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Marketing Monday: Abby Jacobs (MSA '13), Community Marketing Manager, DICK's Sporting Goods

Monday, April 25 2016 12:31pm

Jacobs, Community Marketing Manager for DICK's Sporting Goods, talks about grassroots sports marketing and the challenges for brick and mortar stores as shopping moves online.

Q & A Todd Moore ('16)

What is your day-to-day role as Community Marketing Manager for Dick's Sporting Goods?

As the Community Marketing Manager for Wisconsin, I serve as the corporate representative for DICK’s Sporting Goods in the field.  I manage the grassroots marketing and sponsorship efforts for our eleven (soon to be thirteen) Wisconsin stores, and aim to connect our brand with the local communities in meaningful and impactful ways. 

I am part of a network of almost sixty Community Marketing Managers across the country, and our goal is to ensure the sustainability of youth sports while also establishing DICK’s Sporting Goods as the all-in-one stop for the everyday athlete.  While my primary focus is on our youth sports partnerships, I also evaluate and manage regional sponsorship opportunities with teams, events, etc., and provide support to national marketing initiatives. 

Dick's Sporting Goods is well regarded for its support of youth sports in communities. How do you determine who or what organizations and teams to sponsor? 

While there is no one cookie-cutter approach to determining who and what we sponsor, we generally focus on league-wide partnerships that allow us to reach as many families and athletes as possible.  These relationships are established in and around the communities where our stores are located, and customized so that we are fulfilling the unique needs of each specific organization.

The support of youth programs goes far beyond financial support. What other activities do you & your team undertake to support youth sports in communities? In addition to cash sponsorships, we may provide our league partners with equipment donations, in-store discounts, and fundraising assistance; and the recent launch of our Team Sports HQ platform will allow us to do much more.  Team Sports HQ is the only all-in-one service that equips and supports youth sports leagues with everything they need to succeed; including websites, online registration, uniforms and fan wear.  Often times, the individuals maintaining the youth sports programs in our communities are volunteers, and Team Sports HQ aims to alleviate some of the challenges faced by these individuals who are strapped for both time and financial resources.  

What impact does the Dick's Sporting Goods "Sports Matter" Foundation and its associated initiatives have on your role?

DICK’s Sporting Goods believes that sports provide an opportunity for youth to develop essential life skills. For this reasons, the Company launched our Sports Matter program in 2014.  My involvement includes executing The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation’s mission on a local level through charitable donations, organizing in-store events for community programs in need (similar to this Sports Matter event last December with the Kansas City Chiefs, which was executed by one of my colleagues), and connecting qualified organizations with additional fundraising opportunities. One unique program is our partnership with the crowdfunding website, DonorsChoose.org, which will provide $1.5 million in donations to public and charter school sports teams.  When eligible team sports projects raise half the funds needed for a designated initiative through DonorsChoose.org, The DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation matches the remaining portion needed to fund their project.     

What would you say is the biggest marketing challenge you face today?  What have you and your team done, or plan to do, to overcome that challenge?

As with any brick and mortar retail organization, one of the biggest marketing challenges we face today is adapting our efforts to meet the needs of a customer that is increasingly shopping online.   My day-to-day role is focused on establishing local relationships and driving in-store traffic; so, I know that my job and the tools I have to offer will have to continue to evolve in the near future if we want to remain relevant. 

However, I think developments like the Team Sports HQ platform are a great example of how we are adapting our business model and offerings to meet the changing needs of youth sports programs.  If we can continue to find ways to solve unique problems for our customers, and save them time and money in the process, I believe we will be able to remain the leading sporting goods retailer in the country – whether in-store or online.     

What was the importance of the Ohio Sports Administration program in your career and personal development?

  The Ohio Sports Administration program has been instrumental in my career and professional development.  Not only was I connected to my first job after graduating through a Bobcat, but I also was also introduced to a now co-worker at DICK’s Sporting Goods by a Sports Ad alum. The connections you make on campus are truly invaluable, and it opens the doors to so many other relationships after you leave Athens. 

It also deserves mentioning that my husband, Ben Jacobs (’11) is a Sports Ad alum – so we have many reasons to be thankful for the program and our time in Athens.

What is the best piece of advice that you could offer someone trying to find a career in marketing or sports apparel brands?

At the end of the day, you have to remember that it’s all about building a brand and driving sales. The things that it takes to do that may not always be glamorous, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be incredibly exciting and fulfilling.  I think we all were initially interested in the sports industry, at least on some level, because of the perks and amazing experiences it can provide.  While I enjoy those things as much as the next person, I’ve found that it’s much more important to believe in the mission of the organization, and who you’re working for and with on a daily basis.

Do you have any recent or upcoming projects you could share with us?

I don’t have any specific projects I can share at this time, but I am eager to see the continued growth of our Team Sports HQ platform, and also what opportunities there may be for our brand to become more involved in running events at a local level (5K’s, 10K’s, half marathons, etc.).  

This summer will also be an exciting time for the Company, as we enter our first Olympic cycle as an official sponsor of Team USA.  I’m looking forward to the potential in-store activation opportunities and finding fun ways to generate excitement on a local level for the Games in Rio.