For Brands

12 ways to take your product gifting to the next level

Sharing product with student-athletes is just the start. Here are next steps to building winning partnerships.

April 24, 2024

Members of the Arizona softball team sample G.O.A.T. Fuel following an NIL activation with MarketPryce.

As CEO and Founder of MarketPryce, I've met leaders from countless brands who are looking to get their product on campus.

Here are 10 pieces of advice I share with anyone who wants to take their product gifting efforts to the next level.

1. Collect feedback

After you send product, collect feedback from student-athletes to learn how your products and brands are resonating.

Ask simple things like: 

  • What did you love about my product?
  • What can we improve? 
  • Would you share product with a friend or teammate?

Hop on a call with those who provide in-depth, helpful feedback (whether it's positive or negative!). This feedback shared with Gameday Couture is a great example of an athlete to build a relationship with.

Student-athletes are culture drivers on college campuses. Other consumers look to them to learn if your brand is cool. So, listen to their feedback.

This step makes the next 9 possible, so always start here.

2. Provide affiliate codes

Be social, but don't start on social media.

It's inauthentic to jump right to pushing affiliate codes through links in bio. However, if you've discovered a true brand fan (see: Number 1), ask them to share an affiliate code with friends, teammates and their group chats.

Case Study: This brand spent 3 weeks finding 1 athlete ambassador. Now it spends 2 minutes.

People love discounts. They love a discount shared by a friend or a family even more.

Riley Sowders received product from RECO and created this content promoting her affiliate code:

3. Pay top performers

For athletes who drive sales within the first few weeks, I’d upgrade to a paid ambassador program. We'll call it Tier 2.

Those who can successfully influence friends and family to purchase? They've proven their sway in their community and a genuine love for my brand.

I'd build a model to pay those student-athletes and continue sharing free product in exchange for monthly content creation.

Outlining a program for Tier 3 and beyond could be an entire post, so I’ll save this for another time.

Florida cheerleader Taylor Dean poses in her gifted Gameday Couture crewneck.

4. Leverage UGC 

If a student-athlete posts organically, ask them to send you the photo or video to share on your own feeds and website. Maybe even propose an IG Collab to increase reach.

Brands can never have enough testimonial content, so try to capture photos, videos and written feedback about your product to repurpose:

  • On your website
  • In paid ads
  • On landing pages
  • Etc.

Brands can even use this content in investment decks to validate their product during fundraising.

Elena Opp received product from Fluid Sports and created this unboxing content. It's great UGC to support various marketing efforts:

5. Spend on UGC ads

When running paid ads,test ALL the content you source, whether it’s photo, video or written.

Even if you believe the content won’t work, test it. Some of the best performing ads are the most unpolished, unscripted testimonials about your products.

BrandsGet your first 3 MarketPryce Matches FREE

6. Keep brand fans engaged

Create a gifting newsletter that keeps athletes updated on your brand.

New flavors, drops or other developments are perfect for this kind of regular update. You’ll be surprised at how many will be excited to engage with you consistently to continue building rapport.

Want to launch a new flavor but can’t decide? Run a poll and ask.

Obvi did this with their Caramel Macchiato flavor and it sold out THREE times. All from directly engaging with their community.

7. Selling retail? Activate IRL

Getting people in the door is half the battle in retail.

I would pay athletes an hourly rate to sample in stores close to their campus. Bonus points for hiring a videographer to capture content for your channels.

(Double bonus points for getting the athletes to Collab with you after.)

Related : How brands connected with 222 student-athletes on Valentine's Day

This works especially well with student-athletes who are stars in their community. Their loyal fans will be excited to support irl.

This worked wonders for RYL Tea and Quinn Ewers, with hundreds of fans heading to their local Kroger in Austin to meet Quinn.

8. Find your locker room champion

If one athlete likes your product, it's a good bet their teammates will too.

Find your biggest brand fans and then send so much product that they can share it in the locker room. You'll have a new team champion who can help kick off the domino effect that makes your brand popular on campus.

The MarketPryce team once helped Dr. Squatch execute NIL deals for 25 Marshall football players on National Signing day. We partnered with their existing brand fan, Devin Miller, to surprise the rest of the players.

This kind of relationship makes for authentic, impactful impressions.

9. Offer a CPM rate

CPM campaigns are risk-free and have big upside for brands and athletes.

TikTok created a world where any post can go viral. I would determine a CPM I’m comfortable with for influencer marketing and invite athletes who appreciate your products to create videos for TikTok or IG Reels.

Compensate athletes based on the views their content gets (i.e. $100 for 5k views or $200 for 10k views at a $20 CPM).

10. Host giveaways

This one is simple but cost-effective and fun.

Equip one of your athletes to post a bunch of your product and host a giveaway. You know the ones: "Like, comment and follow @mybrand for a chance to win this prize!"

It's going to help you get your product in front of a new audience and then engage with them in the comments. Your typical unboxing videos don't give an ambassador's audience the opportunity to engage with your brand. Giveaways are great way to open that door.

My favorite extra credit for giveaways? DM everyone who participated but didn’t win and offer them a 40% discount on product. You might be surprised at how many sales come in.

11. Launch a student-athlete ambassador program

Brands like JBL and Bubble have built successful campus ambassador programs. Take notes from those leaders and launch a landing page that highlights your best and brightest student-athlete ambassadors (while also inviting more to join your community!).

Half the battle is getting a potential customer to your website. The other half is converting them. Showcasing Gen Z athletes is going to build trust, credibility and help you convert.

Concrete social proof built in partnership with the coolest kids on campus is always a win.

12. Stay connected

Keep tabs on what athletes are up to and interact with them on social.

Did they just win a big game? Planning a big trip? How can you support them in all facets of their life? The more you can keep tabs on your community the more you’ll find exciting opportunities to integrate into their daily experiences. That's how you build a winning relationship.

Remember: The goal of product gifting isn’t immediate sales or ROI.

It’s about sparking and nurturing long-term relationships, where all of the above activations (and more) are possible.

Brands: Book a call to start saving time today. Student-athletes: Sign up now for free.

MARKETPRYCE MAKES it easy for brands and student-athletes to form authentic partnerships. Get started today.