This will be the first in a four part series on the important of personal branding for athletes from amateur to elite. My focus over the next four posts will be to highlight to Age Grouper and Elite Triathletes alike how the field of branding and marketing can help elevate your level of exposure and ultimately sponsor attractiveness. For the record, I hold a Commerce degree in Marketing and work as a consultant in that field, in addition to my experience in Business Planning and Development (incase you were wondering whether I’m qualified to write this).

We’re all familiar with marquis brands built up from individuals such as Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, and David Beckham. Of course at that level we can see the obvious benefits towards properly managing that brand. With that level of exposure comes the associated sponsorship dollars, individual recognition, and opportunity to further your development as an athlete by having the means to focus more greatly on your sport. But by no means does sponsorship and the importance of having a personal brand need to be limited to professional sports, nor does the benefits.

The challenge for age groupers, amateurs, and emerging elites in many sports is to determine how or if you can have access to a small piece of that sponsorship and recognition pie. In this first blog post I’m not going to cut too deep into the details but I’ll summarize what the next few posts will discuss and I’ll try to convey one important point; that winning races can help, but sponsorship opportunities is all about knowing your audience and developing a strong and consistent personal brand.

Obviously winning races is a huge plus that will really get you recognized but its not as important as having a personal brand that will positively reflect on potential sponsors and appeal to the target market of the sponsors. Athletes of all levels who are trustworthy, have a positive outlook, are highly interactive with the community (online and real world), have strong reach and influence, and who can speak well about a product, are considered to be the safest bets which will yield the greatest return on investment for the budgeted sponsorship dollars.

Take for instance the sponsorship opportunities available through sites such as Promotive whose brands include Adidas, Helly Hansen, Suunto, and CycleOps. The mandate of Promotive is to sponsorship opportunities to athletes who have significant influence in their personal and professional communities. With over 150,000 members, to M.O. isn’t to dole out sponsorships to the select few who win the prize money, but to connect sponsors with individuals who will use their product and can share information on its benefits within their social circles.

In the next few blog posts I’ll cut more in depth into specifics, with the general topics as follows;
  • Part II- Know Your Audience
  • Part III- BYOB, Be Your Own Brand
  • Part IV- The Basics of Social Media
  • Part V- Putting it All Together
If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments.