Marcus Peterson is a professional athlete and founder of MP Motivational Apparel. During his college career, he played football for Seton Hill University and was one of the team’s star athletes. After graduating, he played for the Iowa Barnstormers in the Indoor Football League and recently began competing in the National Football League for the Los Angeles Chargers as a Wide Receiver.
In addition to his remarkable athletic career, Marcus has made impressive progress in his entrepreneurial endeavors. He holds an MBA from the University of Derby, is a well-known international fashion model, and has successfully launched his own line of sports apparel.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Marcus and pick his brain. From our conversation, we were able to learn about his NFL career and success in the sportswear market, and also discover his thoughts on athlete branding and marketing.
Creatitive Sports Marketing Radio: Interview with Marcus Peterson
Zachary Colman: I want to thank you again for being on the podcast. My name is Zach Colman. I’m the owner of a web development and branding agency that focuses on helping athletes and helping athletic related businesses grow, be online, and their digital marketing efforts.
Zachary Colman: I really appreciate you being on. I reach out to athletes and have them tell me a little bit about their life story. And you definitely stood out to me with what you’re kind of doing right now with your website, your brand, your motivational camp, and your motivational T-shirt company. So I thought you would be a good person to have on.
Zachary Colman: So, why don’t you just tell me a little bit about yourself, and where you’re at in your career and your business.
Tell me a bit of your story and where you are at.
Marcus Peterson: My name is Marcus Peterson. I’m from Los Angeles, California. And basically, my journey is a little bit different. I went to school at a very small high school, then didn’t receive any football scholarships. So I had to work my way up. Then I finished college and didn’t get drafted for the NFL. So, instead, I worked out with the Cleveland Browns for a while. But I didn’t get signed. So I went overseas to play football and I obtained my MBA in London. I did that for a year. Then I came back and got recognition for my film from the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Los Angeles Chargers. Months went on, then I finally got signed in July of 2018 with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Marcus Peterson: So it was a story (and a miracle) of what persistence and hard work really mean. And recently, I decided to use that to tap into the sportswear market and create my own apparel line. I created a motivational apparel line that highlights the three to four mantras that stood out to me and what motivated me to become and enhance my global brand, make it to the NFL, as well as finish my MBA.
Zachary Colman: Are you still in school right now for your MBA?
Marcus Peterson: No. I graduated in December of 2017.
Zachary Colman: Oh nice. Well, kudos on that! That means you definitely have a higher understanding of the marketing side and that gives you a leg up when it comes to a lot of these businesses out there. So kudos on that on taking that on.
Marcus Peterson: Yes, definitely.
Zachary Colman: I also noticed you do a lot of online promotions towards a camp. So do you have a camp as well?
Marcus Peterson: Yeah. So like I said, I moved to London and that’s where I got my MBA and I was playing football still. My brand kind of started more on that side when it comes to the global brand part. So, I thought it’d be a good idea to circle back to where I feel like everything started, and to go back and give back to the youth out there in Europe. So, I just had my first European youth football camp in Darby, England, which is kind of right there on the outskirts. That was last month. I was really excited. About forty people came out, guys and girls. So it was really exciting for me and a huge milestone.
Zachary Colman: Nice! So, with where you’re at right now, what are you most excited about, as you grow and you’re doing all of these activities?
What are you most excited about today?
Marcus Peterson: Just checking off the list of what my goals are for the quarter as well as new opportunities, and being ready for them. That’s kind of what I’m excited about. I’m taking life day by day, but planning strategically on how I want to have my company branding and my personal brand, so it can have longevity in a positive manner.
Zachary Colman: So, how would you define that? What do you define as an epic athlete brand?
How do you define an epic athlete brand?
Marcus Peterson: Well, I can’t speak for other people. For myself, I would have to say… how Nike is “Just do it.” That’s their culture. McDonald’s is, I think, “I love seeing you smile.” Mine would definitely be “Defying all limitations.” So for my personal brand, defying limitation is what I’m passionate about. I’ve always been the kind of guy where if you say I can’t do something, then I have to go out of my way to do it. I make sure that I can prove myself right too. And, not just listen to man but listen to what God has set for me. That’s kind of what my culture is, and the definition of what my athletic and company branding will be.
Zachary Colman: It’s definitely a grind. I definitely relate a lot to the Gary V. way, where it’s all about persistence and hard work. It doesn’t come easy. It’s not free. It takes time. It takes money. It takes work.
Marcus Peterson: Yeah, definitely.
Zachary Colman: So, when you look at other athletes, and I know you said something earlier about only speaking for yourself, what’s the one thing that you think that more athletes should be doing when it comes to growing their athletic brand?
When you look across the athlete brand landscape, what’s the one thing you think more athletes should be doing?
Marcus Peterson: I think everyone’s different. I kind of had my progression and my maturity grow because I did everything before I made the NFL, so I was a late bloomer. I was twenty-five years old when I signed my first contract. That’s a little different. People who are like twenty-one and eighteen, nineteen, twenty-two, they kind of don’t have that gap or full-year experience that I had. So I think it’s understanding what your why is. What would you be doing if you didn’t have football, or who are you doing it for? I think that’s where they should start and then go from there.
Zachary Colman: So with that said, since you did have time in the NFL and you’re building your own apparel line, what would be some advice that you would give others? And I know you kind of just said, “Hey, build upon yourself and what you want to do.” But, being an athlete gives you the ability to leverage some of that…we’ll just say the “free marketing” aspect of having your name out there a little bit more than a lot of businesses.
What’s your best advice for athletes who want to leverage their personal brands?
Marcus Peterson: Yeah, definitely. I would say take advantage of the free platforms that we have, which are our following on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I tapped into LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook, and those are the three social media platforms that took me to the next level, as of February of this year. So understanding how they work, and as you said, I kind of understand the business and marketing side of things because I went to school for it, and I kind of learned it on an international level. I knew those things before it all happened, so it was perfect timing, not having to go learn how it works, but already knowing. And then once I got that platform, exhausting as much as I could. So I would say, just take full advantage of that, get a marketing team, learn as much as possible, and be kind to everyone. Know what deals you can use that you can see yourself in. Don’t just pick any type of deal or collaboration that just comes to the table. But, rather, have a good understanding of how it could benefit you in the long run.
Zachary Colman: Yeah, definitely. And that kind of went into my next question here. Out of those tools, out of those social platforms, which one do you feel is your number one go-to when it comes to helping your business grow?
What’s the number-one tool you’re using right now?
Marcus Peterson: Right now, I would definitely have to say LinkedIn. For me, it would definitely have to be LinkedIn. Because of what it stands for, I kind of understand how the concept works for it. So LinkedIn has kind of been the best route for me as far as business exposure. Instagram is cool as more of a millennial-type of thing, but LinkedIn is more of a connection. Everybody’s kind of on the same page. So as of right now, lately, I would definitely have to say LinkedIn would be first and then Instagram would be second.
Zachary Colman: Yeah, I definitely think LinkedIn really helps. And you’re the third athlete to bring that up to me. It steps that boundary. It really helps athletes connect with businesses that are in their field, are willing to help, or are able to connect. It’s not just dealing with the fan base who are trying to reach out to you and talk about that latest touchdown. So I agree with you 100%. I’ve been utilizing LinkedIn a lot more myself lately just to reach a larger audience and try to build my business slowly. So with that being said, and with what you’ve learned, what do you feel, based on your knowledge and expertise in the NFL and sportswear market, that the future entails for athlete branding and marketing? I know we’ve mentioned you leveraging yourself on the field and building yourself up through social platforms. But where do you see the future headed when it comes to athletes understanding how to grow with an athletic business?
Based on your knowledge and expertise, what’s the future of athlete branding and marketing?
Marcus Peterson: I think understanding the business first. You have to understand that your platform is very limited and your temperature is hot for only a certain amount of time. So you need to exhaust as much use as you can while your temperature is hot. If you have a number one song on the charts, you need to be getting as many deals, and as many screening pop-ups as much as possible, because you might not have that same temperature eight months from now. So, once you understand that your temperature is hot, you definitely need to be working harder to create longevity for yourself. Because if you just let it go, those are the people who are like one-hit wonders.
Zachary Colman: Yeah, definitely
Marcus Peterson: Understanding that once you have that momentum and that temperature, knowing how to strategize. But, you have to do it before you get it. What I did was… I always had an inkling and I knew that my time was coming, so I was ready and prepared for it. So I came up with the brand months before I launched it. And I knew that I was going to sign that contract. Once I did, the very next day, boom, that’s when I launched it because it all made sense. So I had a strategic plan before. So not just doing things just to do it, but understanding and being ready for when that time comes. So people will go viral, but you have to be ready for that type of lifestyle. Because some people just go viral and don’t know what to do and how to use it. And then their fifteen minutes of fame is up. But understanding how and why, and your strategic moves, so that when it does happen, you know who you need to be in contact with.
Zachary Colman: It’s all a process and it definitely can be pretty intimidating, especially when you’re focused so much on training and practice, and you’re kind of doing one thing. And I 100% agree with you. At the end of the day, like I tell a lot of the athletes that I work with, it’s like a business. It’s a conversion standpoint. You have to think about those followers, people that could be buying your product. Or like you said, you have to leverage your one hit and kind of say, “Hey, how am I going to leverage this?” Because at the end of the day, businesses
(in general) pay a lot of money to have a team behind them to bring leads to their website, bring leads to build their presence online. So as an athlete, take advantage of it while you’re still in there, build a process, build a team, do stuff like that. Because that can definitely help you have a leg ahead of your competition when it comes to what you’re doing, whether it’s starting a sports apparel business, furthering your athletic career, or something else.
Marcus Peterson: And that’s why I really respect, and people might not agree…but on the sportswear marketing side, how the Kardashians go about their business when it comes to being marketing gurus. They’ve been a topic and they’ve been in the headlines for almost fifteen years now. But that’s because they have a strategic plan and a great team, and they know how to do it. So athletes like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Odell Beckham, Jr. …to me, branding-wise, Odell Beckham probably doesn’t need to play another NFL snap. After he caught that catch in New York, it changed his life. It could have just been a one-week highlight, but he had the right team and the right brand who knew what they were doing. And look at him now. It’s really an understanding of when it does happen and being ready for it.
Zachary Colman: Yeah, definitely. And I totally agree with you 100% on that. With that said, let me know some of your platforms and URLs so that we can tell the audience where they can find you!
Marcus Peterson: Yes, definitely. So my Instagram is @marcustpeterson. My LinkedIn, of course, is Marcus Peterson. My YouTube is Marcus Peterson. You can find me on Facebook as well. But my website is www.mpmotivationalapparel.com. You can find me on Google under “Marcus Peterson”. I really appreciate everything and I just want to connect with any and everyone who is looking to benefit and also change the world.
Zachary Colman: Yeah, definitely. Well, thanks again for being on the podcast. I really appreciate it!
Marcus Peterson: Thank you for reaching out, Zach. I really appreciate it!