Sports marketing

How Hochberg Sports Marketing Creates Branding Opportunities For Lesser Known Athletes

When Matt Hochberg launched Hochberg Sports Marketing in December 2019, he saw an opportunity to gain a foothold in a space few people were looking for. He turned his attention to lesser-known athletes in sports like beach volleyball and women’s football, hoping to capitalize on their small but extremely dedicated fan bases. Rather than throwing himself over the fences trying to land a mega star, his Ichiro-like approach has allowed him to gradually scale his business.

“Most people really only focused on the 1%, whether it was the 1% of athletes or the 1% of brands,” Hochberg said in a recent interview. “They really only represent a tiny part of the overall athlete landscape. Most athletes are not LeBron; most of them are ordinary people like you and me, but they got a gift and worked hard to make it happen. We’re here to serve them and make sure they get the money they deserve. [We want] to ensure that they can build their profile and brand on social and digital channels through media to elevate their careers.

Alignment with brands

As Hochberg continues to grow his client base, he takes great pains to analyze not only their social media reach, but their personal stories as well. He finds that athletes who are connected on both fronts are the best candidates for representation.

“When deciding which new athlete to go up against, their social network is certainly important, and brands will take that into account when they evaluate offers as well, but we are really looking for athletes who can tell a story,” he said. . “Athletes who are passionate about engaging with their fans and followers, and who want to share their story and inspire a generation of athletes, we are the agency for that. ”

Hochberg believes this alignment between athlete history and his sponsor brand is a key part of a successful partnership.

“It ultimately helps us to really help them when we’re out there to launch brands,” he said. “We can tell this story to brands about who these athletes are and why it makes sense for these brands that don’t have unlimited marketing budgets. We take it very seriously when brands invest in our athletes to ensure that these offerings go above and beyond for those brands. [When] they see success, not only are they happy with the deal, but at the end of the day, they renew those deals, and we turn them into bigger and better deals. Ultimately [we] let’s help the brand grow at the same time as we help our athletes grow.

Focus on engagement rates

He has built relationships with emerging companies that don’t have Nike’s marketing budgets.

or Coca-Cola but want to have an impact in a very targeted space. In an industry where engagement rates are normally single-digit, Hochberg’s clients enjoy much more attractive returns, a feature he says separates his athletes from the rest of the pack.

“We work with athletes, for example, who have 40-50,000 followers and can have a 10-20% engagement rate, which is pretty impressive if you look at the industry as a whole,” he said. -he declares. “The engagement rate is really where I think we have a difference, compared to other agencies. “

While large agencies would overlook these small deals, Hochberg sees them as an opportunity to develop a partnership that could eventually turn into a long-term contract. These often start with one-off Instagram posts for a few hundred dollars that awaken brands within reach of its athletes.

“We make one-off deals that can include, say, a social media post, and that’s it,” he said. “It could cost as little as $ 500 and at the same time the end goal is to find branded partners who want to invest in these athletes and their careers for the long term. This is where we see the most success, both from an athlete’s perspective and from our own perspective. These offers can range from $ 15 to $ 25,000 and more for a one year contract. These deals not only include social media, but we really try to create 360 ​​degree personalized partnerships…

The growing career of AVP athlete Corinne Quiggle

Rising AVP beach volleyball star Corinne Quiggle is one of Hochberg’s star athletes. In a sport where sponsorship is crucial due to inconsistent touring income, Quiggle has noticed how Hochberg’s efforts have allowed him to focus more energy on training and playing.

“When I was originally working on my own it was a lot of work,” Quiggle said over the phone. “It’s not easy talking to sponsors, trying to make the first contact with them, and then talking to them for months before you can make a deal. Having an agency like what Matt has done for me has been amazing because he makes those contacts and talks to the brand. When I get to see them, it’s a lot more like, how can we make that great, instead of working on the smallest details. It gives me a little more time to focus on what I have to do physically on the court, on the beach… rather than on those other things that take a long time and not always very easy. It just takes a huge weight off my shoulders.

Quiggle was able to establish a direct connection with one of her partners at the AVP Chicago Open 2021. She was featured for an interview at the Athleta store in Chicago which was simultaneously broadcast on her Instagram Live. The event helped maximize the exposure of both parties while raising awareness of the brand’s commitment to women’s sport.

“I was so excited to partner with Athleta,” she said. “I think it’s a really great brand. They are known for what they do, and they have a strong message about empowering women. A lot of what I do is coach and mentor girls, so it’s a great connection between this brand and what I want to do. i want to have daughters [to have] the ability to follow their passion and make sure they have that vision in sight, or if they see it and they want to go, they have that confidence to go. I know Athleta really supports these missions.

While working with Quiggle on the project, Athleta got to see firsthand how Quiggle aligns with their imagery. Tiffany Moten, regional marketing manager for Athleta in Chicago, explained how the partnership was on the brand for their products.

“Thinking of Athleta’s mission and dedication to building a community of empowering women and girls, collaborating with Corinne was a given,” Moten said. “Her accolades in volleyball are a testament to her overall commitment to her craft, but her personal mission to inspire, give back and mentor young women aligns so closely with ours.”

The bond Hochberg has established between Quiggle and Athleta is one example of the successful partnerships he has cultivated. Developing a relatively new and niche-focused agency, Hochberg constantly interacts with his athletes and clients to make sure everything runs smoothly. He is convinced that his efforts now will make his business successful in the future.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” Hochberg said. “It’s a lot of calls and emails, not only to make deals, but ultimately to manage those deals, to make sure they go really well and that we do more deliveries for brands so to ensure that they continue to invest in the athletes we “represent.”