How Athletes Can Scale Revenues and Profits with Paid Media [Exclusive]

  Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

What if athletes could better connect with their fans and massively profit from these relationships using an automated, highly accurate system?

Actually, they can. This system is known as paid media (advertising), and it contains some of the most untapped strategies for building, scaling, monetizing and massively profiting from an athlete brand.

Why would an athlete invest in advertising?! you might be asking yourself.

It's simple: For athletes to become athlete brands, athletes must operate like brands, which benefit from higher-than-average price-points, more consumer attention and greater customer loyalty.

If athletes want to drive higher-than-average revenues associated with their athlete brand, attract more fan attention, and garner greater fan loyalty, they must operate like a brand.

With this in mind, here are four paid media strategies for athletes:

1. Search Engine Advertising

Assuming the athlete has a website — without a website, an athlete isn't really an athlete brand — the goal is to drive as many fans to the website as possible.

However, when you do a Google search for any given athlete who has a website, the chances of this athlete's website appearing on the first page, or even in the top half of the first page, are slim at best. Instead, the first page will usually display the athlete's statistics, relevant news stories, and perhaps his or her Wikipedia page.

To drive as many fans as possible to an athlete's website when they search for the athlete, create a pay-per-click advertising campaign (e.g. Google AdWords, Bing ads) that will place the athlete's website at the top of the search page.

The cost of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is based on the supply and demand of bids for the same, or similar, keywords (i.e. the athlete's name). Therefore, the cost-per-click (CPC) for an athlete's name should be relatively low more often than not, and the athlete is only charged when someone actually clicks on the ad.

The key is to develop a push-and-pull system that decreases the investment in and reliance on a PPC campaign over time; the "push" is the PPC campaign, and the "pull" is an email marketing program that is designed to strategically capture a high percentage of website visitors' email addresses. After all, it's more cost-effective and scalable to drive website visitors from email marketing than from search engine advertising.

2. Remarketing

When fans visit an athlete's website, the athlete can "follow" them around the Web and onto various social media channels, for the purpose of strategically showing them advertisements.

This is especially beneficial for athletes who have e-commerce operations — since they can leverage "remarketing" to upsell and/or cross-sell relevant products to existing website visitors who may have visited their online shops.

Even for athletes who don't utilize the Direct-to-Fan Model, there are many "remarketing" opportunities to consider. For example, if an athlete wants to run a promotion, giveaway or any type of campaign, targeting website visitors is usually more cost-effective and will drive more satisfying results, as opposed to targeting random fans.

To remarket to an athlete's website visitors, consider Facebook and/or Instagram (using the Facebook pixel), Twitter and Google AdWords.



3. Objective-Specific Actions

Unlike traditional PR and offline media, which are great for boosting awareness but can lack measurable objectives, social media provides unparalleled opportunities to drive specific, tangible actions.

For example, you can run a paid social media campaign to generate video views, mobile app downloads, a list of fans' email addresses and other data points, event sign-ups, website visits, or product sales.

Plus, you'll know exactly how many people took the desired action (e.g. 34,521 video views), and how much each action cost (e.g. $0.12 per video view), so you can stay within your budget and optimize for best results.

4. Sponsored Content

Sponsored social media posts can be used for a host of reasons, such as:

  • Exposing a piece of content to more fans
  • Launching new products (e-commerce)
  • Announcing a new brand partnership
  • Running a giveaway or promotion


With the unprecedented amount of information that social media networks possess, and the depth of metrics and accuracy the provide, athletes can hyper-target fans who are most likely to take a desired action — so as to minimize the monetary investment involved.

About the Authors:

Michael Rasile is a marketing professional for athletes and sports brands looking to get out and get noticed.

Whitney Holtzman is the CEO of Social Victories, where she advises athletes, teams and other sports entities about the latest marketing strategies.

Josh Hoffman heads up strategy at The Institute for Athlete Branding and Marketing.

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