“An athlete’s personal brand is everything.” Sport Digital House on Adding Innovation in the Sports Industry.

“An athlete’s personal brand is everything.” Sport Digital House on Adding Innovation in the Sports Industry.

Meet the team behind Italy’s sports marketing agency doing something different for their athlete clients. Leading the way in innovation and modernization in the industry.

Supporting athletes from smaller sports, Sport Digital House is the first Italian sports marketing company applying funnel marketing to the industry. Committed to creating personalized revenue for individual athletes, this agency is changing the way sports professionals can support themselves financially and still concentrate on doing what they love. Commenting that the sports industry is still widely traditional, we spoke to Luigi Caputo, co-founder of Sport Digital House and funnel marketing expert.

 

Read the full interview below:

"An athlete’s personal brand is everything." Sport Digital House on Adding Innovation in the Sports Industry.
Photo: Roberto Bragotto

Tell us a little about how the idea for Sport Digital House came about. 

The idea of Sport Digital House was born due to the fact that today athletes, especially from smaller sports, have very little opportunity to find sponsors. Companies have drastically cut budgets that they once had and only those athletes with a strong social presence are able to monetize.

This leaves all the other athletes out. To solve this, we at Sport Digital House decided to apply Funnel Marketing to sports. Ultimately giving athletes the opportunity to directly monetize their fanbase, without depending on only doing so with a sponsor. We have sided with the sport’s world left out by agencies and other businesses, to offer these athletes a tool to help them. These athletes are extremely strong and passionate. Yet simply because their sport is considered minor or they have a small social media following, they cannot make a living.

This is not right. We stand behind these athletes. This is why Sport Digital house was born.

 

Sum up your company’s ethos and aims in three succinct sentences.

Sport Digital House is the first Italian sports marketing company that applies funnel marketing to the world of sports. 

We give smaller athletes a way to monetize their business.

We are a sports tech company, which unlike other consulting focused companies, also develops its own proprietary platforms. 

Photo by Roberto Bragotto
Photo: Roberto Bragotto

What is the overall goal your clients want when they come to you? 

Athletes who ask for our support are primarily looking for a way to monetize their business. They are athletes with exceptional preparation, who however often find themselves doing a second job to pay the bills. Their only option so far was to ask sponsors to help them financially. Instead we offer them a marketing strategy that starting from the personal brand, allows them to sell services to their followers.

 

You’ve stated that your business uses funnel marketing and is applied directly to individual athletes. What is ‘funnel marketing’ in simple terms?

With funnel marketing we create a marketing system that aims for conversion and not just awareness. In these plans we put the personal brand at the center of the strategy, making it a company that generates revenue. Unlike other marketing companies, the services we offer do not aim for forefront metrics such as increasing followers or likes, but at monetizing the athlete’s community.

Let’s talk—for example, an athlete can sell training plans, video courses, exclusive experiences with themselves, or co-branding campaigns with companies to their followers. In short, the athlete himself is a company that makes its assets available to its followers.

"An athlete’s personal brand is everything." Sport Digital House on Adding Innovation in the Sports Industry.
Photo: Roberto Bragotto
"An athlete’s personal brand is everything." Sport Digital House on Adding Innovation in the Sports Industry.
Photo: Roberto Bragotto

Why is this method needed and important in the sports industry?

The sports industry still operates very traditionally. Technology has made great strides, but the sector has remained tied to this old method sponsorships. When talking about sports marketing, this is all it has been linked to. Instead, today we have many tools that can make this market evolve. Funnel marketing is one of these, which is to be understood as a different concept and vision.

Funnel marketing is first of all a mindset: It serves the athlete to be seen as an independent revenue center. Leaving behind the traditional sportsman who must sell his image to survive.

 

Sport Digital House arguably focuses on athletes and players from specialised and somewhat more obscure sports. Why did you choose to focus on these sports?

Rather than competing with thousands of other sports marketing companies, who look to take on the few “valuable” athletes, we chose to walk our “blue ocean.” This is our zone where we make changes in an industry that needs innovation. We prefer to be the leader of a virgin market, rather than compete in a crowded jungle of lions aiming for the same prey.

"An athlete’s personal brand is everything." Sport Digital House on Adding Innovation in the Sports Industry.
Photo: Roberto Bragotto

How does powerful personal branding change the careers of athletes?

An athlete’s personal brand is everything. Those who do not understand this unfortunately lose from the start. Before the mobile age, an athlete’s success was linked to his sporting victories.

Today it is the opposite. An athlete’s success rides on his social media count, even if there aren’t any victories under his belt. Companies are interested in these numbers and no longer value athletes only for their hard earned trophies.

 

What do you see as the most common obstacles for athletes in the current cultural climate? Is there a recurring issue you see across all athletes that come to you?

Like the sports industry, athletes have also not yet realized that times have changed. They do not understand that we live in a world where reputation and image are fundamental.

We often see athletes with great potential who pay little attention to their social channels and do not care to improve them. They only think about the competitive aspect; not understanding that today, the two things indeed go together. A lot of training is needed for the athletes, but things are changing. Positive examples are influencing even the most skeptical.

"An athlete’s personal brand is everything." Sport Digital House on Adding Innovation in the Sports Industry.
Photo: Roberto Bragotto

What are some of the most successful case studies you have of individual athletes?

The most successful is when we helped the captain of the Italian triathlon team, Alessandro Fabian, organize an experience with 30 of his selected followers. It was a day (before the Covid pandemic) where his fans were able to train with him, following an Olympic athlete’s program. In this way the athlete has created his own marketing format, which he monetized even without sponsors.

 

Why do you believe it important to coach athletes on the business side of their careers?

Simply put, there’s no choice left. Either athletes adapt and understand that their personal brand is fundamental to their business or they disappear.

"An athlete’s personal brand is everything." Sport Digital House on Adding Innovation in the Sports Industry.
Photo: Roberto Bragotto

How do you aim to get more athletes to take an active interest in monetizing and marketing themselves?

On our Instagram we have focused on a form of training courses for athletes. We post real lessons on how to improve their social media accounts and their personal brand.

For example, this is a funnel marketing strategy that we apply to ourselves. Through this value that we give to the target, they recognize us as an authoritative force and then request our services.

Find out more about the work Sport Digital House are doing on their Website or follow them on on Instagram.

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