Athlete Brand Analysis: Mike Moustakas, MLB Third Baseman
What an 2018 offseason it was been for Mike Moustakas, the World Series Champion, two-time MLB All-Star and 2017 AL Comeback Player of the Year — who remained an unsigned free agent well into Spring Training.
Ultimately, he signed back with the Kansas City Royals, but took less money than he made during the 2017 MLB season.
While the seven-year pro's baseball talent, skills and performance will be the primary factor in generating the type of contract he and agent Scott Boras will likely seek again after this 2017 season, marketability has never been more important.
In order for Mike to command the most lucrative, player-friendly contract and generate additional, scalable off-field income now and in the future, he must position himself to better connect a team's fanbase, create measurable excitement on and off the field, and move the bottom line with more than just his on-field attributes.
In the age of the Internet, bringing this "added value" to the plate is more likely to influence general managers and team owners to sign a player, especially in a less-than-player-friendly offseason. At the end of the day, teams are looking for a return on their investment that goes beyond the foul lines.
Mike's Athlete Brand Scouting Report
✅ Official accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
✅ Good balance between on- and off-field content in his social media posts
✅ Guest publishing via The Players' Tribune
AREAS OF CONCERN:
❌ 378,000 follower count (as of March 7, 2018) is far below the average for all-star athletes like Mike
❌ Lacks a website, blog, email marketing program, podcast and YouTube channel
❌ Lack of activity on Facebook, and inconsistent activity on Twitter and Instagram
❌ Lacks a professional logo, a staple for any athlete brand
❌ Lacks Mike's complete life story in his social media posts
❌ Lacks six of the eight Internet-based revenue streams, including a membership club, e-commerce, affiliate marketing, revenue sharing, online advertising, and original content
For Mike to maximize his value to the Royals and potentially other MLB teams, the league, sponsors, marketing deals and other stakeholders now and in the future, here are four high-level strategies he can start deploying today:
1. Scale the number of followers across Mike's digital footprint.
To increase his number of followers so that he increases his worth to an MLB team, Mike should consider the following:
- Develop strategic engagement campaigns and digital brand activations that encourage fans to engage in social sharing, therefore exposing his athlete brand to significantly more people
- Leverage the four brand association models to strategically reach fans who engage with the team he plays for, the league he plays in, the sport he plays, and the city he plays in
- Create a Converged Media Strategy that combines earned, owned, paid and rented media to generate more exposure, followers and engagement at scale
2. Create additional opportunities through which Mike's growing fanbase can interact and engage with him.
First things first, every athlete (Mike included) should be active and engaging on all the platforms their fans use. Since Mike is only active on Instagram and Twitter at the time this guide was published, he should open an official account and YouTube and become active on Facebook.
If used effectively, a website and blog are game-changers for athlete brands, because they enable athletes to strategically:
- Publish original content that provides fans with a variety of lenses through which they vicariously experience an athlete's life on and off the field — a proposition that deepens the athlete-fan relationship and maximizes the value of an athlete brand
- Capture extensive fan data, which can be leveraged in negotiations with teams, sponsors and other stakeholders
- Generate additional, scalable income for the athlete via online advertising, sponsored content, e-commerce, and affiliate marketing (e.g. Amazon Associates Program)
- Enhance the fan experience, which creates a unique value proposition that can be leveraged in negotiations with teams, sponsors and other stakeholders
The other benefit of a website and blog is enhanced search engine optimization, since original content will appear in relevant searches more often, ultimately driving more people to an athlete's website.
In terms of podcasting, audio-only content pays dividends (literally) for an athlete brand, including online advertising (podcast sponsors) and sponsored content. Not to mention, it's a tremendous opportunity to further connect with fans, and vice versa.
3. Build an email marketing program.
While email marketing seems like it's been around forever, it's still one of the most effective forms of marketing, primarily because it falls under the most reliable type of media: owned media. It also happens to be a grossly overlooked and untapped marketing avenue by athletes.
Email marketing is more than a force to be reckoned with, because nearly every one of the billions of Internet users on this planet has an email address — which gives athletes like Mike yet another touchpoint to connect and engage with their fanbase.
The more touchpoints an athlete creates with his or her fanbase, the more opportunities the athlete has to develop strong, massively profitable relationships with their current and future fans.
Plus, email addresses are one of the most coveted online data points; the more fan data athletes have in their possession, the more money they can generate from teams and sponsors.
4. Create additional, scalable income streams via Mike's athlete brand.
While team contracts and sponsorship deals are an integral part of an athlete's overall income, there are several more opportunities to generate additional, scalable income via an athlete brand.
And, the best part is: Athletes no longer have to put all of their financial destiny in the hands of teams and sponsors, which don't always have the athletes' best interest in mind.
For Mike, these income streams include:
- Social media revenue sharing (e.g. YouTube Partner Program and Facebook Instant Articles)
- Advertising on his website (e.g. Google AdSense)
- Affiliate marketing programs
- A membership club
- Guest publishing
- Comprehensive, long-lasting digital sponsorship and endorsement packages
By building a strategic athlete brand that matches his on-field success, Mike Moustakas will strategically position himself to maximize his next player contract, attract a trove of sponsors, and tremendously scale his off-field income — both today and in the future.
* Source: Sport Management Review