The idea of your company adding sports sponsorships is finally a doable one. We allow companies of any size to connect with professional athletes and create sponsorship deals. Sponsorships were once reserved for the biggest companies and the biggest athletes ... but now, the barriers have been broken down. 

So if you're asking, "Why sponsorships? Why should I direct my marketing budgets towards sponsorships when I already have influencer marketing running?"

We're glad you're here. Here are five powerful reasons why. 

Reason #1: Fans have emotional connections to athletes.

Perhaps the biggest thing that sets athletes apart from influencers is the emotional connection people have to them. Whether it's the athlete themselves or the city they represent, people have deep emotional connections to sports, their athletes, and teams. This is in direct contrast to influencers, who live painfully curated lives in order to sell products on social media. They are aspirational, sure, but they aren't relatable. Athletes are professionals in their craft, yet they generally lead lives that fans can relate to. At the end of the day, athletes represent powerful things - hometown pride, hard work, dreams coming true. These are all things that people associate with athletes, and the brands who sponsor them.


Reason #2: Athletes provide testimonial traction.

Who would you trust more when making a workout-related decision: Kerri W., an Instagram influencer, or Kerri W., a three-time Olympic gold medalist? No offense to the influencer Kerri, but our money's on the Olympic gold medalist Kerri. The point is, athletes and their associations carry a lot of brand equity that's transferred to your brand! These associations make a lasting impression and its benefits last way longer than just a social post. Influencers' testimonials, on the other hand, have a comparably low impact. Since their feeds are cluttered with testimonials, brands end up getting lost in the crowd. And, to the original point, Kerri W. the Instagram influencer is only relevant on the channels where she has a following. Whereas athletes are personalities that live on- and offline.

Athlete Testimonial Example

Jabra wanted to prove that their wireless headphones were trustworthy for any athlete to use while they train, no matter what sport you play. Despite only offering a free pair of headphones, Jabra maximized their exposure by closing deals with over 90 professional athletes across more than 40 different sports.  



Reason #3: Athletes have trustworthy motivations.

Since athletes have paychecks coming in from their teams, they don't really need to do any further promotions. Fans know this. So when they see an athlete backing a product or service, it has more meaning than an influencer doing so. Anyone who watches The Bachelor knows that as soon as the season ends, the contestants will start peddling any wares that land them a nice check. This makes their messaging less powerful since the motivations behind their promotions are purely monetary. In turn, this makes an athletes' message even more powerful since fans know they don't need this money, so their endorsement is more genuine.


Reason #4: Athletes allow for regional marketing.

If you're not in New York or LA, it can be hard - if not impossible - to find influencers that make sense for your brand. However, even fans from small cities follow and identify with their state's sports teams and athletes. That's why utilizing athletes is especially helpful for brands and events looking to make connections regionally. On average, 40% of our athletes' followings are fans from the cities they play in. This alone makes athletes a much better fit than influencers for brands serving regional messaging.

Regional Marketing Example

When Cyc Fitness wanted to help generate awareness around their new location opening in Madison, Wisconsin … they were far more interested in an influencer who was widely-known in the college town. They offered free classes to athletes, and ended up working with Wisconsin basketball legend Josh Gasser. Josh attended a class for free in exchange for sharing that’d he’d be attending that class on social media. This resulted in a sold out class and an increase in membership for that location. 



Reason #5: Athletes have a wider reach.

Athletes have a much larger reach than bloggers and influencers. While influencers usually have one main demographic and focus (women who travel, for example), athletes typically have followings that reaches across demographic lines. Even a rookie athlete has collegiate- and city-centric followings that cross stereotypical demographic borders. This is far more spanning than an influencer who only has one focus. Fans of athletes are sports fans - but they're also travellers, healthy eaters, moviegoers, college kids ... you get the point.


Mary Zakheim

Mary is a content writer and strategist. To see more of her work on influencer marketing, subscribe below to the OpenSponsorship blog.