Engaging a brand ambassador who is a sports star could take your brand, campaign or event to a new level. But how do you know you have the right fit, and what constitutes a good deal? Pickstar co-founder and CEO James Begley gives KBB the lowdown.
Time and time again, we see one-off deals between businesses and sports stars turn into long-term relationships that pay off for both parties, for years to come.
As a business owner, the first thing you need to know is that elite athletes and sports personalities are always on the lookout for the right brand partnership. There are many opportunities for businesses of all sizes to work with sports stars.
But too many deals fall through because brands don’t understand how to pitch, secure and work with sports talent.
After facilitating more than 1200 deals through Picstar, Australia’s largest marketplace to book sports stars, here’s what we’ve learned about what it takes to win over a sports star.
Understand your purpose
Understanding the purpose of your sports star deal is key, for you and the talent.
Do you want your sports star to drive leads for a new campaign? Does your business want the talent to help you reach a new audience? Do you want the talent to build brand awareness? Having clear objectives will help you shape the talent brief and measure success, as well as giving the talent an understanding of the broader expectations.
2. Build a clear and succinct brief
Companies that provide a clear brief outlining their proposal and expectations get faster responses and decisions from sports talent – at PickStar we’ve completed some deals within an hour!
Alternatively, other clients contact us hoping to book a sports star but the details of their request are unconfirmed or vague. This is ok for an initial enquiry, but an athlete can’t make a decision about whether to take up your offer or not if they don’t have all of the details at hand.
Your brief doesn’t have to be long, and it isn’t an onerous process, you just need to cover the key facts and requirements. For example:
- Provide an overview of your business and what you’re trying to achieve
- Do you want to use the athlete’s image? Where? And for what period of time?
- Do you want the talent to appear at an event? How long for, where and what will they be required to do?
- Want the talent to post about your brand on social media? How many posts, over what time period and what type of content?
Based on the information you provide, the talent (sometimes with their manager) will weigh up the opportunity, the brand alignment, value and also any potential sponsorship conflicts.
The brief sets clear expectations for all involved. Don’t assume anything. As a rule, if you haven’t included a detail or request in the brief, the talent is under no obligation to do it!
3. Set your budget
At PickStar, we’re often asked for advice about budgets and rates for sports talent. What many people don’t realise is that most talent do not have a market rate or schedule of fees – they will weigh up every request on its merit.
We’ve learned that budget is just one factor in a talent’s decision-making process. They also consider their availability (do I have time for this opportunity?), location (do I have to travel?) and passion (am I interested in this brand, industry or cause?).
So, we always tell our clients to set their best budget and submit the request to their shortlist of talent for feedback. We’ve facilitated many amazing partnerships between brands and athletes where the budget was a minor factor – you don’t know if you don’t ask!
4. Be open-minded about talent
Perhaps the biggest tip is to be open-minded about your talent options. Don’t automatically go for the biggest sporting names in the country – the reality is, these athletes are inundated with requests and market forces, therefore, enable them to be very selective with their deals and command higher budgets.
The biggest name doesn’t always mean bang for buck, either. If the talent doesn’t have alignment with your brand and objectives, it doesn’t matter how much star power they have – you won’t get the business results you’re after.
Look for talent that is associated with your campaign purpose, brand values, interests and categories. Consider what the talent is known for, outside of their sport. This will help you find the perfect fit, not just the biggest star.
Build a shortlist. If one of your options are unavailable, you won’t have to go back to the drawing board. If multiple talent expresses interest in working with you, you get to choose!
5. Build a relationship
After doing a deal with your sports talent, look to build a relationship beyond just a transaction.
The most lucrative deal for a sports star is a long-term relationship. The world of sport can be unpredictable, and on-field careers are short. Talent are looking to build relationships with brands, and the people within companies, who can offer not only a payment but also skills and experiences that will help them in the next phase of their lives and careers.
There are many examples of brands having long-running partnerships, large and small, that deliver huge value for the business, the customers and the sports star. With a little planning, and strategic execution, there’s no reason why you too can’t enjoy the same success!