I hear it all the time when presenting promotional opportunities to athletes: “I just want to play (insert sport).” I get it; you love the game you play, and that’s all that matters to you. I can relate; if I had it my way, I would just write. Forget speaking at conferences, doing interviews, or networking. Give me a computer, a coffee shop, and a protein bar, and I’m happy. But then you wouldn’t care about what I had to say. My writing would never leave my computer. No one would know who I am. In order to build a brand, you have to participate.
When you sign on to endorse a product or a company, participate. Not for the company, but for you. In most cases you’re talking about multimillion-dollar organizations that have the ability to get your message out in ways you can’t. But that only happens if you participate.
Endorsement deals are not about the money (though in some sports, it is significant); it’s about the exposure and storytelling that comes with that partnership. If you are great at what you do and manage your brand effectively, you will make the money. You will have multiple lucrative offers to choose from. Select the partner that best aligns with the brand you want to build, and squeeze everything you can out of them. They’ll embrace it. Trust me, I’ve been on the other side. I want my athletes to ask for more. I want my athletes to present content and storytelling ideas to me. I want my athletes to participate. In return, I will do everything I can to make them famous and to build their brand.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in a room talking to counterparts about a potential campaign that called for an athlete to play a starring role and during that conversation a particular player was written off because of the individual’s unwillingness to participate. In those situations it’s not the company that’s hurt. If one athlete says no, there are several others who will say yes.
The only person hurt by their lack of participation is the athlete.