Slice and Pryce #03: The Secret to Successful Partnerships With Brandon Flot and Ashley Ljesevic

Today, we bring in our brand experts to chat about what brands are looking for when working with athletes and the secret recipe for successful partnerships.

Episode Outline

  • What are brands looking for when working with athletes?
  • What are athletes looking for from brands?
  • What’s the recipe for a successful partnership?
  • The winning recipe for success: authenticity, audience, and content

Sam Green: What's going on, athletes? You are not going to want to miss today's conversation as we are discussing what brands look for while working with athletes. I could not have picked two better people to join me on this conversation today other than Market Prices' very own Lead of Brand Partnerships, Ashley. And a two for one deal today, Brandon, who is lead of Brand Strategy. Friends, hello and welcome. Thank you for joining me today. I want to dive right into this thing.

What are brands looking for when working with athletes?

Sam: You guys get to work with brands on a daily basis, so you get to see what these partnerships and collaborations look like with athletes. So with that being said, I want to know what are brands really looking for while working with athletes?

Brandon: What's going on, Sam? First off, thank you for having us. Excited to be here and spread some knowledge as best as I can.

I think in terms of working with athletes, I've been able to have conversations with so many different brands ranging in various sizes and across various industries. And what I really hear from brands in terms of working with athletes and finding the right partners really comes down to three things. And I would say that it comes down to authenticity, audience and content, right?

So in finding partners, I mean, first off authenticity is above and all, any characteristics that brands could be looking for when it comes to athletes. Because they want to make sure that if they're working with an athlete partner, they're working with someone who really understands their product or service and might even have a preexisting affinity for what the brand is, because that'll just make it so much easier for the athlete to really promote the product or service that they are working with the brand on marketing. So I think that makes it extremely easy for the athlete to do so.

So they're looking for athletes that are really authentic, might have a preexisting affinity for their product or service and someone that can just work really easily with them to basically get across any messaging or anything that the brand is looking for when they're marketing that outwardly.

When it comes to audience, obviously athletes need to have the right audience from both a size standpoint and demographic standpoint. Especially if it's related to social content, you want to make sure that the product or service that your marketing is reaching the right audience. So I think that's another thing that's extremely important to brands when they're kind of evaluating different athlete partners. And then when it comes to content, you want to be able to make sure that you're finding the right partners that will create the content that gets across the best to the audience that you're looking to reach, whether it be an Instagram reel, making sure that the person you're looking to work with has experience making reels. If it's a TikTok video, making sure that they have experience on TikTok, things like that. That'll really make it as easy as possible for the relationship to progress and be able to produce the right type of content to make the partnership successful.

What are athletes looking for from brands?

Sam: Brandon, you were nervous about your camera debut and that was so much knowledge. And I even learned just from listening to you. So thank you for sharing all of that. I do want to get Ashley involved on this side of things because Ashley, you have a unique perspective, former college basketball player. Just a slight flex, so you have a unique perspective and opportunity to be able to vouch really for these athletes to brands while creating these collaborations. So I kind of want to hear your perspective on, one, your experience in this industry.

Ashley: So like you said, I played basketball for a few years in college. And so now, I really just have the privilege, I think, in this position, the brand partnerships team, having these conversations with brands on the daily and really advocating on behalf of the athletes now. So as much as I would love to be in daily conversation with the network of athletes we have on Market Price, I feel like I'm really in their corner and being able to really advocate for them. And really just be able to show to these brands the value that athletes bring to the table and working with them.

There's a reason why employers love working with, with athletes to be part of their company because of the dedication, the commitment, the teamwork and really being able to work toward a common goal. And I think that's so similar in these brand partnerships, right? And really just growing, fostering these relationships together and really just encompassing those values that you may have as an athlete. And the sport is just your platform to be able to express yourself now.

So whenever I played, right, there's so much more about myself and other athletes that go beyond the lines of sport. And we didn't necessarily have some type of outlet outside of just your social circles, right, to be able to express yourself. But now, with NIL, you can do that. So now you can have a platform or more of a platform to be able to show the sides of yourself that are off the court as well, but then also tying that all in because there's so much power in an athlete.

And I think the main word that comes to mind for me as an athlete is just the lifestyle, right? There's a certain lifestyle that comes with being an athlete that's so attractive to brands, and then to the audiences of the athlete that is walking out this lifestyle every day from in and out of the gym and into what you're eating, to your rest and recovery, all these other things that kind of go into it. That really just makes so much sense, right, for brands to work with athletes. So for me, it just excites me to be able to have these kind of conversations.

What’s the recipe for a successful partnership?

Sam: Ashley, one thing that I find unique that you guys really do, and that you kind of spoke to, is that you guys really work hard on not just building these one and done type of deals. You guys really do your research on finding and pairing the perfect athlete to the perfect brand to create, not just one deal, but a partnership that could potentially last a lifetime even past when these athletes are done playing. Is there an experience or a story that either you or Brandon could kind of speak to that sticks out in your mind while working at Market Price and kind of creating this dream partnership?

Brandon: Yeah. I'd be happy to chime in there. I mean, one thing that we really try to do on the daily, whether it's ourselves kind of trying to support brands and athletes, or just putting them in the best position that they can to be able to make those introductions and build partnerships themselves, is just really making sure that from the start they're pitching themselves based on every aspect of their lives, right? Because athlete marketing partnerships, they don't necessarily have to be related to the athlete's sport. It can go a lot deeper than that and involve the athletes values, what they stand for individually, and how those align with whatever brands that they're working with.

So previously we actually saw a partnership built out between two companies that we worked with on Market Price, ACCESS Scholarships and Hirect. And they were able to partner with a football player from Oregon State named Alex Austin. And they actually collaborated together to build a scholarship out in Alex's name that some individuals at his high school would be able to win. So it was really exciting to see that because Alex and his family really stand for giving back to the community and things like that beyond just what he likes product wise or brand wise.

So it was really amazing to be able to see that type of partnership being built, where it wasn't necessarily something like Alex being paid or being paid in product. There's a lot more creativity that goes into a partnership like that, where you're really going beyond the surface of just a more transactional type of partnership. And I think it really comes down to digging deeper to find how athletes and brands or organizations that they're working with align. And it's not necessarily what every athlete or agent is doing because the space is so new and because athletes are so excited to get paid, especially in the college space.

The winning recipe for success: authenticity, audience, and content

Sam: Thank you so much for all your time and all this wonderful information. We're definitely going to have you guys back to continue to educate the audience on these things. You guys have added so much value. But Brandon, you were one step ahead of the game. I wanted to close this thing out with you guys giving your three top tips to athletes on what brands look for.

Brandon: Yeah. So in terms of my top three tips in focusing on applying to work with brands or even reaching out to brands, I would say focus on authenticity, audience and content. So really focus on what values and things like that, that you bring to a brand beyond just being an athlete.

In terms of audience, really focus on numbers. So how many people follow you on a given platform? What does your engagement rate look like? What percentage audience do you have within certain demographics? Really get into the numbers so you have that proof and kind of justification as to why you'd be a good fit to work with a brand.

And then in terms of your content, you can have a kind of portfolio that shows what types of content you're really great at producing.

And in utilizing those three things, it's almost like your resume, where you can go to a company and say, "Hey, this is exactly what I do well. This is why it would be a good fit to work with you and why I think you should choose me to move forward in a partnership."

Sam: I love it. Ashley, your turn. What do you got?

Ashley: For sure, almost so similar to Brandon, but I'll use a couple different words here. So I would say three top things that would be important, one is really honing in on your storytelling. So what is the story right behind what it is that you're doing, right. And who you're working with, really being able to weave that into your lifestyle, right, coming back to lifestyle.

And then two, to go along with that would be consistency. And that goes right back into the storytelling, right? So with storytelling, right, it's not just a one and done type of thing. That's not a story. There's always so much more to who you are. And you really have the space to express that over time by working with different brands and products. So, consistency in how you're showing up.

And then the last thing I would say is get creative. Have fun with it and don't be afraid to do something different or step outside the box. Oftentimes that can really grab, grab attention there. And who knows what can happen from there, right? So just keep building off of that, but don't be afraid to step out and try something new.

Sam: All right. Well, I'm going to go work on my consistent lifestyle content. Athletes, you heard it here first. Great advice. Thank you guys so much for joining, and can't wait to have you guys back next time.

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