In today’s booming sports industry, brand management is an essential key component for creating the success of any brand or merchandise item. Many professional and national sports organizations spend millions of dollars in employing brand managers who can effectively develop, plan, and implement marketing activities that will boost the value of their brand. Whether focused on marketing a team, players, a stadium, or fan merchandise, brand managers play a vital role in business to generate profitable returns for sports organizations and their shareholders. Since sports clubs invest heavily in their players and products, brand managers are essential for building their brand’s image and spurring significant sales.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 174,010 brand managers and other marketing managers employed in America earn an average annual salary of $133,700, which could be converted to an hourly wage of $64.28. Specifically, brand managers employed in the spectator sports industry earned slightly less than average at $117,070 each year.
When first starting out, brand managers in the sports industry can expect to rank in the bottom tenth percentile with an average yearly wage of $64,440. However, it’s important to note that sports brand managers in professional organizations can easily break through the $200,000 mark annually later in their career.
Brand managers are given the responsibility of maintaining the overall performance of their brands by overseeing all marketing initiatives. Brand managers must be involved in market research to understand their fans’ perception and behavior before brainstorming effective marketing strategies to draw them in. Managers ensure that their sports brand receives maximum visibility in the marketplace and outperforms the competition. Brand management can involve coordinating events, leading marketing projects, and heading advertisement campaigns. Since brand managers are members of the management team in sports-related organizations, they also typically present marketing strategies and their results in meetings weekly.
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First and foremost, brand managers must have strong interpersonal skills because their work often crosses into various departments for collaborating with marketing teams, sales staff, product designers, and advertisers. Brand management requires solid analytical abilities to take current market conditions and past successes into account through statistical analysis when building campaigns. Brand managers should have problem solving skills to quickly redesign logos, market a new slogan, or create a more targeted ad campaign when profits start waning. Being creative, results-oriented, determined, entrepreneurial in spirit, and persuasive is essential for building a successful career in sports brand management.
Degree and Education Requirements
To become a brand manager in the sports industry, you’ll need to earn at least a bachelor’s degree from a four-year regionally accredited institution. Though no specific major is required, many brand managers choose to earn an undergraduate degree in sports management, marketing, management, advertising, communications, or economics. Having a background in computer science is also helpful for developing a marketing approach that will maximum web traffic towards your sports brand. It’s recommended that aspiring brand managers fill up their schedules with courses in statistics, finance, economics, mathematics, technology, market research, consumer behavior, visual arts, sales, promotions, and marketing. Earning a master’s degree in sports management or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in sports marketing could facilitate faster job promotion onto the brand management team.
Pros and Cons of the Position
Brand managers are at the “top of the food chain” in sports organizations, so they’re given a hefty amount of freedom in creating their own agenda. Sports brand management teams define the strategies and tactics for marketing the brand based on others’ input. It can be a great feeling of authority knowing that you’re the hub around which the spokes of the team’s marketing campaigns operate. Brand managers also generally report the emotional reward of helping the organization succeed. On the flip side, brand managers often need to work outside normal office hours to meet tight deadlines on advertising campaigns. Travel is a common necessity for attending product launches, meetings, exhibitions, games, and conferences. In general, jobs in the sports industry don’t offer the same level of job security as other non-sports organizations because ownership can change in the blink of an eye.
Once you gain a core knowledge of sports marketing and management topics with an appropriate education, you’ll need to start building experience in the field. Most sports organizations look for brand management candidates who have about four years of prior work experience in marketing or advertising. To start getting your feet wet, complete an internship related to brand management or obtain entry-level work as a brand assistant and market researcher in the sports arena. Some sports organizations will offer in-house training programs for entry-level employees who display the attributes needed to be promoted into brand management. Also, there’s the option for you to build your professional marketing credentials by earning the Professional Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing (DipM) through the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). Before attending any job interviews, make sure you build a strong portfolio and do some market research on the sports organization’s brand to really show employers your expertise.
As sports organizations continue to look for methods to expand their share of the competitive entertainment industry, there will be an increasing need for brand managers to oversee the implementation of promotional campaigns that boost brand awareness. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of brand managers and other marketing managers is expected to grow as fast as average at 13% before 2022. That being said, sports marketing positions are highly desirable by many business school graduates, so competition will remain heated throughout the decade. Whether looking to work for the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL or amateur-level sports organizations, brand managers should be prepared for a rather competitive scramble for landing scarce open positions in the sports industry.
Overall, identity is critical for all sports organizations in today’s competitive marketplace. That’s why brand managers focus their efforts on creating lasting impressions among potential fans and consumers to improve overall ticket or merchandise sales. If you’re hoping to become a senior member of the brand management team in sports business, you’ll typically need to combine a solid education with experience to begin making the team’s brand relevant to consumers and fans.
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