Name, Image, & Likeness: Why Influencers Are More Important Than Ever

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the wretched, blasphemous, and any other negative adjective you can think of, organization called the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA for us simple-minded folk) is finally allowing student athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness (NIL).

So, what on earth does that mean?

College athletes can now make money.

Yes, cue up the “Like they weren’t already getting paid” crowd. Either way, the NCAA is acknowledging the fact that athletes deserve some type of compensation as the organization rakes in billions of dollars. While schools can’t directly pay athletes (wink, wink), these young adults are free to sign autographs, sell merchandise, and accept endorsements among other money-making activities. Schools are creating stipulations on what athletes can and cannot promote, but this is a huge step in not only the NCAA world, but the entire marketing and advertising industry.

And if your company wants to get involved, it better do so – like, NOW. The floodgates opened on July 1, and hundreds, if not thousands, of deals were brokered within minutes of the clock striking midnight.

Ever heard of the Cavinder twins who play basketball at Fresno State? Six Star (a sports nutrition and performance company) and Boost Mobile have – as they signed Haley and Hanna to a sizable contract.

How about Olivia Dunne? Does that name ring a bell? Well experts are predicting the LSU gymnast will make more than $1 million in 2021.

Hercy Miller, a freshman, will join the Tennessee State basketball team – part of the tiny Ohio Valley Conference. Miller was barely recruited out of high school and almost certainly has no professional career in the future. He just signed a $2 million deal with Web Apps America.

Why are companies backing up the Brinks truck to relatively unknown college athletes?

Because they’re just “relatively unknown” to your company.

The Cavinder twins boast millions of followers across their various social platforms. Dunne claims to be the most followed college athlete – and has insane numbers to back it up. Miller is Master P’s (Percy Miller) son with a huge following.

A marketing and advertising agency can help your business find these “hidden” gems. Agencies, with the help of data collection and research tools, identify what your target audience is interested in and who they follow. This research – along with your flight dates and budget – determine potential audience sizes and the number of possible impressions available.

Influencer marketing and social media marketing are nothing new. However, since the NCAA changed its rules, companies have a brand-new talent pool to choose from. A talent pool with millions of social followers – the majority being a young, impressionable audience.

Social media users are more likely to purchase than a lot of other consumer groups. It’s no secret that kids (and adults, to be honest) spend a lot of time on their phones perusing social media. Companies must take advantage of this while still being genuine. They must find the right fit.

Again, that’s where an agency comes into play. We’re the experts when it comes to identifying your target audience and how they align with not only the products and/or services you offer, but also if they appreciate and respect your company values. We’ll help you find influencers who your customers can genuinely relate to and trust.

Listen, we get it. Not every company has the budget to afford major celebrities. But that’s the power of social media and these new NIL rules. Your company doesn’t need to shell out millions of dollars to better connect with your customers. You may not be able to afford Magic Johnson, but the point guard at the university 10 minutes down the road is more powerful and influential than you think.

Those three examples above (Cavinders, Dunne, & Miller – which oddly sounds like a power law firm) are the outliers. It’s awesome that they’re cashing in big time but they’re the minority. There are plenty of college athletes that better align with your company who are willing to work for much less. It doesn’t even have to be a monetary agreement. Many influencers simply get paid in free swag or other goods/services their business partner provides. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your offers – just make sure it’s enticing enough for a potential influencer to not only be interested, but truly feel a connection with your business.

It’ll be very interesting to see how the NCAA and its NIL policy develops in the future. How it will change, mold, and evolve the marketing and advertising industry. One thing’s for sure: it’s here to stay and your company better act now!

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