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AJ Vaynerchuk and How NIL’s and Athlete NFT’s Will Change The Game of Sports Marketing

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NIL’s, NFT’s, and athletes - a blessing, or a curse? In this past episode of the #DifferenceMaker Podcast, I had the privilege of sitting down with my dear friend and sports marketing wizard AJ Vaynerchuk to discuss everything NIL’s, NFT’s, and the future of sports marketing. We look in-depth to explore the mental impact that sports marketing will have on athletes as well, and how it can change the way athletes approach sport. Here are the major takeaways...

1. If you’re an athlete who’s interested in benefiting from NIL’s, then you better get your social follow, up early.

Like we discussed - social following MATTERS. Just because you’re a member of a collegiate program, doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to be a great candidate. You have to bring some value to the brands that you’ll be working with as well, which means social following and image matters. It should be treated with intention and seriousness to get the most out of it, otherwise, you may get some sponsorship, but nothing that’s really worthwhile.

Rule of thumb: the more value you create, the more value you’ll receive.

2. NIL’s are a great opportunity for any athlete who’s coming through and trying to make a name for themselves.

NIL’s give every athlete a unique opportunity to experience their sport, and the lifestyle of their sport, to the fullest. You may not be the absolute best athlete, however, you may carry a strong social following which can allow you to still reap the benefits that other, more highly rated, athletes do. Think of it as an added value, or skill, that can help you gain the same hype off the field as some of the top-rated prospects. And if you are a top-rated prospect, then it can only help heighten your experience as a collegiate athlete.

3. NFT’s grow TRUE value when they have a benefit attached with them - such as an interactive experience.

Let’s talk about NFT’s for a second; AJ made it extremely clear in this episode that treating NFT’s like a trading card with no further value doesn’t get you very far. If you’re an athlete who is at a level where they want to invest in creating an NFT, then there has to be an added value. For example, purchasing an NFT that’s accompanied by a 10-20 minute sit down with you, or a piece of memorabilia, or donating to a greater cause, brings a lot more value than just a piece of NFT artwork alone (even though the artwork may be gorgeous).

Rule of thumb: the more value you create, the more value you'll receive, says @ajv.

4. NIL’s will heighten the pressure being put on athletes to perform, more than they’re already experiencing.

The pressure to perform for collegiate athletes has always been there, but the NIL experience will heighten it further. Not only do you have the standards of sport performance that you must meet, but also the standards of your marketing material. Now, this isn’t to say that this is a bad thing by any means, however, it does mean that you must weigh out if you’re able to handle it. This whole NIL boom is exciting and definitely revolutionary, however, it is also an added pressure. Weigh out and truly ask yourself if now is the right time to take something like this on, or if it’s something you want to put to the side briefly and revisit when you’re ready.

5. It’s going to help with potential financial burdens.

I know from working with some athletes under financial stress that NIL’s have the potential to help them immensely. Little things like potential supplement sponsorship, or new sports technology sponsorship, or something of the sort, are beyond important to these individuals. What some athletes take for granted, they treat like gold. NIL’s have the amazing potential to really help some athletes with financial stress and relief, in turn allowing them to experience less stress going into performance.

The pressure to perform for collegiate athletes has always been there, but the NIL experience will heighten it further, says @ajv.

6. Still make sport the priority.

At the end of the day, the NIL hype is real, but you have to remember that it is only of value if you’re performing well on the field/court/ice, etc. Our “main course” rule of thumb: make sure you’re still focused on development as the “main course,” while allowing the NIL experience to be a “dessert.”

In short, NIL’s, NFT’s, and the future of sports marketing is SUPER exciting; it’s going to allow those in collegiate programs who don’t have as much hype surrounding them to gain it, and those who have hype surrounding them take advantage of a unique opportunity. In both scenarios though, you MUST make sure your craft is STILL the main course.

Stay resilient.

- Matthew Caldaroni


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