Returning anglers are positive sign

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Just before Christmas, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) released some excellent results from its inaugural Lapsed Angler Recruitment Program. If you missed it, it’s definitely worthy of acknowledgement now because what positively impacts angling can be expected to also have an impact on boating.

Specifically, the results of the direct mail programs in Alabama and Colorado showed at least a 10 percent response rate from lapsed anglers and increased fishing license sales. Most states have seen license sales slowly decline in recent years and RBFF’s program is a major attempt to turn that around.

“We have been eager to release the first wave of results,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “And we are pleased to announce figures for Alabama and Colorado’s direct mail programs.”

Alabama’s effort included two mailings coinciding with local radio and online advertising. Approximately 70,000 lapsed anglers were sent a letter or postcard reminding them to buy a fishing license. It resulted in respondents purchasing a total of 7,365 licenses and permits that generated $104,135 in gross program revenue.

Colorado’s response rate was even higher at 12 percent. Its direct mail effort also included two mailings to about 34,000 lapsed anglers. The respondents purchased a total of 6,121 licenses and permits and generated $111,045 in gross program revenue. In both Alabama and Colorado, the response rate was well above the average of 1 percent - 2 percent. That’s normally considered good for any direct mail promotion.

RBFF launched this program in March 2008. Thirty state fish and wildlife agencies came on board as partners. To date, a whopping 210,000 fishing licenses and permits have been sold, according to data from the first 28 states. Response rates have ranged from 5 percent to 27 percent, generating $3.86 million in revenues for the state agencies so far.

I must admit I am constantly impressed by the achievements of RBFF. The Lapsed Angler Program is just one example. In fact, right now, with our industry’s “Discover Boating” campaign temporarily docked, the RBFF’s national outreach programs are clearly leading the way in increasing boating and fishing participation and we should be grateful for those efforts.

Here, then, is a New Year’s resolution you can keep: Take a look at what RBFF is doing AND, in particular, see the outstanding array of materials available for every dealer. I guarantee you’ll be impressed at what’s available to help you. Go to: www.rbff.org and click on Resources.

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