In Edition #233 of Industry Insider, we spoke to the former Marketing Manager of Peterborough United Jake Baxter about his career in sport so far…
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
I’m Jake Baxter, a sport marketing professional who has worked in sports for close to 10 years now.
Most recently I have worked with the team at eSC, and before this spent just over four years heading up marketing for Peterborough United. I’ve also spent time working with Volkswagen and Thomas Cook as well as at a leading youth marketing agency.
What do you do in your current role?
I’ve been working with the team at eSC recently, but now I’m actively looking for a new opportunity in the sports industry. Leading campaigns and developing creative strategies has always brought me a lot of satisfaction, and I’m excited to find a role where I can apply my expertise in that area.
My ultimate goal is to transition to a sportswear brand as I think this would allow me to combine my expertise and experience with my passion for sneakers and streetwear.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what did an “average” week look like for you at Peterborough United?
As you’ve said in the question, there is no normal or average and I think this is the beauty and the beast when working in sports with every day posing new challenges and opportunities.
My main focus during an average week was to drive growth across the club’s offline and online channels. This involved overseeing the content plan for our video platform, Posh+, and assisting the commercial team with campaign ideas for current and potential partners. Additionally, a significant part of my role was to provide support to the wider team, ensuring they had the assistance they needed to accomplish their tasks effectively.
As we approached a home game, my responsibilities became even more diverse. They ranged from coordinating player appearances, to planning retail and ticketing campaigns aimed at filling the Weston Homes Stadium and maximising revenue.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I’ve always had a keen interest in sport, and I always enjoyed the marketing tasks back in A Level Business Studies, so when I saw a degree titled ’Sport Marketing’ I knew it was the one for me.
Three years in Coventry and a sandwich year in Valencia later I graduated and started my first job with Volkswagen. Despite this role being outside of sport, I was responsible for their partnership with Premiership rugby side Saracens which marked my first foray into sport. I then spent five years working for travel brand Thomas Cook – firstly for their Thomas Cook Sport brand and then spent three years being responsible for the brand positioning and proposition development of Thomas Cook’s youth brands – Club 18-30 & Club Xtra.
Following my time at Thomas Cook, I freelanced for Disrupt – a youth marketing agency that I had worked closely with whilst at Thomas Cook in the position of Brand Manager, and worked with a host of brands including Absolut, Majestic Athletic/MLB, Penny Skateboards and more on a range of campaigns.
It wasn’t until around June 2018 that I made the true transition into sport, and in the deep-end at a club I had supported for many years in Peterborough United. I was the club’s first marketing hire for a number of years, so I had a job on my hands building out the marketing function from scratch – fast forward to October 2022 when I left the club and the team was five strong and we had managed to make a real difference to the club.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
Telling a story.
I can’t stress enough how important I think storytelling is in campaigns. When you can create a captivating story and sprinkle in just the right amount of detail, you’ve pretty much mastered the art of using storytelling to create impactful campaigns and creative content.
I think the key is in finding the right balance of detail – and this is crucial. If you go overboard, people will think you’re trying too hard. If you don’t include enough, the story won’t connect or resonate with the audience. For me, the key is authenticity. It’s all about telling these stories in a genuine and relatable way.
I really do think marketers can learn a lot from Rappers… I even wrote a post on LinkedIn about this.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
In the earlier stages of my career, there was an instance where I failed, and it was due to my tendency to hold onto too much responsibility within projects. I liked to control every aspect of my work and campaign, which ultimately meant some work would suffer.
This experience taught me a lesson about the importance of delegation and the art of “letting go.” I realised that it is crucial to trust the team members around you. As long as everyone is aligned with the same end goal, it’s possible to distribute the work and relinquish some control.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
I find the ongoing trend of cross-cultural collaborations fascinating. It’s exciting to see examples like the collaboration between New Balance x Aries x AS Roma (my personal favourite) or the partnership between Kappa x Drôle de Monsieur x AS Monaco. These collaborations bring together kit suppliers and streetwear brands, resulting in unique and innovative products and stories.
Additionally, I love what channels like Footballer Fits and VERSUS are doing. They play a crucial role in advancing the culture by showcasing how teams and players can tell compelling stories beyond what happens on the pitch. Their work definitely helps to expand the narrative surrounding football and elevate its impact beyond the game itself.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
Finding ways to unwind has always been a challenge for me, particularly when working at a football club due to the ‘always-on’ nature of the role. However, I have discovered some things that help me relax: walking, going to the gym, cooking, and traveling.
I find walking incredibly beneficial, and I’m fortunate to have a dog who enjoys walking as much as I do. Going to the gym is also a great way for me to switch off and relieve stress.
My partner and I love to travel, especially on city breaks. I usually spend too much of our holidays dragging my partner to stadiums she has no interest in just to look at them.
I also love cooking or baking, particularly on weekends. We’re just about to enter pizza oven season, and I can’t wait to eat too many homemade pizzas.
Also, it’s nice to go back and watch The Posh as a fan from time-to-time. However, the playoff campaign was definitely more of a stressor than a relaxant…
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
If you want to work in the sports industry, my one piece of advice would be to identify your niche early on and commit to it.
I personally wish I had done this sooner. In a field where roles can be diverse and responsibilities can overlap, it’s easy to become a “jack-of-all-trades,” especially in smaller clubs with limited staff. Find your niche early and focus on developing the specific skills and knowledge required for that area.
How to connect with Jake Baxter…
My instagram is @jakefrancisbaxter if you want to see pictures of my dog (Ronnie), coffee and trainers. I am also on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/jakefbaxter/) – connect or follow for posts around how sport and culture collide.