The following article discusses the key aspects of a sports marketing career. You will learn what sports marketing professionals do, where they are employed, job duties, how to become one, common career paths, and more.
What We Do
People who have an interest is sports and marketing often work in various careers in sports marketing. Generally, sports marketing professionals use their advanced marketing and people skills to sell a sports related product, service or team.
Sports marketing professionals often work for a sports marketing company or for the sports organization directly. The major role of a sports marketing professional is to devise effective marketing tactics to promote the sale of certain merchandise, the sale of team tickets or even to promote sports-related merchandise and services that are sold in stores and sports arenas.
Sports organizations and sports marketing companies use traditional and online marketing techniques to reach their target audience to increase the team’s market share and merchandise sales.
Other common topics for sports marketing professionals are sports broadcasting and advertising, athlete endorsements, and mobile media and licensing. Sports marketing can involve the following groups and entities:
- Fans and customers of the team
- Performers and endorsers
- Teams and clubs
- Leagues and competitions
- Retailers and merchandisers
- Suppliers and intermediaries
- Betting and gambling services
- Sportswear manufacturers
- Broadcasters and the media
The job duties for sports marketing professionals depend heavily on the job title, but generally we can say these marketing workers will do some of the following:
- Assisting in marketing development program for the team or merchandise
- Developing and managing sports marketing budgets
- Increasing ticket revenues and attendance at athletic events, or increasing sales for team products
- Coordinating activities with the ticket office and other team stakeholders
- May write press releases and serve as a PR representative for the team
- Coordinate media coverage for team events or promotional events
- Secure corporate sponsorships and coordinate merchandising and licensing agreements
Where We Work
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 218,300 marketing manager jobs in the US currently. Some percentage of these jobs are in the sports marketing field. There also are 31,300 advertising and promotions manager jobs in the US today. Further, there are 149,900 advertising sales agents in the US today, with some of them working in sports marketing.
For an idea of where marketing managers work, BLS reports that they work in these sectors:
- Professional, scientific and technical services: 22%
- Management of companies and enterprises: 16%
- Manufacturing: 12%
- Finance and insurance: 10%
- Wholesale trade: 8%
How to Become
Over the past several decades, there has been major growth in the number of sports management and sports marketing education programs at the college level. Whether you get a bachelor’s degree in sports marketing or an MBA specializing in sports management, there are many programs available today in person and online. According to Forbes, from 1980 to 2010, the number of undergraduate sports management programs increased from three to 300. Still, as of 2010, there were only approximately 30 master’s levels programs in the US.
One of the sports marketing and sports administration programs of note is at Ohio University’s Center for Sports Administration. It currently boasts of at least 1200 alumni in sports management leadership roles in collegiate sports, professional athletics, sports media and sports management and marketing agencies.
In addition to earning your degree in sports marketing or sports management, it is important to look for sports related internships while earning your degree. Many sports marketing organizations, including teams themselves, regularly hire interns every semester to support operations. Getting an internship is an intensely competitive process, but it is important for the sports marketing student who wants to break into the industry.
According to a VP of sports recruiting at Turnkey Sports and Entertainment, getting that internship is critical to making your career in this field. It is rare to get into a full time position in sports marketing or sports management without a college internship. This is because the sports marketing industry is fairly small and closely knit. Any hiring manager considering a potential new hire will check with references obtained during an internship to determine if the person is a strong candidate.
Another good way to break into the sports industry is to attend sports management and marketing conferences held annually across the country. These events offer opportunities for networking and outreach:
- The National Sports Forum
- Sports Industry Networking and Career Conference
- Ivy Sports Symposium
- University of Michigan Sports Business Conference
- MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference
Below is salary and employment information for some of the most common sports marketing careers today:
- Advertising, promotions and marketing managers: Jobs in this field overall will rise by 10% through 2026, which is faster than average. The employment for these marketing professionals will continue to grow as companies seek to expand their marketing share. The median salary is $106,000 and those in the top 10% earn more than $208,000.
- Advertising sales agents: The job market in this field will fall by 4% through 2026. Where there will be an increase in jobs is of course in digital media, such as online video ads, search engine ads and other digital advertising. Digital advertising in the sports business allows the company or team to directly target new and existing customers for more sales and revenue. The median salary in this advertising role is $49,600 with the top 10% earning more than $108,000.
- Public relations and fundraising managers: This public relations job will increase by 10% through 2026, which is faster than average when compared to other jobs. The increasing importance of the Internet and social media means that more public relations professionals are needed to deal with good and bad news for their client and organization. The median salary in this field is $111,000 and the top 10% earn more than $208,000.
- Sales managers: Employment in the sales management field will grow by 7% through 2026, which is about as fast as average. Employment growth in the industry largely depends upon the growth that is being seen in the specific industry. Some parts of the sports marketing industry will increase in market share as the US economy continues to grow. The median wage in this field is $121,000 per year.
Some other career paths to consider in the sports marketing and related industries are:
- Fitness trainers and instructors: These athletic professionals lead, instruct and motivate others to engage in regular exercise activities, such as cardiovascular fitness and weight training. Fitness trainers can work for gyms, on their own, and for professional sports organizations, as well as college sports organizations.
- Recreation workers: These active professionals design and lead various activities to help many groups of people to stay active and to improve their levels of fitness. They may work for schools, clubs, government, fitness centers, parks and other types of active life facilities.
- Market research analyst: Study the market conditions in the sports and athletic markets and examine possible sales of a new product or service. Help the sports marketing organization to understand the types of products people want and who will buy them.
Some related job titles in sports marketing and management include:
- Athletic trainer
- Athletic director
- Corporate sales director
- Facilities manager
- Fitness instructor
- General manager
- Fitness and wellness director
- Event manager or coordinator
- Marketing assistant
- Membership director
- Sports attorney
- Sports information director
Most people who break into sports marketing have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in marketing, advertising, sports marketing or a related field. Having an internship on your resume is a critical factor.
Training and Certifications
Below are some marketing and related certifications that may be helpful for you to get your foot in the door in sports marketing:
- AMA Certified Professional Marketer
- Bing Ads Certification
- Content Marketing Institute Online Training and Certification
- DMA Certified Marketing Professional
- Marketing Management Certificate
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- Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm#tab-3
- Breaking Into the Business of Sports. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonbelzer/2014/02/05/sports-industry-101-breaking-into-the-business-of-sports/#71a67bd33db9
- Market Research Analyst. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm#tab-2