Athlete Management That Works

Why Athletes Need A Manager?

We live in the digital era where checking your Facebook feed or tweeting your opinion about a sports game or athlete and browsing through their Instagram account is part of our daily routine.

The athletes who take advantage of off-field opportunities understand the importance of enhancing their identity and brand. They know by boosting their public profile, online and in person, they can produce incremental revenue streams. Increased popularity, larger endorsement deals and more business opportunities are just a few benefits. 


Just recently, we have received feedback from potential sponsor on the lack of engagement with few of our athletes’ social media accounts. The measurement now is on engagement as the sponsor no longer only look at the numbers of your likes or followers. We are sharing this just to show how important potential sponsors look on the athlete’s personal brand.

Regardless of the sport, athlete needs to understand the relevance of your personal brand.  Also, you must make a valiant effort at building your identity. The most strategic way to accomplish maximum brand exposure is to work with a manager that also helps in your marketing and PR

Part of our services here in iSportsAsia is to assist the athletes especially in their marketing and PR strategy. Some athletes really need to start from scratch, which will be a hardwork but doable. Some already have substantial following and engagement, and we need to fine tune to maximize the income potential from their brand.


Below are 10 things that an Athlete’s Management Agency like us can do for an athlete




1. Build a Solid Plan

An experienced management team will help the athlete understand that PR (public relations) involves more than pure publicity tactics. Building strong brand presence requires publicity efforts coupled with solid marketing strategies.

Not all publicity is a good publicity. Most are just purely a publicity tactic that sometimes does not benefit the athlete at all. As manager, we do have to look deeper into a certain publicity as it can put us into a blind spot which at the end would pose some degree of risk, which others may not see it


2. Positive Recognition

You will get recognized for ‘doing good’ in other interests and passions outside of your sport. An athlete who works with a specific charity or has their own foundation is a good example. A Marketing Manager will help maximize your goodwill, ultimately helping brand identity and your legacy. 

It is only in recent years that the trending of athlete/sports people starts to get involved in charity and started their own foundation. Dato’ Lee Chong Wei is one of the celebrity in sports who has founded his own foundation, focusing on developing youths sports talent. After all, he is an athlete, for sure he wants to get more people involved actively and well developed in sports.


3. Crisis Management

A good manager will effectively manage you through crisis situations. Managers effectively use their ability to manage the messages immediately following a crisis. Marketing Managers will not “spin” stories in an attempt to deflect blame and accountability. Good crisis management is the difference between reputation recovery and failure.

In our athlete representation agreement, part of our duty to the athletes is managing their social media accounts. As the possibilities of ‘unwanted’ publicity can start from social media. It is not that we are controlling their life, but we are minimizing the risks of them being publicized for the wrong reason

We can furnish with many actual cases on how things can go wrong via social medias involving athletes, but that would be in another article. 


4. Accountability

Marketing Managers will do everything in their power to make sure their clients keep things in perspective. They will not tell you what you “want to hear.” They tell you what you “need to know” so that you are on track and accountable.


5. Social Media

Build and execute an effective and consistent social media strategy. Having a strong following on social media will enable athletes to engage their fans. Social media can be one of the most powerful brand-building tools, which many have not realized

Many athletes thought that if you performed well, sponsors will come to you. Even if it may be right for very exceptional incredible athlete (which even this is also rare), athlete must realized that era has changed. Performance is not the indicator of you getting tons of sponsorship, but personal branding is. The easiest and cheapest way to start building your brand is by utilizing the social media fully

iSportsAsia team members also include social media strategist and marketing expert that will assist the athlete in personal branding via social media.


6. Build Synergy

Managers will communicate and coordinate with the agent, lawyer, sponsor, and other members of your team. They ensure that everyone is in sync with what is being done to raise the athlete’s profile. Creating synergy is the balance between team members to minimize media blunders or mistakes. 

Majority of our athletes is individual athlete though one is currently training with a team. As manager, we do meet with the team’s coach to ensure what we do does not conflicting with the team’s ethic or code of conduct and sponsors. In anyway, managers will always support the athlete in any arrangement with the team as long as it does not jeopardize or put the athlete at disadvantage.

At the end, managers are working for the benefit of the athlete more than the benefit of other parties.


7.  Media Training

Help athletes understand the importance of interviews and media relations. Messaging is at the core of successful public relations, and is part of the foundation of a long-term career road map. 


8. Increase Opportunities

The efforts executed by a strong management team will ultimately make you more marketable to corporate sponsors, endorsements, and other outside revenue generating opportunities.

This might take long time as we need to cover and research on every aspect to look on the athlete’s advantages and display them to potential sponsors. If the athletes are working alone and without dedicated team, this will take longer time to execute or can’t be executed at all


9. Add Value

Find a manager who wants to work for you long after your sports career. These partners will add value by exposing you to different opportunities for professional growth outside of your sport. Marketing pros have connections within many industries other than the sports world. They will use their network to help break any barriers for your next career move.

This is included in our athlete management cycle, post athletic life planning. Active sporting life for professional athletes usually takes anywhere between 10-25 years. During that span of time, most athlete only trained on specific skill, to become a good athlete and win. They mostly do not possess other skill that can help them to earn a living after their sporting life, and some will be at lost once their sporting career ends

This is where athlete management team will be handy. Part of our duty in iSportsAsia is to help the athlete in this matter.


10. Make you a Priority

Many large agencies do not have the capacity to focus on all of the athletes that they represent. A good athlete’s manager will not take on more than they can handle. Their clients are the priority.


So while it remains true that athletes must perform, their brand is also a valuable asset. How they are perceived — on and off the field — can impact the value of their contracts, endorsement deals, post-playing careers, and other opportunities. Investing in athlete management agency gives your brand a competitive advantage and brings more to the table than ever before.


How is athlete management perceived by Malaysian athletes?

Cumulatively, our team has over 20 years of experience in their respective fields. Even we are not new in the management, PR, marketing, legal field, athlete management is a new concept in Malaysia’s sports industry and the acceptance of this concept is still lukewarm.

Athletes are confused and some even afraid that by signing an Athlete Representation Agreement, may cause them to lose their current sponsorship deals. Some athletes, even in the very beginning, we need to explain the correct concept of sponsorship, just to get them to understand that sponsorship supposed to work in a win-win situation, not merely just promoting 1 sponsored product for the next 2 years!

There are some who are aware with this concept and instantly gets fascinated by the potential. To easily explain the concept of athlete management is to ask them, who is the richest athletes in Malaysia? How many brands that actually give them money to use their product, be their ambassadors and such? And lastly, do they have manager?

Please put performance out of the equation because there are plenty of good performing athletes who does not receive substantial amount of sponsorship figures. Most of them has no manager therefore no effective marketing is in place.

How is athlete management perceived by sponsors and sports authority?

From various meetings and research, we can almost make this conclusion about potential sponsors. Most of them do have the money to spend for sports sponsorship (even when they say they don’t), but most are still reluctant to sponsor in cash for athlete. Why? It is probably because it’s hard for them to measure the ROI (return on investment) from their sponsorship. It could be an easier  (and cheaper) solution for them to offer the athletes an ‘in-kind’ sponsorship, by giving product(s) and get the athletes to keep on hash-tagging them in every single social media posts

Sports authority is the federation governing the sports. Some elite/national athletes are bound with a contract with their associations which we must adhered to. But for an athlete management agency, part of our job is to build synergy, and of course, we are more than willing to work things around for the benefit of everyone, especially the athlete.

In iSportsAsia, our aim is to help talented athletes achieve their athletic potential and to maximize their financial capability throughout their career and post athletic life.