Doing Business with the NFL

Like every other country in the world, the United States is just mad about sports. To be more specific, Americans are all about football. Therein lies the opportunity. In 2013, NFL revenue clocked in at $9 billion, which makes it the most remunerative league in the world. If you partner up with the NFL, the profits are always reliable and quite attractive. Doing so is easier than you’d think when you go in with a plan. If that sounds appealing, just follow these simple steps.

Consider Your Options

There are ultimately two really solid ways to make money by teaming up with the NFL: producing branded merchandise or selling it. Both can be pretty lucrative if you have the gumption to follow through. Moving NFL merchandise either as a wholesaler, a retailer or a street-level vendor can make a lot of money and is the easier path to take. Producing NFL merchandise is a bit tougher though potentially more profitable if you’re willing to jump through a few hoops.

Learn About the Industry

The reality of making money from NFL partnerships is that you need to go big or go home. As such, launching a business based around the NFL requires serious forethought. You may want to attend a convention like the Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show held every year in Las Vegas. You’ll make some great future contacts and learn a thing or two about the business in the process.

Become Licensed & Insured

If you want to produce merchandise with the logos of various teams on them, you’ll need to sign an agreement with the NFL. Passing this test is no small feat. You’ll need to prove that you’ve been producing real goods for at least three years and can meet their quality and legal requirements. For instance, you’ll need Comprehensive Commercial General Liability policy of $6 million per occurrence and $12 million worth of protection in total to fend off infringement or wrongdoing lawsuits.

Secure Funding & File the Paperwork

Obviously, manufacturing and even selling NFL-approved goods isn’t cheap. For instance, you’ll need to guarantee $100,000 in royalties per year to produce branded gear. If you don’t have the money to invest readily available, you should form a corporate entity with some decent backers and go to a solid lender for the cash. You can raise it through crowd funding, private lender networks or angel investors if you have a solid business plan. Contact a lawyer to manage your corporate entity and funding implications.

Acquire or Produce the Goods

If you want to actually manufacture NFL-branded shirts, bobble-heads and mousepads, you’ll need to crank out the hardware with the help of a good manufacturer. Most use manufacturing companies overseas in China. If you’re a corporation, you can just outsource the grunt work to them. Many NFL merchandise producers do this. If you’re a vendor, you’ll need to get in touch with an NFL goods wholesaler or manufacturer. Lock down plenty of warehouse space to hold the product.

Figure Out the Distribution

All of the aforementioned hassle is nothing compared to actually selling goods to the real sellers: the street-level movers and shakers. For the “manufacturers” of the NFL gear, it’s a matter of getting in touch with wholesalers. Those are easy to track down via sites like Wholesalers Network or simple networks such as LinkedIn. It’s the usual B2B sales model.. For wholesale buyers, you can use regional chambers of commerce to find large businesses that can vend your goods around.

Market Your New Enterprise

As with any business, NFL-aligned outfits live or die based on marketing. Fortunately, the product tends to sell itself. All you need to do is position yourself properly and the chips should fall into place. Whether you’re a producer, a distributor or a retailer, putting your name out there in the right places is clutch. Use the top social media sites such as the aforementioned LinkedIn to start. You can also rely on face-to-face or Skype-to-Skype pitching to promote.

Match Your Inventory with the Market

If you live in New England, selling Patriots t-shirts is never tough. However, you can amp up the profits by learning a bit more about what people want and where they buy it. Online and on-the-ground analytics will come in handy at this stage of the game. Use market research firms like Turnkey Sports & Entertainment to come up with some data that you can work with. Research results will help you to tweak production and improve profit margins.

Business Beyond Pro Football

Ultimately, the NFL is just the tip of the iceberg. While it’s a huge market, it’s also a crowded one and there’s only so many people that want a Miami Dolphins beer coozie. Once you wet your beak on the NFL, you can move on to the just-as-lucrative field of collegiate sports gear. Producing and selling South Carolina Gamecocks beach blankets can make you a millionaire as well if you have the drive, the organizational skills and a little luck.

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