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Hosted by:

Katya Allison

Director of Marketing
Content at GRIN

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GRIN Gets Real

About GRIN Gets Real

Welcome to the GRIN gets real podcast, the show for people who want to maximize their marketing potential. From influencer marketing to eCommerce strategy and everything in between, each episode will feature industry experts that share their insights and provide actionable tips to help you achieve your marketing goals. Subscribe and stay tuned!

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Athletes as Content Creators

In this episode:

Victoria Unger

Influencer Marketing Coordinator, JOLYN

Insights on how to leverage athletes as content creators for your influencer program 

Victoria Unger is the athlete and influencer marketing coordinator at JOLYN, where she operates the Collegiate Athlete Ambassador Program. Victoria initiated the highly successful program during her first 2 weeks at JOLYN. As the project’s point person, she uses her strong leadership and communication skills to attract athletes and maximize their allure.

Full episode details

Athletes as content creators: you don’t need famous athletes to make a big impact. 

In fact, JOLYN has seen significant revenue from college athletes with more modest followings. 
“You have these ‘novice’ athletes that want to be there. They want to play these sports. And for them, this is a huge opportunity … It’s not always about having the big fish because those people can be very expensive. It’s about truly finding the right person that represents your brand.”
This, of course, requires a lot of communication at the beginning stages to make sure a brand partnership with a particular athlete will be a win-win situation. Victoria recommends video calls, as this can make these talks more personal.

Aligning your brand with an athlete’s talent builds trust.

The key is authenticity. And collegiate and pro athletes, as Victoria points out, are seen as experts in their field. If they’re recommending something, people will understand that it’s a reputable product. 
“You want to make sure that it is a brand that you do use. Because as an athlete, you are a walking billboard. Everyone is gonna see what you do. It doesn’t matter how big or small of a name you are. People are going to see what you do.” 
Beyond these great insights, Victoria also shares: 
  • Why product gifting is essential for any influencer campaign 
  • The importance of building a community among your content creators 
  • How to give guidance to nano and micro influencers 
  • Why overcommunicating can sometimes be beneficial 
  • And much more! 

Quotes from this episode

Athletes as Content Creators 1 “Truly, athletes, I believe, are very influential because they have talent. They have dedication. They’re hard-working. They kind of offer that, ‘This is what I strive for. This is what I want to be.’ And some of them have the most incredible stories.” “You want to make sure that both parties are on the same page. As an athlete, you want to make sure that you are aligning with a brand that does best represent who you are, and your goals, and what you want to achieve.”  “Through these micro influencers, they’ve kind of combined into this mega influencer. Which is quite interesting to see that they can generate more revenue—get more views than a macro influencer.” “These are first-time collegiate content creators, so it’s definitely a learning curve for them. They’re not professionals, and that’s OK. They’re going to give you that quality, real-life content.”

 

 

Katya Allison: 

Welcome to the GRIN Gets Real podcast, a show for marketers by marketers to talk shop and share insights on the ever-changing landscape of the digital world. 

 

My name is Katya, and I am your host on this exciting journey as we talk to our experts who join us. In every episode, I aim to help marketers maximize their potential by getting real with industry experts across multiple industries and disciplines. From influencer marketing to ecommerce strategy, we talk through it all and leave you with actionable tips to help you in the day-to-day of marketing. 

 

Now, today, my guest is Victoria Unger. She runs the Ambassador Program at JOLYN. She’s a lifelong learner with a positive attitude and a growth mindset and is currently operating the Collegiate Athlete Ambassador Program and coordinating pro athletes and influencers for, like I said, JOLYN. So put your air pods in, turn up that volume, and get ready for my guest today, Victoria, as she gets ready to dive into working with athletes as influencers.

 

Victoria, welcome to the GRIN Gets Real podcast. Super excited to have you on so that we can dive into all things kind of athletes and athlete marketing. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yes, thank you so much for having me. 

 

Katya Allison: 

You have a really great story, and I want to dive right into it because not only do you work for a brand, but you have been an athlete as well, too. So share a little bit about your background and kind of your role at the brand you’re at now. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yeah, so I started swimming from the age of 6, all the way through college. It was a great, great experience. Swimming was just the thing that I stuck with. Very passionate about it. 

 

And throughout my time at school, I was in our Whittier Scholars Program, where I created my own major of sports and entertainment marketing. And through that—came time for a senior project. And I thought to myself, “What am I going to do? I have no idea. What am I going to do with this degree? What am I going to—how am I going to navigate figuring this out?” 

 

And I took something that I love, swimming, and the brand, JOLYN, that I’ve used my whole entire career. And I thought, you know, I’m going to do my senior project on this brand. And with this online-based company, I then decided that it would be a very wise idea for them to get into the mobile store game.

 

And through that, I kind of had this whole Shark Tank moment pitch—like, just me going in and presenting this project. Throughout my time doing this project over 2 years, I tried to contact the brand.

 

And no one ever got back to me, which is okay because I went forward with my project anyways. 

 

Katya Allison: 

Yeah.

 

Victoria Unger: 

And eventually, I graduated, and COVID hit. And I had this project. And I’m like, “I really need to do something with this.” 

 

So I reached out to the CEO on LinkedIn and let her know I’ve been trying to contact, you know, JOLYN. “I have this amazing senior project, this great idea for you guys. I want to bring it to you.” 

 

And she responded back, and she was so apologetic. And she was like, “I need to see this.” And at the time, I was moving down to Southern California, where JOLYN is based. And she scheduled time for us to come into the office, and I pitched it to her in person. 

 

Katya Allison: 

That’s amazing. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

I mean, she hired me on the spot. I was thrilled to have a job, but not only a job, my dream job that I had kind of manifested myself.

 

And then now I work for JOLYN. I am the athlete and influencer marketing coordinator. And I do—I work with all of our pro athletes, elite ambassadors, and I started from the ground up our Collegiate Athlete Ambassador Program. 

 

Katya Allison: 

Excellent. And that’s kind of what I sort of want to dive into. Well, I want to talk about it all. But let’s start with just kind of athletes—athlete and athlete marketing in general because before we hopped on to the podcast and started recording, we started diving into that. 

 

Like, there are so many things that brands just don’t know when they’re kind of just dipping their toes or trying to get into just athlete marketing. So, what are some of the biggest challenges with managing athletes as creators, in general? Like, what should a brand keep in mind? 

 

Victoria Unger: 

A brand should definitely keep in mind that they have very busy schedules. They’re never usually in one place for super long periods of time. So it’s best to keep the lines of communication always open. In fact, overcommunicating is very okay in this. That’s what we have found to be most helpful in our lines of communication with our pro athletes. 

 

And just kind of keeping it constant, you know, just checking in, getting schedules, seeing when competitions are, when meets are, when—you know, when anything big happens because you want to be able to promote them properly. 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, and speaking of schedules, right? I’ve got two sons. And at some point, they’ve done all sorts of sports. Rowing was probably the most intense as far as like, schedule-wise, was really early, all—all these things, right? Anything I feel like on water is very intense. But I also had a swimmer as well, too. 

 

When it comes to, like, sharing out the schedule, and I’m a brand. Knowing that there is a level of practice that goes into—before there is a competition, like, what—what’s that balance of the schedule?

 

Am I looking for their—as a brand, am I looking for their practice schedule? Am I looking for their competition schedule? Like, when—when’s the best time to kind of approach them, and when’s the best time for them to, like, actually execute on these campaigns? 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yes, that’s a great question. You would definitely want to know their competition schedule because that’s typically when you can let your audience know, “Hey, Susie is swimming in a meet, and we want to support her.” 

 

Katya Allison: 

Yeah.

 

Victoria Unger: 

Um, as far as their practice schedule goes, that is definitely something to keep in mind as they are training. And with their competition schedule, you—or as the person in my role, I’m able to say, “Okay, this person is training. They’re X months out from a meet. I know that they’re going to be training, and going into overtime, and, you know, trying to practice as much as they can and be in their best shape for this.” 

 

So it’s kind of finding that happy medium of working with them. 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

And that’s why the communication is so important. 

 

Katya Allison:

Well, and I would imagine, in order to have that level of communication, you have to have a pretty solid relationship with the athletes that are just kind of on your roster, whether they’re collegiate, or NFL, NBA, W, all of the acronyms, right?

 

Clearly, yay, sports, I’m all about that. But when you’re—you know, that’s essentially what I’m thinking about, right? 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yeah. 

 

Katya Allison: 

So I’d love to kind of just get your opinion on the shift of athletes becoming creators. Do you think that it is becoming, like, really widespread across collegiate and, like, professional? Or, you know, is it kind of like a slow burn? 

 

Victoria Unger: 

I would say that as far as collegiate goes with the new NIL rules, I would say that’s kind of taken off like a wildfire. You know, you have these “novice” athletes that—they want to be there. They want to play these sports. And for them, this is—this is a huge opportunity.

 

And then you have these pro athletes, and it’s not always about having the big fish or, you know, getting—because those people can be very expensive. 

 

Katya Allison: 

Yeah.

 

Victoria Unger: 

And it’s about truly finding the right person that represents your brand. And you want both parties, you know, you want it to be a win-win. You want to be represented well as the brand, but then you also want the athletes to feel like they are representing a brand that they believe in. And that the—

 

Katya Allison: 

How do you get that? 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yeah. 

 

Katya Allison: 

Sorry totally didn’t mean to interrupt you there. How do you get—how do you get that balance? Like, is that a lot of time on the phone? Is it a lot of times just in, like, emails?

 

Like, how do you get to that point? What advice would you give someone to really develop that relationship to have that healthy balance? 

 

Because I do believe that when it comes to just managing anyone in influencer marketing—managing any creator in influencer marketing—that relationship is so key in getting, like, the authentic content that you want, like, you—for that person on the other end to share your brand story. But I’d love to hear just kind of some tips that you have for being able to really establish that relationship and keep it going. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yes. So, when reaching out—hopping on a video call is always probably number one because then you’re able to kind of get more of a feel, especially in these COVID-times, you can’t really, like, meet up in person too often. You never know where an athlete lives. A lot of our athletes are not local, necessarily. 

 

So, hopping on a video call, talking with their manager, talking with them, and kind of getting a feel for what are they looking for? 

 

Katya Allison: 

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

And then kind of discussing as a brand and knowing that information, “Okay, well, what would be the best next steps forward? Do we want to move forward? Do we want to re—you know, rethink our decision before we kind of jump into this relationship?” 

 

Katya Allison: 

Yeah, absolutely. Now, why do you think athletes are so influential? Why do you think that’s, like, the big get right now of, like, why athletes? 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yeah, no, that’s—I mean, truly, athletes, I believe, are very influential because they have talent. They have talent. They have dedication. They’re hard working. They kind of offer that, “This is what I strive for. This is what I want to be.” 

 

As someone who was an athlete her whole life and loves working out and exercising like, they’re just—and some of them have the most incredible stories. 

 

Katya Allison: 

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

And people just enjoy following their journeys and their stories. 

 

Katya Allison:

It’s very aspirational to, I think, follow an athlete. I am—I will say that I am a runner. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yeah. 

 

Katya Allison: 

I do not run fast. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

That’s okay. 

 

Katya Allison: 

I’d almost say it’s more fast walking than truly running. 

 

But I do find so much aspiration from those athletes who are—who are like really intense runners, right? From what they’re wearing because that—like, when it comes to being an athlete, like, what you wear is so important, from running to swimming to everything in between, right? Depending on what your sport is, how you’re taking care of your body, the lifestyle that you’re living, do you stay up late? 

 

Like, tell me all of the tidbits. Give me the behind-the-scenes. Because I am never going to run—I shouldn’t say that—but, in general, I’m probably going to never run a 6-minute mile.

 

Victoria Unger: 

And that’s okay. 

 

Katya Allison:

I’m just not built that way. And that’s okay! I aspire to be like that person that runs, like, that 6-minute mile. So I, you know, I do think that for athletes, it is—they’re very aspirational. 

 

And I think the right—matching the right brand with that particular athlete is really important. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yes. 

 

Katya Allison: 

Now, I want you to put, kind of, your Creator hat and your athlete hat on. Like, what advice would you give an athlete? Like, what advice would you give an athlete when deciding which brands they should represent? 

 

Victoria Unger: 

That is a phenomenal question. It’s kind of a double-edged sword with the, you know, with the last question. You know, you want to make sure that this is a brand that you do use because, as an athlete, you are a walking billboard. 

 

Katya Allison:

Yes. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Everyone is going to see what you do. It doesn’t matter how big or small of a name you are; people are gonna see what you do. People are going to see what you post on your stories; people are going to see what you post on—whether it be your prime account or a smaller account that you have for friends, you know. People are—they’re going to—because they’re following your journey. 

 

Katya Allison: 

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger:

And you want to make sure that both parties are on the same page. 

 

Katya Allison: 

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger:

As an athlete, you want to make sure that you are aligning with a brand that does best represent who you are and your goals and what you want to achieve. And you want to feel like you can grow with the brand. 

 

Katya Allison: 

Would you say then that product gifting is a good way for a brand to introduce themselves to the athlete to make sure that it’s, like, the right match? Before you even dive into, “Hey, let’s have a partnership.” 

 

Victoria Unger: 

One hundred percent. I think it’s always good for a brand to product gift. And I think it’s really important for the brand, as well, to announce their partnership. 

 

Katya Allison: 

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger:

And let your audience know. And also, have the athlete do the same. 

 

Katya Allison: 

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger:

You know, say, “Hey, this is an amazing brand.” Because you want the audience to trust the athlete. Because that is how you create that because, as a brand, you’re using them as a little bit of a vessel, right? 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah, absolutely. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

And you want to make sure that the audience trusts that, “Hey, this person knows what they’re doing. And they’re using this brand, and they’re aligning with them because they think it’s great. So why don’t you try it?”

 

Katya Allison: 

Let me get that suit. Is that, um—is that kind of a method that you use at JOLYN? Do you guys do the product gifting, or, like, what’s kind of your structure within, like, your program, especially the one that you manage, obviously? 

 

Victoria Unger: 

So for the program that I manage, we do product gifting month by month, and I have different dates for them to post by. And it’s just—it’s very—it’s casual, it’s relaxed. These are first-time collegiate content creators. So it’s definitely a learning curve for them. 

 

You know, they’re not professionals. And that’s okay. But they are going to give you that quality, real-life content. You know, they are the age of what I believe we should be going after. I mean, they are it. 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah, that definitely makes sense. 

 

I wonder, because they’re a little bit just kind of, in general, newer to, like, this kind of creator world. You, as someone who is managing these partnerships, how much guidance do you give when you kind of tee up this partnership? Are you telling them exactly what to post? Are you giving them more of like guiding questions of like, “Hey, here’s the suit. Like, let people know how it fits. Like, I don’t know, wash it five times and tell me what it dries like.”

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yeah. 

 

Katya Allison:

I’m trying to think of all of the things that I would want to know. Like, I would want to know, as a consumer, I think I’m always reverse engineering, like, my marketing in general. I’m like, “What’s the outcome? What are the questions to get there?” 

 

So I wonder, like, how do you essentially coach these athletes on being a creator and producing the type of content that resonates with your brand? 

 

Victoria Unger: 

And I think this right here is very key, especially working with either—whether it be an athlete who is a new content creator, or, you know, novice collegiates. 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

I think it’s extremely important to—we have—I have created a bunch of documents that kind of structures, like, what type of TikTok? 

 

Katya Allison: 

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger:

Do we want to see—what type of posts do we want to see? The captions, you know? And then kind of laying it out for them in an organized fashion. 

 

I’ve also done video calls with them to give them a chance to meet me, give them a chance to ask me any questions that they have. They’re always free to put a meeting on my calendar. And they know that. And they, you know—pretty much that constant communication and being in touch with them through email is extremely important. 

 

Katya Allison:

Do you create kind of a community within the creators that you work with? Meaning, do you all meet as a group? Or is it more of, like, the one-on-one relationships? 

 

Victoria Unger:

Well, something that I have found that has actually made me just so excited is that they all created a little Instagram group chat on their own. 

 

Katya Allison: 

Oh, amazing. 

 

Victoria Unger:

And I just thought that that was the cutest little thing. I was like, “This is amazing.” 

 

Like, they’re already kind of community building behind the scenes, you know? And they’re able to follow each other. They’ve found each other at swim meets and taken photos together and created content at the swim meets together. They—it’s—it’s become its own little, like, thing. It has legs and everything. 

 

It’s—it’s beautiful to see that. And I mean, I personally offer, you know, the group, you know—I talked about—I created a little deck for them. And I, you know—content creator do’s and don’ts. 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

FAQs. Kind of, like, ran through everything with them. And then if they have, like, one-on-one questions, that’s when, you know, people will either stay on, they can set up a meeting, they’ll email me, “Hey, when’s the best time?”

 

Katya Allison: 

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

So it’s kind of a mixture of whatever that person feels comfortable doing. 

 

Katya Allison: 

Now, how do you measure the success of your program? Are you looking at—well, actually, you should probably measure it based on what your objective is behind the program. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yes. 

 

Katya Allison: 

So let’s—let’s start with that question. 

 

What is that overall objective for you guys? Is this a brand awareness play? Is it building a community? You know, is it revenue? Like, what is this overall objective? 

 

And then that follow-up is, how are you measuring the success of that? 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yes. So when we first started, or when I first started, I kind of had no idea what to expect. I was like, “Let’s just, you know, go with it and see. Like, let’s see what can happen. These NIL rules are all new.” 

 

Katya Allison: 

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

So I kind of just went with it. And through that, I have found success in revenue. 

 

Katya Allison:

Nice. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

It has been—we’ve given our collegiate athletes 10% discount—10% one-time-use discount codes. 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger:

And the code has gotten used—I’m shocked it’s still getting used.

 

Every time I get a little notification from GRIN that blah, blah, blah has generated revenue, I’m like, “Oh my gosh. Like, this is—this is incredible.” 

 

Katya Allison: 

It is incredible, isn’t it? 

 

Victoria Unger:

It is—you just—you’re like, “This can’t be real.”

 

Katya Allison: 

What is that magic sauce, though, that—or do you have—do you have any idea of what the potential magic sauce is for these creators continuing to drive revenue for you? Is it that they are relatable and authentic? Like, or, you know, is it how much they’re posting? How often they’re posting? 

 

Like, what do you—what have you found has been like, “Oh, this makes sense that she’s bringing in so much.” 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yes. So when we had people apply, it was a very intense process of, kind of, looking through profiles, seeing what type of content we as a brand are looking for, mixed with a number of followers. And on top of that, you kind of look at, “Okay, we want to represent everyone.”

 

So then you have Division 1, 2, and 3 athletes. 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

You want to make sure that you’re representing all of the divisions.

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Because you want to, you know—it doesn’t matter what level you’re at. You want to feel that, you know, you can see yourself in someone.

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

So I think it’s very important to kind of have that really good balance of finding people who will create the content that you’re looking for. 

 

Katya Allison:

Do you think that you have an advantage because you were a former athlete? Like, you know what you’re looking for? Because you’re talking about this right now, you’re like, “You know, I want to look at the different divisions.” 

 

Like if I was tasked with this, I—spoiler alert. I mean, I know I expressed enthusiasm for sports earlier. But like, I don’t know that I would know that. 

 

So, like, do you think that you have, like, that bit of advantage because you do know that? So you’re coming in just kind of like, “I kind of know what it is that I’m looking for. I can tell, like, if someone is genuine. I liked this content. I know what words to key in to find that athlete.” 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yes. I 100% would say I have an advantage.

 

Katya Allison:

I think that’s good because I think, to me, it shows that, like, regardless of the brand who is listening right now, if you’re looking for influencers, like, you kind of have to—you’ve got to fish where the fish are. 

 

To me, that’s the way that I’m thinking about it. That to me is— like, your advantage is that you know where to fish.

 

Victoria Unger:

Yes. And I mean, it’s kind of like you could take me and put me anywhere, right? Like, I would know where to fish for softball, for basketball. Because it’s kind of like once you are an NCAA athlete, that experience will never leave you. 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

You know, it’s something that I do have for the rest of my life.

 

Katya Allison:

I would imagine that you’re going to stay in, like, the sports world in marketing. Would that be accurate?

 

Victoria Unger:

Um, that would certainly be accurate. Sports have been a huge, huge influence and had a big impact on my life. I mean, sports taught me that I can control—or I can’t control my results, but I can control my effort and my attitude. 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

That’s why everything that I do in life, I will always give my best effort, and I will always have a positive attitude. 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah. I wish we were ending it on that note. We’re not because I have more follow-up questions.

 

Victoria Unger: 

That’s okay! 

 

Katya Allison:

Because I interrupted myself—like, we talked about, like, your objectives and then how you measured success. And obviously like, you’re like, “Well, they’re bringing in revenue.” 

 

But are there other things that you’re looking at to really identify value and success behind the program? 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yes. So it’s very interesting. 

 

You have all these little micro influencers, you know, like, none of them are big fish. They’re not—I mean, they’re collegiate athletes, you know. You don’t know where they’re gonna end up. Some of them could end up, you know, going to the Olympics, and some of them could just end up not, and that’s okay.

 

But I’ve found that through these micro influencers, they’ve kind of combined into this mega influencer, which is quite interesting to see that they can generate more revenue and get more views than a macro influencer.

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

And it kind of made me take a step back and be like, “Oh, okay. This is definitely something to think about when you’re doing stuff like this.

 

And you’re thinking of what direction do you want to take with your influencers? And with athletes? And it makes you think. 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah, yeah, I like that you’re describing it almost—almost like you’re building an army of micro influencers to make up for that macro impact. And you mentioned views. 

 

Victoria Unger:

Yes. 

 

Katya Allison:

So I’m assuming that you’re looking at views and impressions and all of that stuff to, like, equate kind of success? Do you ever look at just kind of hashtag trends? Or do you have, like, very specific hashtags that you are monitoring so that you can track, like, kind of just as brand growth as well, too? 

 

Victoria Unger:

Yes. So we have the #JOLYNCollegiate that they’re all using on their posts. I think another—another thing I do want to add really fast in there and not to change it up too much, but some of this content that we are getting is so amazing that you can use it as paid ads. 

 

Katya Allison:

I love that. 

 

Victoria Unger:

Which is just, I mean, what more could you expect? I mean, you know?

 

Katya Allison:

I know, right? 

 

Well, how do you know which content you want to use for a paid ad? Because I’m assuming that in your company or for your brand, there are separate departments because marketing is divided that way? So how do you identify that right content to tell the person that is managing, like, paid ads, like, “Hey, this is performing really well. You may want to try this.” 

 

Or does it even work that way? 

 

Victoria Unger: 

So I guess it doesn’t really necessarily work that way. It’s kind of if you see something, and you’re like, “Wow, this looks, you know, professional. This looks like our best foot forward as a brand.”

 

That’s when you kind of, you know, your ears perk up, and you’re like, “This should be a paid ad. I would love this if I saw it scrolling through.”

 

Katya Allison: 

Yeah.

 

Victoria Unger: 

You know? 

 

Katya Allison:

I love it. And you guys have seen—I’m assuming that you actually execute on that and run some of your creator content on paid ads.

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yes.

 

Katya Allison:

That’s fantastic. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

And another thing is that we have seen on our actual account page for JOLYN, we have seen that the collegiate content performs very, very well. Like, the repost of these pieces of content that we’re getting has performed stellar. Stellar. 

 

Katya Allison: 

That’s amazing. And when—and when you’re looking at the performance, I’m assuming that you’re looking at kind of engagement and impressions and all of that stuff. Shares, maybe even.

 

Victoria Unger: 

And another thing that we have found with these collegiate athletes—something that I personally was like, “We can use them.” We’ve used them as P2P models as well. 

 

Katya Allison: 

Oh, I love that. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yes, we recently have used three in total. And we had an email that was sent out with just the two of them in it in the fun prints, and it’s just really exciting to see, “Okay, what can we do with them? You know, they are the accurate representation of this brand. How can we shine a light on them? And show everyone that, you know, this is—this is who you relate to.” 

 

Katya Allison: 

Yeah. I love that. 

 

Victoria Unger:

Yeah, there are so many different ways to kind of use these collegiate athletes because they’re so excited to be there. 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah. I think it’s so important for anyone listening as well, too, to really understand what you’re—what you’re saying is that it is more than just a post. It is—you know what I mean? It’s not like this product gifting, then here’s this post. 

 

There’s a relationship behind it. And then there’s so much more added value that you can get from that relationship, and it is using them on your website, using them on your paid ads as well, too, all while maintaining that partnership.

 

Victoria Unger: 

100% It’s not transactional. It should not be transactional. 

 

Katya Allison:

It should most definitely not be transactional.

 

I think those are really great nuggets for any brand to just kind of listen to and absorb for how they can really maximize the athletes that are their, just, creators in their programs. Or if that’s, you know, the direction that they want to start taking it to. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yes. 

 

Katya Allison: 

Okay, so we’re coming up on the end, and I’ve got a prediction—it’s the prediction time question for you. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Love it. 

 

Katya Allison: 

So what do you kind of see changing over the next 1 to 2 years within just kind of collegiate and athlete marketing?

 

Victoria Unger:

In the next 1 to 2 years, I can foresee the collegiate/NCAA/NIL is going to take off like a rocket ship. And I do believe that all those who are on the right side of it are going to be successful. You have this pool of, kind of, untapped potential that these regular, everyday people can influence their followers. 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger:

You know? It’s something that we’ve never—I mean, I would have loved to be a part of the program that I’m running.

 

Katya Allison:

Just rewind. You’re like, “I wish this was around.”

 

Victoria Unger: 

I wish I was able to do it. But it’s kinda like that—when you’re mining for gold, and you kind of strike, and you find the gold, and you’re like, “Wow.” 

 

It’s going to be—I think it’s going to shift more toward NIL. And I do think that with athletes, I hope if there are any athletes listening or any brands listening, please make sure that you’re partnering with the correct athlete for your brand. That is so important. I cannot stress it enough. 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah, you have to really do a deep dive on the social, as well, too, I think to really, truly match them and get to know who they are. It’s so much more than just someone’s social feed. People have depth, and assuming that, like, the first five posts are going to give you, like, an overarching understanding of who they are as an influencer or creator or an athlete is, you know, going to give you all of the information that you need. 

 

Victoria Unger: 

Yeah, well, and it’s really interesting, too, because, you know, people won’t buy a product, right, unless they’ve seen it, like, what is it? Twenty-five times. So when you think about that, that’s like 25 posts or whatever. Twenty-five times that you have seen this person mention whatever it is that your brand uses. 

 

And it’s an investment, but it is worth it. Because once those followers—it’s like once the light bulb goes off, like, “Oh, this person uses it. Like, they talk about it all the time. I have to surf in this JOLYN suit because this person does.” 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah. 

 

Victoria Unger:

It’s—it’s really incredible.

 

Katya Allison: 

Well, that’s amazing. Victoria, this has been an absolute joy, just kind of getting to know you, hearing your story. And then all of just kind of the advice that you could provide for athletes and brands alike. Thank you so much for coming on to the podcast and sharing your story. 

 

Victoria Unger:

Of course. Thank you so much for having me. This has been a dream. 

 

Katya Allison:

Absolutely.

 

I really appreciated a bit of that behind-the-scenes look from Victoria since she was a former athlete. I think that she can quite easily speak to how a brand can connect with the right athlete and vice versa. 

 

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Connect with me on social. You can find me on LinkedIn. And if you’re interested in learning more about GRIN, visit our website at grin.co. Until next time, keep grinning.

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