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How to Become a Sports Marketing Manager

Jan. 22, 2020

Two sports managers talking.

How to Become a Sports Marketing Manager

Whether in baseball, football, basketball, or soccer, loyal fans are essential to successful sports franchises. Sports marketing managers use television, radio, magazines, and social media to strengthen fan relationships. They also develop strategic partnerships that can add value to the sports organization they represent. In a recent example, Nike introduced its Air Jordan 3s via social media tactics before Super Bowl LII’s halftime show; the sneakers reportedly sold out within five minutes.

For aspiring professionals seeking to launch their career in the exciting and rewarding field of sports marketing management, earning a Master of Science in Kinesiology and Sport Management at LSU can help position them for success.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Sports Marketing Manager

Sports marketing managers develop marketing campaigns to engage fans and attract business sponsors. They support the revenue goals of sporting arenas, university sports teams, professional sports franchises, leagues, and other sports-related organizations. They also work at sports consulting agencies as advisors to organizations and athletes.

Sports marketing managers often oversee marketing staff. They regularly interact with executives and administrators to define marketing strategy and messaging. Sports marketing managers use various marketing tactics, including website content optimizations, television advertisements, stadium billboards, public relations, and social media. They also develop promotional programs such as contests and giveaways to bolster fan engagement.

Sports marketing managers stay current on trends and methods to enhance the experiences of fans and garner the attention of potential sponsors and partners. They often negotiate contracts with strategic sponsors, as well. Below are examples of critical duties for sports marketing managers:

Securing Sponsorships With Clients and Businesses

Sponsorships are an essential source of revenue for sports organizations. PwC projects sponsorship revenues of $20.6 billion by 2023. The proliferation of advertising and marketing, particularly in social media, expands opportunities for sports marketing managers to grow revenues for their employers and clients. Securing deals with potential sponsors can also help bolster the visibility of individual sports stars.

Increasing Merchandise and Ticket Sales

Ticket sales remain the predominant source of revenue for sports organizations. According to PwC, industry-wide revenues from ticket sales will grow to $21.8 billion in 2023, while merchandising will add another $15.4 billion. What these numbers suggest is that sales management and merchandising skills will remain a critical part of the sports marketing management toolset for many years to come.

Generating Awareness for Athletes and Team

In a saturated media world, sports marketing managers must find innovative ways to get their message across. Digital marketing tools and television offer opportunities to enhance awareness of teams and athletes. Sports marketing managers can help trigger emotional responses in their marketing campaigns so that messages resonate more effectively with fans. For example, Verizon ran a successful promotional campaign during the Super Bowl, highlighting stories of first responders who saved the lives of sports personalities.

Pursuing Innovative Marketing and Advertising Opportunities

Sports experts observe that today's fans have shorter attention spans to sit through hours-long games; anyone can watch highlights of a game on a YouTube video. Vigilant sports marketing managers leverage these trends to introduce innovative marketing opportunities. Ahead of a recent NBA All-Star Weekend, some lucky fans who participated in a 3D augmented reality experience got early access to the latest Jordan brand sneakers.

How to Become a Sports Marketing Manager

The first step to becoming a sports marketing manager is obtaining a bachelor’s degree, typically in the areas of marketing, advertising, business, and public relations. A degree helps establish foundational skills essential for pursuing roles in sports marketing management, including competencies in both online and traditional marketing tactics.

Breaking into the sports industry can be challenging. Industry veterans suggest that candidates gain internship experience, which can provide entry-level sports marketing candidates with exposure to the ins-and-outs of the profession. Students can gain valuable experiences in internships and obtain skills in writing, social media, and promotions. While not required, a master’s degree may help candidates acquire valuable skills for high-level sports marketing manager positions.

Sports Marketing Management Salaries and Career Growth

According to PayScale, the median salary for a sports marketing consultant is $44,225. Under the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics category of Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers, the median salary as of May 2018 is $132,620 per year. BLS also projects 8 percent growth of employment for marketing managers from 2018 to 2028. The reported growth rate exceeds the average for all occupations.

The Future of Sports Marketing Management

Current trends in the sports industry point to its future. A few examples include the following:

  • There are more women’s leagues today than in the past, creating new sponsorship opportunities for advertisers and brands.
  • Virtual and augmented reality technology will continue to enable sports organizations to provide their fan base with unique ways to experience sports while reaching global audiences.
  • Cause marketing will continue to bring together sports personalities and organizations to raise awareness of issues impacting society.

Sports agencies have earned roughly $2.35 billion in commissions, according to a recent Forbes article. At the collegiate level, the NCAA reports that that 19,750 teams compete in championship events each year. For individuals interested in stepping into the exciting, big business of sports marketing, LSU’s Master of Science in Kinesiology and Sport Management program prepares students for success.

The program's curriculum provides students with knowledge of facilities management, governance and policy development, sports law, and organizational and behavior development in sports. In addition to its world-class program, LSU has one of the most storied football programs in history and an alumni network of 250,000 people.

Graduates of the program are prepared with the skills and knowledge to pursue roles in professional and NCAA sports teams or advance the ideals of sports by establishing a gym or practice clinic.

Learn how LSU’s Master of Science in Kinesiology and Sport Management program prepares students to become innovative and thoughtful sports marketing leaders.

Recommended Readings

Get In the Game: What Is Sport Management and Where Can It Take You?

My LSU Online Experience - Master of Science in Kinesiology

Learn about the word-class faculty at LSU Online

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