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13 | Steve Randazzo, Pro Motion: Authenticity and the Power of Brand Experiences

  • September 4, 2019
  • 38:21

Steve Randazzo (President, Pro Motion) shares lessons learned from 30 years in events, advice for breaking through the marketing clutter, how to measure return on emotion from experiential, and how to charge your brand with authenticity and purpose.

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Top Takeaways

1

BREAKING THROUGH CLUTTER: Steve likens digital and social media interactions today as a crowded highway or overpass. “You're just clicking through...you don't stop, and you don't really immerse yourself.” Thankfully, the rise of human to human interactions allows brands to break away from the high-speed noise and build, “an emotional connection...an aha moment.”

2

MEASURING RETURN ON EMOTION: Decision-making for B2B buyers is a more emotional process, Steve says, which means performance can’t just be based on numbers or hard facts. Qualitative data—including consumer content and feedback—is equally valuable. For example, during a campaign for Fiskars lawn and garden equipment, Steve’s team captured the number of sales as well as positive consumer feedback. “...That subjective information...you can still package up at the end of the day in your ROI and show value.”

3

CHARGING UP WITH AUTHENTICITY AND PURPOSE: To embed a deeper sense of purpose and authenticity into a brand, Steve recommends an audit of customers in order to understand what’s important to them and learn how to incorporate that into your brand. Zappos, for example, developed a program during Black Fridays around pet adoption as this was a cause important to their customer base. “You can't do it because it's going to help your brand or it's going to sell your products. You have to do it for the real reason...and 100% of your focus needs to help that cause.”

ABOUT Steve Randazzo

Steve has worked with clients like The Walt Disney Company, Hewlett-Packard, Anheuser-Busch, Citgo, the NBA, and many other great organizations. He's also the author of Brand Experiences: Building Connections in a Digitally Cluttered World.

Episode Transcript

BRANDON:

Welcome to another episode of IN-PERSON, I am so excited to welcome Steve Randazzo to the show today. Steve, thank you so much for being here today.

STEVE:

Oh, Brandon, thanks for having me.

BRANDON:

I met Steve through John Hyman, who was a previous guest on the show and John mentioned Steve. He mentioned Steve had recently written this book on brand experiences with a big focus on experiential and events and I thought to myself, "I want to learn more about this guy," so I was so pleased when John was able to connect us over at Experiential Marketing Summit way back then. You were kind enough to send over a copy of the book [Brand Experiences: Building Connections in a Digitally Cluttered World], which I got to read through. So really excited to speak a little bit more about what's going on at Pro Motion and also your book.

STEVE:

That sounds great.

BRANDON:

All right, so I want to make sure I'm pronouncing it right. Is it Pro Motion or is it Promotion?

STEVE:

Well, if there's a little bit of space between the O and the M between pro and motion, then you're saying it right. So it is two words.

BRANDON:

Okay, perfect.

STEVE:

And it is Pro Motion. Pause as long as you'd like. Twenty-four years ago I realized that it's as tough to name your company as it is to name your kids. I still have the sheets, I probably have five or six handwritten sheets front and back on potential names, and I kept on saying, "I want one word that says what we do." And I was like, "Promotion," and it's like okay, "It's too common of a word. We can't own that." And so I'm like, "All right, let's make it two words," so that's what we did. And it stuck and, hopefully, it's been a good thing because we've had a nice ride over the last 24 years.

BRANDON:

That's great, and Pro Motion is this experiential marketing company. You've worked with the likes of the Walt Disney Company, Hewlett Packard, Anheuser-Busch, Citgo, NBA, and a lot of other really big brands. So to set the stage for today's conversation, could you tell us a little bit more about Pro Motion and what you all are up to?

STEVE:

Sure, well, when we started the company in '95 we were an event marketing company because experiential really hadn't come to life yet. So in simple terms, we're an event or an experience company, and we designed experiences that bring brands to life. I mean, we're storytellers. Almost every single program we have generates word of mouth. So it's really important for us to tell a great story, get people to talk about us. They talk about our brands that we represent and based on a lot of studies, word of mouth is really important out there and consumers believe word of mouth over marketing from brands. So we try and generate aha moments that consumers can get excited about and then share with friends and family, which extends the reach of our programs. So again, simplistically, we design experiences, we're storytellers and we generate word of mouth.

BRANDON:

That's great. So what is your day to day look like as the founder and the President of Pro Motion?

STEVE:

Well, I think one of the reasons why I was attracted to this industry is every day is different. I always say, "We either have an extra chip in our brain, or we're missing a chip in our brain," because we love variety, and we love a challenge, and we love ... We always get excited when we're in controlled chaos. The busier we are, the more excited we are, and the more challenged we are and, the more fulfilling it is for us. I think that pretty much sums up most people in the agency world. But I guess in a normal day, I spend the first couple of hours reading. I'm trying to look at trends, I'm looking at articles, I'm trying to see what other brands are doing. I'm trying to look at what other agencies are doing. So I'm just absorbing content usually for the first couple hours of the day.

I always check-in in the morning with my account team to see what's going on, see what happened the day before with events or see what's going on in our team's travels or whatever it happens to be. I'm very involved in the day to day of what our company does, and it's really what excites me and what I really enjoy. We were much bigger at another time in our history, and I just realized that it wasn't as much fun for me because we were too big for me to really make an impact on every piece of business that we had, so we made a decision to only work with 10 clients at a time and that's kind of a magic number that it's easier for me to be able to be involved in each piece of those business.

I also spend a lot of time, probably almost half my time just in the biz dev area of our agency, either I'm connecting with potential prospects on LinkedIn, or I'm writing an article or doing something that gets us more awareness in our industry. So we promote on LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook on a daily basis. So we either have some kind of content that we've produced or someone else's content that they produced that we would put out there into the digital world.

BRANDON:

Sure, and I think it's really interesting what you said about only working with 10 companies, 10 brands at a time. Do you think that's something that other agencies, on the whole, are doing or in your experience so far? It's a bit rarer?

STEVE:

Yeah. I don't know anybody else who really eliminates ... it's not 10 brands, it's 10 companies. So we may have a company that have multiple brands, but I don't know if anybody's doing this. Most agencies are just trying to grow and that's their number one focus. And our number one focus is we're trying to grow our brands. I would be extremely happy with the same 10 brands every year, year in and year out that we continue to grow and have great results with. That would be wonderful. Unfortunately, some brands, just their lifecycle, maybe they do a program with us for two to five or 10 years but then that life cycle's over and they're onto something else or they come to us like Disney, we haven't done a program probably in a couple of years with them, but we've done so many different projects with them over the past 10 or 12 years they basically come to us for a specific type of activation. It's usually their national tours. And so maybe we don't work with them every year, but we continue to work with them in nice cadence.

So maybe it's because we're 24-years-old, and we feel we're just really established. I remember an interview back in 1996, guy said, "Hey, so is the sky the limit?" And I'm saying, "No." I said, "I didn't build this company, or I didn't create this company to be the biggest agency out there. I only want to be the best." So having 100 million in billings is not interesting to me. Again, I've become an admin guy. That's no fun. I didn't get in this industry to be an admin guy. Yes, admin's a part of what I do every day. But I got in this business to engage our clients and get out in the field and see our teams and see how we're engaging consumers or customers in a B2B world. That's what excites me. I mean, I love getting on an airplane, going out in the field and seeing our programs in action. I don't want to sit back here in my office and look at a flat screen all day. So it's important to me that our clients are growing and if our clients grow then we're going to be fine.

BRANDON:

That's great, and what would you say when you're working with these really big brands if you could tell us a little bit about the creative process that goes into pulling off a campaign and what that typical process looks like between Pro Motion and the customer.

STEVE:

Well, I think we're really inquisitive. So we're going to ask a lot of questions. We have this proprietary discovery process that we take every prospect or client through, so we're trying to get as much information as we possibly can. So if we get an RFP, the first thing we say is, "Hey, we want to get on at least an hour, and a half call with you because we want to literally dissect what you're trying to do," because we're not going to go after a new piece of business unless we know we can win it. So we turn down a lot of RFPs simply because we don't want to be on that cattle call. We don't want to be one of seven agencies who are fighting for a piece of business. We want to build a relationship, we want to understand the brand, and we want to bring a program that we know that would be successful.

STEVE:

So we start with a lot of questions and a lot of discovery and at the same time, we're getting that information from the prospect we're also gathering information that we can get out on the internet, so we gather as much information as we possibly can. We put a brief together that says, "Here's what we think we know. This is what we understand and here's their problem, how do we solve it?" And usually, depending on the scope of the program, we'll have two or three different brainstorming sessions. And maybe the first one was with everybody here, and then we break it down to smaller groups based on some of the ideas. And then we start building the deck, and we start talking about how to package this and what's important.

STEVE:

Sometimes what they asked for is not what we think they need, so we'll go back to the prospect and say, "Hey, I know you've asked for this, but we don't believe that's the right answer. Are you open to something else?" And sometimes they say yes and sometimes they don't. And we just react based on that. But that whole creative process is something that is morphed over time. We've learned so much. We've really figured out kind fo what we're really, really good at and things that we just let go because it's fun to work on new opportunities. But it also takes a lot of time and energy and resources, so we only go after programs that we know we can win.

BRANDON:

Cool. So what's one of the coolest campaigns you've ever pulled off?

STEVE:

Okay, so the next question after this is going to be, "Which kid is your favorite? Is it your daughter or your son?" We've done a lot of fun stuff. For 14 years, we did a lot of really cool sports marketing programs with Anheuser-Busch. They were our first client. We did a lot of really cool stuff with them. That was neat to go to a PGA event or go to a NASCAR event or go to the NFL event or whatever it happened to be. I mentioned Disney earlier, the Disney stuff, God, I love working with Disney. I mean they have so many fanatics, and that's what we strive for with all of our programs to build fanatics for our clients. So the Disney programs are cool because Disney people are fanatics.

I mean they show up at our events dressed as Disney characters, their kids are all dressed up and that's cool that. That stuff is cool, so we've done a lot of fun stuff. I think ultimately, my favorite programs are the programs that work, the programs that drive huge results, and our clients get all these accolades, and we always say, "We want our clients to be rock stars," in their companies and that's what we strive for with each program is over-delivering. So our clients become rock stars. And when they walk in to say, "Hey, we spent X dollars and here's what we got back," their boss is really excited about it and they get that money again. So there's a lot of cool programs. My favorite are the ones that, like I said, that really deliver.

BRANDON:

Cool. So a shout out to, I guess Anheuser-Busch there for being one of your first clients that really helped Pro Motion take off and grow.

STEVE:

Yeah, that was back in the pre InBev days and all their marketing was here in St. Louis. And I still remember that day where they made a phone call and said, "Hey, can you come down? We want to talk to you about an opportunity." And I still remember the drive down there, and I was nervous, and I'm 31-years-old. I just started my agency and pulling up and seeing the big Budweiser sign and go, "Hey, this is big time. This is what you've always wanted to do. Go make it happen." About a month later we walked out with our first project. So it was about six months into the life of the company, but about a month after our first meeting, and like I said, we did a lot of really fun stuff. A lot of great people who used to work there, and it was a lot of fun. They were really good to the agency world here in St. Louis.

BRANDON:

Wow. Okay. So for the next section of our conversation, I'd love to talk about your book, Brand Experiences. So again, I read it. I thought it was a really great overview of different ways that brands can think about experiential. There are a lot of great examples and even some tactics and when it comes to implementing experiential. And one through-line that really stood out is this emphasis on active versus passive campaigns. So for our listeners, who maybe haven't yet started to read the book, how would you define an active campaign and what does it look like in action?

STEVE:

Sure. So active, in our world, is everything that's face to face. So it's a two-way communication. It's an opportunity to demonstrate in a live environment. You have give and take where you can tell a consumer or a customer of one of our clients, if you tell them something, they can ask question. It's a great two-way dialogue. The passive-something is what we see on all our flat screens, whether it's our computer or our tablets or our phones. Those are passive. Those run by us, I can interact with it, but it's not a live engagement, so we're able to tell a story and see the whole buyer's journey in an active program, but in a passive program, there're little snippets. You get to tell them a little bit about this, a little bit about that, a little bit about this, a little bit about that, and you hope that the story is authentic, and you hope that story is cohesive.

So active is very much, it's usually a controlled environment. It's human to human. It's an opportunity to tell the brand story in a live human to human way. And then the passive is, the analogy I always give, anytime you're talking about digital or social media is it's so crowded these days and messages are just flying by us. It's like if you go stand on a highway on an overpass and you watch cars fly by, that's kind of what Twitter's like to me, that's kind of what Facebook's like to me, that's what Instagram's like to me. You're just clicking through unless it's something you're really, really passionate about, you don't stop, and you don't really immerse yourself. In an active opportunity, it's an opportunity to get an emotional connection and to have then those people who you create an aha moment, you get an emotional connection that then they share via word of mouth or in some other way to extend your reach.

BRANDON:

Got it. So say I am a B2B marketing executive that's putting together this big integrated marketing campaign. What are some ways that I can incorporate active touchpoints or what are some active channels that I should think about?

STEVE:

Well, the interesting thing, today, I don't think there's a lot of difference between B2B and B2C. On both of them, you're trying to engage a human being. So we're starting to use H2H, human to human in how we speak and how we're communicating about our brand. We love B2B programs. You get to see the whole buyer's journey. You can see the buyer going from interest and awareness to understanding through this aha moment that we would create to now purchase intent. And you can see that all in 30 or 45 minutes in a B2B program that we do programs that are kind of like, we just kind of coined it a reverse trade show. So instead of going to a trade show and hoping people show up, you take the trade show directly to the parking lot of your customer's customer, and you put on a show there and that way their executives just come out of their offices and engage your brand and your products.

Just like with B2C, where's the best place to engage? How do you pick that person when he or she is in the right frame of mind? What's important to them in this engagement? What problems and what pains do they currently have and what are their needs at this time? It's really no different from a B2B and B2C is again, it's just H2H. You're trained to engage people, and you're trying to educate them and show them why your client's brand is the right brand for them, and how it solves various problems for them.

BRANDON:

Okay, so that totally makes sense. That's something that I've been hearing more and more is that that intersection of B2C and B2B and you often hear, say if we go to an event like Experiential Marketing Summit, some of the great leaders at events right now are talking about, "We're really starting to, as a B2B organization, borrowing from B2C more," and so yeah, I see how that line is beginning to blur.

STEVE:

Yeah. The other thing I want to add to that is the decisions are becoming emotional in the B2B world. They've been emotional almost all brands on a B2C standpoint are looking for emotional connection. In the past, B2B has always been, well, who has the best product, the best price? It's a business decision. Decisions are becoming more emotional in the B2B world. There're products that are solving problems that are huge problems for customers, and it does become emotional. It's like, "Oh, my gosh, yes, this helps us from a business standpoint," but you can make emotional connections in the B2B world these days, and I don't know if that was always possible. Maybe that's why, or one of the reasons at least, that I think the B2B sector is the fastest growing area of our industry. I know we get more hits today about B2B than we did five years ago.

I think, the ROI seemed so much cleaner. Return on emotion is so much cleaner. The opportunity to build a better relationship with more people within your target organization, there's a much better opportunity to do that. And, let's face it, for a lot of brands and a lot of industries, trade shows just aren't hitting it anymore. I know there're some places like I know CES is still a great place to go and there're other trade shows that are really great, but there's a ton of them that are not doing what they did 10 or 15 years ago. And the customers are coming to us in the B2B world are saying, I just heard this earlier this summer, "We used to do 32 trade shows and now we cut it down to seven," and I think John Hyman actually was talking about this too at Sprint.

They've cut down the number of trade shows because back in the day that's what you did and now it becomes status quo marketing and not every trade show works. So you'd cut it out, and you either lose that budget and put it somewhere else, or you activate that budget in some other way. So we're getting a lot of traction with this reverse trade show where it's a lot more proactive, it's a lot more on purpose and it allows our customer to control more things than they control in a trade show environment.

BRANDON:

Definitely. Yeah. That's something I've heard a lot is taking that budget that was typically spent on say a lot of events where someone is sponsoring, or they're exhibiting and instead funneling that towards hosted events where an organization is able to really craft the experience and set the terms of the engagement.

STEVE:

Yeah, I agree. I think that's one of the reasons why it's growing in our industry it's because they see the value. I had a VP of sales say to me about two weeks ago, "When is it not a good idea to be face to face with your customer telling your story and showing your products?" From his standpoint, he wants more and more of that engagement. So this reverse trade show that we do, it hits all his buttons.

BRANDON:

So one of the things we're talking about here is the importance of demonstrating ROI and how it's become more important and also a little bit easier. I'm sure a number of factors there, but this is something that you touch on in the book as well, is measuring event ROI. What do you think most companies get wrong when they're attempting to measure about an ROI?

STEVE:

I think most companies just look at hard facts. So they look at consumable brand, they're looking at impressions, they're looking at coupon redemption, they're looking, if we're at the store, they're looking at, "How many units did we move?" I think what they're missing out is that emotional side. There's a return on an emotion and there's a return on engagement that I think it's the soft side of it. But I think it's really important when a consumer or a customer walks away, you want to make sure that you understand how you want them to think, how you want them to feel, what you want them to do. So I think you really need to focus on those three areas because what do you want them to think? Well, I want them to think now that, "My product tastes great and it's better than product X," or, "It's going to make me look better, feel better, sound better," whatever, So there's an emotional side of that.

And then word of mouth comes in there too. And if you can track word of mouth, because again, and I think you guys in your 2018 research said something about, "The consumers are going to believe other consumers more, they're going to believe brands." And I just think that's really important that a return on emotion and return on engagement are two areas that we continue to talk about the brands. You know think about it the CFO at some major companies is not thinking about return on emotion. They're looking at numbers. They're looking at hard facts. But I still think there's a value from a branding side to hit that return on emotion and really I think that think, feel, do is really important to look at in any program whether it's B2B or B2C.

BRANDON:

Yeah. So, I mean it's one of those things that I totally agree with, but it's one of those things that's also, it's kind of challenging, right? Because it's easy to point to those numbers, those data, and sort of wipe your brow and say, "Phew, we're above the line on this activation, this event," whatever it may be, and it's a little harder to go to the CFO or the CEO or the CMO and say, "Yeah, but the experience."

Now that said, I mean speaking to some individuals who are involved with some huge, what I would think of as total flagship events, I have heard that this return on emotion is kind of their main metric, but I think it just gets a little difficult when it comes to measuring it. Do you think, you mentioned sure, in a post-event survey or something like that, we can ask if people are satisfied with the event experience and hope that there'll be promoters of the brand and the event or activation moving forward. Any other thoughts on how organizers, event directors, marketing directors can sort of prove the value of this return on emotion?

STEVE:

Well, another tactic we've used to truly to understand what the consumer sentiment is after an event is we've asked them to shout out on their social that they've been at the event and what they think about the event. And if they do that we give them a hat or a T-shirt or something. So I think that that's fairly authentic information. I don't think anybody's saying something great about a brand just to get a hat or a T-shirt or whatever it happens to be. I mean, we did it with Snapple few years ago. They had a new flavor that we were promoting, and we just said, "Hey, if you do a 10-second video on your experience here, we'll give you a Snapple T-shirt, and so we learned a lot about what they thought. We didn't give them any direction. We didn't say, "Say this or say that," or, "We'd really like it if you said this." We're just like, "Hey, tell us about your experience," and we captured all those moments and Snapple was able to utilize those in their social.

I think that tells you a lot about what consumers are thinking about your brand because I think it's more authentic. It's that consumer content that everybody's looking to find. We did a program with Fiskars a few years ago also. They have lawn and garden equipment, and we videotaped people experiencing their product. So we kind of did the old Pepsi challenge, do these sheers and cut a branch and then use the Fiskars sheers and cut a branch, and it was funny because most of the people go like, "Oh, my God, these cut like butter." We captured that information, and it's like, we know because we were at Home Depot or Lowe's or somewhere where they could purchase the product. We knew how many we sold that day. But we also knew that we had all these people who had this aha moment that were saying, "These are the best sheers I've ever used," so that's some of that subjective information that I think you can still package up at the end of the day in your ROI and show value.

BRANDON:

A hundred percent. And it's something that I think a lot of our listeners would agree with is that one of the greatest joys in planning events is getting to see the faces on the people who attend them when they're having a great time, when they're experiencing a product and they're loving it or they're meeting new people or they just went to a session and they learned a ton and they're feeling inspired. And this makes me think of how, in your book, you did spend a good amount of time in the third part of it talking about the importance of authenticity, of values and of having the right people to bring those to life. So for our listeners who are still trying to embed this sense of purpose, this sense of authenticity into their brand, what would you recommend?

STEVE:

Well, I think the first thing you do is you need to do a little bit of an audit specific to your customer base and what's important to them to try and attach yourself to a cause that doesn't resonate with your audience is just a missed opportunity. So there're a lot of brands out there who do a lot of great work. Going back to the Experiential Marketing Summit, I don't know if you saw Zappos did one of the keynotes at lunch, and what he spoke about was they knew that pet adoption resonated with their audience. And so I think it's over Black Fridays, what he said, they do pet adoption, and it really resonated and they got great results and it's something they do every year now. So I think it's really important to find something that your fans are passionate about and then develop a program around that.

And I think another thing that's really important is you can't be self-serving here. You can't do it because it's going to help your brand or it's going to sell your products. You have to do it for the real reason, you have to help that cause, and a 100% of your focus needs to help that cause. So being authentic and finding something that your fans are going to be passionate about I think are really important. And there's a lot of great examples in the book and out in the marketplace, specific brands are doing that well.

BRANDON:

So just last couple of questions. Who is an influential marketing or events executive who has had a major influence on your career?

STEVE:

Wow. I was really lucky, my first two bosses taught me a lot about business, about people, about events. My parents taught me kind of how to be a human being. So do what you say and then give them a little bit more. Over-delivering is always better than under-delivering. But those first two bosses, my first job was with the Kansas City Royals and I learned so much about consumer behavior and doing events because every day was an event. Every time that the team was in town, we had an event and that's what I was involved in.

And then my second job, I was with a regional soft drink company. We're in 38 States and privately held and Don Schneeberger owned that company and he was just amazing and taught me a lot about how to run a business and what to look for in a business. And he's still a mentor today to me. So I'm fortunate. I try and give back. Anybody asks for help, I try and give back because I've had a lot of nice people who have helped me along the way and I think it's good to give back.

BRANDON:

So speaking of family, I understand that you have a daughter and son. Both of them have had opportunities to be involved with campaigns at Pro Motion in the past. So why have you vetoed making Pro Motion to family revenue stream?

STEVE:

Oh, that's funny. Well, my daughter, Paige, just graduated from University of Missouri. She has a finance degree and an entrepreneurship degree and she's always wanted to be in finance, so that's what she's doing. She moved to Chicago. She's doing great in her first job. And then Steven, he's a sophomore in college. He's a business degree in entrepreneurship also. So I'm really proud that both kids wanted to learn more about entrepreneurship and I guess Steven still has a chance to be in the organization officially. But I've got some friends who have family businesses and they all say, "Let your kids go out for five years and work in other industries and do other things before they come into your company. It's a good opportunity for them to kind of see opportunities before they come in there."

So who knows, maybe something will work out for Steven. He's got eight more years, I guess until that window would open, three more years of college and five years after that. So we'll see. Never say never but right now that's not the game plan. We're not working towards an heir apparent. My first baby was Pro Motion. And so my company's older than both of my kids. If I'd started the company maybe 10 years ago, maybe there'd be more of an opportunity for them.

BRANDON:

I really love that very inquisitive approach that you all have. Say I'm an organization and I want to work with you. What would be a piece of advice that you would have for me?

STEVE:

Well, we've a lot of companies who come to us and they know exactly what they want and we have some that come to us and they're like, "Here's our problem. We have no idea how to solve this. We're looking into experiential as one of those ways to solve it." If the prospect is extremely honest and answers questions and really wants to help us learn their business and learn what they're up against, those are the best relationships. Those are ones we want.

The kind we don't like, and maybe this is easier to talk about is the ones that say, "Well, we're not going to tell you what our budget is. We're not going to tell you how many agencies you're up against, and we're not going to tell you if there's an incumbent. We're going to give you a bunch of information, but you can't ask any questions because we think our brief is really great," because it's like if I was a home builder and you came to me and said, "I want to build a house," the first thing I'm going to say is, "Okay, what kind of house do you want? You're going to say, "Well, I want a ranch." "Great. Where do you want it?" "I want it in St. Louis, Missouri." "Okay, great. How big a house?" "Well, I can't tell you." "Well, how much do you want to spend?" "Well, I can't tell you."

It's just like help us be successful. Don't hold back information. I think that's what's really important and I don't know if some brands just their procurement says, "You can't do this, this and this," but those are just not, those are not situations we want. We're fortunate, again, because we're 24-years-old, we only work with 10 clients. We can hide behind the, "I'm sorry, I don't have capacity to work on your brand. We're full right now" if we don't feel that it's an opportunity that we can win because we're not getting the information that we want. I want a client who at the very beginning sees that there's a win-win opportunity for both parties and it's based on trust and information and honesty and that's the clients that we've surrounded ourselves with, and I'm really proud of the relationships we have.

BRANDON:

It does, it seems very important and very helpful to be able to have access to some of that information you covered and like you said, there might be reasons why. It might be for some privacy purpose or whatever the regulation is within that organization. But at the end of the day, it just doesn't seem as helpful of a way to go about things.

STEVE:

Well, a lot of times they have agencies sign NDAs, so that kind of takes all those things out. It's like, "Okay, we're going to give you some confidential information. You can't share it with anybody," and we always sign those in an effort to get better information. So I don't know. I don't know why sometimes they don't want to give us their budget. We've heard before, "Oh, if I give you your budget, you're going to spend it all," well we usually give good, better, best. So good is going to be below your budget, better is going to be at your budget and best is going to maybe be a little bit more than your budget. Everything we do is scalable too. So I mean you can move our assumptions around to make it fit your budget.

BRANDON:

Got it. Okay. So last question today is if you could give a piece of advice to somebody who is earlier in their career, either on the agency side or the in-house side when it comes to events, what would that piece of advice be?

STEVE:

Well, I think it's important for anybody in any stage of their careers to keep challenging yourself. Don't get complacent, don't feel like, "Oh, I'm safe here, this is exactly what I want to do." I think you always need to be challenging yourself. I think you always need to be looking for growth opportunities. I'm a lifelong learner. This is the first book I've written, but I've read hundreds of books. Like I said, I read at the beginning of every day. I try and learn. I think it's just really important in any stage, in every stage of your careers, is to really challenge yourself and learn and learn and learn and don't be afraid to fail. We've all got tons of failure in our life. If you fail it's okay, but you got to learn from that failure. To keep making the same mistakes just means you're not learning from it.

I think a lot of people are taught that failure is bad and it's the best way to learn. I talk to our clients at the end of every year and I want to know stuff that we're not good at. I want to know stuff that they wished we were better at. It's great to hear the good stuff, but you already know that it really doesn't teach you anything. You want to learn from failure and you want to learn how to be better. And I think that's really important to challenge yourself, keep learning and failure's okay.

BRANDON:

Love it. Okay, well that's our time today, Steve. Thank you so much again for joining us. Brand Experiences, I recommend it to anybody, either in the industry or looking to learn a little bit more about events in experiential. Thank you.

STEVE:

Appreciate it, Brandon, it was really fun.