Thanks to new rules, NCAA athletes can now use their name, image and likeness to promote your business. Smart agents should seize this opportunity. Here’s why.

There’s been a historic rule change in regards to “name, image, likeness” that allows college athletes to legally get paid. Now, real estate agents can partner with and pay NCAA athletes. They can use their personal brand to promote your business. 

So, real estate agents should be lining up to partner with the right ones.

For years, the only way agents could get something out of a sports partnership was to sponsor a professional or youth team. My agent here in Orlando, Veronica Figueroa, is the official partner of the Orlando City soccer team and has her branding at the high school football field. I have friends in Tampa, The Duncan Duo, who are the official sponsors and partners of the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

But the pro sports team deals can be expensive. There are very few agents who even get a shot at one because there is often an exclusive sponsor per industry. Plus, most agents don’t even have a professional sports team in their local market. 

However, there are colleges in nearly every city. There are college athletes everywhere who have strong local followings. The people who hire you watch, follow and love them. 

This new opportunity is not reserved for just the large schools and best players in the most popular sports. Sure, football and basketball are the two most-watched college sports with the most well-known players, but smart agents will look for opportunities beyond those. Likely, they’ll spend less by doing so. 

Think about volleyball. Think about golf. Think about lacrosse, swimming and soccer. Think about track and field. Think about baseball, gymnastics, tennis and hockey. These sports also have passionate followings.

One obvious advantage of partnering with NCAA athletes is that they often have a large and engaged following on social media — larger and more engaged than yours.

Conveniently, they are especially popular on platforms where most real estate agents still haven’t gotten a lot of traction, like TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram. Tons of college athletes have massive followings on TikTok. You don’t. They can help you reach people you wouldn’t be able to reach without them.

As you ponder who to hire, be realistic that the top athletes in the country won’t be an option. Incoming Tennessee State freshman basketball player (and Master P’s son) Hercy Miller already signed a $2 million dollar deal to be an ambassador for Web Apps America. 

TikTok influencers and Fresno State basketball players Hanna and Haley Cavinder signed a deal with Boost Mobile and are projected to make $3 million a year. 

They make more than their coach.

A gym owner in Miami even offered all 90 Miami Hurricanes $500 per month to work out at his gyms, a $540,000 investment. That said, there will be opportunities to do clever marketing with college athletes no matter what your budget is. If the Miami football team is working out at your gyms, it will cause a lot of other people to sign up for a membership, too.

What exactly should you do to get the most out of an investment like this?

No. 1, focus on what marketing you already do, and add them to that. If you’ve been sending direct mail to the same neighborhood forever, announce the partnership through the mail. If you’re running Facebook Ads or if you do email marketing or if you’re making YouTube videos or if you’re posting on Instagram, spread the word.

Play offense. Don’t simply rely on them posting to their followers about you. Post to all of yours about them. I think what’s going to happen is that agents who are strategic will get an ROI from their NCAA partnerships.

Here are a few examples of what I’d do:

I’d hire the top three soccer players from UCF, which is right down the street from me, to put on a full-day clinic. I would then invite high school students who are in 11th or 12th grade who want to continue playing soccer in college.

Thirty or 40 kids would show up, and the UCF players would teach them everything they know about making that transition. That way, it’s insanely useful for the people who attend, but it’s directly in the wheelhouse of the athletes.

People whose kids are graduating high school soon and moving on to college are a high-volume transaction type — empty nesters. In fact, according to Millionacres, “21% of sellers said that wanting a smaller home was the main reason behind their desire to move. Usually, this move is common among empty-nesters who no longer need the same amount of space as they once did.”

My kids are not at the end of high school yet, but I can tell you that we already know we are moving out of our house as soon as they leave.

You’re not asking the athletes to go show homes or to come to your open house. You’re asking them to do what they love — play and teach soccer. In exchange, you get to promote a free soccer clinic.

Take that to social media. Take that to email marketing. Tell all your past clients about that. By the way, take that to the local news because the press are going to want to cover these stories. Any athlete who signs a cool deal with a local company can get free publicity right now. 

Clearly, it could have also been a baseball clinic or a golf clinic or a volleyball clinic. In fact, the more you actually love or play or have kids in the sport, the better. If you hate basketball, don’t go hire the basketball team. If you hate soccer, make fun of it and never watch it, then don’t do a soccer event. 

I also think there is more traditional stuff you could do like an autograph signing and meet-and-greet. Get as many people as possible to show up, and have someone with a clipboard taking pictures and getting their information so you can send them the pictures.

Make sure that when people register online for an event like this, they check a box that says “if you’re buying or selling a home soon, we can help you.” That way, you can follow up with the right leads. Grab the mic during the event, thank everyone for coming, and ask for their business. 

You can also do giveaways or contests. For example, “I partnered with the best female volleyball player at UCLA and we’re giving away X. Here’s how you enter: Follow us on Instagram, fill out this form, and be on alert on this date when we announce the winner.”

Contests and giveaways are massively successful on social. I used one to double my Instagram following in just 30 days. It might not be as strategic as the 12th grade parents idea, but it can go super wide and get thousands of people added to your database through one campaign.

If you’re going to have a booth at a festival locally, which is something I see a lot of agents doing, you can have one of these college students appear with you. That would drive more traffic to the booth and more pictures shared on social media and more opportunities to have conversations for your sales team. 

I see a lot of my clients hosting these really awesome past client events. I’ve seen them rent out movie theaters. I’ve seen them held at pumpkin patches with hayrides. Really smart agents go big for their past clients.

I could see involving NCAA athletes at your next past client event, and instead of 40 of your past clients showing up, 80 of them do. They get to meet this person, take pictures, get something signed and hear them give a speech. All thanks to you. 

In real estate, it has been proven that endorsements lead to business. I’m not saying an NCAA athlete’s endorsement is going to be as powerful as Dave Ramsey’s or as Barbara Corcoran’s. But you’re still getting an endorsement from a popular and trusted local person. 

Be sure to keep in mind that you may be in a situation where the best athlete from your local town went to college somewhere else. My friend grew up playing every sport in Lakeland, Florida, but went to to UCLA to play college football.

Everyone from our home town knows him. He may not be a local college athlete because he went out west, but you should also identify those people. When they’re back for the summer or holidays, you will be able to do some massive events with them.

Right now, excitement for this change is at an all-time high. I think there is going to be a first-mover advantage when it comes to getting publicity and press. I think there’s going to be a really good ROI for the people who do it well.

So, where do you start? Some of them are going to negotiate back and forth with you in their Instagram DMs. Send them a message. Some of them will require you go through their school. Call their school. Some of them are actually going to have agents they will push you to who will negotiate on their behalf. Contact their representatives.

Chris Smith is the co-founder of Curaytor in Orlando, Florida. Connect with him on Instagram or Twitter

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