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Invisible driving force of sports: Sports marketer Kim Ki-tae
   
 
   
 

Kim Yeon-ah, Park Tae-hwan, Son Yeon-jae, Cha Do-ri... Besides playing their respective sports, many athletes get paid high salaries and become popular from other activities, too.  They often attend special events or have interviews with the press.  It shows their tremendous popularity which comes from several characteristics of sport: popular appeal, fun, and reward.  People want to see their idealized hero in various kinds of media.

Then, who is working in the midst of this trend, though the economic value of top sports stars is already well known?  The Post learned about sports marketing from Kim Ki-tae ('02, physical education), who works for Sportizen, a sports marketing consulting group.

Sports marketing: providing tangible and intangible services related to sports

"What is sports marketing?"  In response to this question, Kim answered that it is hard to define exactly what a sports marketer does. "Sports marketers use sport as a tool for marketing and offer tangible and intangible services to athletes."  Sportizen is one of the leading sports marketing companies in Korea, specializing in golf. The company attracts sponsors, connects sponsors and players, holds golf tournaments, promotes the competitions and the sponsors, and manages the press.  It also helps players feel secure and focus on their sporting events.

"I work on the management team and specialize in personal marketing", he said, introducing himself as a person who helps professional golf players.  "I accompany the golfer during the tournament, assisting him or her in many different ways.  Finding a suitable caddie and making reservations for practice are also part of my job.  Most importantly, I listen to their concerns and give them advice. I even sometimes serve as a bodyguard or a spokesman for the player.  Popular athletes attract crowds who want to interview them or get autographs." In short, he is a superman who helps players in many different ways.  "But I'm not a driver," he distinctly mentioned.

 

Trust is the best strategy for a sports marketer

He stressed that trust is the foremost thing for him.  "When I saw the movie The Blind Side (2009), I was touched by the deep trust between Sandra Bullock and Quinton Aaron."  As their trust helped an orphan become a famous American football player, Kim also wants players and sponsors to succeed by trusting him.  He knows that if he loses their trust, then that trust is very difficult to restore.  Because of this, he always works hard to make them feel confident and secure.  "When I listen to a player, then the player trusts me.  Both officially and personally, I try to gain their confidence," he said.

Then, what is the universal qualification to be a successful sports marketer?  Kim said that interpersonal skills are essential.  "To communicate well, you have to be optimistic and outgoing. Offering follow-up service and management is my duty, so I contact many people from a player's parents to business employees every day.  I deal with nearly a hundred people per day, so I always use earphones to talk on the phone at my office.  Also, I read newspapers and books to learn how to communicate more effectively with various people," adding the importance of professional development. "Sports marketers should not only think but act first to provide the best service to clients."

 

Enjoy a smart campus life

He majored in physical education, but he was just interested in sports, not in education. Therefore, he looked for a job which could satisfy his interests. "After the 2002 World Cup, sports marketing became more commonplace in Korea. I felt that sports would be promising in Korea, so I decided to be a sports marketer. I thought that at least I would not starve with hunger.” (laugh) He worked as an intern at Sportizen and was eventually offered a permanent position "I was glad to receive a job offer because I could work on the personal marketing team, which is where I wanted to work."

"Basketball!" He answered energetically in response to the question about what sport he played the most in college.  "I was a member of a small basketball club in the physical education department.  We enjoyed playing basketball and won the championship at Dongguk many times," he said, reminiscing about his college life.  Rather than studying hard to only make good grades, he concentrated on the sports field which was his true passion. He took some courses in the department of management and reached out to the world as a sports marketer.  "Because I wanted to graduate from university as early as possible, I tried to complete these courses during my senior year.  I earned good grades participating in the class as one of the team leaders."

As soon as the interview was finished, Kim received a phone call from a pro player.  After he hung up, he said that there are few holidays for him.  Nevertheless, he did not seem to be discontented with his work, because it was what he dreamed of doing.  His passion for golf and his clients is making a brilliant future for sport marketing.

 

Yun Seon-ju  besensible@dongguk.edu

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