A Student-Athlete’s Guide to Selecting a Marketing Agent

After years of debate, collegiate student-athletes are now on the cusp of being able to profit from their name, image, and likeness. With seven states preparing to enact NIL legislation on July 1, 2021, a buzz is growing in the worlds of sports and business that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. 

With this new era comes an exciting variety of brand growth and revenue-generating opportunities for student-athletes. So too comes potential short- and long-term brand, financial, and legal risks. 

To help illuminate a path, I wanted to provide athletes and their parents or caregivers with a resource to better understand the process of working with a marketing agent or agency. 

What is a marketing agent?

A marketing agent, publicist, or brand manager can be an individual or agency that provides student-athletes with counsel, strategy, and creative support for traditional and digital marketing, public relations, and events efforts—to help them grow, manage, and protect their personal brands.  

What’s the difference between a marketing agent and a sports agent? 

A sports agent or manager promotes an athlete’s career and plays a crucial role in developing and negotiating their playing contract. While a sports agent will occasionally act as a player’s spokesperson or creative lead, developing and deploying the strategy and creative assets to grow a player’s brand and protect their reputation is the marketing agent’s sole function. 

Does a student-athlete need a marketing agent? 

Hiring a marketing agent will depend on what the athlete is trying to accomplish with their personal brand. If the athlete simply wants education or wants to manage their own brand, they should check with their athletic department, as many have created courses to assist with this. 

If the athlete has access to online platforms like Opendorse or INFLCR, they still may benefit from additional marketing and public relations support. If they’re interested in expanding their brand but don’t know where to start or what they need, having an initial consultation with their parents and a marketing professional is a smart first step.

What services does a marketing agent provide? 

A marketing agent or agency, publicist, or brand manager may provide the following services: 

  • General marketing and public relations consultation and education
  • Marketing, public relations, and events strategy
  • Creative services, i.e., writing/editing, photography, videography, web development, graphic design, app development 
  • Media representation, crisis communication, and reputation management services
  • Daily social media strategy and maintenance 
  • Develop, coordinate, and distribute merchandise
  • Event creation and management
  • Small business or nonprofit creation and management

How much does a marketing agent cost? 

The cost for marketing, public relations, and event services varies depending on the project’s labor hours and out-of-pocket costs. Hourly rates will vary depending on the vendor but can range from $15 to more than $300 per hour. Some agents or agencies require a monthly retainer rather than providing an hourly or per-project rate. 

Before signing any contract, be sure you fully understand how and when a marketing agent will bill you. Once you enter into a contract, you’re financially responsible for any work conducted on your behalf by a marketing agency, agent, publicist, or brand manager. 

Can a student-athlete enter into a contract with a marketing agent without parental consent? 

Laws vary from state to state, but in an overwhelming majority, persons under 18 cannot enter into a contract with anyone without parental consent. When in doubt, contact an attorney or your athletic department’s compliance officer. 

Can a marketing agent provide a student-athlete with a financial advance? 

Federal and some state laws prohibit marketing agents from providing student-athletes with a financial advance. 

What NIL activity does a student-athlete have to report to their athletic department? 

What needs to be reported, when it needs to be reported, and to whom will vary. If unsure, consult with your athletic department’s compliance officer. 

How much money could a student-athlete potentially earn? 

No marketing or public relations professional has a crystal ball to foretell the future. While there’s information and tools available to help professionals make estimates regarding how much a marketing or public relations initiative may yield, nothing in a free market system is ever guaranteed. 

What should a student-athlete expect from their marketing agent?

A marketing agent’s roles and responsibilities to you as a client will depend on your project specifications. When entering into a contract, be sure that you’re clear on what they should be doing for you and what you can expect from them, i.e., how often they communicate with you, what deliverables they’ll provide, deadlines, costs, expected outcomes, etc. 

To maintain a healthy and productive working relationship, athletes and their parents or caregivers should be open and transparent with their marketing agent. Be involved, responsive, and proactive. After all, it’s your brand. 

We’re here to help! Feel free to contact me anytime if you have questions or are seeking assistance with your #athletebrand. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.