Most sports-minded people have dreamed of being the player who scores the winning touchdown or hits the buzzer-beating basket that gives their favorite team a championship. Sadly, few of us have the physical skills necessary to make that kind of contribution on the field. If you’re creative, though, you might have what’s needed to make your team a winner off the field.
Professional sports marketing positions are some of the most crucial within any organization. While the players and coaches spend their days improving the product the fans pay to see, the marketing professionals ensure that the team is a hit within the community and that the players are people that the fans actually want to come see in action.
One NBA marketing official shared with me the difficulty of this job:
“It’s not just about wins and losses, although marketing a winning team makes the job a lot easier. Teams have to be involved in their communities, through personal appearances, charity work, and such. The fans have to like the players as people, not just as players. That’s our job.”
A degree and experience in marketing is helpful getting your foot in the door, but not necessary. What teams are really looking for are bright, creative communicators who can come up with innovative ways to promote the team.
Don’t expect to be hired right off the bat at the major league level. Most sports marketing professionals have toiled in the “minors” for a time, proving themselves in internships or working in other roles within an organization.
And if you’re not already, develop your writing and communication skills. The ability to communicate effectively is the number one skill necessary to succeed in this role. Sports marketing professionals deal with all constituents of the franchise, from fans and ticket holders to corporate sponsors, and of course, team personnel and organizational management. To be successful in this role, you have to be able to connect with the owner, the million-dollar quarterback and the guy sitting in section 503 who invests a significant portion of his hard-earned money to root on the team.
The coaches make the game plans and the players score the points, but it’s the marketing department working behind the scenes that makes the team something worthy of the time and money invested by the fans.