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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Collins

Our 5 Rules of Talent Management

As the Chinese Sports market is maturing, more and more athletes are getting online in China. Three recent examples include Tom Brady, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. As competition for attention increases, so does the importance of the management of these personal brands.

At Mailman, we strive to maintain the same core values across all of our clients. We refuse to settle for the typical client-agency relationship. We go further. Every partnership we enter into is a commitment, from us to them, as we welcome them into our family.

That said, there are some important differences between dealing with individual talent and clubs or brands. Here are our 5 rules for successful talent management.

1. Brand Strategy

Before we begin onboarding, we develop a clear brand strategy, which is based on their targets, their strengths and the character of each individual athlete. The first impression new clients get from us has to be extremely professional. This demonstrates our expertise to the athlete and their team and lays out our vision for them in China. This promotes trust and is the first step to forming a team with the client.

2. Management Relationship

We communicate as much as possible with our clients. Through communicating, we show our dedication and work ethic, but it also how much we value the relationship from the very beginning. This helps keep the athlete’s team involved which promotes interest in, and commitment to the Chinese market and the work we’re doing. One great way to do this is to show them how awesome the Chinese fans are. It’s always inspiring. We strive to build a relationship through both email and messaging platforms like WeChat or Whatsapp which helps growth communication on a much more personal level.

3. Talent Relationship

Once we’ve built the trust with their team, they open the door to their star. Once we have direct communication we try to excite them as much as possible with their account and insights to their fan base. The aim here is to get them involved as much as possible, the Holy Grail is to get a phone number or chat account. Generally, our athletes are among the most active accounts of all sports stars online. Direct connection is the key to this amount of posts. It’s far more convenient for the talent to send us content directly from their phone to us, it also makes a lot of the talent much more genuine than it would be if from a separate film crew. Additionally, it helps us deepen the relationship.

4. Media Relationship

As with other social media accounts, the media relationship is key to the positioning of the account. It is important to understand that engaging with both media and fans on a personal level gives athlete’s accounts a big advantage over club or organisation’s profiles. We are working to maintain a strong relationship with our media contacts and try to bring them as close as possible to our athlete. This will eventually lead to a strong profile of our athletes among the media landscape.

5. We Service…

… our clients as much as possible. This goes hand in hand with the practice of regularly demonstrating our work and the fact that the star is absolutely our priority. We provide figures from the performance of the account, Mailman Blogs, content requests, news documentation, and market education (and plenty more) to our clients to keep them as well-informed as possible.

…the fans. We try to be as active as possible with our accounts and the fans love it! Exclusive content around the right topics for our target audiences is key and gives the feeling that the star is a friend of theirs.

The Results

No two athletes, accounts or brands are the same and we always strive to find the right balance for our clients. We’ve made Anthony Martial the most followed active footballer online in China, reaching over 4.5 million followers on Weibo. We attracted over 1 million viewers to a live stream with André Schurrle on his personal account when he was in China with BVB. With others, like Kobe Bryant, we maintain their legendary status following retirement, reaching over a billion hashtag reads on #KB20#. But most importantly, we have an awesome, personal relationship with all of the athletes we work with and know that they consider themselves part of the Mailman family.

Mailman is a sports digital consultancy and marketing platform and a leader in the China Sports Marketing industry. We help global rights holders, athletes, and leagues to build a successful business in China.

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