Money Smart Athlete Blog

Creating the Money Smart Athlete’s Marketing Plan

Jan 9, 2019 | The Athlete's Brand

By Demetris Constantinou, Contributor

 The importance of the MSA’s marketing plan

In previous articles, we’ve discussed the importance of building a strong brand and how that brand can help you elevate your life both financially and professionally. Truth be told, creating, establishing and maintaining an athlete’s brand is not as simple as it might sound. Of course, marketing experts will always be there to assist you with building your brand, but, unfortunately, creating a strong brand requires more than just ‘throwing money’ at the experts. As a result, we strongly recommend to every athlete to take some time, together with their advisors and build their marketing plan, or at least understand the basic parameters of the plan that was built for them by the ‘experts’. Before jumping on what the parameters of this plan should be, it’s important to acknowledge that having such a plan is highly important and to discuss why would an athlete require a marketing plan: After all, is the athlete a product?

Believe it or not, in the world of marketing everything is classified as a ‘product’, not in the literal sense but rather in the sense of being able to take something, and through the right promotion strategy make it more valuable. For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on how athletes specifically benefit from the creation of such a plan and how neglecting your marketing strategy can stall you both professionally and financially.

Why do we need a marketing plan?

As an athlete, of course, your first and most important worry should be to always give your best in the field, whatever sport it is you’re participating in. If you’re doing that, you will of course attract some attention and you need to be ready about how to handle this attention. Having a marketing plan can help an athlete position and distinguish themselves from ‘the masses’ and take advantage of the attention that you attract while you show improvement in the field. Truth is, if you’re a bad player, a marketing plan won’t do much but on the contrary, if you’re a player who’s putting in the effort and gives their best, a marketing plan will amplify your success and push you the extra mile that you desire to reach your career goals. To put things into perspective, let’s take NBA superstar Lebron James and his Nickname, ‘King James’. Lebron James got his nickname predominantly from the media, with its roots back to his high school days. What he and his marketing advisors did was to keep this ‘title’ floating around simply because the word ‘King’ has a good connotation and makes you think of someone unique with special abilities. Now, in 2019, everybody knows Lebron James as King James and even his social media accounts, twitter and Instagram, are uniquely identified by the @KingJames username. In this case, the point is that Lebron James through the right marketing plan, was able to take advantage of a nickname that was given to him by the media and positioned himself as a dominant basketball player who will be remembered as ‘the King’.

Moving on, having the right marketing plan can help you build your brand both inside and outside the field. A brand that not only emphasizes on your performance in the court, but also promotes your individuality, your personal life and how these two make a great athlete and a figure that people wish to follow. Building such a brand makes an athlete more likeable to the public and consequently elevates your ‘influence’ amongst society. Now, why is this so valuable? Simply put, Endorsements.  Large companies are willing to throw enormous amounts of money on athletes with strong brands just to be endorsed by them. To put things into perspective, in 2018, the top one hundred athletes received about 900 million USD in endorsements, showing that the endorsement market is huge and that large companies are serious when it comes to their marketing strategies. If you want even a small cut of the endorsement market, you really need to consider your marketing plan and how this plan will position you as an influencer amongst the public.

When do we develop our plan, what goals do we want to achieve through our plan?

As I mentioned earlier, to have a plan, you need to have a ‘product’ and in this case, our ‘product’ is an athlete who performs well, constantly improves and has attracted some sort of attention by the media and the public. Unfortunately, athletes are not like any other product because they cannot be branded out of thin air. There must be substance in every athlete and that substance is found in the athlete’s performance in the field. Therefore, to even consider developing a marketing plan, you need to be confident about your ability to perform well in the field, whatever sport it is you’re doing. Furthermore, it’s important to start thinking about your marketing plan at the early stages of your career so that you can implement parts of it as you improve and progress. The key timing which your marketing plan kicks in is the point where you start attracting more media attention. During that time, you’re given an ‘assist’ by the media and it’s up to you to utilize it correctly and position yourself to what you want to become.

Moving on, any marketing plan has to be at least assessed by marketing experts. As an athlete, you’re not in a position to draw the entire plan by yourself, but you are required to have an idea of what you want that plan to be and what its goals are. Therefore, your job as an athlete is not as much to create the plan but rather to assess your current situation and list the goals that you wish to achieve through a marketing plan. Sit down with your marketing advisors and lay out what you wish to achieve and what kind of brand you wish to build, and they will try to give you the means to achieve your goals.

Having said all the above, it should be apparent that having a marketing plan can act as a catalyst towards elevating your career and it should be taken seriously. For more information on the importance of building a marketing plan, or on what the contents of that plan should be, you may get in touch with us at