Rust Belt, USA is home of some of the finest fisheries the world over. When we began our journey as producers of fishing and hunting gear of and for this community of anglers, we couldn’t afford to sponsor big fishing tournaments like established manufacturers will often do. Not the kind of events you can’t even donate products to for raffle giveaways if you don’t also fork out cash donations anyway. But what we could do, and what we did do was walk the docks and strike up conversations with as many charter boat captains and other seafaring participants of these tournaments as would lend their ears.
Among the first tournaments we pounded dock planks at was the 2021 Ludington Offshore Classic in Mason County, MI. Based on the feedback and social media tags we received on day two of the tournament, HangryBrand lures caught two (2) of eight (8) fish for the Pentwater charter boat ‘The Punisher;’ as well as one (1) of seven (7) fish for the Cherokee boat out of Ludington, ‘Pull Hard.’ A pretty great inauguration considering only nine (9) lines can be used during the tournament and two thirds (6 out of the 9) of those are reserved for meat rigs and flies :). We got off to a great start. Speaking of having more lines in the water, the importance of emails and flyers shouldn’t be overlooked either.
Before you can send an html email or mail a tri-fold, full-color flier you’ll need a list of company names, contacts, and either physical addresses or email addresses. Which begs the question, if you can’t afford to purchase said lists, where does the information for potential clients come from? In a word, WORK. You would be surprised what you can locate on the web over the course of 6+ months if you use every free moment you have to scour the internet for contact information for tackle shops (hint: some of your competitors no doubt do a nice job of letting everyone - you included - know every store who sells their products. That's a great place to start ;)). The second half of the equation is keeping accurate and organized records of the leads you find. Google sheets is a great resource for this. You can download xls or csv files and use them to create email lists and mailing labels.
By the fall of 2021 our sales throughout the US and Canada had started to pick up to the point where revenue that wasn't being pumped back into purchasing raw materials and the like, could be used to buy a gently used trade show booth to be retro-fitted with our brand’s logo and colors. So that’s what we did. We scraped up enough money to put together a very clean looking expo presentation and pay the exhibitor fees and hotel room costs, and got to work.
The first Expo we attended with our brand-new-used booth in tow was the Ultimate Fishing Show, Novi, MI in January of 2022. The show was four days and a ton of fun. Products that we brought to the show included the following brands: Trophy Boards™, Gill Cleats™, D.Spoolers™, and 7-in-1 Tin Pack™. Among the fan favorites at the show, the 7-in-1 Tin Pack sold out nearly a full day before the show even ended. We didn’t quite know what to expect, but we had figured - wrongly - that bringing a few hundred lures would be enough for our first show. With our first fishing show a success, we asked ourselves, what’s next.
What’s next indeed. The proceeds from our first fishing expo we parlayed into becoming a member of the ASA (American Sportfishing Association) and will be attending our first dealer only show in Orlando, FL. It just so happens that for our second show we chose the largest dealer show in the US! HangryBrand, booth number 4738, will be exhibiting at the July, 2022 ICast show! With five (5) patents under our belt [a whole story in it’s own right which we’ll reserve for another time] we plan on entered seven (7) new products into the ICast New Product Showcase competition:
1. New Custom Tackle and Components (our Lure Blanks),
2. New Novelties and Wellness (our Pocket/Gunnel Measuring Decal),
3. New Freshwater Hard Lures (our Custom RIFT Chatter Fishing Lure: 7-in-1 Tin Pack™),
4. New Saltwater Hard Lures (our Hydrofoil Fishing Lure: 7-in-1 Tin Pack™),
5. New Fishing Accessory (our Trophy Board™ w/ Eye Hook Apertures & Optional Custom Logo),
6. New Boating Accessory (our Gill Cleat™ Mindful Fish Handling), and
7. New Cutlery, Hand Pliers/Tools (our D.Spooler™ Cordless Drill Accessory).
We’ll always remember those first summer tournaments and the teams that took a chance with us. Likewise, there’s a special place in our heart for those first indoor winter expos; summer dealer events; outdoor fall trade shows; and all the folks we met when our booth was packed with inquisitive guests looking for something new, novel, and nuanced. Looking for something only rugged, free market capitalism can conjure up for them.
Happy fishing and Tight lines. Welcome to the Evolution,
Article written by Mike Hiller