IN-PERSON is a podcast series that tells the stories behind the world's most daring events and the people who make them happen.

Music by Winesap.

 

GUEST SUBMISSIONS
By Industry
By Topic
By Role
feather_search

07 | John Heiman, Sprint: Empathy, Event ROI, and Fortnite

  • July 24, 2019
  • 36:22

John Heiman (Director of Experiential at Sprint) shares how Sprint’s event strategy has become more focused over the years and how he and his team are making complex technologies more accessible with immersive activations. We also discussed event ROI, empathy, and Fortnite.

You can also listen on:

Top Takeaways

1

BE PLAYFUL: Whether you are trying to educate an audience about the networking intricacies of 5G or about another offering, consider adding an element of play. “We've discovered that if we make something playful and make something hands-on, experiential, then it's easier to teach a broader array of people with different backgrounds.” Cue the Fortnite. 

2

WEARING YOUR ATTENDEES’ SHOES: Whether hiring for his team or reviewing agencies, John believes that empathy is one of the most important attributes to look for. “I look for people who really understand and can put themselves in the point of view of who our customers will be. I want them to understand the journey and the whole experience.”

3

GETTING TO THE BOTTOM-LINE: Event ROI may seem nebulous, but given the price tag that comes with events, it’s worth really thinking how a given campaign feeds into the bottom line. “I think people don't talk enough about true attribution of the investment. In a lot of business cases or proposals that I see, they don't allocate any money towards researching whether or not the activation was a success or not.” For John and his team, that metric is often net promoter score (NPS).

ABOUT John Heiman

For over 32 years, John has worked in different roles at Sprint. Today, he oversees programs around executive briefing centers, corporate events, sports & entertainment sponsorships and consumer and B2B experiential initiatives. 

Episode Transcript

BRANDON:
Welcome to IN-PERSON. Today we are joined by John Heiman, the director at Sprint. John has been with the company for 32 years and has done a lot during his tenure there. Welcome, John.

JOHN:
Good to be here.

BRANDON:
So as we mentioned, you've been at Sprint for a long time and you've had the opportunity to see a number of different teams and roles, from the sales side, more from the product side, and for about the last eight years or so you've been on the event side.

JOHN:
Right, more generally in marketing. And so, I have our corporate events group, which includes trade shows, our experiential initiatives, our executive briefing centers, and also supports marketing.

BRANDON:
Great. And one aspect of your role in what you're doing now that you've mentioned a lot is the executive briefing centers. Now, in the realm of event marketing that I'm familiar with, it's not a phrase that I hear too often. Could you share with the audience a little bit about what an executive briefing center is, and how it plays into the larger event and marketing strategy?

JOHN:
The executive briefing centers, pretty common among tech companies, both in the US and in Europe, and also in Asia to a certain extent. And these are facilities that companies operate to bring their prospective customers and customers in, especially when they have an RFP for, in our case, telecom services. And so, we have a full-time staff, including engineers, who work with the customer and the account team to create an agenda. And it's a day of collaboration where we go through our product strategy, our roadmaps. We do demonstrations and talk about what the future of our networks will look like, and our services.

And so, while it's not an event in the context of a large event where you have multiple customers in, we do treat it like an event. It's a customized event, customized agenda, and highly curated. And so, we'll do hundreds of these kind of things. We like to do it in our briefing centers because we can control the environment. It's a very deep one-on-one session with the customers where we get to build trust and help them, ideally, solve their telecom needs.

BRANDON:
Definitely. So, I mean, speaking to you beforehand, one of the things you mentioned is that over the history of Sprint's event experiential and overall marketing plan there's been a little bit of a shift. It used to be involved in many, many events and you've been streamlining down to fewer events in these executive briefing centers, having those really play a big part in the strategy.

Could you tell us a little bit more about that transition?

JOHN:
Sure. So 10, 12 years ago we were going to 80 large events a year. Just like everyone else, we had the various trade show booths that were warehoused and shipped around the country, and what we found is that those were becoming less and less effective. And instead, we moved our investments into executive briefing centers and other forums where we controlled the environment. We would bring the customer to us. We might have a small group of customers in, might have a CIO forum where we bring 50 CIOs in, but we found that that kind of, if you will, private invite-only trade show or event in a briefing center or in a forum that we controlled, was far more effective. It allowed us to build a much deeper bond with our prospects and customers.

BRANDON:
For sure. And I understand that, especially when you're dealing with some of the complex technologies that are involved with telecom and what Sprint is gearing up to launch soon, 5G, it can be very helpful to have these smaller, more intimate experiences to explain these technologies.

JOHN:
Yes, absolutely. And especially with the case of 5G. All of the carriers are rolling out in phases, and so it's not ubiquitous and it won't be ubiquitous for a while. And so, you go into the Las Vegas Convention Center, for example, you're not going to have 5G right away. Or we can go to a market where we do have 5G and we can do prototypes and demonstrations and illustrate what the benefits of the new technology will be.

BRANDON:
So you described that there are some pretty cool sorts of ways that you're educating people in person about these technologies, one of which you mentioned was the Pong game. Could you explain that a bit?

JOHN:
Yeah. So one of the things that we've learned, having done this in briefing centers and also in other venues, is that sometimes the best way to teach someone, or explain a technology, that they may not be an engineer, may not understand, is by having some fun. And we come from the telecom world, which is typically pretty buttoned-up, engineer-driven, and we've discovered that if we make something playful and make something hands-on, very experiential, then it's easier to teach a broader array of people with different backgrounds.

So one of the things that's really important about 5G is that it has super-low latency, ultra-low latency of 10 milliseconds or so, compared to, say, a 100-millisecond delay on 4G. And that's important, because if you're going to do things, like autonomous vehicles, you need to have near-real-time control. And so, a lot of people don't think about latency, and that's the time that you send a command from your device, where it hits a server and comes back. Very important, especially in IOT, Internet of Things.

And so, in order to explain that to people who aren't engineers, we built a Pong game. You remember the old Atari Pong games, and it was frustrating playing those games because the paddle controls were always behind about a half a second. And so, it doesn't move, and then when it moves it goes too far, and then you pull it back and it overcorrects. And so, we made a paddle game where one of the controllers was 5G and the other was 4G. And so, the 5G one gives you a lot more accurate control and near-real-time movement of the paddle, and the 4G guy's just frustrated.

BRANDON:
Yeah. So, did you have a chance to play it?

JOHN:
Oh, I've played it several times.

BRANDON:
And how did you do?

JOHN:
Well, I always grab the 5G paddle and I always win.

BRANDON:
Okay, yeah. And the 4G just can't compare.

JOHN:
Just can't compete.

BRANDON:
Cool, so that's a, I think, a really novel way of engaging people. And there are all sorts of way that technology is becoming more of a part of how people do events, but I think that's ... that just really epitomizes a bespoke way of explaining a concept to an audience.

I know that when Sprint does end up showcasing at trade shows, you've taken this similar bespoke approach to really trying to create something that's different than the average booth that you might see.

JOHN:
Several years ago we decided that we didn't want to replicate the same big booth that looked like a big telecom booth, and do it over, and over and over again. And we were at a point where we were doing fewer shows, and instead of reinvesting in a new booth, we decided that we would just do a custom display exhibit every time. And we were able to justify that, if you will, because we took whatever elements we built, and then we would take them back and install them somewhere else, or use them again. But I'm not talking about the big towers, and the desks, and all the various cabinetry and stuff like that. I'm talking about things that are very meaningful branded items, or simulations, or demonstrations.

And so, most recently at Mobile World Congress Americas in Los Angeles last September we had an exhibit that was about 100 by 40 feet. We installed a 20-foot tall succulent wall, and lemon trees and a park bench, and simulated a park. And it was very warm and inviting, and something that no one had seen. And as you'd look around all the other exhibits, they were like every other telecom exhibit, and so we were able to attract a goodly number of people, probably one of the busiest booths at the show because we had some things like that. And it was just very inviting, we had games that helped articulate what 5G will be and fun simulations.

BRANDON:
Sure. I understand there was some Fortnite there.

JOHN:
A little bit of Fortnite. That's one of the things that's unique about Sprint's version of 5G, is that it will be a mobile 5G, truly mobile 5G, so you'll be able to untether yourself from your home cable and play Fortnite or whatever game you want to play anywhere that you're in our 5G network. So if that's in a park, it's in a park.

BRANDON:
Great. And did you play any Fortnite?

JOHN:
I'm not a gamer. I tried to play and very quickly, it ended for me.

BRANDON:
Yeah. It's all in the building.

JOHN:
Yeah.

BRANDON:
It's just that quick building. That's a little tip for next time.

So, I mean, you mentioned this switch to a more custom experience, and really going the extra mile when deciding to exhibit at trade shows. I know that there is an example that was pretty formative to you a while back with SGI. Do you mind sharing that story?

JOHN:
Yeah. So years ago I was involved in a project at Sprint where we were helping filmmakers, and that ecosystem, work on ... or network, so that they could share animation files, for example, across long distances instead of shipping them. And so, we would go to the same shows that the same suppliers, if you will, who are early on in the animation world, like Silicon Graphics, SGI, and I was struck at this one show where I went and there was this very long line queued up and I thought, "What in the world are they waiting to see?" And I got closer and I realized that they actually had a retail store selling SGI-branded stuff. And I thought, "They have reached their brand pinnacle." That is nirvana when people will shell out $250 for a jacket with your brand on it.

BRANDON:
Because at the time, SGI was behind-

JOHN:
Toy Story and movies like that. And so, it occurred to me that a trade show booth doesn't have to be just a trade show booth. It can be an experience. And if someone's willing to come in and spend money on your logoed items and wear them around, that's a pretty good thing. And so, I started to think about exhibits differently than just show and tell.

BRANDON:
And I think one of the things that's really interesting about that story is the idea of there being a giant line at a trade show booth. It's often just such a challenge trying to get people to stop by, but in this particular case they had a huge line.

And I know when you speak of that ideal exhibiting experience you mentioned that ... sort of like an amusement park feeling to it.

JOHN:
Yeah. So some of the companies that we work with to build briefing centers have backgrounds in children's museums, and in building amusement parks, and they come at it from a different point of view. They come at it with the idea that you want to see the attraction, you want to build this anticipation. And the way they build the amusement parks is that the ride you want to be on, you can't really get to right away. You have to work your way there and that builds anticipation. And then when you get there there's always a queue to ... so you'll always have to wait a little bit and that builds positive anticipation, and so your experience is better.

And so, when I think about exhibiting I want ... or even experiential, if I'm in a mall, or doing some consumer experiential, I want ... from 100-feet away, I want someone to go, "What is that? I want to go see it," and I want to draw them in. And much like we did at Mobile World Congress with the 20-foot live succulent wall, you can't help but to want to go see that. And once they got there, we had different versions of AR and VR and other things where we could help them understand what 5G is all about, and so ... and back to the children's museum. And then when they do get in there I want them to want to grab something and touch it, and experience it, and get tactile. And so, that's why I ... we just think about exhibits a lot differently than your traditional device on a podium.

BRANDON:
So it sounds like you're working with some pretty great agencies when it comes to these experiential activations. What do you look for when you're looking to work with a new agency or partner?

JOHN:
I look for people who really understand and can put themselves in the point of view of who our customers will be. I want them to understand the journey and the whole experience. I want them to have a background, various backgrounds, like I mentioned, people who build amusement parks, or children's museums, and things where they really understand the psychology behind the experience, and they don't think about it simply as something that's clever, or something that's flashy. And they also understand that if you build anticipation, you've got to deliver. You can't build anticipation and then have it be a dud.

BRANDON:
No, that's not very satisfying at all.

JOHN:
Right. And so, they just, I guess, they have empathy for the person who's going to go through the experience, and they're smart enough to think through it. And I've had these agencies who have pitched these gimmicks that really ring hollow. They lure you in, and then nothing. And so, we look for agencies who know that you have to follow all the way through and deliver an experience, and you want that person, after they go through that experience, to walk away not only with a positive experience and memory of the interaction with the brand, but you want them to go tell somebody else, "I got to take you back here. You've got to see this. You've got to experience this. It's wonderful. Never seen anything like it before."

And so, agency folks who know that are the kind of people I like to work with.

BRANDON:
Now, I understand that when it comes to sourcing talent in general for your team you have a different way of looking at it, as well. It's about looking past the ... what might be superficially on the resume and really looking into what someone might be able to bring to the table. Could you share a little bit more about that mindset?

JOHN:
I look for people who not only have an aptitude for the job that they're interested in, the job they're doing, but I want people to have a passion for it. And again, back to the idea of having empathy for the people that they interact with because everybody on my team is customer-facing, be it the CTO or a CEO of a large Fortune 50 company or a consumer, I want them to have empathy for what that person is experiencing and I want them as the brand ambassador, so to speak, to be able to interact in such a way. I don't care what their background is. I've worked with people who have acting backgrounds. I've worked with people who are coders who are wonderful with customers and they're very passionate about it, and that's the best kind of display of your brand is to have somebody who is genuinely passionate and has empathy for the person they're talking to.

BRANDON:
I agree 100%. So when you describe working with your team members and your style of leading, how would you describe it?

JOHN:
I think years ago I might have said that servant leader. I don't know if that's still trendy. But the idea that if you're able to hire people who have the aptitude and they have the passion, then the most important thing I can do is to create an environment where it's low-risk for creativity and let people go, let them fly, give them all the runway they need and support them. And I tongue-in-cheek tell my team that I only do a couple important things a year. One is secure resources and budgets, another is to protect them from being derailed by senior executives to go to other projects. And also, to encourage them and help them learn and evolve and develop. I think of it more of a player-coach kind of environment. I don't mind rolling up my sleeves and busing a table, or pushing a cart at all, and I think that's important, as a leader, that you don't sit back with your feet on the desk and delegate and then bark at people.

BRANDON:
So that type of leadership style, it's something that I think is ... it's often associated with smaller, scrappier companies and startups. Sprint is this global corporation. Do you find that leadership style is something that is rare? And not in Sprint, but just in general with larger organizations.

JOHN:
Yeah. I think that kind of command-and-control leadership style is still very prevalent. I see it in my company. I see it in other companies. The great thing about what we do at Sprint, even though it's a large company, we're a small department that is largely autonomous. And so, we deliver on behalf of other groups in the company, but I'm not part of a 12,000 person unit where we have this hierarchy, and instead we are more like an agency within the company. And so, we're able to act differently. We're able to behave differently and we're able to get resources even outside the company, other agencies who typically are small firms, small boutique firms that we love to work with.

BRANDON:
Got it. Makes sense. So I'd like to rewind a little bit and ask you, how did you get involved with events and marketing in general?

JOHN:
Well, I ... That's a good question. I came up through the company. I started in sales and moved into product management, did some work in alliance management, and strategic planning and stuff like that, and I always leaned in towards the marketing. It was drawing me, and so I tended to appreciate what my colleagues over in the marketing groups were doing. And so, I started working towards that direction. What I realized over time is that the hard, hard work in marketing, being able to attribute your marketing investments to sales, for example, is very analytical work. It takes a tremendous amount of analysis, and so it's very cerebral. It's not just building a creative point-of-sale piece and being done with it. And I found that marketing really starts with market research. Long before you're advertising, you're doing research to make sure you're building the right thing, the right solution.

And so, I find the whole field of marketing really interesting and it's very broad and it's fun to work with people who are very analytical. It's more fun to work with people who are very creative. It's very rewarding and a lot of high energy.

And so, about 10 or 12 years ago, I moved into a group that had the trade shows in our executive briefing centers. And so, from that, through various re-organizations, I took on the events group and I built ... or introduced Sprint's first experiential marketing organization and I realized that while they may sound like disparate functions and groups, whether it's sports marketing, or an event, or a briefing in a briefing center with a customer, or intercepting somebody in the mall, that hands-on experiential is the common thread through all of that, and I settled in on experiential marketing because I think if you do it right you can really help people learn and you can give them a fun experience, and you can help them make better buying decisions, whether it's a business or an individual. And it's fun to see grown people play Pong in a business suit and laugh, and smile, and have a good time and learn something while they're doing it.

BRANDON:
So you mentioned that one of the things that's very important to your approach to marketing is the research aspect. How does that carry over to experiential marketing, and really making sure that decisions, initiatives, overall strategy is backed by research and data?

JOHN:
So in our industry, on the consumer side in particular, knowing how people shop for cellphone service. It's an interesting market to study and you have to study it a lot. There are a lot of market segments out there, customer segments out there and they have different buying behaviors. And so, understanding how they buy and then building interactions and activations that reflect that in the best way possible for them, takes a tremendous amount of pre-work before you just show up at a mall, or show up at a park with your experiential initiatives. And the same is true of business customers. And one of the things that's evolving, and has been evolving for the past several years, in terms of selling telecom solutions to large businesses, is that it used to be the CTO and the CIO who would come to our briefing centers, or to a trade show and they would ...

They're well educated. They have an RFP. They typically know how to have that conversation about telephone networks, for example. Now what we're seeing are people coming in from the companies and they might come from marketing, or from fleet management, they might be in advertising, and so we have had to adopt to a different influencer, a different decision-maker when they come and interact with us at a trade show, or in our briefing centers. And so, call it research or call it really good preparation in studying the customer, it's really important.

The other thing in our briefing centers is when ... We have a large Fortune 500 company coming in. We spend a fair amount of time researching the company, and their solutions and their challenges. We want to know more about what's going on with that company and what keeps them up at night then maybe they do. We want to anticipate what their problems could be, their challenges. We want to anticipate what their challenges are going to be, so that we can present the best solution possible for them.

BRANDON:
I think that's just so essential, that it's that attendee-first mentality, that customer-first mentality and really putting that front and center, and I know that's come up in describing some of the other elements of your approach as well.

During your time at Sprint, and maybe even before then, what's been a point of inflection where you really decided to take things in a different tack?

JOHN:
That's good question and inflection. I could think of a couple, both in terms of exhibiting management style, but in terms of exhibiting I remember we had a trade show schedule of 60 or so large events, and I picked up a trade magazine and the headline was Apple Pulls Out of Macworld, and it was their developer conference and I thought, "Apple's pulling out of Macworld?" And I read the article. And Apple's always ahead of their time, they're ahead of their time. They always know what they're doing. And I had this epiphany, and so I reached out to all of my internal clients who I was helping with the trade show, and I did all the logistics work at the booth there and that kind of stuff, and I said, "These are very expensive to do. I want you to create some kind of measure, like an ROI measure on this event. And if you can't prove it in, then we're going to reconsider whether we do it or not."

We canceled half the shows right there. And we thought, "Look, this is not trending the way we thought, and customers are not going to trade shows to learn about our company anymore." And there's where we shifted investment into our briefing center program. And not only did we shift investment, we shifted resources too. We brought in higher-caliber people to work in the briefing centers, people who often times had a sales or engineering background, so that they could go face-to-face with our customers.

And I realized at that point that when you do that, everything has to be customized, highly personalized and highly customized, and it takes ... For every day of a briefing, you're probably spending a week in planning to make sure that you have everything properly laid out and the agenda right. And so when you ... customer comes in and has that collaborative experience, you've put your best foot forward. So that was a seismic shift. And I would say that for other companies who have briefing centers, they've done similar things where they've backed off of big exhibits and trade shows and they're investing more in environments that they can control, and be that a multi-client seminar that's invitation-only, or a CIO summit, or a briefing center, and it's becoming strategically more and more important in your ... I'm starting to see my peers were going for managers, and then I started seeing directors, and now VPs, going to these conferences because it's becoming more strategic to the companies.

BRANDON:
So a few more questions for you, one of which is, if you could go back and give yourself a piece of advice earlier in your career, what would it be?

JOHN:
Advice that I'd give myself earlier in my career, I did not think I was going to end up in a big Fortune 500 company. I never saw myself as that corporate bureaucrat, and I resisted it several times. But it turned out I really loved the company, and the people, and the values of the company and it wasn't until I was with the company, maybe, 15 years that I decided to allow myself to be more creative and allow myself to take some risks. And up to that point I was used to being delegated to, receiving direction, and as I rose up through the ranks, so to speak, I had this point at which it's like, "I don't want to look back at this after I retire and have a memory of myself as being this shrinking violet in the corner. I want to take risks. I want to build something. I want to build multiple things. I want to create energy in the company."

And so, the current position I've had for a while has allowed me to do that and I still love it every day. I find something new and exciting every day. I take inspiration in the folks who work for me, and the ideas that they come up with and we embrace them. We try things. It can be ... Almost like everything's an experiment, and I just wish I would have done that earlier.

BRANDON:
That's an equally relevant piece of advice for some of our listeners, and for others who might be earlier in their careers.

That said, if you could give someone who is just starting their career in marketing or business another piece of advice, what would that be?

JOHN:
I think if somebody is starting into marketing I would want them to see the broadest possible spectrum of marketing and understand that it starts with ... good marketing initiatives start with market research. They start with understanding what the market needs before the market knows what it needs. So many people, when they get into marketing, they want to jump right into advertising, or right into the message, and that's fine but everybody in marketing has to have an appreciation for the entire spectrum. It can be a long time. It can be 18 months to two years from a concept through research, then alpha trials, and beta trials, focus groups. All that hard work happens before a product hits the market. And I think having that appreciation ...

And actually, if I were to design a career for somebody, I would do rotations in those various areas, so that they had empathy for their peers who are upstream and downstream.

BRANDON:
No, it seems like that's a problem that's maybe all too common, just with people who are maybe fresh out of their studies, or maybe just entering the workforce and they hear about a career like marketing and want to jump right into the, just the creative side of it. So definitely. I mean, it sounds like that this is something that is just central to your outlook on marketing, this preparation, this research and really thinking about the broader context and the experience of the customer, the audience, again.

So we've talked a lot about what John does during his day-to-day at work. When you're off the clock, what are some ways that you like to just relax, refresh, and also get inspired?

JOHN:
Well, when I'm off the clock ... And it's this idea of, at five o'clock you're done, you're not.

BRANDON:
Sure.

JOHN:
And that's okay. Obviously, we want to have time for family and recharging and things like that. I think if I were reincarnated I'd probably come back as a carpenter, a furniture maker. And I love building with wood, and I love the process of ... It can take me a couple of years to think about the project I want to build, and then take inspiration from the pros who build, or other things that I want to create, and then I design, and then I start working. It's, to me, very meditative. I'm typically by myself with my tools and it helps me recharge. And there's something about building something tangible that's very, very rewarding. And so, that's my downtime, reenergize. And especially if it's a gift. And most of the stuff I build are gifts for people, and hopefully they like it. But oftentimes it's a special gift, or someone will ask me to make them something. And there's a lot of joy in giving something permanent to somebody who will cherish it, hopefully.

BRANDON:
So what are some examples of pieces that you've made in the past

JOHN:
I've made a lot of tables. I like the mission style, arts and crafts style blocky stuff, pegged together, and so I've made several coffee tables, end tables. I made a bookcase headboard for my wife, and we love that. And various projects here and there. I've made quite a few presentation boxes and gift boxes and things like that.

BRANDON:
Fantastic.

JOHN:
The only thing I can't do is turn wood, so you'll never see anything with curves on it from me.

BRANDON:
Okay, just straight, angular.

JOHN:
Right.

BRANDON:
For sure. That's very impressive and I can totally relate, in terms of just wanting ... especially when so much of our work is on a computer screen, just doing something tactile.

JOHN:
Right, yeah. And taking a raw piece of wood, where you actually have somebody cut the tree down, and then you dry the wood in a kiln, and then you plane the wood, and you end up with a finished piece is very gratifying. It's more gratifying than going to the lumber store and buying finished pieces and just assembling.

BRANDON:
Oh, wow. So you're involved with the full life cycle of the wood

JOHN:
Yeah.

BRANDON:
Great. Okay, so my final question for you is, what's something that people don't talk about enough when it comes to experiential and event marketing?

JOHN:
I think the thing that people don't talk about enough is true attribution of the investment. And in marketing so many people will focus on measures like brand impressions, which are important but they don't necessarily ring the cash register. And so, we've got to find other ways to measure attribution or change in disposition of the guest, or the person that you're talking to. My favorite one is to measure net promoter score, and it's something that can be reliably done. You can measure a segment, a population. You can intercept people after an engagement and measure their disposition. But it's something that I find curious, in a lot of business cases or funding appeals that I see, or proposals, is that they don't allocate any money towards researching whether or not the activation was a success or not. It's an afterthought, or they don't care. But I think that that challenge, generally speaking in our industry, is that we don't have enough people saying, "How are we going to prove this is a good idea? How are we going to prove this activation actually was a success?"

BRANDON:
Yeah. I couldn't agree more. I mean, it's something that ... We know that events are traditionally a bit of a black box and it's hard to pull data from it, but that doesn't mean you should try-

JOHN:
Right.

BRANDON:
... and you shouldn't try to find some sort of metric, some sort of way of getting that data.

JOHN:
Yeah. We do a lot of surveying, and if you do it properly and make it easy, and not make the customer work to do it, I find that they're willing to provide honest, genuine feedback if you do it properly. The idea that you just, "Oh, we had 9,000 impressions."

BRANDON:
9,000 impressions.

JOHN:
Right.

BRANDON:
Something, right?

JOHN:
Yeah.

BRANDON:
All right. So one question I like to ask often, John, is who are some other people in the industry who you think are really doing a great job? This can be experiential marketing. This can be exhibiting across the board.

JOHN:
Well, a friend of mine named Steve Randazzo just published a book called Brand Experiences and it delves into the motivation, the psychology of why experiential works and he offers some tremendous insights. And the book just came out, I'm sure you can find it on Amazon. And it's insights like that that inspire me.

BRANDON:
And when it comes to the exhibiting space, I understand that there are some folks that stand out as well.

JOHN:
Oh, yeah. We've been working with a company called Freshwater who does the most creative exhibits, most engaging exhibits, the kind of exhibits that don't look like anything like the other exhibits in the hall, and they're fun, they're playful, they're warm, have lots of energy, and you're just drawn to them. And then once you get there the experiences go deep, and it's just a wonder to work with creative people like the folks at Freshwater who aren't just shipping out great big containers of trade show towers and furnishings, and then using it for the next show, and the next show, and the next show. And having that custom creative element is really inspiring.

BRANDON:
Great. Well, John, thanks so much for taking the time to stop by today. It's been really, really great to chat with you and learn more about your approach and your experiences.

JOHN:
My pleasure. I appreciate the conversation.

BRANDON:
Thank you.