(This blog post has been written for a few months but we held off on posting it because it kept coming off a little snippy after several revisions. After getting some encouragement from friends to just post it…here it is.)
Branding and marketing for endurance athletes by endurance athletes is behind the times. Assuming there are sponsorship, media and race opportunities out there, it is notoriously hard to reach athletes that are not represented by agents or managers. Too few athletes have quality landing pages/websites or easy to find contact information. Missed opportunities are always sad but they are doubly so when a little bit of effort was all that is required to capitalize on passive opportunities. By passive opportunities we mean that an athlete can just sit there and people email them opportunities (to a good professional reading email address, e.g., email@example.com not a personal one, e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org.)
In this post, we offer three tips to help athletes have a better personal brand (and web presence) to better capitalize on potential opportunities.
1. Athlete's need a good/great website!
There we’ve said it! Every pro athlete (or aspiring pro) should have a simple and clean website that lets fans, brands, reporters, etc. know who you are. The website should include a short bio, links to your social media handles and provide clear contact information. If you want to blog as well, all the better. If you have sponsors, list them with hyperlinks to their sites.
In the age of Squarespace and Wix, there is really no excuse to not have a good website. A simple and clean website can be built at home for as little as $180 a year. Many of these website creation and hosting services also include a custom domain name and professional email so feel free to retire your email@example.com email.
By way of example, one of our favorite athlete websites (we admit that we are biased) is Pro Ultrarunner extraordinaire Jorge Maravilla. Check out www.jorgemaravilla.com to see what we mean. It has all the elements that we think are important for a clean and simple site.
2. Keep your online presence up to date...all the time
Worse than not having a good website is having one that is painfully out of date. Visitors to an athlete’s site expect to get relevant information about race schedule, recent results, current sponsorships and any other news. Committing to keeping the information on an athlete’s site current says to the world that he/she cares about their personal brand.
3. Respond to all inquiries as timely as possible
It’s an epidemic in endurance sports that almost no one responds to emails timely. (Presidio Sports Management is doing its part to curb this trend by returning all emails within 48 hours. Don't believe us, try us!) We highly, highly, highly encourage athletes to follow our approach. Athlete’s should do everything they can to try to respond as promptly as possible to all inquiries...even from the ultra-random requests. Some fan invites you a 8 year old's birthday party? Graciously decline. Some athlete asks you for tips for a particular race course that you dominated? Graciously answer. Some brand asks to schedule a call for a potential sponsorship? Graciously accept. Simple!
The only thing worse than missing opportunities is missing passive opportunities because of lack of followthrough.
If this blog post seems overly simplistic...it’s because it is! There’s much more to building a compelling personal brand and continually cultivating your brand. A great book that we recommend is Dorie Clarks's Rebranding You. Her book provides a great roadmap for anyone interested in self-branding.
In the end it comes down to mindfulness. Athletes need to be mindful of cultivating as many passive opportunities as possible. By setting up systems and a good routine to cultivate and manage your brand, endurance athletes will be set up for success.