Why NFL Player Engagement Should Invest in Athlete Branding and Marketing
Player Engagement, an initiative of the NFL, was set up to promote the personal and professional growth of players and their families before, during and after their NFL service.
Nowadays, developing and monetizing an athlete brand via the Internet and its auxiliary tools is the most scalable, efficient and profitable way for athletes to drive personal and professional growth.
As it relates to NFL Player Engagement and its beneficiaries, this opportunity takes three forms:
- Student-Athletes: Equip soon-to-be NFL players with the know-how and resources to build and scale an athlete brand that maximizes their value (marketability) to NFL teams and the league as a whole.
- NFL Players: Equip current players with the know-how and resources to build and scale an athlete brand that increases their influence, marketability and additional income via the most advanced, scalable and profitable digital monetization opportunities.
- NFL Alumni: Equip former players with the know-how and resources to build and scale an athlete brand that increases their post-playing career influence, marketability and additional income via these same digital monetization opportunities.
The issue, however, is that these three groups of athletes lack the proper education and resources to turn the Internet and its auxiliary tools (e.g. social media, a website and blog, email marketing) into optimal value, influence, marketability, and additional, scalable income. (Just ask an athlete if he's ever heard of the Team Association Model, an Integrated Content Strategy, or the Converged Media Model.)
This is precisely why it's in NFL Player Engagement's vested interest to equip its constituents with the proper education and resources, so players can take advantage of modern-day athlete branding and marketing practices to maximize their earnings potential during and after their NFL playing careers.
In other words, the more a future, current or past NFL player can keep fans hyper-engaged at scale, the more these fans will stay engaged with the overall NFL brand, as well as the individual brands of its teams. The result: better NFL ratings, higher ticket and merchandise sales, and an increase in the plethora of other direct and indirect income streams.
Here are four ways (and a "bonus") in which NFL Player Engagement can invest in athlete branding and marketing, for its own benefits and gains:
1. Create and publish an NFL brand handbook.
While most NFL front office staff members probably know the NFL and individual teams' brand strategies, brand values, et cetera, how many NFL players are familiar and privy to this information? And, more importantly, how many of these players know how to strategically use this information within their own personal brands, so that it further exposes and advances the NFL and its teams' brands?
By creating an easy-to-understand handbook (print or digital) that clearly defines the NFL brand values, brand strategy, co-branding opportunities, unique value propositions, and other branding and marketing fundamentals — as well as how players can interweave these aspects into their personal brands — NFL Player Engagement will better position the league and its teams to scale their brands (and profits) via future, current and past players.
2. Develop co-branding opportunities.
Using the Player-Team Association Model (PTAM) — which increases brand equity — NFL Player Engagement should use its existing media production and distribution capabilities to develop creative, massively profitable co-branding opportunities that portray future, current and past players through a 360-degree lens. After all, the average fan cares just as much (if not more) about what players do away from the gridiron, compared to what they do on it.
By strategically enhancing this 360-degree lens, NFL Player Engagement will further strengthen player-fan relationships and therefore player-fan-team relationships, ultimately creating more engaged fans for players, teams and the league as a whole.
3. Provide intensive training programs for rookies.
As incoming players become first-time professionals, it's imperative for them to know how to take advantage of the short window of opportunity they have to build and scale their athlete brand.
This includes deep-dive lessons into the fundamentals of personal branding, digital media and marketing — with actionable, practical resources that enable these players to cultivate an innovative, scalable and massively profitable athlete brand which best positions them to maximize their earnings potential and other financial opportunities.
4. Offer seminars and hands-on training to all players.
While non-rookie NFL players likely have a larger online following based on more public exposure, most of them also lack proper, actionable education within personal branding, digital media and marketing — often the missing link between professional athletes and innovative, scalable, massively profitable athlete brands.
By offering seminars and hands-on training that delve into comprehensive, high-level strategies and implementable tactics, NFL Engagement will ensure more of their players take full advantage of this short window of opportunity, which ultimately benefits the team for which they play (and therefore, the league).
BONUS: The Hub-and-Spokes Model
The Hub-and-Spokes Model is designed to drive considerable revenues and profits for NFL Player Engagement, while strategically positioning it to further leverage the athlete brands of future, current and past players.
In short, this model starts with a branded online media property (the hub), which is operated by NFL Player Engagement. Using the right combination of strategies, tactics and tools to minimize the investment of resources and maximize profits, the hub produces and distributes original content that further promotes and strengthens the value of future, current and past players (the spokes) and their athlete brands.
Simultaneously, these players (the spokes) promote and strengthen the exposure, engagement and therefore monetary value of the hub — by virtue of participating in and sharing the original content — creating a virtuous cycle between NFL Player Engagement and future, current and past players.