One may suggest that story telling is the essence of marketing. What do you feel makes a memorable story? Think about it, because the elements that go into building a story are likely the same as those that go into building your athlete brand. Having the ability to share your story and connect with audiences is the foundation of most relationships, including sponsorship.
NASCAR driver, Danica Patrick is a brilliant example of an athlete who used her story and brand to connect with audiences. Patrick has become the first female member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family.
“We don’t just sign up for winners. We sign for the personalities on the track, off the track, what they represent as an individual.” Sharon Byers, Coca-Cola’s senior vice president of sports and entertainment.
Having a sport resume stacked with impressive results and rankings does not guarantee sponsorship. In fact, I would suggest it is not even a requirement in landing sponsorship. The partnership between Patrick and Coke proves that companies are searching to invest in athletes that have the ability to share in a story and engage with their clientele; abolishing the common misperception of top results being the only path to sponsorship.
“Never mind that she hasn’t won a race during her short time in NASCAR. Never mind that she’s not even a full-time driver in the top series. Fans are drawn to her in much the same way they are to Dale Earnhardt Jr. because she represents something that goes beyond trips to Victory Lane.”
Next time you are chatting at a family dinner, or telling a friend about your sport and what you do, think about the themes that you find best describe your pursuit. Channel those publicly fascinating elements to build your personal brand, and use it as a way to connect with audiences outside of your current network. Sponsorship is a relationship between many, thus in order to make it successful you must be willing to share your athletic story. Danica Patrick has done just that, she has used her personality and message to represent the brand that Coca-Cola is ‘driven’ to convey.