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By: Brent Heindl

A lot of companies would love to have LeBron James or Derek Jeter shill for their brand. But if you’re a smaller company, you’re better off letting the Nikes and Fords of the world shell out the big bucks for these superstars. Instead of envying these behemoths for their deeper pockets, enjoy the bigger return you’ll get by investing in more niche sports and their athletes.
 
The MMA (mixed martial arts) and their Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is a great example. As the CEO of BlueGrace Logistics, a freight hauling and shipping company, puts it, “Dollar for dollar, you just can’t compare the value.”
 
Sponsorships of such niche sports start as low a $10,000 and their fans are some of the most loyal. And in the case of the UFC, sponsors get an added boost since UFC fighters’ bonuses are based on their social media activity, which makes them some of the most Facebook- and Twitter-savvy athletes around.
 
In fact, because of their smaller, more targeted fan bases, athletes in these niche sports will often interact with your customers via Twitter and Facebook.
 
Of course, the UFC isn’t for every brand. Other niche sports to consider include equestrian (high net-worth fans), surfing (younger demo) and bowling.
 
More targeted, less costly interactions between your brand and your consumer? Sounds like niche sports and social marketing are a match made in the twittersphere.

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