Extra Points wants to sponsor some college athletes. Here's how, and why:
Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.
I'd like to do something a little different with today's newsletter.
I realize that time has nearly lost all meaning since the pandemic, but later this week, we'll hit July 1. That's when college athletes in states like Florida, Georgia and New Mexico, thanks to recently passed state laws, will be able to monetize their name, image and likeness without risk of losing their NCAA eligibility. Depending on what happens with various other statehouses and the NCAA, other athletes could join them later this week. If not this week, athletes all over the country should be able to enter into NIL arrangements soon.
NIL is no longer an abstraction. It's here.
I've written a ton of newsletters about NIL. It's sort of the perfect Extra Points story, after all. It impacts all college athletic departments, from the Ohio States to the Cleveland States, from football to field hockey. It's a political story, a business story, a reform story, and a story that cuts to the very center of what college athletics is even supposed to be. I'm fascinated by it, and I plan to continue writing about it over the coming months.
After talking to all kinds of experts over the last year, I really believe that NIL represents a major opportunity for everybody involved. I think virtually all athletes can benefit from this marketplace in some capacity, not just high profile QBs. Male and female athletes, popular sport and niche sport athletes, starter and bench warmers, all stand to potentially earn money, depending on their drive, initiative, and social reach. Even athletes that don't sell any ads or close any deals may benefit from simply learning more about brand management and entrepreneurship.
Schools, many of whom want to do more for their athletes, may benefit, as athletes might not have as much of a reason to leave school prematurely and pursue professional options. And brands should benefit, as they'll be able to tap into a large and connected pool of potential ambassadors and marketers.
At least, that's how I think it will go. I'll want to continue to read and report on the experiences of all parties involved over the coming months, but I also want to participate.
I want to sponsor multiple college athletes to help promote Extra Points.
There are two major reasons for this.
One, as I alluded to earlier, is editorial. I know what economists, activists, athletes, athletic administrators and academics have told me about what they expect from the NIL marketplace. I know what I think will eventually happen. But what better way to figure out if reality matches theory than by trying it myself?
In practice, will it be difficult for a national brand to find the right athlete brand ambassadors? Will either party know how to properly price things out? Are there frictions in the marketplace that might price out certain brands or athletes? How significant a problem is regulatory uncertainty? What do I not know yet that will turn out to be really important?
I hope that by actually trying to go through this process, I might be able to better answer some of those questions...and I think you, dear newsletter reader, are probably curious about those things too.
Also, I gotta be honest. I could really use the advertising help.
I think my biggest problem, as a small-business owner, has been trying to acquire new readers and customers.
I've built a nice little newsletter audience, mostly through my own Twitter and through word of mouth. I've managed to get dozens of readers thanks to my work regularly being featured in the D1 Ticker, and I had a successful advertising campaign with my pals over at Split Zone Duo, but my other advertising campaigns have been mixed, at best. Reddit ads didn't deliver much. I've spent money on ads with NASSM and didn't get much response. I've even cold-called people. Trying to figure out where to advertise to reach potential readers has been a big challenge.
Despite those headwinds, I've built a good audience among athletic administrative leaders. Most D-I conference offices have somebody who reads Extra Points. Many D-I athletic departments do as well, along with the largest college sports media outlets.
But if Extra Points content is good for your conference commissioner and your athletic director, it's probably good for your school's actual athletes as well. After all, college sports is a business, and everybody benefits from understanding how their business actually works, right?
So I really would like more readers who are current college students and college athletes. I want them to hang out in our Discord and share their experiences. I want to talk to their classes, network and make introductions between them and my readers in media and administration. I hope that working with college athletes can help me find more readers in that audience.
Here's how I'm attempting to sponsor athletes so far
I've set up accounts on a few different marketplaces. I have a campaign set up on MarketPryce, a service that helps match professional athletes with potential sponsors. I've also set up a campaign with NOCAP Sports, and signed up for an account with OpenSponsorship. I've also reached out to PlayBooked, the company co-founded by NAIA athlete Chloe Mitchell. Because I have a pretty significant chunk of readership in the state of Utah, I also reached out to the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.
Quick disclosure note: I also use MarketPryce to look for potential newsletter sponsors. Normally, MarketPryce charges for this service, but they have agreed to waive a fee for me in exchange for running a few ads in future newsletters. No money has been exchanged between me and MarketPryce.
So far, I haven't had much luck! The MarketPryce and NOCAP Sports markets are dominated by professional athletes at the moment, I haven't heard back from PlayBooked, and it's expensive to run a campaign on OpenSponsorship...or at least, it is for a company like me.
I haven't reached out to any schools directly yet, nor have I cold-called any athletes yet, although I may do that this week. My hunch is that these marketplaces may open up more either after July 1, or after the NCAA votes on a national policy, but I may be wrong!
Here's the kind of athletes I am trying to sponsor, and the kind of campaigns I want to run:
My only hard and fast rule is that I want to sponsor an equal number of male and female athletes. I'm honestly less concerned about what sports they play...having some P5 football and women's basketball players would be cool, but I don't think that's required to make my campaigns a success.
I'm really looking for:
- Athletes who have an established social media presence, ideally on Twitter and/or Instagram. I think it would be difficult, although not impossible, to do a successful campaign with an athlete who had under 5K followers. I don't care if that athlete is P5, FCS, D-II, NAIA, JUCO, whatever.
- Athletes who are interested in the subject matter of Extra Points. I think we'll all have a better relationship if the athlete is actually interested in sports business, higher education, college sports history, etc. Athletes who are studying sports management, sports business, journalism, communication etc. could be strong candidates.
- It would be awesome, but certainly not required, for athletes to come from schools where I already sell bulk subscriptions. Many schools use Extra Points in their classrooms or athletic departments, and if enough people at one school subscribe, I offer heavily discounted rates. Many of those schools are large, P5 type schools, like South Carolina, Alabama, Indiana and Ohio State. But I also have relationships with several smaller D-I schools, and even some D-II schools. My full list is here.
I have a total campaign spend ready of a few thousand dollars, which I'd like to spread out around a few different athletes. Ideally, I'd pay a flat rate for a few social media posts, as well as create a special, athlete-specific discount code, so I can also pay the athlete a direct commission for every subscription sold. Plus, it goes without saying, any ambassador would get a free subscription.
Will it work? I don't know! But I'd like to try.
Maybe this won't end up being an effective use of my marketing budget. Maybe I won't be able to find the right athlete, or it won't be worth the amount of time I spent trying to make it work. And if that's the case, well, maybe that's still worth a newsletter. But I certainly think it's all worth a shot!
On the off chance that you know of athletes who might be interested, fell free to send them my way. I can be reached at [email protected], or at @MattBrownEP on Twitter (my DMs are open). I'll be happy to keep you all informed as to how this all goes.
Also, just throwing this out there...I am also very open to your other very good ideas about where I should spend advertising money, so long as the answer isn't Facebook, because I'm not doing that.
Maybe this isn't the best way to go about all of this, but shoot, I've tweeted my way into most of my career so far, so why stop now?
I hope plenty of athletes are able to find commercial relationships that are beneficial to them this month. Hopefully, some of them are with Extra Points.
This issue of Extra Points is sponsored by the Athletic Giving Handbook.
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Ad slots for July and August are filling up fast. If you'd like to purchase ad spots in Extra Points, drop me a line at [email protected] For questions about college athlete ambassadorship, FOIA ideas, story pitches, article feedback and more, I'm at [email protected] or @MattBrownEP.