Drake Bolon is a Sales and Marketing professional. From the time that he was a child, Drake had a passion for sports. He knew that one day he wanted to be involved in the sports industry in some manner. However, it wasn’t until he started volunteering with sports facilities and operations that he decided to pursue sales and marketing within the sports industry. Drake realized that his passion for sports and for working with people could be blended into a role within the marketing and sales field.
During his last two years of college, Drake Bolon began working within the Ohio University Athletics Marketing Department. This experience helped him land his first post-college position at Robert Morris University as Director of Marketing and Ticketing. One of Drake’s favorite aspects of working in sales and marketing is getting to interact with different people every day. Since he works in the college sports industry, this means he gets to meet with passionate alumni, fans, students, and donors. Drake also has had the opportunity to mentor over one-hundred young professionals during his career. This group has included interns, graduate assistants, and volunteers. Many of these talented individuals have gone on to work in professional and college sports and advance their careers by earning leadership roles. Drake is proud that he had the opportunity to contribute to young people’s lives in this manner.
One of the most difficult aspects of the marketing industry is simply creating reactions that would not organically happen without the intervening step of marketing. Although this aspect of marketing is difficult to achieve, it makes success much more rewarding. One of Drake Bolon’s favorite thought experiments is to imagine what things would be like if he and his staff were not doing their jobs. It’s very likely that revenue and attendance at events would suffer to a large degree. While it can be difficult to measure the difference that marketing makes, this type of thought experiment helps Drake and his staff realize the difference that they are making each day. Marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to find the right formula that creates transformational change in regards to fan (or customer) behavior. Once the right balance is found, though, there is no more rewarding feeling.
There are so many that get caught up in all of the great new ideas they are implementing, that they forget about what really matters – results! As best as you can, strive to measure every new initiative that you implement. Use surveys, analyze ROI and really take an analytical approach to marketing. Sometimes less is more when it comes to spending money.
Throughout his career, Drake Bolon has been involved in various professional organizations like the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators and the American Marketing Association. Getting involved in networking organizations is something that Drake always encourages students and young professionals to do. Many professional organizations offer discounts to younger members. Besides the benefits of networking, most of these organizations host annual conventions where members can job hunt, connect with friends, and learn more about the marketing industry. Additionally, these organizations usually have daily or weekly newsletters and websites where members can exchange ideas. Professional organizations are an indispensable tool for every professional involved in the sales and marketing field.
The sports industry is one of the most popular industries in the United States, which also means it is one of the most competitive industries to break into. Drake Bolon encourages students who are interested in the sports industry to seek volunteer and internship opportunities as soon as possible. In an exceptionally crowded marketplace, experience is what helps a candidate stand out. Internship experiences not only help students build their resumes, they also help students learn what they like and don’t like about the industry. Even if a student ultimately decides that he or she doesn’t want to work in the sports industry, an internship experience will teach the student numerous skills that will be applicable in any field that the student ultimately works in.
Like every sales and marketing professional, Drake cares about measuring his success in numbers. In his particular case, this means looking at revenue increases and attendance milestones. However, Drake considers his greatest achievement so far to be the number of former staff members who he has helped find positions within the sports industry. Knowing that he had a significant impact on starting their careers and giving them the tools to succeed is the most fulfilling achievement Drake could ever ask for. In Drake’s childhood home his mother had a plaque that said: “We shape our lives not by what we carry with us, but by the legacy we leave behind.” Every day Drake strives to live up to that idea in both his personal and professional life.
More than anything, when it comes to succeeding in marketing/sales (or in all honesty, any industry), my foremost philosophy is to live every day with passion, energy, and enthusiasm. You cannot underestimate the power of truly caring about what you do and making it a part of every fiber of your being. From there, my philosophy with regards to marketing is to be results oriented in everything you do.