If you’re looking for a career in the octagon, marketing yourself is, hands down, one of the most important things you can do outside of training. Many fighters want to focus on fighting, and neglect to market themselves. If you have ambitions beyond your first amateur fight, you need to develop an image that is easily recognizable to fans, promoters, and sponsors. How can you do this without hiring a PR coordinator? Here are four ideas to help fighters market themselves.
1. Define Your Brand
For those of you who are uncomfortable with the idea of promoting yourself, don’t look at it as self-promotion – look at it as building a brand. As an amateur fighter, or an up and coming pro, it is essential that you focus on building your personal brand. Every fighter should ask themselves – what kind of fighter am I? What makes me different than everyone else out there? What is the image I want to convey? As a fighter, YOU are the brand. It is this brand that promotions want to sign, fans want to follow, and sponsors want to, well, sponsor. The most recognizable fighters have talent, yes, but they have also done a brilliant job of cultivating a solid personal brand.
2. Identify Potential Sponsors and Support Them
Once you have begun defining your personal brand, begin researching potential sponsors. Start with the brands or businesses that you are genuinely interested in. Have you always used a certain brand of gloves? Taken your car to Joe’s Auto since you were 16? Can’t live without your morning yogurt? Sponsors want to see that you have a history with their product/business, or a personal connection. If you think hard enough, you’re certain to find that you have history with at least a handful of potential sponsors. On that note, start local. Communities are about building connections, and as a local fighter, it benefits you to support local businesses, and that goes both ways.
3. Have A Social Media Presence
The importance of social media can’t be stressed enough. Networking is no longer for those who wear a tie to work. With the global reach of MMA, networking via social media is the best way to reach the widest audience. At a minimum, you should have an Instagram account and Facebook athlete page (note that this is separate from your personal Facebook profile). The goal is twofold – build a brand and build relationships. Use social media to portray who you are; post photos that let people learn more about you, and why you’re different. Use these platforms to also engage with fans, promotors, and fellow fighters. Social media isn’t just about posting – it’s about engaging followers, finding new opportunities, etc. Don’t look at either as a way to solely promote yourself and your brand; engagement isn’t a one way street. Follow other fighters, promotions, brands. Like, comment, and contribute to conversations. If you can’t stomach the idea of social media, look into hiring someone to run your account for you. Using a freelancer can often be much less expensive than you think. If you decide to do your own social media work, simplify it by laying out a schedule ahead of time. And if you’re panicking about content, you’d be surprised by how much you can come up with by simple being aware of your surroundings. Get in the habit of taking photos or videos of those moments when you are training. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be posted.
4. Be Marketable
While we’re on the topic, let’s be blunt. It’s not enough to develop a brand – it has to be a MARKETABLE brand. YOU have to be marketable. Be a brand that sponsors feel comfortable supporting, an athlete who they will be proud to show using their product. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t mean keeping quiet about the controversial opinions that make you, you. It does mean portraying those beliefs in a professional manner. If you feel strongly about a particular political issue or religion, great. Just keep any rants off social media, and the strong language for your own time. We know, we know, Connor McGregor does it. You are not Connor McGregor.
These points may seem ridiculously simple. And they are. What separates the fighters with higher profiles and better sponsors is execution and action. In training, in the cage, and in business. Take time outside of the gym to focus on improving your fight career in a new way. The best part? You can even put your feet up and indulge in some post-training session ice cream while doing it.
Contibutor from MMAWriteUp.com