Building an Endorsement Campaign with Athlete Influencers

Influencer marketing. Athlete endorsements. You’ve heard the terms, and perhaps you’ve given one or both a shot. Maybe you’re even among the marketers set to spend up to $10 billion on influencer marketing in 2020 (Influencer Marketing Hub, 2020). If you’re here, you know this isn’t a fad (see: $10 billion), but how has the market grown by roughly 50% year-over-year since 2016?

In the past, content controlled consumers. Everything was appointment viewing because it was only viewed live. Good content on the screen led to more engagement from fans, which led to success for the advertisers investing in showing up during those shows.

Now, consumers control their content — or at least when they view it. With social media, on-demand viewing, and OTT streaming services, there are so very few appointments needed to view your favorite content, beyond sports and special events.

And with so much noise, advertising is seemingly becoming less effective. With so many distractions, attention is hard to get.

Welcome to the era of attention economics —where attention goes, dollars will follow. In the mass media era, publishers owned our attention. In the social media era, people own our attention. “Real” connections are rare, so it’s the faces in our feed that slow our scroll. And the insights behind this idea only embolden the case for influencer and athlete marketing.

92% of consumers said they trust people over a brand

74% or marketers said that people helped reach a more targeted audience.

67% of marketers are increasing influencer marketing budgets in 2019

And so, this industry continues to take shape and brands are diving in: as athletes and influencers capture more of our attention, they will also capture more of our dollars.

Finding the Right Athletes for an Influencer Campaign

It’s clear that influencer marketing works, but the question of which influencers to engage remains a marketer’s single biggest challenge to increasing influencer investment.

Our recommendation? Break out the five Ws before jumping into potential names:

1. WHY

The question you first need to answer: why are you looking to partner with an influencer for a campaign? What outcomes are you looking to deliver with the partnership? Several common objectives for influencer marketing relationships include:

  • Action
  • Awareness
  • Affiliation

The answer to this will help determine your goals.

2. WHO

Isn’t this what we’re supposed to trying to figure out?

One of the biggest, most common mistakes that brands make is having the answer to who they want to work with before they have the answer to this question: Who are you trying to reach?

You want the fans and followers on the other side of the influencer’s message to mirror as closely as possible to YOUR target audience.

Begin your own target audience analysis by understanding the demographics you’re aiming to reach:

  • Location
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Household Income
  • Interests

Your answer to this question will specify your audience and help narrow the field of potential campaign influencers.


This refers to when it comes time for the influencer to publish a post: what form of content do you want the influencers to share (and how will you get it)? What are you looking for in the content shared by your influencer partner(s)?

  • Text-only
  • Photo
  • Video
  • CTA
  • Specific copy and/or hashtags

If you have content to provide to the influencer, that certainly simplifies the overall process. But there is a lot to be said for influencer-generated content. Your answer to these questions will determine your content, and simplify and organize the ask of the influencer.


As you begin to finalize your campaign plans, you’ll need to propose timing for when you want the posts to publish in market.

What’s the lead time we’re approaching these influencers with? And with that said, is this going to be a one-time engagement, or will the influencer be posting multiple times throughout a set period of time?

The answer to this question will nail down your timeline and either limit or expand your options for consideration on which influencers you will be able to partner with.


Finally, you’ll need to think about where you want the campaign to unfold:

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Other (TikTok, Twitch, YouTube, etc.)
  • Offline/Appearance

This final question will help you evaluate potential choices and align your campaign with influencers who have the strongest impact with the appropriate platform.

Why – Your goals

Who – Your audience

What – Your content

When – Your timeline

Where – Your platform

Now that this is settled, you don’t need to rely simply on raw intuition. You’re prepared to start going through your options and making some choices on influencers with real insights guiding your selections.



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