There are few things that Americans love more than sports. According to the National Football Foundation, almost 50 million people went to a college football game in 2011, and more than 110 million people viewed the 2012 Superbowl. The popularity of sports is a major reason many marketing and business professionals want to work in sports marketing.
As a sports marketing professional, you will be engaged in a variety of sales and marketing related work to promote sporting events, ticket sales, teams and players, as well as various products and services that are related to those things. One of the most important aspects of a sports marketing career is the concept of brand loyalty. Sports marketers are frequently occupied with designing marketing and media campaigns based upon key teams, players and products.
Sports marketing professionals are tasked with thinking outside the box in efforts to select the proper marketing tactics to promote various sporting events, teams and products that may be sold online, in retail stores or arenas.
What Is Sports Marketing?
Sports marketing specializes in using sports of all types to sell various goods and services. This type of marketing is not so much about using a single method to sell. It is rather more about using the content of sports to assist with marketing products and services. This is not just for professional sports; it also can include minor leagues, college leagues and alternative sports.
Sports are viewed and listened to on many platforms, so sports marketing can take place in many ways. For example, teams sell advertising in their stadiums to sports marketing organizations, and TV networks sell ads during events. Team websites also take ads for their Web pages.
Sports marketing is somewhat unique in that it allows the marketing organization and professional to use the popularity of the team and the devotion fans feel towards it and translate that into dollars for the team or company.
Some examples of corporations that engage in sports marketing are:
- Allstate: This insurance company sponsors NASCAR drivers, whose vehicles are often adorned with Allstate ads; the drivers also may appear in TV and print ads.
- Reebok: This sports apparel company did a very memorable ad campaign recently that created major buzz for the Olympic games and Reebok by featuring two major decathletes.
- Coke: One of the most famous sports marketing ads of all time involved football player Joe Green and a boy who who gave him a Coke.
- Budweiser: The beer giant spends tens of millions of dollars per year on TV marketing during major sporting events such as the Superbowl.
The popularity of professional, college and high school sports in America is only rising. As the economy continues to get stronger, more people have more money to spend on leisure activities such as watching sports. That is part of the reason why the Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS reports job growth for advertising, promotions and marketing managers will rise by 10% through 2026, much faster than average when compared to other occupations.
It is expected that demand for these marketing professionals will rise in the sports related market as companies want to expand their market share. Advertising and promotions managers will be more needed than ever to direct, plan and coordinate various promotional and advertising campaigns for sports teams and companies that sell sports related products and services.
There should be an especially large increase in the need for sports marketing professionals who are adept at doing social media campaigns for sports organizations and sports marketing companies.
BLS reports there were 31,300 advertising and promotions managers in 2016 in the US. The largest employers in this field were:
- Advertising, public relations and related services: 34%
- Information: 12%
- Management of companies and enterprises: 7%
- Wholesale trade: 6%
- Self employed workers: 5%
Marketing managers held approximately 218,300 jobs in 2016, with the largest employers being:
- Professional, scientific and technical services: 22%
- Management of companies and enterprises: 16%
- Manufacturing: 12%
- Finance and insurance: 10%
- Wholesale trade: 8%
BLS states the median salary for advertising and promotions managers was $106,100 in 2016 with the top 10% earning more than $200,000.
Marketing managers earned a median salary of $132,000 with the top 10% earning more than $200,000.
Payscale.com also reports that sports marketing consultants earn a median salary of $56,000 per year, while sports marketing coordinators earn a median salary of $41,500 per year.
The city in which you work also will have a substantial effect on your sports marketing salary. The cities below are known to have some of the best marketing salaries and job opportunities right now:
- Oakland CA: Has more than 9400 full time marketing jobs in a recent listing and had over 2000 employees earning more than $110,000 per year.
- San Francisco CA: Has the 7th most number of marketing jobs in the country, and the majority make more than $60,000 per year.
- New York City: There are more than 17,000 full time marketing jobs available in a recent survey, and the average marketing manager here earns $108,000 per year.
- Fremont CA: The average marketing job here pays $107,000 per year.
- Newark NJ: There are more than 17,500 marketing jobs here, making it the #2 city in the country for marketing. There are at least 1600 jobs here that pay up to $75,000 per year.
With a sports marketing degree, you can work for sports related companies in a variety of fields and sports. Below are some of the top employers in the sports marketing field according to Forbes:
- Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team
- Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team
- GMR Marketing
- Ohio State University Department of Athletics
- Navigate Research
- National Football League
- Premier Partnerships
- The Aspire Group
- RSE Ventures
- Turnkey Sports and Entertainment
Many students who want a career in sports marketing may want to earn their bachelor’s degree. A typical program for this four year degree includes marketing strategies, public relations, advertising principles, management and accounting. You may be required to do marketing research and come up with marketing strategies for real or fictional sports marketing clients.
Students who want to move into the higher ranks of management in the sports marketing field may be best served with a master’s degree in sports marketing. This type of graduate degree may include courses in marketing strategy, marketing research analysis, marketing intelligence, marketing dynamics, and brand identity and marketing.
If you already work full time and want to break into the sports management and marketing field, taking your bachelor’s or master’s program online could be a possibility. For example, Liberty University offers a Master’s in Marketing with a speciality in sports marketing and media. This entire program may be completed online in two years. This is advantageous if your professional and personal obligations require you to get your education from your home and not attend a campus.
The requirements for these programs depend upon the university and the level of degree. If you are getting your master’s degree in sports marketing, you should expect to need the following:
- College transcripts
- GMAT or GRE scores may be needed
- GPA of 2.5 or higher
- Resume with a minimum amount of related work experience
- Two or three letters of recommendation
Students completing a degree in sports marketing can expect a rigorous curriculum in business management and sports marketing principles. Below are the required courses for the master’s program at Liberty University:
- Marketing Promotions
- Supply Chain Management
- Marketing Research
- Applied Market Research
- Brand Management
- Sports Marketing and Public Relations
- Economics and Financial Management of Sport
- Sport Development and Sales
Earning a college degree can be expensive, especially if you are getting a master’s degree. But there is strong demand today for marketing professionals and people with high levels of skill in business management. Here are some marketing scholarship opportunities in the sports related fields that you may try to help to pay for your education:
- Anna C Klune Memorial Scholarship: Up to $1500 per year
- Athnet Sports Recruiting Scholarship: Up to $1000
- Bill and Natalie McLaughlin Scholarship: Up to $1000 per year
- Bob Lovell Marketing Scholar Program: Up to $1000 per year
- David J. Stern Sports Scholarship Fund: Up to $10,000 per year
- Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation Scholarships: Up to $1000 per year
- George C. Matteson Jr. Scholarship: Up to $1000
Marketing professionals who want to excel in sports marketing can earn the following certifications to put them in line for the best job opportunities:
- DMA Certified Marketing Professional
- Marketing Analytics Certificate
- GoogleAdWords and Google Analytics Certifications
- Professional Certified Marketer
If you are sure a career in sports marketing is for you, you may want to consider associating with one of the groups below for networking and job finding possibilities:
- Sports Marketing Association
- National Sports Marketing Network
- National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics
- National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators
- College Sports Information Directors of America
The sports marketing career field is an exciting one that can lead to a lucrative career path if you earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the field.
- Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm#tab-6
- The World’s Most Valuable Sports Agencies 2017. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonbelzer/2017/09/25/the-worlds-most-valuable-sports-agencies-2017/#3e7ad8f25eaf