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Katya Allison

Director of Marketing
Content at GRIN

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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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NIL’s Impact on Brands and Athletes with Jason Bergman at MarketPryce

In this episode:

Jason Bergman

Co-Founder & CEO at MarketPryce | Forbes 30 under 30

Revolutionizing how professional and student athletes discover & close endorsement deals

GRIN Gets Real featured image with Jason Bergman

Full episode details

NIL Marketing

In today’s conversation, host Katya Allison is joined by Jason Bergman, Co-Founder of MarketPryce, to discuss the impact of the NIL ruling on brands’ relationships with student athletes.

In light of the new rules surrounding student-athlete income, brands need to keep several important factors in mind:

  • The cost of entry is often very low for the majority of student athletes.
  • Gen Z students can be a valuable resource in helping a brand appeal to a younger market.
  • Student athletes can often be more committed to a brand’s message than the average influencer.
  • The post-NIL world is still evolving and there are still disagreements about standard best practices.
  • Time management is much more challenging and much more important when working with students.

Student athletes are a newly available market for brands to market through, but doing so requires a different approach than with many influencers.

#Content #influencermarketing #ecommerce #creatormanagement
If you enjoyed today’s show, please leave a review and subscribe so you never miss an episode. For more information and links to all of the resources mentioned in today’s episode, visit Grin.co.

Quotes from the episode

Jason Bergman quote on NIL marketing and portrait on

“You want to make sure you’re working with an athlete who authentically loves your product; they believe in it and they speak to why they use it.”

-Jason Bergman

“If you work with an influencer who’s half into it, half out, the content is not going to be great. You need to make sure they’re fully bought-in.”

-Jason Bergman

“The biggest thing a brand needs to understand is why would an athlete use your product? Why would a student athlete be interested in this?”

-Jason Bergman

Katya Allison (Host) (00:02):

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. GRIN is the number one creator management platform designed for the next generation of brands who recognize that in the creator economy, authenticity is everything. To get insight on how GRIN can help you manage your creator strategy, visit grin.co. That’s G-R-I-N.C-O. Now, my guest today is Jason, who is the founder of MarketPryce. MarketPryce is a platform empowering the 99% of athletes to connect, create and grow through brand partnerships. And in his career, he’s been with Nielsen, OpenSponsorship and Yelp. And he now counts himself very lucky to lead a team of industry veterans who bring experience from Gatorade, USC, the NHL, ESPN, IndyCar, that’s just to name a few. But MarketPryce has sparked more than 7,000 athlete brand partnerships. And honestly, they’re really trying to stay ahead in the creator economy when it comes to athlete marketing.

(01:15):

So put your AirPods in, turn up that volume and get ready for my guest today, Jason Bergman. All right, Jason, welcome to the GRIN Gets Real podcast. Super excited to have you on to educate us a little bit more on athlete marketing and collegiate athletes specifically.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (01:35):

Nailed it, Katya. I’m so excited. Thank you so much for having me and I can’t wait to see where this conversation goes. Let’s have some fun.

Katya Allison (Host) (01:42):

Same, same. We have a compass, we know we’re going north and we will get to our destination. Before we dive into just all of my questions that I’m sure that will direct us somewhere else is, I’d love for you to provide the audience just some context, just a high-level context of who you are and what your area of expertise is.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (02:02):

Yeah, of course. So my name’s Jason Bergman, I’m the CEO and co-founder of MarketPryce. Huge fan of the GRIN Gets Real podcast. I don’t know if that’s what you were asking for. So shout out, plug-in the podcast you’re already listening to. No, but my background I guess super high level, I’ve worked in sales forever. I am a huge, huge sports nerd. I knew I always wanted to get into the sports space and I’ve worked on both sides of the coin. So I’ve worked on the brand side. So I’ve gone from cold calling local car dealerships, helping them connect with athletes all the way to working with Anheuser-Busch and DraftKings, CBS Sports, some enterprise businesses on educating and empowering them to connect with athletes. And then I’ve also been on the agent side, where I’ve started my own sports marketing agency representing athletes, helping them connect with businesses, and now I’m doing a little bit of both at MarketPryce.

(02:50):

So we’ve created a two-sided marketplace where brands and athletes and sports agents are able to connect. We launched last January, so about 21 months ago, if my math is correct. I hope so. But we’ve facilitated just about 7,000 partnerships between athletes and brands, which is still mind-boggling for me. I feel like a matchmaker and every single match is just the coolest thing ever. So we’ve been having a blast helping athletes and empowering athletes to connect with businesses and see what comes from it.

Katya Allison (Host) (03:19):

Well yeah, and I know that the NIL ruling, what was it? Over a year ago now, really just affected your business position. I think when we originally talked you were like, yeah, this was perfection, right?

Jason Bergman (Guest) (03:33):

Yeah. Oh my God. It’s not often that you’re TAM or Total Adjustable Market 100 X’s overnight, but we went from helping 5,000 professional athletes to 500,000 collegiate athletes overnight. And I’ll never forget, on July 1st we had a team of four people at MarketPryce, it was two developers, marketing manager and me and I had like 15 calls a day, every single day with athletes and brands and they were like, what is this? What is going on? And we’ve had to learn a lot over this last year and a few months and we’re still learning. But it’s just crazy when that happens overnight and it’s again, it’s been a blast keeping up with, and we’re excited to see how it continually develops, but I’m sure we’ll dive into that.

Katya Allison (Host) (04:15):

Absolutely. We will definitely dive into that. A big part of why I wanted you on here as well is because of your experience and then now working with collegiate athletes. We almost got real deep into it before we even hit record on here. But you have an interesting perspective because you’ve worked with professional athletes and now you are building relationships with collegiate athletes. I imagine there are a lot of similarities, but I imagine there are a lot of differences between both. If you can unpack a little bit of, what is a brand up against when they want to work with a collegiate athlete versus professional athlete?

Jason Bergman (Guest) (04:53):

Yeah. How much time do you have?

Katya Allison (Host) (04:55):

We’ve got all the time.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (04:57):

Yeah. It’s been awesome to see just because the collegiate athlete market is brand new. NIL is brand new, but working with athletes on marketing deals has been happening forever. Now, the biggest difference I’ve seen from working with professional athletes and student athletes is just on the student athletes side, the investment that they give you in regards to time and investment of the interest in working with them, these pro athletes, they make whether it’s millions of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars, their main source of income is their sport and they sort of just see it as a, oh cool, another marketing deal, great, that’s part of the game. With these student athletes and from a brand’s point of view, we’ve worked with literally thousands of student athletes and all of them are wide eyed, bushy tailed of, Oh my God, I could do this? This is so exciting. What do I do now?

(05:47):

And from a brand, and again you covered this a lot in your show, but you want to make sure that you’re working with an athlete who authentically loves your product, they believe in it and they speak to why they use it. And I’ve seen so many brands be so thrilled working with student athletes because it’s like, they’re jumping over the moon to promote your brand because they’ve never had the opportunity to do this before. So that’s been the coolest thing for me, seeing these student athletes and I have 1,000,001 stories, but just student athletes seeing a product that fits their personal brand. And keep in mind they’re also 18 to 22 year olds. They’re really savvy on social media so they know what they’re doing. Not only they’re more talented, but they’re investing their time and efforts. And again, we’ll get to pricing I’m sure too, but it’s a lot less significant of an investment on the brand side to get your foot in the door with student athletes who could be lifetime ambassadors for you.

Katya Allison (Host) (06:34):

Well, and I would imagine though, because of their age between 18 and 22, a lot of them haven’t had a formal job. Their sport is their job, school is their job. So as a brand, what do I need to know going into that? Is that going to require more time on my behalf? If I’m a brand, for example, when I am working with that athlete.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (06:57):

Yeah, I think it could go both ways. I think as a brand keeping expectations in mind of, I just spoke with, he’s the quarterback of Penn State about a deal and he literally had his backpack on, he was there for five minutes and then he is like, cool, I got to go to the facility to practice. And these student athletes is, 5:00 AM, 6:00 AM to 7:00, 8:00 PM and then they just go to sleep and their entire day is busy and they’re not thinking of marketing deals. It’s not the first thing that they’re thinking of. But with that being said, if you can figure out a way of why your product fits into their day-to-day life and that story of how they could use your product and why they use your product and really not only setting expectations with the athlete, but getting them excited about it too of, hey, this is a cool opportunity as well.

(07:42):

So I think from the brand’s point of view, in terms of the time it would take, it’s probably the same with influencers. It’s like, well what does your schedule look like? The student athlete is going to have a lot more going on probably than a typical, I would say, general influencer. But it’s keeping those expectations in mind because the time that you spend up front, you’re going to save on the back end. Where again, these 18 to 22 year olds, a lot of them you see have tens of thousands of TikTok followers because they’re just doing day in the life videos and hype videos and they know what they’re doing. And I think that’s something for brands of, in the research process with any influencer including student athletes, it’s finding someone who again, has a good fit on social media and that could work your product into that brand.

Katya Allison (Host) (08:24):

Yeah. So you said the word research, which I think sounds very time consuming from a brand perspective, but obviously the return on investment is that you have identified an athlete that is going to be a super fan, because that’s essentially what you’re looking for. But correct me if I’m wrong, I would think that as a brand, some good advice would be to do your homework and take a look at how that person will fit for you, versus saying, hey, do you want to, and then having more back and forth. You work with collegiate athletes but you also talk to brands. You’ve got both sides of the coin of like, hey, tell me why you want him? Or maybe you don’t do that. I don’t know.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (09:04):

No, I love that Katya, because those are the coolest deals. And I could, like you, I can nerd out over influence marketing just for hours and hours. But there’s this, she’s a Rutgers Field Hockey athlete, her name’s Carly Snarski and she just did a deal with this company, 18 Chestnuts. And it’s this healthy for use soup, which, I still eat burgers. I’m not an athlete. But she reaches out to the company and she’s like, I’m recently gluten free and dairy free and I’ve been struggling finding food that fit with my active lifestyle. I could put 18 Chestnuts, a bowl of soup in my backpack and then heat it up and in 30 seconds I could be eating food that’s good for me, that tastes good, that fits with my new diet. I would love to work. And for that brand, how in the hell are you going to find that perfect athlete who made amazing content and it just fits in her life cycle, and she made a video and it was a TikTok of doing exactly that.

(09:51):

So I think for brands that research, sure it could be time consuming, but putting it onto the athlete of, well why would you want to work with my company? If they’re like, I like soup. The content’s probably not going to be that great, but if they’re like Carly and there’s real meat to the pitch of why they want to work with you, I’m biased, but cool, let’s send you some soup. Here’s some money as well and go have fun and make some content and let’s create that long-term partnership. Because those are the stories that are engaging and engage an audience and stop someone from scrolling. And that’s all brands are looking to do.

Katya Allison (Host) (10:24):

The thumb stopping. That’s what I always like to call it. The thumb stopping content.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (10:28):

Exactly. Are you coining that?

Katya Allison (Host) (10:31):

I don’t think that I have. I’m pretty sure I stole it from somewhere, so nobody say that I said it. I say it quite often. But the other thing that I wanted to ask you was, I really believe that NIL has really opened the floodgates of what is potentially possible and with those floodgates come the good with the bad. I’m trying to figure out the best way to articulate this, and I know that when I wrote it out I was like, how am I going to ask this without feeling like it’s a little touchy? But do you find that schools are leveraging NIL to recruit those top athletes to come to their school?

Jason Bergman (Guest) (11:11):

So the answer to that question is a “yes”, unfortunately.

Katya Allison (Host) (11:17):

That’s what I thought.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (11:18):

Have you ever heard of the NIL’s like the Wild Wild West? Have you heard that acronym before?

Katya Allison (Host) (11:23):

I have. I always say the influencer marketing is the Wild Wild West, so it makes sense.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (11:27):

Interesting.

Katya Allison (Host) (11:28):

The NIL is as well too. I think anything that is very new to any sort of space, there are rules and there are regulations, but then there are no rules or regulations. Does that make sense? I should do a bunch of air quotes all along there.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (11:45):

I don’t know if the video’s on for people watching or listening, but I could just have air quotes the whole time and we could run with it.

Katya Allison (Host) (11:50):

Exactly, exactly. I was like, do I ask this question? But I’m going to go there. But yeah, everybody who’s listening, this is all air quote information.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (12:00):

Amazing. And by the way, this was absolutely not. I just like to have fun and I know you do too, Katya. I’m happy to answer that question too because it is the Wild Wild West of look, 500,000 student athletes overnight, a piece of legislation, it’s not going to be perfect. And basically the only rule, I’m not going to bore everyone with the legal aspects of it, but it’s, you technically, legally cannot induce an athlete, if you’re a high school athlete, they can’t look at two schools and say, oh well, where can I make more money? What’s the higher offer? With that being said, there are some stories where that is happening. Where the freshman quarterback makes a $9 million dollar NIL deal to go to this university. And there’s a lot of back channeling where these brands or these universities, are they involved? There’s a lot of boosters who want to get involved, because they want their schools to be able to work and get the best athletes to come.

(12:50):

And now it’s basically legal to pay athletes. With that being said, I believe that there’s two NILs, there’s the college quarterbacks making $9 million dollars for just being on the team and then there’s the Carly Snarskis and every other athlete, 99% of other athletes who they’re not going to make millions of dollars by just being a student athlete. But NIL is just basically opportunity where, you’re in the influencer world, it’s these influencers being able to make connections, being able to make money. Even if they don’t go pro, if you do a marketing deal with Allbirds, now you’re in touch with the marketing manager of Allbirds. How cool is that? How powerful is that? And that opportunity to make that connection. It’s crazy to think that before last year student athletes couldn’t do this. And that’s where the brands that are entering the space now, great making the connections with these student athletes who are so over the moon to even have this opportunity.

(13:42):

And they’re open to learning and they’re so smart and they’re so good on social media, the brands that are diving in head first to student athletes, yes, of course working with some other marketplaces, whether it’s GRIN or MarketPryce or others, making sure that they’re staying in the line. But with that being said, in terms of brands and athletes in typical influencer marketing deals, it is wide open. There are going to be a lot of brands that haven’t even entered yet that are still going to win, because it’s still so early. And that’s what gets me really excited.

Katya Allison (Host) (14:08):

Yeah, I like that. I also really appreciate the fact that you’ve bucketed NIL in two different camps. Which leads me to my next question, because the camp that you said are like the quarterbacks. Which I think is that traditional athlete, not that the other ones are not traditional, but then you’ve got someone who, I believe that you said, is field hockey?

Jason Bergman (Guest) (14:29):

Field hockey. Yep.

Katya Allison (Host) (14:30):

Yeah, okay. So, that to me sounds like a variety of athletes right there. So do you think the NIL ruling has impacted one sport over the other? Or is it free game for all games?

Jason Bergman (Guest) (14:46):

Yeah, I think one of the biggest misconceptions is, maybe another way to answer this one is, people thought when NIL happened that it would just be for the football players and some of the men’s basketball players. When we first launched I had one-on-one calls with these athletes and it was the female volleyball player, it was the track and field athlete. And they’re like, yeah, we know brands don’t really want to work with me, but I’m interested in learning about it. And it’s like, well, you know with micro influencers and nano influencers, they have this really highly engaged audience where, sure they may not lead you to hundreds of thousands of sales, but they’re going to make amazing content for maybe a couple hundred dollars or free product, they can really make some amazing content that converts for you, from a brand’s point of view, especially at scale.

(15:33):

And that’s been one of the coolest things to see. We’ve seen one brand, G.O.A.T. Fuel, it’s like an energy drink. They’ve worked with over a hundred student athletes and they’re still going working with athletes and there’s a lot of ways to enter this market that has been really awesome to see. The other 99% of athletes, the ones that know their time in the spotlight is now, those are the athletes who have really been winning. So that’s been one of the, now that you asked what the biggest misconception is, I hope they care because I think it’s interesting.

Katya Allison (Host) (15:59):

I care, I want to know.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (16:03):

Yeah, it’s not just for the football and basketball players and those other athletes, the other 99%, those have been the ones that we’ve been seeing crushing it, because they want to do this. And I think, as you know, if you want to do this, that’s the biggest part. If you work with an influencer who’s half into it, half out, the content’s not going to be great, the results may not be there. You need to make sure they’re fully bought in really from the start.

Katya Allison (Host) (16:24):

Yeah, that absolutely makes sense. And you said something about gifting products or paying a couple of hundred dollars, what do you see is pretty consistent? Obviously there are going to be those outliers or someone’s just going to take very little for a very short amount of time and then you’ve got the people who are on the high ends that have a high price point when it comes to, this is the athlete that I’m going to work with. Have you found that sweet spot when it comes to compensation for a collegiate athlete? Is it a mix of product gifting and a flat fee? Is it a commission structure? Is there a sweet spot that is starting to bubble up?

Jason Bergman (Guest) (17:04):

Yeah, I’m going to answer this question because I love price transparency, but it’s hard to have a sweet spot for 500,000 individuals.

Katya Allison (Host) (17:11):

Yeah, that’s true.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (17:13):

So we’ve seen as low as, again product [inaudible 00:17:16] work really well up to deals in the five figures. Our average deal size is probably around 2, $300 of cash with product on top of it. Where that’s typically for the one off social media post with an athlete. It’s interesting, the space is brand new. So we’ve had to do a lot of education on even what is commission and what is an affiliate deal and if I get a free product, what am I supposed to do? And the opportunity and even a lot of brands are like, we’ll send your product to try it. And they’re like, well do I need to do anything? And it depends on the brand. Some brands are like, just try the soup, try the protein bar, try it, and let’s see if this can be a longer partnership.

(17:53):

And what we’ve been trying to do is educate the athletes on making content that brands are interested in as well. And that educational content is, it’s been really powerful of the Carly Snarski example, not to keep going back to her, but how many different ways can you advertise that you have healthy soup? It gets boring after a while.

Katya Allison (Host) (18:11):

Absolutely.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (18:11):

No one’s going to follow that. But if you get stories of, well here’s when I eat this soup. Here’s why I do this. And getting those user stories. There’s again, a ton of examples that we have, but I’d say the biggest thing for the brands is to understand, why would an athlete use the product? Why would a student athlete be interested in this? And really focus in on the why, versus getting hooked on the, we’ve never had a conversation with an athlete where they’re like, oh, they’re offering me 10% commission, can they make it 15?

(18:39):

That hasn’t happened once. So for the student athlete, it’s more of how does this brand tie into my personal brand? It’s actually advice we give out to student athletes. Don’t jump at every opportunity, which we could dive into as well if you like, but some are just so excited about it and want to do any deal. But for us it’s okay, make sure it fits in your brand, make sure it’s something that look, it’s going to be on your social media profile, you’re going to have to post about it. Does that fit with you? Does that fit with what you’re trying to do from a long-term perspective? So I’m not sure how we got there, but I hope that helps give some context and I’m happy to keep moving.

Katya Allison (Host) (19:13):

It sounds like when it comes to just the compensation piece that it is really hard to just pin it down. Product gifting does sound like a really great way. And this is something that I know from an influence marketing space, I’m always trying to push as well too. Product gifting is really great because that’s an introduction to your brand. Don’t expect something. You will get something back, because it’s amazing to me, even if someone tries it and they love it, but it’s maybe not that brand deal for them, you still have your product in someone else’s hand and then what happens is that word of mouth comes from it and that’s really where that ROI comes in. Maybe they give it to their cousin and their cousin fricking loves it, but you would’ve never thought of asking their cousin.

(19:55):

So I think that there are a lot of things that come from product gifting, but it also sounds like having a flat fee is helpful because they are in this younger space and not as well versed in business maybe. So commission may not be that sweet spot. I also think, and I’d love to get your thoughts on this because, I’m a collegiate athlete, I’m at school for four years, ideally. Maybe a little bit more, maybe a little bit less. How long is that partnership? And if you tie it just to their sport versus their lifestyle, if it’s that product placement versus lifestyle, I think as a brand you’re in a better spot if you’re looking for that better fit.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (20:39):

Yeah, definitely. I couldn’t agree more. And yeah, it’s something that with these student athletes, it’s like if you find a product that really speaks to them. And by the way, I don’t know how long these deals last because it’s only been a year, I think it’s still to figure out these student athletes. But yeah, it’s just finding athletes and I think that this is going to be a generational shift where student athletes now are just like, oh, let me do it because I may only have one or two years left. We’ve already started seeing high school athletes trying to sign up and in some states you can, some states you can’t do marketing deals. Like in California you can’t. But in other states you can legally get paid for marketing deals. And they’ve already started coming to MarketPryce of like, hey, I know I may not be doing deals now, but I’d love to learn more.

(21:19):

And that’s going to be something where these creators are getting younger and younger, they’re getting smarter and smarter and the best brands are going to really understand. Okay, great. If you’re trying to target Gen Z, which, I listen to this podcast all the time, there’s a lot of brands who would love to target Gen Z. How is a marketing manager in their forties going to know how to target an 18 year old? Why don’t you listen to the 18, 19 year old and see what language that they’re speaking and really build your product and brand around that.

Katya Allison (Host) (21:46):

You specifically spoke about Gen Z and then we’ve got all of the social media platforms and what generation fits in what sort of social media network? Do you find that most college athletes slide into a specific network? Are you seeing more TikTok and YouTube versus Instagram? Because I cannot imagine anyone’s on Facebook. No offense to Facebook, but just from a generational standpoint, those youth, they’re in–

Jason Bergman (Guest) (22:18):

Sound older [inaudible 00:22:20]

Katya Allison (Host) (22:20):

I know exactly.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (22:21):

We’ve seen a huge revamp on Facebook where a lot of it, I’m just kidding I [inaudible 00:22:27]

Katya Allison (Host) (22:27):

Listen, I was around when Facebook first came out and MySpace, but that’s for another podcast.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (22:33):

I will interrupt before you keep going down that path and we start losing people. I’m just messing with you. No, it’s crazy. There’s so many athletes we work with, they have 8,000 followers on Instagram and 80,000 on TikTok. And what we’ve been trying to understand with brands also is for TikTok, that is a huge opportunity where any of these videos can absolutely blow up and repetition is really important too. So we’ve seen a ton of, you get a video and you post it on reels and TikTok and then, like every other brand is doing, we see how that performs. But we’ve seen Instagram and TikTok, we’ve seen athletes with a lot more followers on TikTok than Instagram recently. But we’ve still seen brands predominantly spending on whether it’s just Instagram stories and posts, TikTok too, but a little bit more secondary. And we’re not the entire market but also a lot of whitelisting. So getting some content that they’re able to, whether whitelist, or use in their own advertisements.

Katya Allison (Host) (23:28):

There is a ton out there and there’s a lot of opportunity just for brands. Now to go back to what you were saying in regards to the education piece, for these athletes, I’d love to get some insight into the areas that you think that you have to educate them the most. I’d mentioned that influencer marketing is the Wild West and this area with the NIL ruling also is as well. What are the top things that you find that are on repeat when you are speaking to these athletes?

Jason Bergman (Guest) (24:02):

One thing that’s really important to keep in mind too, because education is such a big broad word where it’s like, there are so many universities trying to educate athletes on NIL and a lot of agencies, hey let me educate these student athletes. And there’s so much education out there that student athletes just don’t care about and they’re too smart and they’re too savvy. You teach them a 30 minute recorded video on financial literacy, should they watch it? Yes. Are they going to? No. So how can you speak to them in a language that they understand? And quickly shout out our athlete engagement team and Sam Green from MarketPryce she is a rockstar and she is a former agent herself, a former video editor. And what these athletes are really listening to us about is content creation, both how they can keep up content and consistently post.

(24:50):

And you covered it with Mitchell Pehlke from Ohio State, the lacrosse player of, he has so much on his plate, how can he consistently make content? Some athletes know how, some athletes see Mitchell and want to follow him but don’t know how yet. And not only content, but branded content and how to partner with businesses of, yeah, sure now they can work with brands, but what do they message them and what are brands looking for? And a lot of them have that FOMO, they want to get involved but they just might not know how. So I think those two pillars of the content and then the partnerships aspect of, every student athlete wants to make more money from these deals. And anything that goes into that of, you talk to brands all the time, if they make content that converts, whether it’s for awareness or sales, if the student athlete really loves the brand and they deliver great results, the brand’s going to want to keep working with them.

(25:36):

So how can student athletes, how can we be that connective tissue between the business and the athletes and help these athletes just be the best brand ambassadors ever. Because we know it’s going to be a full circle if that makes sense, of athletes putting out better content, brands are happier, they’re going to keep working with athletes.

Katya Allison (Host) (25:52):

I definitely think it is a full circle. I was curious as to how you teach them how to show their value. As a brand, I want to be able to have a conversation that is mutually beneficial. My language is metrics. Tell me about your engagement rate. Tell me about your followers, tell me about your audience. Is the education on your side with the athlete the same way? This is how you can represent yourself. Well say, hey, I ran this campaign, I did this, this is the type of engagement, this is my audience. Is there that education and teaching happening for you as you connect with athletes?

Jason Bergman (Guest) (26:33):

Yeah, that’s a great question. So we provide a ton of data like GRIN does also on if an athlete has X percentage male versus female following. X percentage, what age groups they come from. With student athletes, especially if they go to school at the University of Florida, a lot of these athletes have like 60, 70% of their followers in Gainesville, Florida. Where the University is located, because it’s other students. So that in and of itself is really attractive to a lot of brands because they didn’t really know how hyper local that they could target with these athletes. And that’s been something really interesting. But for the student athletes, that is something where, we think that can be a big advantage of these student athletes talking to their metrics and talking to content. I don’t think student athletes are there yet. The vast majority of them, the Mitchell Pehlkes, the athletes who have done tons and tons of deals, absolutely.

(27:21):

But this is where I think it’s been only one year. So there’s going to be a lot of learnings of how student athletes should carry themselves, what they should focus on. I know you’re going to ask me my biggest prediction, because you do it every single episode, but that’s going to go into it. This is a generational shift. I think student athletes today are so different than ones in four years, going to be different than the ones in 10 years. And I’ll stop talking because I’ll save it for later. But anyways.

Katya Allison (Host) (27:46):

Well we’ve reached that point, so it was like–

Jason Bergman (Guest) (27:49):

Oh wow.

Katya Allison (Host) (27:51):

But you called it out sooner, because I was going to ask you, you’re right, it has only been a little bit over a year, so it is prediction time, because it’s only been a little over a year. What do you see happening in the next year and a half?

Jason Bergman (Guest) (28:08):

We’ve had thousands of one-on-one conversations with athletes and that has been something that is so crucial in this new space. We’ve also had a ton of conversations with universities and I’ve spoken with some huge universities that have a thousand student athletes and over a year into NIL, they’re like, yeah, we’re still just getting to the starting line and we still don’t know totally what to do yet. Where if you have problems with school, there’s a tutor. You have problems on the field and you get hurt, there’s a trainer. You need career coaching, there’s a career center. When it comes to NIL where these student athletes are all the time on the university, a lot of schools just go like, and they shrug and they say, ah, you could figure that out yourself.

(28:50):

Now what I’d love to see, and I think these universities and we’re looking to partner with a lot of them moving forward, but they’re going to take a lot more active stance as NIL becomes a lot more normalized. And I think even bigger hand, I think just the creator in general, there’s 50 million creators out there, 2 million are professional. I think that there’s going to be a lot of, not just student athletes, but students who are becoming creators and who are learning from the university. UConn just hired someone to coach student athletes on creating better content. They have someone on their payroll at UConn who helps student athletes make awesome content and do brand partnerships. I think things like that will get a lot more normalized, where there’s going to be a lot more opportunity for just creators from a whole, and this is why I’m so bullish on the creator economy, I know you guys are too.

Katya Allison (Host) (29:40):

Yes.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (29:41):

But education in the space of, well, great, this is still new, the creator economy. It’s been like 5, 6, 7 years.

Katya Allison (Host) (29:49):

Yeah.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (29:49):

I think that’s going to be something where a lot more universities, especially in the space, in the NIL space, are going to take a more active approach on educating on how to be a successful creator and how to make actually a career out of this.

Katya Allison (Host) (30:00):

I love this prediction. I love this prediction. Yeah, let’s make it happen. Well, because I’m right on board with it. Because I think that you’re right when it comes to the creator economy, this NIL is that next part of it that’s going to feed into it. And there’s so much education that’s still needed in the space, which is interesting for something like influence marketing that’s actually been around for longer than people think.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (30:21):

Yeah.

Katya Allison (Host) (30:22):

The amount of education in this creator economy is like people are going to be thirsting for it. You know what I mean? And I love the idea of it being in schools. I know that we get approached often and I’m actually currently working on a curriculum for influencer marketing managers like this. This is how you do all of these things. Well, we’ll talk after that. No, but you know what I mean? There are a lot more schools that are approaching it saying like, hey, this is not going away. This is going to be a discipline. We need to prep our students for the creator economy when they get out of college. And that means, from the creator standpoint, from the brand standpoint, from the marketing standpoint, there are going to be these evolutions. Now, this has turned into my prediction, so I apologize.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (31:05):

No, it’s amazing. We’re on the same exact page and, can I give a bonus prediction? Or are you going to kill me for going over?

Katya Allison (Host) (31:12):

Yes. Give me a bonus.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (31:13):

Just because I went to UF, so down in Gainesville, and I wanted to go there because Tim Tebow and Joakim Noah and Al Horford, the awesome athletes that were playing there. And these schools, I think are also going to get smarter, where why can’t they pay student athletes there to advertise a day in the life as a student? Why is it important to go to University of Florida? Can they actually pay student athletes for NIL deals to advertise the university? And to advertise, you asked it, right?

Katya Allison (Host) (31:43):

Yeah.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (31:44):

How can universities get ahead of the NIL game? We’ve already seen it where the Chicago White Sox, they did deals with double digit student athletes who are from Chicago and they’re not baseball players. And who follows student athletes who are from Chicago? Or go to school in Chicago? Other people in Chicago, right? So that Gen Z market that baseball is trying to reach, the White Sox are getting ahead of it. I think universities are going to start really, not only educating their student athletes and their student base, but hopefully even paying them to promote the university itself and make it cool to go to that school. Did not mean to rhyme. I hope that didn’t sound weird. I’ll let you wrap this up.

Katya Allison (Host) (32:20):

Well, no, now I can’t rhyme and the expectations are high. Well, let me leave you with this. Thank you so much for coming on. I know it took us a while to get this locked in, but I am so thankful that you did and that you were able to share some of your insights.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (32:35):

Thank you so much. Again, if you’re listening to this already, keep listening. This podcast is the best. So I can’t wait and watch out for that Katya, Influence Marketing Course. I know I [inaudible 00:32:45]

Katya Allison (Host) (32:45):

Exactly. All right. Thank you so much.

Jason Bergman (Guest) (32:49):

Thank you.

Katya Allison (Host) (32:53):

Now Athlete Marketing is starting to become one of my most favorite topics. It takes influencer marketing to a whole other playing field. Yes, pun was intended there. But seriously, Jason described the research that’s needed from both sides. From brand and athlete to find that right match for the athlete’s personal brand. That to me is the key for that long-term partnership that really results in authentic content and really getting your message out there as a brand. Now, I’m going to leave a thought starter for you, which is something that I don’t really do. But here’s the question. How could your brand fit into the lifestyle of an athlete? Noodle on that one. Now, if you want to hear more, be sure to subscribe to the GRIN Gets Real podcast to get the latest episodes. Give us some stars and leave a review. Let me know what you like or a favorite episode. Love that. Connect with me on social, you can find me on LinkedIn, Katya Allison. And if you’re interested in learning more about GRIN, visit our website grin.co. Until next time, keep grinning.

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