pro staff.  If you see an open spot on that individual’s boat, truck, jersey, etc for another placement of your brands logo, you might as well ask if you can get it, or if your current placement can be increased in size or location.  Or if you have an outside of the box idea for a promotional idea, social media post or a cross promotional strategy with another on of that individuals’ sponsors, ASK, you never know what successes may come from it.  Remember these ambassadors are interested in growing their brands as well.  Collaborating and cross promoting with their other partners can be a great win-win for all involved.

Tournament angler Glenn Walker on the water wearing a Lure Lock branded life jacket.

5.  Following Up is a Must

Don’t let the small things fall through the cracks, as it is many times these house keeping items that can cause an otherwise strong and promising company/pro staff relationship to start to crumble.  Make sure pro staff checks, from retainers, to royalty or incentives are cut on the date promised, getting a note saying, “I haven’t gotten my check yet,” isn’t something a pro staff manager wants to get.  You don’t want to miss out on valuable promotional opportunities, so getting your pro staff the product and promotional swag in a timely manner is also critical.  You can’t expect them to shoot content or represent your brand if they don’t have the product they need, when they need it.

There is no doubt that having a strong pro staff is a critical piece to any company’s marketing and promotional strategy.  Hopefully with these five tips you can fully activate your pro staff this year and get the most ROI out of your pro staff investments.

About the Author…Glenn Walker serves as the VP of Operations for Providence Marketing Group.  In this role he has managed numerous pro staff programs in both the fishing and hunting categories.  In addition, as a tournament bass angler he has been on both sides of the pro staff equation, as a manager of pro staffs, and as a pro staff member.  For more information, please visit www.www.providencemarketinggroup.net .

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