Marques Jackson is a sponsorship trailblazer. He is currently head of Partnership Marketing and Business Solutions for the Miami Dolphins. He previously helped oversee sports and entertainment partnerships for Miller Coors, and prior to joining Miller, Marques held positions with Coca-Cola, Reebok and the Washington Redskins. He joined us last year at the Sponsorship Mastery Summit and we are thrilled to announce that he will be returning this year to talk about sponsorships from the other side of the table.
Paula Beadle: When I had heard that you traveled the road from Miller to Miami, I was really excited to talk with you because you have that perspective of being on both sides of the table and I know that you and I have talked to before. How about the experience gap that exists between brands and properties? So now that you’ve sat on both sides of the table, how has your experience helped you to close that gap?
Marques Jackson: Yeah. I think just understanding brands in terms of how they think, how they plan, really understanding brands, positioning. and what we try to do at the Dolphins is essentially serve as an extension of our partners marketing departments, right? And it’s understanding the storytelling process and really having that experience, having worked at Miller and having worked at Coke, that fundamental experiences allow me to provide insights and perspective to my team, particularly as we start to think about closing that gap and ultimately, how do we become greater extensions of our partners, businesses
Paula Beadle: Marques the team is known for impactful and unique sponsor activations, the, can you share with me just what you believe are some of the keys to your success?
Marques Jackson: Yeah, absolutely. It’s all about, engagement in terms of fan engagement, fan experiences. And so, as you think about sponsorships and the reason why partners sponsor our team, it’s ultimately the unique experiences that we’re going to deliver back to their consumers. And it typically, as I think about the role of traditional sponsorships, it’s going beyond the scope of having just traditional signage or LED signs.
It’s all about how you’re going to drive further engagement. How are we going to ultimately capture the affinity of our fans, and ultimately the reach that our fans have with their particular brands, to drive that engagement, drive those experiences, and really just deliver unique value across the board.
Paula Beadle: Getting back to our conversation about closing the gap between brands and properties, what are some of the pieces of advice that you would give to people on the property side to help close that gap that exists?
Marques Jackson: Yeah, I think it’s a little bit of understanding a brand’s business model. And again, I go back to particular during times like this, marketing mixes are going to change, sponsorship strategies are going to evolve and change. There’s going to be new, if there are new innovative assets, that you’re thinking about that ultimately you think will deliver value back to a brand, insure that matters back up to that brand’s objectives. So I think it’s really about understanding what are the objectives for the upcoming year, and really understanding how, the assets that you have for your property, how do they deliver and ladder back up into that to drive value? I think a big piece of it is, really having those conversations from a two-way dialogue perspective.
Understanding your perspective, brand partners, business model, understanding some of their challenges, understanding what they’re really good at, but also, you know, coming back with a strategy and a plan that’s going to help them offset some of their weaknesses and it’s going to help drive value against their business objectives.
Paula Beadle: When you were on the brand side, what percentage would you say of the overall proposals that you received, were from people who really understood your business challenges and who worked with you in collaboration to develop that program?
Marques Jackson: Percentage wise, you know I’d probably say anywhere from like 20%, 20, 25%. I think the properties that really get it, do a really good job of asking the right questions up front and then taking those insights, if you will. And then coming back with a solid recommendation and solutions that are ultimately going to drive value for your business.
Paula Beadle: And building upon the current campaigns, right? That brands have.
Marques Jackson: That’s right. Yeah. And I think, again, going back to my original point, I do take it about serving as an extension of those partners, marketing departments, right? A partnership with X property, going to be an extension of that particular brand. Think about it. If you think about it through that lens, that’s ultimately where value comes into play.
And I think creativity is key. I think creativity is a big component as well, so not only understanding a perspective partners business model, but also thinking through the lens of what’s different, that your property can bring to the table outside of other properties, what does that competitive distinctive advantage? Because often times brands are talking to multiple properties, getting pitched by, several different entities, and you’ve got to think about what makes your property so unique that ultimately ladders back into that partner’s business objectives. You know, so at the Dolphins, one of the things we pride ourselves on is how to have in the best social and digital team in the business. And having the ability to help brand story tell as essentially a huge value proposition that we like to convey back to current partners and prospective partners.
Paula Beadle: I’m really curious to know how else do you think sponsorship marketing is going to change in the future?
Marques Jackson: Outside of social and digital, I do think, you know, experiential is going to continue to be a huge factor. And so variances that brands are delivering to their customers or to their consumers, I think is going to be, even more so prevalent. I also think flexibility in terms of sponsorships. So allowing brands to, have a flex fund or, have the ability to change out assets year over year we’re having that ability is going to be ultimately key because business models change, you know, marketing mixes, change, priorities change.
And so, having that ability to, pass back onto a partner, I think is going to be extremely important, particularly as we think about marching on into the future.
Paula Beadle: Is there anything that you have planned for 2021 that you can share with us?
Marques Jackson: You know, we’re excited about 2021 in general. I think 2020 has just been a unique year for all of us. And to get back into hopefully a somewhat quote unquote normalized year, would be really, beneficial for all of us. So we’re excited about and optimistic about the future for us.
Paula Beadle: Speaking about optimism, how are you keeping your team inspired and optimistic during this time? Because even if you’re a part of the Miami Dolphins organization, I’m guessing there are still some pretty tough days.
Marques Jackson: Yeah, it’s definitely tough days for sure. Particularly in light of what we’re all experiencing with a pandemic upon us, but I think what’s important is really connecting with my team on a human level, having a pulse on how they’re feeling, how are they doing overall? How’s their family. and just, you know, ultimately, having conversations with them about finding balance, in their life, if that means, you know, going for a run or, you know, walking their dog in the evening, you know, doing a mid-day yoga retreat, whatever the case may be, whatever that harmony is.
It’s really about finding that balance because I think ultimately from a mental health perspective, that’s going to keep us all in a really good place, and so that those are some of the things that I do, as it relates to, trying to help my team navigate through times like this.
Paula Beadle: That’s great. Well, Marques, thank you so much for talking with me today. We are thrilled to have you back at Sponsorship Mastery Summit. We’ll really look forward to your session. So thank you so much. Best of luck to you.
Marques Jackson: Thank you, Paula, l looking forward to it. I wish we were in Seattle this year, but I’m excited to be a part of this, part of Sponsorship Mastery Summit again.
About the Summit: Sponsorship Mastery Summit will take place virtually and in select cities September 23rd and 24th, 2020. SMS is a powerful and immersive experience specifically for sponsorship sales leaders representing universities, parks and recreation, tourism, sports teams and events, fairs and festivals, venues, arts and cultural organizations. Attendees will collaborate with thought leaders, hear from big brands, exchange ideas and leave with best practices, actionable tools, valuable resources and new connections. Participants will attend interactive workshops, industry forums, big idea roundtables, and networking events.
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