Incorporating influencers of any type in your marketing mix can be a wild card — and athletes are no exception. Well-known brands with big budgets like Budweiser, State Farm, and Coca-Cola feature superstar athletes in their commercials and social media posts, spending millions each year on on-and-offline activations.
What about the brands that aren’t household names or don’t have seven-figure marketing budgets? In this series of business spotlights, we’ll explore the impact of athlete endorsement marketing for organizations that are transforming their marketing with help of athletes.
Making Athletes Part of The Process
Incorporating athletes into marketing initiatives is rarely the first strategy on a marketer’s mind. For many marketing pros, it’s not even something they consider. FightCamp was no exception, and Patrick said it wasn’t their first thought.
“We didn’t think about working with athletes right away. It took us about six months to find our footing and start widening the strategy away from simple website optimizations, Facebook ads, emails, etc, and looking for more unique ways to align the brand and show off influential people using it.”
As the idea of working with athletes comes to life, brands are faced with what’s likely their biggest challenge: which athletes to work with.
Selecting athletes to represent a brand is no different than picking from the pool of traditional influencers. There’s a host of metrics to consider;
- Size of the athletes following and potential reach
- Engagement rate with their audience
- Athletes alignment with your product
- Demographics of the athlete’s audience
- Audience receptiveness to your product
FightCamp experienced these challenges and more in its journey to find the right athletes.
“We first look at their demographic following, specifically checking if it’s mostly US-based (We only sell within the US) and if the age range lines up roughly with the majority of our customers – sometimes demographics skew too young for us,” Patrick said.
“We would then do a check to see if the content they are putting out already has strong engagement with their current following, looking for something around 1.3%+ if they have a large following. This engagement rate helps us make sure both the audience they have is engaged but also that the things they create are eye-catching and will stop people in the scroll to watch it.”
Patrick also described the team’s process in qualitatively identifying the athletes who could elevate the Fight Camp brand:
“In finding athletes, we often see each sport and represented age group as acting like a completely new channel that will need to be tested and understood before continuing to invest. So one of the big difficulties with this is taking the first step and finding that first athlete. And since every product is different, you’ll need to look for some early signals that this can work for you, such as hearing about their performance from another party. Sometimes it’s convincing enough to follow them for a little bit and get a sense if the athlete creates content that would elevate your brand (And hopefully that you can use in the rest of your marketing mix).”
The big struggle is often finding those early indicators to predict success. If it’s your first attempt at working with athletes, oftentimes it will come down to your gut feeling, so if you’re feeling hesitant, listen to yourself and look for someone else.”
Audience analysis is a key component of any influencer marketing initiative. This staple holds true for athletes as well. It’s one thing to send a message to an audience of 1 million, but it’s an entirely different matter to send a message to 1 million who will be interested in what you have to say.
Did Athletes Pack A Punch?
When it comes to influencers you’re not just paying for a post, but an outcome as well. There’s a desired business outcome behind every activation.
So how did it work out for FightCamp? Pretty darn well.
-A single video with their top-performing athlete influencer brought in $30,000+ of new sales in 3 months, a 5x return on ad spend (ROAS).
-Grew YouTube following by 10% with a single athlete partner
Brand awareness is a valuable component of athlete and influencer marketing campaigns, but sooner or later, most brands spend money on marketing to make money. It’s hard to argue with a 5x ROAS.
Athletes Drive Action
Not only are athletes within reach for almost every brand, but they can drive tangible outcomes for organizations. Athletes provide access to some of the most dedicated and highly engage audiences on social media. Just like multimillion-dollar formal endorsement deals with major brands, smaller-scale social media activations can provide the same valuable results without the seven-figure price tag.
Want to learn more about how athlete influencer marketing can revolutionize your marketing results? See how Opendorse can connect your brand with over 30,000 athletes from across the globe.