Ladies and gentlemen it’s official, I am writing a book.

I talked about it for years and was asked about it a great many times. A lot of my friends and several of my blog readers – which would mean all of them – have suggested that perhaps I should put something together that is a little bit longer than a weekly rant. They have also suggested, and not unfairly, that I use appropriate grammar, structure, punctuation and language style. So, I went out and bought a classic style guide, completely rearranged my work schedule, put on my thinking hat and dove right in.

I’m sure you have many questions. Questions that most likely fall under the following three inquiries. Number one, what am I writing about? Number two, who agreed to publish this thing? Number three, who is going to read it?

Number One

I am going to write about what sponsors want. Why? Well first off, every piece of unsolicited advice I’ve received in my life has been consistent with “you should do something you know or you should do something you’re passionate about.”  So, that’s exactly what I’m doing and it’s pretty exciting. Literally what I’m attempting to do is take a presentation that I have given at least 50 times, which focuses around my ranting against gold, silver and bronze sponsorship packages, and turn it into a book. If you have ever seen my presentation before, you know that I focus on sponsors wanting to borrow equity, tell stories, engage stakeholders, see proof and get promoted. So naturally, this is precisely what my book is about.

Number Two

Ohio University Press agreed to publish my book. They even sent me a fancy contract, which I’ve signed, and now I have an incredibly demanding set of deliverables because I set a ridiculous timeline to deliver this book by April 30th. In addition, we still have the many projects going on at T1. I am, however, honoured and candidly intimidated that the Ohio University press will be including my book in a new sports marketing series they’ve been creating, publishing and promoting over the last year. They have asked me to tackle the sponsorship topic for my book and they have several more in the hopper as well. If you’re wondering if this has anything to do with my recent trip to Athens, Ohio where I talked happily in this blog space about working with some fantastic combined MBA/MSA students, then you are correct. If you’re thinking that Ohio University also sounds like the same place where my good friend Dr. Norm O’Reilly is the Richard P. & Joan S. Fox Professor of Business, you’re right again. I’ll fill in the blanks for you if you’re thinking this publishing gig is a result of me using my connections, it is. I mean, what good in life are connections if we can’t use them.

Number Three

Now on to chapter three. I didn’t mean chapter three but I guess I’m thinking about the book. Question three, who will read it? The cool thing about this project is that while I have a university as my publisher, it’s not a textbook. It’s a book that we would like to see in classrooms in sports marketing courses on sponsorship. It’s a book that we would like to see in many countries, in fact the book is going to be promoted in over 50 countries through their network. It’s a book we would like to see as required reading. But most importantly, it’s book we would like to see people who work in sponsorship in the street reading, whether that be an academic professional or on a voluntary basis.

I hope all of you read the book as well because if one thing is for certain you are all contributors. The book is not a textbook and was not meant to be an academic study. It was really to question my thoughts on sponsorship, on the opportunities that exist today, on the application to use it tomorrow and what makes for great sponsorship or for poor. Really what this book is going to be is a catalogue for my lifelong industry observations. I have had the amazing fortune to work on some great sponsorships but candidly I have had the opportunity to watch and observe even more great work than I’ve had my hands on. I’m combining my life of observing, my relentless reading, insane amount of conference going and unapologetic event snooping to pepper my thoughts into one little book. So, in effect everybody in my universe is a contributor.

On top of that, I should reach out to some of you for discussions, to gain your input, to question case studies and to fax quotes for the book (that is been an interesting exercise). I’ve reached out to people as far away as Austria, Germany, The United Kingdom, Spain, The United States of Trump and, of course, some Canadian experts as well. Modestly I must say that everybody is very excited for me and so far have agreed to contribute as best they can. If you have any thoughts or a case study or a person I should interview or an idea for my book, send it my way. 

As the publisher said to me, nobody is getting rich off this. My motivation is to provide a resource to help sponsorship marketers around the world. My motivation is to create a vehicle for conversation about different points of view on sponsorship. My motivation is to shape and share what I have learned so others benefit. If you want to be a part of that, hurrah! But hurry, I have committed to a crazy deadline of April 30th for my first draft. Yikes. That’s 80,000 words away. The good news is I have cranked out about 43,000 words already, digitally at least. Though I suspect 42,000 of them will be deleted. If you want to read some, I can send the completely unedited version to you because I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts.

How have I been able to get so much done in January? Well my team here at T1 has been incredibly supportive. I was really quite surprised how agreeable everybody was when I said “Hey I’m not going to come in most mornings. Hey I’m going to decrease the number of meetings I attend. Hey I’m not going to work on so many projects. Hey I need to move your weekly one-on-one to the afternoon.” I don’t know, maybe I was naïve expecting more protests. Maybe my ego hoped for some tears and whimpering sad faces. I guess my team is just so supportive of me that they don’t have a problem with me not being around. I guess the team really wants T1 to have a worldwide publication and they’re willing to sacrifice having me in their meetings giving them the death stare. Somehow, someway my team has figured out that they need to let Mark go be in a dark corner to scribble down all his problems, memorize his memoirs and put them into a book.

Of course, I must thank my darling wife Karen, my lovely and handsome sons, my sweet little animals Prince my CavaPoo and Apollo the crazy cat. I also must make sure that I think of my staff who sacrificed so much. But it all seriousness to everyone who reads this blog, a big big big big thanks as many of you have said to me, “Hey you know what you’re an OK writer, maybe you should write a book.”

So finally, I am listening and cranking out pages, because that’s what you want and this book is about What Sponsors Want.