Marketing managers develop the league’s marketing strategy in detail. With the help of marketing assistants and market research personnel, they estimate demand and create a brand image for the league, much like their counterparts at the team level. In addition, they identify potential markets to attack with advertising and other media. In collaboration with promotions, and the sponsorship department, they monitor trends that indicate the need for changes in services or brand image. Marketing managers work with advertising and promotion managers to promote the league’s products and services and to attract more fans and consumers of branded merchandise. The most glaring difference between marketing on the league and team level is the amount of money that is available. Leagues make and spend much more money both in marketing and in sponsorships as well as all other departments.
Professional leagues are looking for people with experience in marketing and communications to help be a leader in creating the best brand image for the league. This often includes grassroots efforts to increase participation in the United States and beyond in the specific sport or activity.
Some of the key responsibilities of a league marketing manager are to develop and execute innovative national/regional marketing programs and events. An example of this is membership recruiting & retention. They also must publicize league programs and events to consumer and trade media outlets, identify and develop new business development opportunities to create new revenue and/or promotional opportunities, and work in tandem with external agencies and internal departments — advertising, interactive, public relations, event management, research and publishing.
There are some minimum requirements that most leagues are looking for when hiring this position including: passion for the sport, a Bachelors Degree, approximately 8 years experience in marketing and/or public relations, a track record in developing and implementing strategic marketing plans at the team level and the ability to manage events and brand image.
Compensation at the league level is higher than at the team level in most cases. The main reasons for this are the amount of money leagues are dealing with and the greater level of responsibility. Another key factor is that leagues tend to hire more experienced people that have spent a number of years working at the team level. One other benefit at the league level is that they often pay a portion of relocation costs (something that is rarely if ever done at the team level).
Salary levels vary substantially, depending upon the level of managerial responsibility, length of service, education, professional level (minor league versus top professional league), location, and sport.
Major League Baseball: $58,000 – $85,000
National Football League: $70,000 – $100,000
National Basketball Association: $60,000 – $95,000
National Hockey League: $47,000 – $68,000
NASCAR: $55,000 – $75,000
Please note that positions at the above leagues are all based in New York City, where the cost of living is significantly higher than other U.S. cities.