How To Be A Great Sports Agent: Marketing Pt. 4 – Forbes
The flow of information in today’s world has largely shifted to the Internet. The successful branding of an athlete requires a strategy to present them on the multiple platforms of content supply in an appealing way. Web experts can be helpful in designing and building the right website for an athlete. Interactivity with fans and the public is key. Back in the 90’s my firm built out a website called Athlete Direct which featured Michael Jordan, Ken Griffey Jr., Troy Aikman and others doing weekly diaries and chats that fans could access. Such sites have proliferated today.
Similar strategies need to be developed for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Linked In and Snapchat. Advertisers will ask how many followers an athlete has on each platform and this may drive the level of compensation. Devising ways to prolong interactions with the public are helpful. Contests, quizzes, and interesting content need to be supplied daily. Athletes need to understand that these forums are public and they need to be restrained in what they publish, lest they become embroiled in negative controversy.
When a strong brand is achieved it can be utilized for more than simple endorsements. Troy Aikman had his name on an auto mall in Dallas. All things being equal, a fan might want an Aikman license plate on his car, or an athlete’s name on his check. So ownership of a business where celebrity drives customers is possible. Numerous startups on the internet, or health and energy products can be driven by celebrity endorsements. The athlete can take equity in the business and profit from a liquidity event. An enterprising agent might figure out a way to package a reality show or competition show around an athlete or group of athletes and own an equity participation.
On a more mundane level, a brand can lead to deals for everything an athlete needs to live day to day. The irony is that those young men with the most money end up paying the least for everything. My younger partner Chris Cabott was able to secure deals with Frontier Airlines, a car dealership, a furniture dealership for Denver QB Paxton Lynch. Deals can be made for virtually anything an athlete needs to purchase.
A brand can be ruined in a minute by aberrational off-the-field behavior. An arrest or negative incident will be broadcast over and over. Repetitive viewing creates the impression that this was not a single incident but indicative of an athlete’s overall character. Many sports pages now have jurisprudence sections. Agents need to stress the danger of driving and alcohol, engaging in fights, aggressive behavior towards women, as well as racial or gender slurs. Preventive alternatives need to be suggested.
We insist on some form of a charitable tie-in with every major endorsement deal. A player needs to share his largesse with his hometown, college or professional city. Having a commitment to the welfare of the fans and the community should come first before trying to profit. That way, everyone benefits from marketing.