OCTOBER 11, 2010

Chicago Sports & Entertainment Partners' Patrick Quinn leads CSEP's athlete agent & representation practice.  Follow him on Twitter @sportsagentCSEP.

This week I got an email from a world class athlete who asked, “How do I get started in the process of marketing myself?” Great question, and it’s one that I’ve gotten in various forms many times from athletes, their parent or coaches.  Whenever an athlete gets me on the phone and tells me about who they are and what they do my wheels start turning with ideas on how we would market them.  Unfortunately, the reality is that we just don’t have the time to take on every athlete who reaches out to us to become their agent.  That said, there are some basic things you can do to help yourself.  The better you at marketing yourself, the bigger your ‘brand’ will become and - the sooner you’ll capture the attention of sports agents like me. 

Of course, the first step is athletic excellence.  The better you are at what you do, the more people will be paying attention.  But, we’re not talking about performance here, we’re talking about marketing.

1.     Photos – you need a couple of high resolution, really great action shots of you competing/training  AND at least one or two really good glam-shots…some pictures of you dressed-to-the-nines, away from your sport setting, showing potential sponsors and endorsers what you look like when you’re not sweating.  Ideally, you should own the rights to these photos, but very often professional photographers who have photographed you in action are willing to let athletes use their photos for self-promotional purposes (industry courtesy would be to make best efforts to give them photo credits wherever they are used).  We are the agents of professional triathlete Laura Bennett.  Check out these sweaty and not-so-sweaty sample photos.


Laura Bennett Laura Bennett


2.    Bio – At all times you need to have a reasonably updated bio.  I’ve seen many different formats so feel free to get creative on how the info is presented if you’re so inclined.  There’s no standard form you need to use.  Be sure to include your athletic accomplishments, an action photo, a head shot, a casual/glam-shot and your personal stats (where you’re from, height, weight, birthday, etc.).  You should also include your website address (see below) as well as Facebook/Twitter etc. pages as applicable.  DON’T FORGET TO INCLUDE CONTACT INFO.  We like to include some “points of interest” about the athletes we represent, as well as a summary of their story.  We are the agents for Olympic gold medalist Chad Hedrick.  Here’s a sample of his bio.  If you like this sample and need help creating a bio you can send an email to Gravity Graphics here.  They do most of our athlete profiles.


3.    Website – In today’s online world it’s my opinion that you need a website.  It’s doesn’t need to be fancy, with all kinds of bells and Flash-based whistles, but you need to have a presence online.  A simple, crisp, professional looking website is what you need.  This does not need to cost a lot of money.  I know there are plenty of services out there; one is www.GoDaddy.com, where you can get started for very little money.   One key to a website is to build it (or have it built) such that it does NOT require a lot of ongoing attention to keep it updated.    An outdated website, say it lists your latest performance results from 2008, broadcasts that you don’t take your website, and marketing yourself, seriously.  It makes it look like you don’t have anything current to say…like you’re yesterday’s news.  That’s not what you want.  We’re the agents for Olympic speedskater Katherine Reutter.  I’ve heard a lot of compliments about her website.  You can check it out here:  http://www.KatherineReutter.com.    


4.   Facebook Page – You probably already have a Facebook Profile page.  I’m not suggesting you proactively use that in your own marketing materials (though you may want to), but I will point out that you should bear in mind most potential sponsors these days will take a look at everything they can, including your profile, before they decide to sponsor you.  So be mindful of what you’re doing online because you never know who is watching.  I am suggesting you create a public page, which used to be call a "Fan Page" (which is different the your private profile) and begin to build that up.  If you’re serious about it, then read this – Facebook Marketing for Dummies.  It covers the basics.  Make sure you link your Facebook page and your website together.


5.    Twitter – The next step is to set up a Twitter account and begin to build up your following there as well.  As of this writing, Twitter is growing like crazy, but not nearly as common as Facebook (yet).  Get your Facebook presence up to speed, and then do the same with Twitter.  Like your website, if you are going to have a Twitter account you need to update it.  Tweets that are two years old won't cut it.  Again, when you’ve got this going, link it to your website and Facebook fan page.   We are the agents for action sports BMX flatlander rider Terry Adams.  Check out what he’s doing on Twitter here.


6.    Wikipedia page – Another good practice of self marketing is to create a Wikipedia page.  As of this writing Wikipedia is in the top ten most visited sites on the web and it factors heavily into search engine results.  I mentioned Olympic speedskater Katherine Reutter above, here’s what her Wikipedia page looks like.

Summary:  I mentioned BMX rider Terry Adams.  Regardless of your sport, he’s someone you should take a look at and try to emulate in terms of marketing yourself.  He’s got a great instinct for promoting himself through all of these methods and more, and consequently he’s got himself a great collection of sponsors. Here's his website.

These are some of the basic tools of athlete marketing you should put together.  With those in place, you're now ready to begin chasing potential sponsors.  The first thing you’ll need to do is identify the best potential sponsors…you can’t hit a target if you don’t know what it is.  I’ll talk more about how best to do that in a future post.


About Chicago Sports & Entertainment Partners - www.ChicagoSEP.com  
Chicago Sports & Entertainment Partners (CSEP) is a full service sports marketing, management and consulting agency. We are a team of senior level sports marketing executives with over sixty years of combined experience in corporate brand strategies & activation, media/public relations & corporate social responsibility and athlete representation & management. We utilize this experience, and our strategic business relationships, to provide our clients unparalleled depth of service across a broad spectrum of the sports marketing industry. Our role is to assist our clients in fully leveraging their sports marketing dollars and to deliver to them tangible, measurable results targeted to achieving specifically defined corporate business objectives.

Patrick Quinn


© 2009 Chicago Sports & Entertainment Partners, Inc.