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Interview of A Marketer

Anna Gerlich

BUS 240

Professor Marzofka

March 18, 2015


Marketing is everywhere. Personally, Ive never thought about a career

in marketing. So during the first week, when I was trying to determine who I

was going to interview, I couldnt decide what kind of business I wanted to

target. After a few more marketing classes however, the topic of marketing

became more and more interesting. I then connected my interest in

marketing to my other interest, sports, particularly hockey. I already intern

for the Dubuque Fighting Saints, so to get a marketing aspect from another

team in the league sparked my interest. I finally decided to contact Jake

Wesolek, manager of communications and marketing, for USA Hockey. My

goal in this interview was to learn more about the daily responsibilities of a

marketer in hockey, determine the highs and lows of the career, determine

what role marketing plays in USA hockey, and attain some personal advice

from someone who has seen success in the industry.

When it comes to the daily routine of a marketer at USA Hockey, he

stressed that every day was not the same, and it added to the excitement

his job. His daily routine also was affected by whether or not the team was

in-season or off-season. As well as some days are focused more on the

marketing side of things, while others focused on communications, game day

operations, advertising, or even ticket sales. It all depends on the day and

what the upcoming schedule looked like for the team. Most of his days are

filled with a lot of interaction with both staff and the players on the team.

First he would check emails and voice messages to get up to date on those

activities. If it was earlier in the week, he would then focus on game notes,
line charts, and stat projects to prepare for the games coming up that

weekend. He is also in charge of coordinating interviews with the press for

the players. This additionally consists of prepping the players for those

interviews. The players that play hockey or USA hockey are some of the best

hockey players in their age group, in the world. So he must take time to

prepare them for the interviews. This includes testing them by giving them

sample questions, and then critiquing their delivery. Then throughout the

week, different types of meetings occur. Meetings include player personnel

meetings, staff meetings, special projects meetings, social media content

meeting, and a game operations meeting. A couple other of his duties that

he must complete throughout the week include being in charge of all the

stats, which is mostly important in the draft years of the players, as well as

the website. His major responsibility for the website is to get the message

out to their fans on games, promotions, player information, etc. So over all,

Mr. Wesoleks job is more lenient towards the communications side of his job

description rather than the marketing side. However, I believe that any

marketer has a great deal of duties that will be in communications. All of his

responsibilities are to make the team look good, and that is what any

marketer wants. Their main goal is to get fans to buy their tickets. And in

order for them to want to buy tickets, they want the product to look good.

This is all included in what Mr. Wesolek does on a daily basis.

With any job, no matter what you do, there will be negatives. Only

setback that he discussed was the hours. With being involved in sports, you
are going to have to work holidays and weekends. And on those game days,

you will be in the office until late at night when all the fans leave and all the

game day duties are wrapped up. Ive talked to a number of people that work

in sports, and this is always the number one setback for every single one of

them. But, you go into the job knowing this, and as Mr. Wesolek told me, you

eventually adjust to the crazy schedule. If you like your job enough, you will

be able to deal with the hours and working on weekends and holidays. He

says that now he barely even notices it. In this career though, the positives

definitely outweigh the negatives in his book. His favorite part of his job was

the fact that not one day was like the next, as I discussed earlier. He talked

about how the sports business was always changing and moving. One day,

he could focus on marketing, and then next, he could dive right into game

day operations. This is an interesting aspect for me. A routine desk job is

something I fear, so this was very appealing to me. Because everything was

changing and nothing was the same, it keeps everything new and fresh. You

can never get bored.

Another thing that we discussed during our interview was the role that

marketing played within USA Hockey. The biggest thing that he talked about

was connecting with people and developing relationships into lifelong fans.

They accomplish this in several different ways. The obvious and easiest way

is through traditional advertising and marketing. But as he said, more and

more, they are moving towards more grassroots marketing. This includes

getting their players outside of the ice arena, and into the community.
Whether it is fairs, festivals, parades, or schools, they want their players

there. This physically puts their name out there and puts a real face to their

marketing attempts. They are trying to focus on that one-on-one personal

connection over having a fan see an ad in a paper. It make the fans feel more

connected with the organization this way. A way that they market both these

events, and more information about what is happening with the organization,

is through their social media outlets.

Going with getting their players into the community, they tend to

choose events that families are more likely to attend. Families, especially

those with hockey players in the household are their main target market.

Other ways that they reach that target market is through targeted emails. He

discussed how important this was because of the fact that they are not only

trying to create fans, but also lifelong hockey players and fans of the game.

The last thing that Mr. Wesolek and I discussed was his own personal

story and advice he had for me. The big thing that drew him into marketing

was the power of advertising and marketing itself. He always dreamed of the

idea of putting together the perfect campaign and watching it develop and

grow legs of its own. Because there is so much competition out there for

entertainment, you have to step up your game each and every time in order

to obtain a good impression on the community. He encouraged me that the

challenge of doing just this is half the fun. But the biggest advice he had for

me personally, was to just step out of my comfort zone and differentiate

myself from all the others out there. If any sort of opportunity comes to me,
whether it is taking tickets at the door, playing music on game day, or

writing a game recap, I should take full advantage of this because your

diverse experience is what is going to set you apart from everyone else. His

background in sales, community relations, merchandise, communications,

etc. is what helped him get a good understanding of what the consumer

wants. To have all of this behind you will for sure put you in front of the pack.

He ended the conversation with saying that I keep up my passion and fire

and surround myself with good people, Im bound to succeed.

One connection I made from our class discussion to this interview, was

the idea of target marketing. Our book defines a target market as, a specific

group of customers on whom an organization focuses its marketing efforts.

(Pride). This is clearly demonstrated in the way that USA hockey markets

towards families. Because families are the main group segmentation that

they are marketing, they strategize ways to reach out to those people. Places

like fairs, festivals, and schools are places you will find that family

atmosphere. They cleverly put their name out at these events in order to

grow in popularity with families in the area.

Overall, I learned quite a bit about the marketing operations at USA

Hockey by talking to Mr. Wesolek. I thought it was interesting how similar his

communications and his marketing efforts were. At one point he said how

most of his job activities are geared towards the communications part of his

job title. However, those duties could be considered marketing activities as

well, depending how you looked at them. He shapes the players and their
social media in order to look good to the community. His goal is to get more

fans to come to the games. That is a large part of marketing. You do what the

customer wants. They find what the customer wants and likes, and gear their

fan experience to just that. All together though, it was interesting how the

day to day routine of this job is constantly changing. Not one day is like the

other, which really appeals to me. The only sacrifice that I would have to

make if I went into this industry is giving up a majority of my weekends and

holidays. But if you like a job, those types of things shouldnt matter. After

this interview I know more about the daily responsibilities of a marketer in

hockey, the highs and lows of the career, what role marketing plays in USA

hockey, and have some personal advice from someone who has seen

success in the industry. If I take Mr. Wesoleks advice and put myself out

there, take every opportunity that comes to me, and keep the fire in me, I

will be able to succeed.


Works Cited

Pride, William M., and O.C. Ferrell. Marketing. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2014.

Print.

Wesolek, Jake. Telephone interview. 3 Mar. 2015

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