This post is part four of our four-part, Ultimate Guide To Athlete Marketing series. Athlete marketing is our specialty at MarketPryce, where we empower hundreds of pro athletes and agents to connect with brands for marketing opportunities, and we are thrilled to be sharing many of the tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way.
If you want to view the whole guide, you can download it here for free!
Like most things in life, preparation is key when closing marketing deals with athletes. If you do not properly prepare by setting goals, your success rate will be close to zero. What goals should you be setting? Take a look at three of our favorite goals to set before working with an athlete below.
Increase Brand Awareness
Increasing brand awareness is one of the more difficult to measure goals you can have in an athlete marketing partnership, but is still very important & cannot be ignored. Brand awareness can be measured in many ways including but not limited to:
- Increase in social media following
- Increase in social media engagement
- Increase in website traffic/blog views
Who wouldn’t want any of the above bullet points for their businesses? However, like we mentioned, tracking brand awareness is difficult for most brands because it doesn’t lead to a direct return on your investment (ROI). If I spend $1,000 working with an athlete to post about my product on social media, how many followers do I need to gain to make this deal worth it? Just because you are spending more money than you are making in the short term, doesn’t mean these campaigns are a failure. As it’s far-reaching to see an increase in sales after brand awareness campaigns, you need to make sure you are crystal clear on what you should be tracking outside of direct sales heading into your campaign.
Before working with an athlete, make sure you fully understand how many followers your own social media accounts have and how much engagement they typically get on posts. Have a good feel for how much website traffic you get on a normal day, so you can understand if the athlete you worked with led to any more visitors (better yet any new visitors) coming to your website. At first, you are going to want to track any change no matter the size. If you increase your website traffic by 5% or increase your Twitter following by 10% within 48 hours of an athlete posting about your product, that’s great! Now keep working with more athletes and compare the results they all led to individually in order to understand what separates a “good” deal from a “not so good” one. Once you have a good feel for what delivers the best results, it’s time to scale those efforts.
Some of the best campaigns to increase brand awareness are:
- Product giveaways to increase social media followers + engagement
- Ask your followers a question to get a response (works best on Twitter)
The best campaign you can run with a professional athlete with a strong local presence would be to host an event where the athlete can attend and support your brand in person. This type of deal should include any (and ideally all) of the deliverables below:
- 1-3 social media posts before the event. Ideal timing would be a post two weeks before, a post one week before and a post the day before to make sure their followers do not miss the opportunity to meet them in person.
- What will the athlete do during the event? This seems simple, but you need to prepare to make the most out of it if you are going to pay an athlete to come to your retail store location. Will the athlete sign autographs if a fan comes with a jersey or ball they would like signed? Will the athlete be wearing a t-shirt that represents your brand? How long will the athlete be staying and will they be coming with any guests or agents? Will the athlete be making a speech? These are all questions that need to be discussed prior to the event and will most likely be taken into account when discussing a final cost for the athlete to appear. The fewer surprises you can have on the day of the event, the better.
- Find an athlete who wants to be there. It’s hard to believe, but even celebrity professional athletes can be shy too. Meeting hundreds or even thousands of fans can be overwhelming, so you need to do your research before choosing the right athlete. Is this athlete a rookie (19-21 years old) that will be more nervous than an older athlete who’s been to events like this in the past? Is this athlete who is charismatic on social media? You’ll want to make sure you find an athlete who is genuinely excited to meet fans and can use this event to do just that.
- One post after the event. This is not as necessary as the first three, but it shows that the athlete was authentically interested in the business and had a lot of fun showing up. You want to make sure your followers and the athlete’s followers believe the athlete wanted to be at your event and wasn’t forced to as he/she was paid for it. The more authentic this deal can look, the better.
The holy grail of any marketing campaign is making more money than you are spending. Unless you are the best marketer who has ever lived, it will be tough to run campaigns that drive a clear ROI right off the bat with no prior brand awareness. With that being said, once your customers already know about you, it’s time to get them to buy your stuff!
Some of the best campaigns to run to increase sales are:
- Product giveaways (yes, again). Giveaways, where the consumers need to purchase a product, download an app, or even comment on a post, can be extremely valuable, especially when the athlete is auctioning off a piece of memorabilia.
- Instagram story with a swipe up. Possibly the most frustrating part of Instagram is the fact that you can not include links in captions for posts. With the rise in popularity of Instagram stories, smart brands are having athletes ditch the in-feed post altogether for story posts. Not only post for Instagram stories more affordable than posts in the feed, but followers are able to “swipe up” on stories that can lead to a specific landing page for the consumer to purchase the product.
- Instagram shopping. In 2018, Instagram introduced a shopping feature that allows you to tag items in pictures as products, and then customers can check out from there. This is an organic method to encourage purchases that fit easily into your feed.
Increase Paid Ad Performance
The best ways to use athletes to increase paid ad performance are through reusing content in your ads and boosting your athlete ambassador’s post. Let’s take a look at both in more detail.
Reusing Content in Your Ads
Let’s not forget that preparation and setting goals are crucial when partnering with a professional athlete ambassador, especially for this paid ads section. The best way to do this is to get familiar with A/B testing. Let’s say you want to test reusing athlete content on Instagram. You will need to make sure that the only thing that is different between your two tests is the content (picture/video/caption) that you are using. If you are using the same target demographic, the same date & time you will run the ads, putting the same amount of money behind the ads, you will easily be able to see which ad performs better.
Boosting Sponsored Posts
While reusing content in your ads can be incredibly beneficial, boosting an already-sponsored post can drive even more business for you. I mean, would you rather get an ad from Calm App or Lebron James? Most athletes should have a Business account on Instagram (instead of a Personal account) so they can better service their brand partners in a multitude of ways – one example is allowing the athlete to run their own ads. Having an athlete put ad dollars behind their own post is not something you can get done very easily, but it is not impossible. Of course, you need to discuss this activity with the athlete/agent prior to any deal. They will most likely want more money or a percentage of the ad dollars you are sending them to share in the added benefits this will drive for your brand.