What the New NIL Rules Mean For Your Business, And how to make NCAA athletes part of your next marketing campaign
And just like that...everything has changed.
As of July 8, college athletes are free to partner with businesses who want to use their name and image to promote their product.
If you’re a small business owner, whether you follow college sports or not, this sudden change represents a whole host of opportunities if you’re wise enough to grab hold of them.
This new open field of sports sponsorship is quickly becoming competitive with the top athletes already signing on new sponsorships with hefty rates. Smaller companies will need to be strategic about where to spend and how to create relationships that extend beyond direct sponsorship dollars. Here’s how you can nurture relationships with college athletes to reap the full benefits of the recent change in NIL rules.
Provide a Great Product or Service
Yes, this might seem obvious. But the truth is, if you have been consistently providing a great product or service, student athletes in your town probably know about you already. Be the restaurant where college students love to hang out after a game. Stock the athletic gear that they need in your store. Provide delivery services to the campus. Any one of these simple commitments can make you a household name among local college students, greatly enhancing the likelihood that your favorite student athlete already knows who you are, and would be proud to act as a spokesperson.
Use Social Media
It’s common for popular student athletes to have thousands of social media followers. Once you secure their support, their brand becomes your brand. In other words, all those thousands of followers may also become yours, if you play your cards. So it’s to your advantage to begin interacting with fans via Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Follow student athletes and interact positively with fans. And make sure you are posting regularly about all the great things your business is doing.
Volunteer at Sporting Events
There’s no better way to become known to athletes in your region than by volunteering your time at college sporting events. Whether it’s providing hydration, making them a free pizza dinner post-game, or just cheering from the stands, becoming a presence at these events is a great way for college athletes to get to know you, and the first step in building a relationship with them.
Keep the Focus on What They Want
It’s easy to fall into the trap of immediately “selling yourself.” But this isn’t about you. Instead, it’s important to focus on young athletes and what they want or need. Many of them want to make a difference in the world. They would also be delighted with free access to things they love like food or gear. Take time to get to know local heroes and find out what could make their world better. Then...offer it to them.
Focus On Building the Relationship
Ultimately, a partnership with a college athlete will be a mutually beneficial relationship, built on mutual trust. Get to know college athletes in your region, and allow them to know you. Understand each other’s needs. Once the trust and the relationship are there, everything else will just fall into place.