It is important to remember that many players may not be at a level where sponsorship is a realistic opportunity. However, all players seek to improve their performance and level of play over the course of their career. And with those improvements, greater opportunities may come to work with sponsors. Therefore, keep these ideas and strategies in mind, even if endorsement deals are not currently a part of your career. The truth is, the reputation you build at the early stages of your career will impact how marketable you are when you are playing at higher levels.
As you begin looking into sponsorship deals, it can be helpful to make a list of what you offer to potential sponsors. What you are looking for is a “competitive advantage” – in other words, what are the skills that you have on-the-court and the qualities do you have off-the-court that can distinguish you from other athletes playing at your level and in your market?
Your on-court reputation for performance
- Basketball skills: Are you known for a high shooting percentage, a high number of assists or perhaps intense defensive skills?
- Exposure in terms of Basketball: Are you well-known in a particular country or regional market? Does your team have international exposure?
- Your visibility as an athlete: This can influence which sponsors may be interested in working with you because their sales goals usually have target markets in mind.
Your off-court reputation
Personal qualities and attributes: Any qualities that could set you apart from other potential endorsers. For example, do you have a reputation for being a team player? Do you speak several languages? Are you a good public speaker?
Finally, it is worth noting that sponsorship agreements are often undervalued early in an athlete’s career. Do not worry too much about that. Early deals can be invaluable learning experiences for bigger deals in the future. As such, you may want to carefully consider entering into any long-term deals early on in your career, instead keep the option open for renegotiating should your value increase quickly.