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Cofounder of Mizzen+Main and Sports Marketing Guy. Mizzen+Main is an innovative menswear label that has been featured in: Fast Company, Inc, WSJ, New York Times, Men's Health, Entrepreneur, DETAILS, and more. Visit us: MizzenandMain.com and Me: AthleteGeni.us



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Steve Mesler lived on a serious budget back when we’d see each other on a daily basis (2008). Back then, the U.S. Bobsled Team won nothing on the Olympic stage. But there he was, like a robot, training six hours per day for the 2010 Olympics. He’d live on supplements and the very sporadic, great meal. In my mind, there was no way that the guy could achieve what he had on his heart — a U.S. Bobsled 4-Man gold medal. It just didn’t seem like he had the resources to make it this way for years.

Of what I remember, one of his primary sponsors was Lululemon, where he served as an “elite ambassador” - a classification given to Olympians and others at the highest level of performance. This product only sponsorship also allowed for services like free massages, yoga, and other holistic bonuses. All in all, Lululemon actually helped him; they gave him more than gear, they gave him value that actually offset his costs.

His gold model and his increase in notoriety meant that he should have had more than a product only deal. He helped raise the Lululemon profile at one of the greatest national stages. But how do “small revenue” athletes properly communicate their value, relative to a realistic standard?

It got me thinking of ways to prove your value to a brand. A great way is to think of yourself as an employee and then compare your market value to other members of that team. Keep in mind that this is simple math designed to express value in one of the most meaningful ways, the bi-weekly paycheck.

The typical junior level marketing employee at your favorite brand makes $1,458.33 per pay period, before taxes ($34,999/year). An old mentor once said to me, “If you aren’t making us 5X what we’re paying you, you’re out.” That junior marketer, earning a smooth $35k, is responsible for $174,995. Is the company’s investment into you lesser or greater? And where does that leave your minimum intended ROI?

Marketing value differential:

[(Total sponsorship $$ - (Hourly x brand travel hours))/ 24] - 1,458.33

Total sponsorship $$ = guaranteed pay + accumulated cash bonuses

Hourly = total sponsorship $$ / 2,088 (i.e. the # of work hours / year)

Brand Travel = 15 days of appearances last year? Multiply by 24 hours. That time reduced your training, practice, and recovery. It cost you money.

1,458.33 = a good enough benchmark

You will arrive at a number that is to the left or the right of “0.” That is the difference in your bi-weekly paycheck in relation to junior marketers whose purpose is also to move the needle for the brand.

What does this begin to illustrate? Your value to a company’s marketing force. Most sponsored athletes operate, in many ways, like 1099’d contract employees. They spend time at the HQ, give feedback on future initiatives, and help build a presence within the market that the brand wants to capture.

An athlete should focus on finding ways to prove themselves valuable to an organization. But first, they have to believe in and state their own value. Thinking about your sponsorship dollars in the form of an hourly rate or biweekly paycheck format will begin to help you clarify.

Steve Mesler shouldn’t have had to worry about money. He deserved a life focused on training, recovery, friends, and family. And that life was deserved before his gold medal.

Quick Strike, No. 1: 3 Questions with Rovell



Rovell: Web, tell me about this site. What’s the URL?

Me: athletegeni.us.

Rovell: Pretty cool. [Rovell notices that that the Athlete Genius logo has a significant sports marketing relevance. It’s the product that changed everything in sports marketing, 1988 A.D.]

The logo is of the Jordan 3’s! Nice. What’s the goal?

Me: My goal is to demystify sports marketing. Athletes need to better understand the nuances and the economic benchmarks that they should be comparing themselves to. That product only deal that you just got? That’s not a good look. Some athletes are making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and some take what they are given and put up no fight. There is never an easy contract signing, especially in niche sports. As much as I love billion dollar sports, the niche sports are more interesting to me.

To give you an idea of how busy the 35 year old father of three is, I actually believe that I would crumble under the demands of his schedule. And my bandwidth is decent. The guy has three kids in 2014, that’s like 17 kids in 1940. I’m nervous just gearing up for number two, in my household. Not to mention, he is leading a social crowd-sourcing movement that combines professional “inner-circle” communications with amateur (confirmed) factoid curating.

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Before The Shark: Why I Respect Daymond John

Back in 1999, Daymond pulled the slickest move in startup fashion history by outfitting L.L. Cool J with a FUBU cap and influencing him to rhyme:

"For Us By Us, on the low" in a widely circulated GAP ad campaign.

GAP paid $90M over two years to air that commercial, FUBU rose from $30M to $300M/year after the masses grew to learn of the FUBU brand (thinking that it was sold at GAP stores). As a young brand, Mizzen+Main is one shout out away from achieving FUBU’s then-legendary trajectory. Enjoy this marvel in viral marketing.

This is from The New York Times (1853) on the autobiography, “12 Years A Slave.”

The sad and poignant truth is in the final line:And no recovery can be had for his services. Because he was bought without knowledge that he was a free citizen.” Of course. Solomon, I hope that last night brought you a bit of justice. 

Andreessen on The Pains of Effective Business

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