Journal & Constitution: Business Profile
UP CLOSE: MONICA CABBLER
Athlete, marketer runs on a fast track
At age 26, Monica Cabbler already is a professional at three careers.
She is president and founder of Cabbler & Associates – a sports marketing and promotions firm that assists professional athletes such as the Washington Redskins’ Champ Bailey and the San Francisco 49er’s Garrison Hearst and others in football, basketball, track and field and other sports. In addition, Cabbler, a former NCAA All-American in the triple jump and long jump at the University of Georgia, also is a professional model and professional track and field athlete.
“I’m really thankful for what God has blessed me with so I want to develop all of my talents collectively,” said Cabbler. “I hate to see so many versatile athletes who just focus on sports when they could be developing other talents and reaching their full potential.”
Cabbler got on the multi-career track early. While at UGA, she made the dean’s list and was crowned homecoming queen, the third woman of color elected for the post in school’s history.
After graduating from college, Cabbler became a professional athlete and immediately began working as a sports marketing consultant. Over time her contacts grew, and last year she launched her business. Recently Cabbler talked to Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Janita Poe about sports marketing, managing image problems and juggling three careers.
-Email Janita Poe
A: Sports marketing and promotions mainly focuses on the athlete and that person’s attributes. It concentrates on building them as a role model and encouraging them to give back to the community.
Q: Why do athletes need marketing?
A: I think it builds the whole sport that they participate in. When fans and companies that support athletes see how they (the athletes) are genuine people on a personal level, they will have more interest in supporting them. It is definitely important that athletes have marketing because it helps build their profile.
Q: What about the low profile athlete who doesn’t have the huge salary and well-known name? How do you promote those individuals?
A: Those are my favorite. Those are the ones who think they are limited and who are focused on working really, really hard on the field to get to the level of the higher-profile players and earn the money that they want. But they can use the money that they do make and the name that they have in their communities and their hometowns to do special events, clinics and other activities that can help them build a household name and give back to the community and high school athletics. That way they can establish a brand, so to speak, for themselves because they are really a business entity. The more they develop themselves off the field, the better they will be in the long run, I think.
Q: What is the average salary range of a professional track and field athlete?
A: Well known sprinters can make anywhere from $90,000 to $200,000 or more a year through track and field competition on the European Circuit. However, other athletes competing in other events have a more difficult time, due to the lack of support for their particular event. They have to maintain a job in order to fund their training and travel expenses, which limits their performance and focus on the track. We have to seek additional sponsorships from companies of all industries in order to make it financially possible to achieve our Olympic Dreams.
Q: Does your firm handle public relations and image problems? If so, how do you approach those issues?
A: Well, we try to nip any image problems in the bud by making them aware of the demands that society places on them. We want to prevent image problems from the ground floor. When it comes to just general image consulting, I try to teach them that their personal image is their business image, and they both go hand in hand. They can’t make good money off the field if they have a bad image on the field or out at the clubs or in the community. We try to make sure they keep in mind that they are a business entity or a role model that people look up to.
Q: You still compete in track and field and represent the United States in the triple jump and long jump. You also have a modeling career. How do you juggle those careers and keep your business afloat?
A: Time management is the key. It has been, for me, since college and high school. I make sure that everything I do complements the other things. For instance, the track and the modeling complement each other because I can benefit sponsors by having a presence in the media. Everything is related, and it is just a matter of setting priorities for myself and managing my time wisely.
Q: You are a relatively young business owner. How were you able to get your business started and establish contacts?
A: Through competing in track and field, in college and on the professional level, I’ve been able to build a network of contacts and relationships over time. I use that network as a client base. I really don’t have to seek out clients or market my business. It’s all there for me because I know them personally and I know what their needs are. … Since I’m a young business owner I definitely have to use my resources and my background in athletics. A lot of people trust and respect me because I’m still competing myself, and I know the needs of a pro athlete. That’s the way I was able to get my foot in the door.
Q: What advice would you give someone interested in starting a sports marketing and promotions firm?
A: I would tell them that their priority should be on relationship building. They really need to ask themselves what it is they want to accomplish with their business and who they what to target. Also, I think it’s important that they have a strong marketing background and get experience over the years.
Each week, an interview with one of metro Atlanta’s intriguing business personalities appears in this section.
• Age: 26