Marcus Collins

Branding, Leadership, Marketing, Networking, Social Media

Travels from Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Marcus Collins's speaking fee falls within range:
$20,000 to $25,000

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Marcus Collins Profile

I’m Marcus. I’ve always been a bit of a “square peg in a round hole.” I grew up as a black kid in Detroit who swam competitively, loved the Monkees as much as I loved A Tribe Called Quest, and spent my summers at band camp. Among my white peers, I was the “blackest” person they knew. Among my black peers, I was never quite black enough. The result of these experiences taught me how to observe cultural codes and develop an empathic muscle. My years of training and work have since strengthened these innate abilities into an actionable practice that allows me to translate culture for brands and translate brands for culture.

Consequently, I study the effects of cultural contagion on consumer behavior as a marketing professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and translate these cultural learnings for “blue-chip” brands that wish to create contagious marketing campaigns that extend across both the online and offline worlds of “social.” Throughout my career, I’ve had the great privilege to be acknowledged for my strategic and creative contributions (Advertising Age’s 40 Under 40 recipient, Clio award winner) and launch campaigns like “Cliff Paul” for State Farm, the Made In America Music Festival for Budweiser, ”Hello Brooklyn” for the Brooklyn Nets, and the Eggo + Netflix’s Stranger Things conquest.

Prior to my tenure in advertising, I worked in music and tech as a startup co-founder (Muse Recordings) then leading iTunes + Nike sport music initiatives at Apple (iTunes Partner Marketing) before running digital strategy for Beyoncé.

I am an alumnus of the University of Michigan (BSE in Materials Science Engineering and MBA with an emphasis in Strategic Brand Marketing) and a doctoral student at Temple University. But most importantly, I am Alex’s husband and Georgia & Ivy’s father.

Marcus Collins Speaking Videos

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Marcus Collins's Speech Descriptions


It¹s been said that “good marketers see consumers as complete human beings with all the dimensions real people have.” Demographics fail to accurately describe "real people.” Of course, that¹s why marketer focuses on psychographics because they paint a more vivid picture of who are. However, the truth is, psychographics and personas only get you so far. In this session, we will uncover a new and more accurate approach to segmentation so that we might improve our marketing accuracy and ultimately get closer to predictive modeling.

As marketers, we have invested heavily in the creation and distribution of communications. These messages have taken many forms throughout the decades - TV, radio, print, OOH, digital content, etc. However, more and more, transparency and consumer expectations have necessitated marketers to think in a more contemporary fashion, if they are to establish meaningful connections. This session looks at what it means for a brand to move beyond brand messaging alone and incorporate brand behavior. Here we will adopt a framework that will allow us to actively design messages and product innovations that inspire people to take action.

Today’s connected-world provides marketers with unprecedented access to consumer data. We can track what people ‘like,' where they go, what they share, what they buy, and so on. The reams of passive information that people shed on a daily basis allow for more targeted messaging and measurement. However, while this intelligence has made marketers more confident, it has not made them more accurate in their efforts. This deficiency is not due to a lack of available data, rather, it is born from a lack of truly understanding people. Marketers have mistaken consumer information for consumer intimacy and, therefore, have not been able to fully leverage the power of data analytics. In this session, we will uncover a new and more accurate approach to segmentation so that we might improve our marketing accuracy, extract the potential of big data, and ultimately get closer to predictive modeling.

There are few words more powerful in the English language than “once upon a time.” Why? Because human beings are indefensible to the power of stories. It’s not the seductive nature of prose alone that wields these effects but the utility of storytelling that facilitates information exchange and behavioral norming. This, of course, creates an invaluable vehicle for marketers to deliver branded messages. However, not all stories are created equal. For every successful branded story told, there is a long list of failures. How then might brands fully realize storytelling’s true potential? This session aims to explore this phenomenon further and offer some actionable perspective.

It’s been said that when people visit a museum, they often pay no mind to the frame of the artwork. But the framing can sometimes make all the difference. The same goes for people and their actions. The frame – that is, the context or environment we’re in – has a great deal of impact on what we do, what we say, and how we consume. Understanding the dynamics of different environments, be they physical or digital, will enable you to leverage these conditions in ways that sway human behaviour. Understand your environment, and you’ll hold the key to creating ideas that make meaningful connections and move people. This session aims to empower participants to do just that by leveraging the literature of the behavioral sciences and the pragmatism of successful practice.

These days “content marketing” is all the rage and every marketer is seemingly trying to crack the code. It’s not enough to just create content, we have to put ourselves in the mindset of a publisher. This session will provide participants with the tools they need to use content as an effective means of brand storytelling.

Everyday there’s a new influencer — from celebrities to Youtube stars. These content creators have amassed millions of followers who tune-in to these ‘influencers’ for their daily does of serotonin. With such a wide reach, marketers have clambered over these folks to help move products, communications, and ideas. This has created a new market with new millionaires cashing in on ‘likes’ and ‘views.’ The question is, though, just how influential are these influencers? This session investigates the notion of influence not only in marketing but in corporate culture and business organizations to help empower business leaders to leverage the true power of influence.

These days, there is no shortage of business leaders looking for 'data-driven' insights that lead to informed creative ideas. The use of data helps reduce risk in our communication efforts and often times optimizes the effectiveness of the media we allocate to support said efforts. What a great time to be in business, right?! However, despite the fact that business leaders have access to more data than ever before, there still seems to be a struggle to identify the best ideas and the right way to communicate them. How can that be?! Are the numbers not as accurate as we thought? Or perhaps we’re looking at the wrong data. This session aims to interrogate how businesses measure success and, instead, offer a new perspective on goal setting and goal reaching.


Since its modern conception, marketing and advertising have relied on creativity as a catalyst for commerce. We use copy and images to evoke desired behaviors from a target populous in hopes that it will impact the brand’s bottom line. While the convergence of the two — creativity and commerce — is considered the hallmark of ‘good marketing communications’ (sought after by ad agencies and ambitious brand managers alike), there is an unspoken factor which frames its relevance and significance. That factor is ‘culture’ and this talk ventures to explore the unwritten rules about culture and why its simultaneous salience and nebulousness should be the backbone of how we approach marketing in today’s hyper-connected world.

In today’s hyper-connected world, the allure of “going viral” continues to seduce marketers and idea-generators into investing significant time and resources toward the creation of content – videos, memes, tweets, posts, etc. – that spreads. There is seemingly no shortage of brands, business owners, or storytellers who covet the opportunity to have their ideas trend on Twitter, rake up 1 million+ views on Youtube, or garner thousands of Facebook likes. Metrics of social-chatter are then used as a proxy for success with the inclination that virality leads to reach and reach implies potential action. Though there are benefits to “going viral,” one must wonder if virality is truly what we’re after or if perhaps there is something far greater worth pursuing. This session reframe the benefits of 'going viral and provides an alternative aim. It explores the impact of culture on consumer behavior and offers an actionable framework that enables marketers to create ideas/messages/ products/content that not only spread but also take hold in culture.

Hip hop is a large, well-defined, valuable, and growing culture of consumption with a set of beliefs, norms, artifacts, and language which govern the behaviors of this tribal collective and the social structure thereof. The construction of these governing cultural characteristics are highly visible and accessible by social media and other marketing channels of communication. What makes this potential even more staggering is that social contagion takes place among this culture of consumption not rarely but routinely, as seen in the adoption of Beat By Dre headphones, Adidas’ Yeezy sneakers, and Tommy Hilfiger clothing. In fact, the hip hop culture of consumption has become a multi-billion dollar industry and has influenced consumption activities across such areas as music, automotive, fashion, sport, marketing, and tech. There is much to be learned from this consumption culture and how brands tap into this powerful buying population. In particular, what are the processes by which norms are negotiated and constructed when social contagion of branded products happens among members of the hip hop culture of consumption? How does the exchange and propagation of content between members of the hip hop culture of consumption translate into cultural characteristics within the collective? This session aims to not only address these issues but provide insight as to how brands can use this knowledge to inform product innovations, marketing activities, and business decision-making.


There is no question, the future of business of digital, however, when it comes to ‘digital,' there is no shortage of jargon, abstractions, and buzzwords. If there is no clarity to how we talk about the space then how can businesses leverage these powerful tools to fully realize their potential? This session will provide an approach which empowers leaders with the perspective they need to navigate the ambiguity with concreteness and actionable skills. Participants will learn how to apply strategic thinking to the creation of digital ecosystems that not only change industries but also consumer expectations. This session will help participants proactively coordinate their digital business efforts and thwart the potential threat of disruption. The session will also cover topics such as the anthropological evolution of innovation, the diffusion of innovation, and the true application of ‘digital.'

This session takes an in-depth look at the relationship between media and human behavior in order to equip participants with the ability to design socially driven marketing initiatives. We will explore social strategies and marketing efforts for active brands that aim to catalyze sharing from person to person. The objective will be to borrow the academic rigor of behavioral science and use it to turbo charge strategic thinking and creative ideation. We will look to both research and practicum to illuminate the drivers that propel influence so that participants might be able to optimize the propagation of their marketing. The session will also cover such topics as how social media impacts consumer behavior; how marketers can leverage human dynamics to excite the spread of ideas, messages, and products; and how to create content and consumer experiences that are built to share.

New technologies and the contemporary social web have made it easier to reach audiences, but more difficult to 'break through.' This tension forces brands to think differently about business transformation and marketing strategy. This session turbocharges marketing efforts with a perspective that moves people to action. The session focuses on applying a transformative approach to elevate brands above the day-to-day tactics of digital and social media to create the foundation for campaign strategies that generate deep connections with clients and customers — in both B-to-B and B-to-C environments. The session is geared to help participants return to work with a POV to disrupt long-standing marketing practices (with questionable outcomes) and the addition of new, creative thinking with a proven, actionable approach to propel their business objectives forward.

We live in digital world where there's so much change but this wouldn't be the first time we've experienced such world altering, technological change, despite the massive impact it's had to culture and commerce. While we see digital all around us, it begs the question...what is digital exactly? When it comes to ‘digital,' there is no shortage of jargon, abstractions, and buzzwords. If there is no clarity as to how we talk about the space then how can brands leverage these powerful tools to fully realize their potential. This session aims to establish a foundation as to how marketers can apply a shared perspective, and corresponding nomenclature, in an effort to establish concreteness.

Social networking technologies are continuously transforming the ways consumers interact with each other and firms. These changes constitute a fundamental shift in the marketplace—consumers have greater opportunities to voice their opinions and connect with other consumers. Furthermore, this shift acts as a stimulant that turbocharges the spread of ideas, messages, products, and behaviors - where influence propagates from person to person. As a result, the conventional approaches to marketing communications have become more and more challenged. This puts an added emphasis on leveraging social media to engage consumers and catalyze their influence on each other.

What is the ROI of social media? How do we know if any of our digital and social media efforts have worked? There’s so much data at our finger tips - 'big data' is the buzzword du jour, after all - to what measurements should we focus our attention? In this session, we will look at digital strategy and social media marketing through the eyes of analytics so that we might be able to pinpoint how we most accurately measure success in this new marketing paradigm. This session will address the role of analytics and its ability to measure data for insight extraction and predictive mapping, the impact of empirical data vs self-reported data, KPI benchmarking, and social listening as a champion among the business data set.


Throughout my career, I have observed and researched the spread of ideas, products, messages, and behaviors from person to person. This has led me to the practice of designing for cultural contagion - how the aforementioned pathogens can impact an infected population's affects, cognitions, beliefs, and behaviors. While my subject matter has typically focused on commerce and contemporary culture, the same dynamics here reside in corporate culture as well, and perhaps even more saliently considering the close proximation of people in a company. When we factor in the fluid nature of energy - seeing as energy cannot be created but only transferred - the contagion of energy inside a company becomes the perfect subject for analysis. In this session we will examine the spread of energy from person to person and how leaders can manage their energy to inspire both their teams and company culture at scale. We will center our attention on the yellow quadrant of the Michigan Model of Leadership, using empathy as the cornerstone of this approach.

The structure of the session will be organized by chapters that unpack "E = MC^2," where the variables are defined as followed:
E = energy and the management thereof
M = maintaining your core conviction
C = creating an environment where oxytocins flow
C = consistency of behavior and posture

This sessions looks at the fundamental needs an organization needs to have to sustain the entrepreneurial spirit of innovation within its culture despite changes in the market, the company size, and/or the company's leadership. These elements don't happen overnight, they are obtained and retained by small changes over a period of time - Dy/Dx.

Social media technologies are continuously transforming the ways people interact with each other and firms. These changes constitute a fundamental shift in the marketplace--consumers have greater opportunities to voice their opinions and connect with other consumers as well as increased influence over marketers and brands. These shifts also have a great impact within the career-marketplace, which challenge the conventional approaches of talent acquisition and put more emphasis on firms to leverage social media in an effort to attract talent in today’s digital-age. In this session, we will examine the relationship between human behavior and technology to equip participants with the understanding and skills to capitalize on social media and person-to-person interactions that support the ambitions of the HR function.


In life, our goals and ambitious can seem out of reach and hard to obtain, the result of which leads to disappointment and anxiety. However, there are tried and true strategies which enable people to pursue what moves them. I have experience this myself — going from a failed startup co-founder to running digital strategy for Beyoncé. This session illuminates these strategies in what I call the 'pursuit of dopeness.'

This session explores the challenges of marginalization through the metaphor of being a ‘black sheep,' told through the experience of being black in one's career and in American society. This session focuses on empathy as a vehicle to build connections and gain a greater understanding of ourselves and where we fit in this world.

What People are Saying about Seeing Marcus Speak

Rating Entries

“[After Marcus’ talk] our team felt inspired to action and empathy. I had goosebumps multiple times – was NOT expecting that at all.”
– Shivani Shah, Google, Account Manager

“Tremendous! What a high note [he] sent us off on. Wonderful energy, inspiring messages, and real tools to get us to the next level.”
– Molly Nagler, PepsiCo, Chief Learning Officer

“I was looking for an outside speaker to speak to our marketing leaders at our quarterly offsite and I honestly felt Marcus was the right person with the right message. Before our offsite I spoke on the phone with Marcus and let him know some of the unique challenges we are facing as a group and gave him a rundown of our key desired outcomes of our offsite. When we hung up after a 20 minute conversation it felt like Marcus knew exactly where we were coming from and what we needed to hear. It really felt that simple. I have seen Marcus speak twice now and three things have always stood out to me. First is his ability and passion for simplicity. The digital marketing space can be a busy and confusing one to say the least but Marcus is set on making sense of the noise. Secondly, I am drawn to his ability to engage the room. Marcus brings energy to each presentation and makes you want to give it your full attention. Lastly, I appreciate his preparation. I am convinced Marcus can go through a 2 hour presentation without looking at his notes once while coordinating every word with the right click for the next slide at just the right time. We started our day with Marcus and he really set the tone for our entire offsite. I feel fortunate to have him speak to us and would gladly ask him to join us again.”
– Trey Park, Verizon Media, Chief of Staff—Growth Marketing

“We had the pleasure of hosing Marcus as our keynote speaker during our annual American Marketing Association conference. Marcus delivered a high-energy presentation regarding cultural consumption that had our audience thinking beyond their traditional marketing messaging and strategies. The feedback of his keynote was fantastic from our audience, as they felt it was the perfect way to end the conference and be inspired to implement what they learned into their own careers. If his presentation was any indication, I’m sure his “day job” career receives the same level of passion, creativity, and understanding of the audience he’s speaking to.”
– Ryan Winfield, Verizon Media, American Marketing Association

“Simply put, Marcus is exceptional….exceptionally capable, passionate, multidimensional, super smart, engaging, human, inspiring, relational, real. He has demonstrated all of these qualities as a speaker and team member at Hyper Island. Such a great guy…I can’t say enough.”
– Laura Sawyer, Hyper Island, Facilitator and Learning Designer

“Marcus Collins is nothing short of fantastic. As a speaker, Marcus has a way of presenting that often difficult to find… He’s a rare gem when it comes to presentation style, ability to take feedback, area of expertise, and more. Marcus truly listens to what others have to say before responding. I happily recommend him to everyone.”
– Jaclyn Ciamillo, Capital One, Sr. Change Consultant: People & Culture

“Marcus brought an awesome presence and engagement to the session. I loved his succinct yet powerful slides and message. In particular, I really enjoyed his energy, sincerity & passion. Great to see academic & real life role merged! ”
– Toyota Motors Corporation, Next Gen Exec Program

“Marcus Collins brings passion, empathy and a heightened level of innovation and business acumen to the table. He is an amazing speaker who is able to flawlessly make a genuine connection to the audiences he serves. His wealth of experience in sales and marketing alongside his personal commitment to diversify and inclusion uniquely qualifies him to speak on an array of business topics across various industries. We were beyond grateful to have chosen Marcus to play a leading role during our inaugural business and inclusion summit which has been deemed one of the best conferences to date in the insurance industry! We firmly endorse Marcus as a business, inclusion and leadership subject matter expert.”
– Whitnee Dillard, Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Director, Diversity & Inclusion

“Earlier today, 11/7, I attended Southwest Michigan’s AMA Conference. I wanted to thank you for your incredible presentation. I have had a passion for Marketing for years now, but I have been struggling in recent years with what exact career path I wanted to take once I earned my degree. While listening to you present, I was completely floored; nothing I have watched, listened to, or learned in a classroom has resonated with me so strongly before. As I was listening to you discuss cultures and consumer behavior, all I could think was, ‘This. This is what I need to do. This is my passion and this is how I can make my mark.’ With that being said, again I just want to thank you, truly from the bottom of my heart, for giving me the inspiration and kickstart I needed. The influence you have left on me is profound and I hope that someday in the future, I can have the pleasure of working with you.”
– Victoria Munro, Marketing student, AMA Conference Attendee

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