21 Feb A Guide on How to Market An Athlete: Right Branding For Athletes And Teams (Part 1 of 6)
Athletes have always been part of the great American pop culture, playing the role of iconic figures that cultivated communities of fans, built families and inspired subcultures. But behind the gargantuan success of major players are strategies that don’t involve endless hours of training or running. If you’ve been wondering how your favorite players in professional sports built their stellar career, here’s your crash course into marketing an athlete!
Most people have wondered why some players remain popular despite hitting the peaks of their athletic careers — and the answer to this commonly asked question? Athlete Branding. Though this may seem like a relatively new term, it’s definitely not a newly discovered phenomenon.
Sports agents behind well-established teams and players have been doing this for a very long time. The only difference now is that with the evolving times, branding for sports players has gone above and beyond stellar athletic performance and selling a product or a business.
Defining An Elite Player’s Best Branding
Though there’s yet to be an official definition for the term, experts define it as the public persona of a player who has established his or her own symbolic meaning or value for their name. In contrast to the early years of personal branding that was seen to revolve around endorsement contracts alone, marketers have discovered great opportunities off-field that could help individual players earn the support they need — financially and morally.
With their growing relevance to the American culture, their salaries have increased as well. Furthermore, they have found new benefits brought by increased exposure.
Marketing Professional Players And Teams Online
It’s a well known fact that public relations matter a lot for players and sports teams. As a matter of fact, it has cultivated subcategories like athlete marketing and sports team promotion — and each subclass have their respective fields of expertise.
The sudden expansion on ways of marketing a professional player is most likely because of the change in consumerism. Marketers in the sports industry have admitted that selling tangible products no longer works on a sports fan, you now have to sell the intangible — which then led to the increased importance of branding in sports.
Branding elite players might seem like this intimidating process that only sports marketing experts can do, but knowing the basics of athlete branding can help you get started! Here’s your first three steps on how to market a professional player.
Know Whose Hero You’ll Be
Athletes are commonly looked up to as heroes by most fans — and once upon a time, you had your own hero too as a fan. So before you start connecting with an audience, you must have a deep understanding of who you want to have a connection with.
Don’t be afraid to spend time figuring out who your target market is. Because regardless of whether your a college player or a professional player, all of your marketing efforts won’t mean a thing if you’re not speaking to the right fan.
Get to know your targeted audience and start building your community there. Once you get to know the fans better, you can elevate your brands afterwards. Your team’s established presence in the field remains to be important — as a matter of fact, it offers advantages that could help your brand further as it navigates through newer paths.
Know Your Social Platform Better and Own It
In contrast to the early days when the Internet didn’t mean as much as it does now, players had limited platforms they can use to reach out to fans. And as much as they wanted to connect with everyone who wanted to connect with them, they didn’t really have much choice.
But now, players can easily reach out to their biggest fans in the most personal way possible — through social media! Social media management in sports now plays a major role in its overall marketing strategies. Players increase fan awareness by constantly connecting with their audience through platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Evidently, it has proven itself to be a great channel to increase brand awareness and cultivate a following. For instance, the business world has made the most out of digital marketing by gaining attention through innovative campaigns. While this may be true, there’s an entire separate conversation that needs to be had on content and digital marketing as well as why content matters..
Unfamiliar Paths in Promoting Athletes Online
A point often overlooked in terms of sports digital marketing in general is that it starts and ends with social media and a page. When in reality, modern technology and the internet has opened up several new paths to success!
After creating your respective social media accounts, you can start working on your website! A large majority of sports teams or players have their own websites but not each one has the fundamentals needed for it to be optimized.
One great way of ensuring your website contributes in meeting your campaign’s goals is making sure it’s SEO ready! Search Engine Optimization is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic and attention to your website through organic search engine results.
Ensuring your sports brand’s website has the fundamentals it needs to be optimized doesn’t end in updating its web design — though there’s another conversation that you need to have for onsite technical optimization and great UX.
Ranking also means your team should strive to have great targeted content! Though people often confuse both methodologies as separate strategies, they actually overlap a lot. For instance, for Google to identify your sports team’s website, it needs content. And content means keywords, verbiage, and useful information that could cement your website as a great source of data!
With the intention of cementing your online presence further, you can also start exploring the world of PPC Advertisement! Most sports marketing campaigns often start planning their Pay-per-click Ads once their SEO efforts has taken shape.
It must be remembered that SEO is the organic way of ranking in search engines. By ensuring that your web design has all the optimization fundamentals needed and the help of great content, your website earns traffic organically. Contrastingly, Pay-per-click is paid way of getting traffic instantly — think advertisements but on the internet!
Sports teams who want to improve the results of their SEO campaigns come into the aid of PPC ads. Most sports marketers view them as strategies that benefit one another. For example, PPC helps SEO gain the traffic they might’ve lost while search engine optimization helps your pay-per-click campaign with the credibility it has built for your brand over the years.
Brands who hope to make the most out of their digital marketing use both together. For one, they use keyword data they have gathered through their PPC campaigns to seek out SEO opportunities. Contrastingly, those confined by a budget can use their organic data to come up with PPC ads that sticks to their budget.
Furthermore, pay-per-click can support the creative content of a brand’s website by implementing sitelinks! Sports marketers can also immediately see which content works and what doesn’t.
It may be tempting to just stick with spending your well-earned money into PPC ads for its agile results but nothing beats SEO in laying the foundations of a credible brand. While it may be true that it’s a long-term strategy, it’s results are guaranteed to be for long term as well.
Old Channels And New
Undoubtedly, the internet has presented several brand new channels to the modern day sports marketer. Be that as it may, it doesn’t mean traditional platforms should be forgotten that easily. The following your sports team has built over the years can be leveraged as the ultimate foundation of your marketing efforts.
For instance, you can gather data from your fans on what matters for them. Having enough data on what works for your target audience and what doesn’t can give you plenty of ideas and tactics for branding your players. Additionally, it guarantees your players that they’ll immediately receive support from people should they engage in new endorsements and other advertising deals!
All things considered, your sports marketing campaigns should still cover the field presence your sports team — or at — already has in order for them to successfully have an athlete brand. It must be remembered that branding is achieved through consistent delivery of messages. Should your campaign falter in one channel, your efforts could fail.
Consistency And Online Content
Marketing experts have said it before and they will say it again, content matters. Content marketing remains to be one of the most effective long-term campaigns yet not everyone seems to realize its importance.
It must be remembered that brand image is all about cultivating a good reputation. And this wouldn’t be possible without curated content showcasing your athletic performance and great personality! For instance, quite a number of players have made use of Youtube to release exclusive behind the scenes look before certain events like triathlons or special workout videos. Additionally, some players have made use of their personal accounts on Instagram and Twitter to interact with their fans.
There are about a dozen kinds of content that you can create but it would be best if your focus on at least three that’s tailored fit for every platform. By doing so, you can easily balance cultivating your brand while training for your next games.
Why Online Marketing for Players And Teams Matters
It’s not hard to understand why most brands — regardless of their industry — see digital marketing as a pivotal factor in their success.
Today’s younger generation spends more than 12 hours each day interacting with their devices and this includes their laptops and computers. Anyone who wants to connect or catch the attention of their target audience and the general public is well-suited to this type of marketing. As a matter of fact, fans aren’t the only ones constantly on the internet — even sponsors have become frequent visitors of social media sites!
Sports brands and other businesses hoping to sponsor teams or players want to partner up with players that have great online presence. With this in mind, businesses would go out of their way to check out teams and other professional players before offering up a contract.
It must be remembered that they see sponsorships as additional investments that can take their respective promotional efforts to the next level. They take this seriously — and it makes total sense why.
Social Media And Sponsors
For one, influencer marketing is now viewed as a professional strategy that almost every brand out there uses. The tactic is especially attractive when it comes to fitness and sports brands. Just like the old days, avid sports fans and even normal consumers who want to lead an athletic life look up to professional players for suggestions on which products or brands to use. Having a large following on social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter gives you and your team an advantage when it comes to sponsorships and endorsement deals.
Another key point to remember is that influencer marketing actually pays in sustainably. Not only is it a key tool for expanding online presence, it actually brings in cash for both players and sponsors. For instance, long-term partnerships between Michael Jordan and Nike as well as Adidas and David Beckham have showcased the several benefits influencer marketing has if done correctly.
This is one of several reasons as to why sponsors now value online presence more than ever. If your sports team has great presence on social media and are constantly engaging with their fans, there’s a high chance that brands will gather around you for sponsorships.
Raising The Value of Brand Sponsorships With Social Media
Leverage your brand’s social media presence by creating content that benefits both parties. You can also share your sponsor’s message through your team’s post or your player’s post. Ensure that all affiliated accounts are active and are consistently engaging with fans. By doing so, your brand will attract more businesses faster.
Sports marketers believe that influencer marketing will only grow further in the future. Not to mention that the bond between sports fans and sports brands continues to expand at the same time. Hence, it’s only apt that you leverage the sources you already have to bring in more sponsorships!
The Best Teamwork Makes The Dreamwork
Branding players takes a lot more than just replying to tweets and giving out shoutouts on Instagram. Cultivating a brand image for players takes a while and without the proper guidance, it’s easy to get lost in different viral marketing strategies.Thankfully, there are sports digital marketing companies more than willing to help you out reach all of your goals, like Creatitive!
And to start, we’ve created a six-part series on branding athletes and sports teams. If you want to learn more about branding players the right way, then stay tuned!