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NIL Outreach: Expert Tips from College Athletes and Agencies

NIL Outreach: Expert Tips from College Athletes and Agencies

Jun 6, 2024


Corey Bruno


Sports Marketing

Since the advent of NIL rights, reaching out to athletes has become an ingenious marketing strategy for brands seeking effective ambassadors for their products.

After all, who could have a better reach to your target audience than a college athlete who can precisely connect with specific demographic and geographic segments?

One persistent question for brands remains: what is the best way to establish contact with an ideal athlete?

To answer this question, we turned to NIL experts in the industry. We sought perspectives from both sides by interviewing an agent and an athlete who regularly handle brand deals and facilitate these partnerships.

An Athlete's Perspective

Tanner Maddocks, a quarterback for Villanova University, is no stranger to NIL offers. As the founder of Athlete² , an app designed to empower college athletes to monetize their NIL, Tanner has a unique perspective on reaching out to athletes. His dual role as both a recipient and facilitator of brand deals makes him an ideal person to weigh in on the effectiveness of athlete DM outreach. We asked Tanner questions for both sides of the equation.

Strategic Approach

When asked about the ideal way for brands to reach athletes from his experience, Tanner shares,  ”I think there are a few ways to try and reach athletes as a brand. You can contact the athlete directly through DMs (Instagram), their NIL representation (in Instagram bio or google it), or through university staff responsible for NIL. I use the last option if the first 2 don’t work.”


When asked if there anything specific you look for when determining if a brand is worth your time?

The Villanova QB iterates ”A professional-looking instagram or website and personalization and realizes why they are a fit for each other.”

An Agent's Perspective

Jacob Tilem and Brandon Gilbert, co-founders of Slice Sports Management, live and breathe NIL. Slice Sports Management not only assists athletes by fielding incoming brand requests but also actively reaches out to prospective clients they aim to manage. We asked Slice Management their input on outreach.

Social Media is Key

Jacob offered a compelling perspective on reaching out to brands from his experience as an agent.

“Reaching out to brands as an agency, I DM brands but primarily use LinkedIn and email to connect with specific people. For athletes, we've found the best way to get in touch with them is through social media."

Value of the Athlete-Creators

Another crucial aspect of DM outreach, as Jacob points out, is reaching out to the right people and finding a good fit.

"It's always a plus or a good sign if the athlete does brand deals and has content creation ability because they already know how to work with brands and what fit they want for future partnerships, making it an easy way to grow with them as an agency or brand,” said Jacob.


Instagram Is Your Starting Point

In the era of NIL, brands should prioritize Instagram to engage with athletes, be it through direct messaging or locating their agency via their bio. By leveraging personalized outreach on this platform, brands significantly increase their chances of eliciting a response from the athlete. We recommend after the connection is made on Instagram, brands and athletes can leverage other mediums such as email or video chat to facilitate a legitimate deal.

Find Athlete Affinity

Like Tanner and Jacob both spoke upon, many athletes are looking for partnerships that go beyond mere sponsorship deals, seeking connections that align with their personal image and values. This crucial aspect, often overlooked by brands, highlights the importance of finding athletes who genuinely resonate with a brand's essence. Investing in relationships based on shared interests and values can have a profound impact, fostering meaningful connections and setting the stage for successful collaborations.

In essence, mastering DM outreach extends beyond mere outreach; it entails finding common ground, whether it involves aligning brand values with athlete preferences or acknowledging their individual aspirations. Prioritizing authentic connections and engaging athletes through platforms like Instagram are pivotal steps in forging partnerships that benefit both brands and athletes alike.

Ready to stay ahead in the world of Athlete Marketing?

Ready to stay ahead in the world of Athlete Marketing?