this. You're watching the Bassmaster Classic on ESPN2. Bass boats are
tearing across the lake, fans are screaming along the shores, and the
world's top anglers are fighting furiously for a place in the record books.
You watch in anticipation, fingers crossed, praying that one of your pros
takes the lead. Then it happens. The camera closes in on your key guy
just as an enormous largemouth explodes through the surface, jaws extended,
and crashes down on a lure you designed. Splash! Yank! The hook is set.
Your lure company just earned a spot in history and a huge chunk of the
$4 billion tackle industry. You turn to your family and whisper, "we
It's a dream
many lure makers share, but how possible is it?
living in the fishing tackle industry is not easy. It takes years of persistence,
truckloads of cash, nonstop commitment, and a keen knack for business.
But if you're successful, the pot of gold at the end of the journey is
enormous and the lifestyle can't be matched. Successful lure companies
can earn tens of millions of dollars a year and enjoy the benefits of
having America's top fishing heroes at their disposal.
like many tackle makers, right now you're probably saying, "Sounds
great. But I don't have truckloads of money and I know virtually nothing
about business." Fear not! If you invent a good product and are dedicated
to it's success, the money and business training will be easy to get.
There is NEVER a shortage of people who want to invest in a good
idea that is proven in the marketplace. But before you can get the funding,
you'll need to invest your own time and money to get your lure company
going. Here's what you'll need to do to bring your lure company from an
idea to a stage where you can attract investors (we'll cover raising money
in the next issue).
Develop a Successful Attitude
It sounds weird, but trust us, the most important thing you can do for
your company is develop the right attitude about success! Every successful
fishing business started with someone who believed deep down that they
were going to succeed. You need to believe with everything you have that
you will create a nationally-known brand of fishing tackle. There can't
be any "maybes" in your belief, because when you hit your first
challenge, that "maybe" will turn into a "can't" and
you'll be tempted to quit. If you believe you can do it, you'll overcome
the obstacles and keep heading down the road to success.
Plan Your Business
When you're getting started, you'll be tempted to skip the planning stages
of your business and go right into making and selling your tackle. Don't!!!
Even though planning is tedious, you really need to do it. Take a month
to map out exactly where you want your business to go and write a business
plan that describes how you will get there. The SBA has a great business
plan outline to help you get started. Most importantly, clearly define
how your business will make money. If it costs you $.70 to make a fishing
lure and you're selling it to retailers for $1.20, that's a $0.50 profit.
So to make $100 you need to sell 200 lures. Is that realistic? Can you
quickly make 200 lures? Are you better off trying to sell directly to
the public for more money? How will you market? These are the types of
questions that you really need to answer before you invest your time and
money. Take the time upfront to really think them through.
Execute Your Business Plan
After you finish your business plan, it's time to execute it. Follow the
steps you outlined and be persistent. Starting a business can be a crazy
ride filled with ups and downs. The key to surviving is to appreciate
the ups and learn from the disappointments. Focus on short term goals
that will get you closer to your long term desires. Over time, these short
term successes will add up to a large success and your business will move
forward. But remember, there truly is no such thing as an "overnight
success". True success takes time to build and there's a learning
curve you'll need to go through to figure out the best way to the to market
and sell your fishing tackle. Be sure to constantly evaluate your current
course of action and look for ways to make the next step in the journey
more successful than your last.
Follow the 5 P's
There is a rule in the fishing tackle business that we call the "Five
P's". The P's stand for: Promotion, Product, Personality, Price, & Persistance.
If you figure out how to excel in all 5 of these areas, you will be able
to build a business that you can live off of.
Marketing is a key factor of success for tackle manufacturers. For the
most part, anglers are less likely to purchase tackle they haven't heard
of. Unlike the Rapala's of the world, most of us don't have millions of
dollars to throw at a huge marketing campaign. So we have to be creative
and find other less expensive ways to market our products. The key to
this is to get your product into the hands of as many people as possible
in the shortest amount of time. Trade shows are a great way to do this
and you can often pair up with another company to split the costs of the
booth (usually about $400 to $900 a show).
away your baits to INFLUENCERS in your fishing community. By this, I mean
that you should think very carefully about who receives your baits for
free. The ideal recipient is someone who fishes a ton, talks to everyone
they run into, and fishes with many different people. When you give your
baits to someone who fits this description, you are starting a word of
mouth marketing campaign. This person will use your bait enough to catch
a fish with it and they will talk about your bait to everyone they run
into. The next time you run into them, ask them for feedback on your bait.
part of marketing fishing tackle is to sell an "experience" instead of
just the item. This is the technique that companies like Bass Pro use
to move their merchandise and it works VERY well. When people buy from
Bass Pro or Cabelas, they feel like they are part of an elite group of
"true outdoorsmen". These companies have spent millions of dollars to
develop that product association and it's one of the main reasons they're
so successful. For example, say I was selling you a jig. If I said "Look
at this jig. The paint is incredible and the dressing is made from spun
gold!" you might be impressed but it won't necessarily make you want to
purchase it. On the other hand, if I say "This is the jig that caught
the last state record largemouth bass", you'll buy it in a second. Why?
Because now I'm selling you an "experience" that you want to have - you
want to catch a state record fish too. When you're developing your slogan
and your "pitch"...keep the "experience" lesson in mind. It will save
you a LOT of headaches!
Our last piece of advice for promoting tackle locally is to customize
your tackle to work at a specific fishing destination in your
area. For instance, say there are three lakes in your area that are big
among anglers...lets call them "Blue Lake", "Willow Pond",
and "Deer Marsh". If you develop three different lure patterns
and name the first "Blue Lake Bomber", the second "Willow
Pond Walker", and the third "Deer Marsh Diver", they'll
sell like hotcakes. Again, your customers are buying the ability to catch
fish...not fishing tackle. By customizing your lures to match the fishing
conditions of a certain body of water, you're essentially selling your
customers the ability to catch fish at that specific destination. That
"experience" is something they'll pay for, and assuming your
tackle is good, they'll keep coming back to you for more tackle that matches
that local body of water.
You need a product that catches the eye of anglers. The age old advice
that tackle is designed to "catch fishermen, not fish" is true. Your tackle
needs to be catchy and unique enough to make customers want to use it.
The better the finish, packaging or color combination, the more you'll
sell. If your tackle doesn't look clean, crisp, and of high quality, it
won't sell. Even if it's the greatest lure in the world and catches dozen
of fish, nobody will ever know because it won't move off the shelves at
the local tackle shop.
Also, remember that your packaging is part of the product. If the lure
is wrapped in an old plastic bag, that won't be very appealing to your
customers. If you can't afford to buy blister packaging or worm bags,
think about other creative ways to display your baits. One of the best
lure displays I've seen is a foot high piece of coral mounted on driftwood
with a logo plate. The lures were hung off the coral on small hooks, ready
for the picking. The whole display probably cost about $20 to make and
caught the eye of every fisherman who walked past that counter.
The fishing industry is all about personality. You'll need to be able
to strike up conversations with everyone you meet to promote your products.
Like any business, you'll need to network, network, network! Get into
the habit of asking everyone you meet if they fish. If they do, let them
know that you're in the business and ask them to try out your tackle.
Carry around business cards with your contact information and give them
to everyone you meet!
We can't emphasize enough how important this part of your business is
to your success. If you're not comfortable socializing, then try to partner
up with someone who is.
You'll need to price your tackle competatively, even if it means loosing
money at first. Over time you'll be able to buy your supplies in bulk
and your costs will go down. Tackle that is priced too high won't sell...and
if it does sell, it won't be used for fear of losing it (thus no repeat
business). By the same token, neither will tackle that is priced too low.
As a general rule, you should keep your products within 10% of the going
market price for similar items. Remember...the best way to make money
in the fishing industry is by moving large volumes of affordable tackle,
not small volumes of expensive tackle!
planning on selling your tackle through wholesalers or dealers, you'll
need to develop a dealer price list. Start with the retail price of your
tackle and then subtract 30%. That gives you the dealer price. Then subtract
30% of the dealer price from the dealer price. That gives you the wholesale
price. For example, let's assume that you make a lure that retails for
$5.99. To get the dealer price, you subtract 30% from $5.99 (30% of $5.99
is $1.79). You end up with $4.20 - so your price to dealers is $4.20.
Now to get the wholesale price, you subtract 30% from $4.20 (30% of $4.20
is $1.26). You end up with $2.94 - so your price to wholesalers is $2.94.
out your profit per lure, you subtract your cost for making the lure from
the wholesale price. Let's assume that it costs you $1.50 to make and
package the lure. $2.94 minus $1.50 equals $1.44 - so your profit per
lure is $1.44. Also, keep in mind that many wholesalers or dealers require
larger margins, thus leaving you with smaller profits. Some of the large
catalog retailers will not carry a product unless they can double their
money on it.
It takes time to build a business and you'll experience great times and
scary times. Some customers will love you and some will hate you. It's
all part of the learning process. The key is to ride all of the experiences
out - don't get too excited by the "big breaks" and NEVER get depressed
about the problems you run into. Every great business faces challenges.
You have to learn from the mistakes and keep going. If you keep at it,
odd are that you'll learn the tricks you need to be successful.