Jeff Goldscher | Combining a Passion for Sports with Creative Marketing Strategies
Smart Business Revolution

Jeff Goldscher is the Principal and Outsourced Chief Marketing Officer at JK Squared. He has been an advertising and marketing professional since 1993, working on behalf of global brands like Comcast, Microsoft, Choice Hotels, Target, and the National Football League. He started and built three different businesses including an advertising agency and a sports marketing agency, both named multiple times to the Inc. 5000 list. 

Jeff was a state finalist for Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and since 2014 has been helping other business owners do the same by supplying fractional CMO services through JK Squared. He currently works with clients from different industries including home improvement, financial services, real estate, and hospitality. 

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran is joined by Jeff Goldscher, the Principal and Outsourced Chief Marketing Officer at JK Squared, to talk about sports and coming up with creative marketing strategies. They also talk about the benefits of hiring a fractional CMO, Jeff’s background in sports journalism, and the benefits of building a diversified business. Stay tuned.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Why Jeff Goldscher left sports journalism and entered the advertising industry
  • How Jeff started his own advertising agency and how the 2009 economic downturn impacted the business
  • Jeff explains what he would have done differently to diversify his agency
  • Why Jeff ended his business partnership, how he started a sports agency, and the marketing ideas he used to serve clients
  • Why big sporting franchises like creative marketing ideas
  • Jeff shares his process for coming up with a creative marketing strategy and explains how he combined his passion for sports with a passion for business
  • What is a Fractional CMO and what does the role involve?
  • Jeff’s reasons for leaving the sports world and his experience transitioning to a Fractional CMO role
  • The peers Jeff respects and how to get in touch with him

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here, the host of this show and every week I get to talk to interesting CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of a range of companies. Go check out the archives, we’ve got some great episodes back there with the founders or entrepreneurs from EO, Kinkos’, Netflix, Activision Blizzard, YPO, LendingTree, OpenTable, so many more. I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25, where he help to connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. A big shout out to our good friend Kait LeDonne at Brandwise Media, check out She introduced us to today’s guest, who is Jeff Goldscher. And Jeff has been an advertising and marketing professional since 1980. To 1993, working on behalf of global brands, including you’ve heard a few of these Comcast, Microsoft, Choice Hotels, Target Corporation, the National Football League, we’re gonna have a fun story in a second about how he got started, and it has something to do with the NFL. He started and built three different businesses, including an advertising agency and a sports marketing agency both named multiple times to the Inc 5000 and was a state finalist in Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year. And since 2014, Jeff has been helping other business owners do the same by supplying fractional CMO services through JK Squared. So we’re going to talk a little bit about what that is exactly. He currently works with clients ranging from home improvement to financial services to real estate and hospitality. 

And of course, this episode is brought to you by Rise25 Media, where we help b2b businesses to get clients referrals and strategic partnerships with done for you podcasts and content marketing. Do you have any questions or if you’re curious about how to do a podcast and do it for your business, give us a call or shoot us an email [email protected] Alright, Jeff, such a pleasure to have you here today. And you’ve got this fun, pre internet story that’s just gonna blow the mind of every millennial that’s listening to this right now. Because they’re not going to even relate. But one of your first jobs is how you got into advertising in the first place. You get a job and you’re assigned, because there’s no Amazon at the time. We need 100 footballs, and we need you to get them stat by tomorrow. And that’s basically how you broke into the advertising industry. So tell us a story.

Jeff Goldscher 2:48

Yeah, it’s great, John, it’s, it’s one of these things you wouldn’t believe in elicit happened to you. But I’m interviewing for jobs. I really wanted to be a sports reporter. When I grew up, that was my dream. And I worked at a paper in Colorado for about three months, in my junior year in college, and I hated it. So I came back to journalism

John Corcoran 3:07

and college. So that must have been a little that you distraught like that blowing your dream.

Jeff Goldscher 3:13

There is there’s nothing like realizing you spent your entire life preparing for a moment. And you’re six months from graduating. And that’s not what you want to do with the rest of your

John Corcoran 3:22

life. That’s that’s brutal. What was it about it that you didn’t like? It became

Jeff Goldscher 3:27

a job. So you think about the things that you love to do as a hobby. And the reality of being a sports writer and working every night, and being on deadline all the time and having to talk to people you don’t know. And there were all these things that were just really challenging. And I think the biggest thing was just you know, after about the third or fourth time you’re covering a baseball game. And you’re starting to realize that you know, you got to keep score, you got to pay attention. You can’t go get a beer in the middle of the game, you know, you’re working. Yeah. And then I lost a lot of my what I thought would be really exciting. And it actually comes back even later in my career as well. But while I’m a huge sports fan, I learned that working in sports isn’t necessarily what I wanted to do.

John Corcoran 4:08

And so do you covering like a small, triple A farm team? No, no, no, I

Jeff Goldscher 4:13

was a little team called the Colorado Rockies.

John Corcoran 4:16

Okay, well, at least you’re in the major leagues. Well,

Jeff Goldscher 4:19

this was great. So I’m in Boulder, Colorado, totally non sequitur, but I’m in Boulder, Colorado. It’s my newspaper internship. I have the the Broncos had just hired Wade Phillips as their head coach. I covered the press conference. The nuggets and the avalanche were both in the playoffs. I covered playoff games, and the Rockies were having their inaugural season. So I covered the first week of the Rockies and met lots of established supporters and Rick Reilly who was a big hero of mine at the time. You know, talk to all of these guys and again, like I realized being a sports reporter means you sleep till noon every day because you’ve been working to Deadline until 1am. Your friends are all out doing so things that you’re not doing. And the path to being a journalist a difficult path even then, I mean, you’re going city to city, looking for opportunities, it was going to be a hard road.

John Corcoran 5:10

And that was, you know, we’re talking a period of time when then journalism was experiencing, are about to experience a tremendous amount of upheaval to.

Jeff Goldscher 5:19

Exactly, exactly. And it’s interesting, like some of the people that I went to college with Mike Greenberg, who went on to some great things, Rachel Nichols, who went on to some great things. Michael wilpons, not that much older than I am here. These were all I went to Northwestern. I wanted to be Michael Wilmont when I grew up, and it’s funny when you have that opportunity to get up on the stage and you realize, I guess it was my first opportunity to realize sometimes what you think you want isn’t exactly what you want, and how do you take that experience and pivot. And there are things that I learned in journalism, school and relationships that I built, that have really benefited me from a career standpoint. But I knew right away that being a reporter wasn’t really what I was cut out to

John Corcoran 6:01

  1. Hmm. So I kind of interrupted you, but go to the football story. Yeah. So So luckily,

Jeff Goldscher 6:07

I came out of that had an interview at an ad agency for an internship for the summer. I think I went in on a Monday to interview didn’t hear anything back Wednesday afternoon. I’m painting my old bedroom in my parents house. And the phone rings. The house phone of course, my mother yells you know, there’s somebody on the phone for you. I run downstairs, and it’s the person I interviewed with and he said to me, how quickly can you be at our office in downtown Baltimore? With a car big enough to hold 100 footballs? It was about three o’clock in the afternoon. I said, I’ll be there by 330 He said great. I show up at the office. The agency was working on a project for the Baltimore NFL expansion committee. And they needed 100 official NFL Wilson footballs the Duke they call it

John Corcoran 6:53

so this is a was a before the Ravens so the Baltimore doesn’t run NFL day before

Jeff Goldscher 6:57

Baltimore had an A-team. They’ve been trying to get an expansion team. They were competing against St. Louis, Jacksonville, Carolina. There were two other teams Carolina and Jacksonville ended up getting the teams but we had to go and they needed these footballs and again like you said this before Amazon so they had a deal worked out with Wilson Wilson was supposed to ship them 100 footballs that were going to be signed the following day. And the football didn’t show up. So they called me up and they gave me they had an admin calling the sporting goods stores around Baltimore. You know, one store had three footballs one store had five footballs somebody else had 10 football somebody had two footballs and so I literally got in the car the guy that I was going to be working for gave me his credit card and his cell phone because again, this was 1993 who had cell phones he had a cell phone

John Corcoran 7:51

of all colors had had cell phones at that time and he

Jeff Goldscher 7:55

gave it to this kid that he had met briefly you know two days before and basically just said go

John Corcoran 8:02

and also it’s not like you can call and check in at any point during this journey because it’s like six hours you’re on your own unless you use a payphone or something.

Jeff Goldscher 8:09

Um my first my father is in the printing business. My first stop was actually to my father’s office to sit down with his sales guys to go here’s where I need to go help me map this out around the beltway that’s pretty smart. Yeah, it was it worked out great. I remember I got to one modell sporting goods store they had 20 footballs I thought I hit the mother lode it was the greatest and I drove around store to store I think I drove probably 60 miles around the beltway it took me all of six hours to get all the footballs I think the last ones I ended up back at the office that evening with 107 footballs Luckily, my mother had a minivan so they all fit and I said to the guy after dropped off the balls I said So does this mean I have the job because I don’t know come back tomorrow we’ll see how it works out. So I spent the next day handing the footballs to Johnny Unitas and art Donovan and Lenny Moore and a bunch of other Baltimore cult legends. Yeah. And got the football side and we use these in a direct mailbox that went out to corporations around the Baltimore area trying to raise money for skyboxes. So the idea the concept behind it was you give us your autograph, and we’ll give you theirs. So we sent the footballs in a nice box. The box actually was so successful in driving deposits, that we won the Diamond ECHO Award that year, which is the award the Direct Marketing Association gives out to the campaign with the highest ROI of any campaign in the country. And you know, we generated you know, several hundreds of millions of dollars in Skybox deposits out of lobbying. Our ROI was off the chart. I got introduced to the wonderful world of advertising what it really takes to make it and you know and I got the internship and that turned into my first job so I guess it all worked out at the end.

John Corcoran 10:00

That’s great. That’s great. So and what’s it’s kind of interesting, we’re gonna circle back to this as you found a way to indulge in that passion for sports a little bit later in your career. But let’s flash forward to Havit Advertising. This is your advertising agency, which after a number of years of working for different agencies, you’re able to start your own. But it’s an interesting cautionary tale in overconcentration one industry because, you know, you were really heavily invested your clients were all the cable industry, and there was a consolidation that happened in Oh, 920 10, during the financial meltdown, talk a little bit about how that impacted you.