The Art Of Podcasting with Stephen Woessner and Creating Immersive Experiences with Steve Gilman

Getting down into an effective podcasting venture, Stephen Woessner shares his expertise as he gives great insights and advises from his years in the digital marketing world. He is the founder and CEO of Predictive ROI, a digital marketing agency, and the host of Onward Nation — a top-rated daily podcast for learning how today’s top business owners think, act, and achieve. He talks about generating leads, predictive ROI flash as well as innovations on voice search with Alexa. Sharing his ideal client, he discusses the importance of looking for opportunities and benefit thought leadership and monetizing it through podcast. Learn how to position your show to appeal to people and how to make it profitable.

 

Another marketing expert, Steve Gilman talks about the value of live events to get people align with a brand. As the co-founder of BlockParty, the ultimate outdoor hospitality platform for live events, he shares about how they create immersive experiences inspired by and for the fans who want to make their events truly unforgettable. He gets down into the immersive experience of tailgating and bringing sports and music together. Also talking about the power of celebrities and creating that seamless event to connect with fans, he shows the power of establishing an environment for connection with a brand.

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We have Stephen Woessner and Steve Gilman here. Stephen Woessner is the CEO of Predictive ROI and he’s the host of the top-rated Onward Nation Podcast. Steve Gilman is the Cofounder and COO of Blockparty Inc., a fascinating company. I’ve got to see what they were doing at a DocuSign event and they make parties, tailgates and all kinds of things.

Listen to the podcast here:

The Art Of Podcasting with Stephen Woessner

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Profitable Podcasting: Grow Your Business, Expand Your Platform, and Build a Nation of True Fans

I am with Stephen Woessner. He’s the Founder and CEO of Predictive ROI, a digital marketing agency and the host of Onward Nation, a top-rated daily podcast for learning how top business owners think, act, and achieve. He’s also the author of multiple books, one is Profitable Podcasting. It’s exciting to have you here, Stephen.

Thank you very much for the invitation, Diane. It’s a pleasure and an honor. Thanks for being such a great guest for Onward Nation Episode 505.

You’re welcome. Thank you for having me on the show. I first heard about you through Ford Saeks because he did my website. He’s like, “You’ve got to meet this guy. If you’re doing a radio show, this is the guy that knows how to do it best. Be on his show and see what it’s like,” and I’m like, “Okay.” You are quite good at it. How did you get into it?

As far as being tangentially attached if you are connected to media. I’m in the agency space, marketing agencies and so forth. I grew up through the business being in the media space, whether that’s TV stations, radio stations, whatever. I’m doing a lot of production growing up through the ranks of the business. I was a guest on a few shows probably about four or five years ago, Entrepreneur On Fire with JLD and one other. That was about my extent of experience in podcasting. In May of 2015, our core business, Predictive ROI, wasn’t doing great. We weren’t generating enough leads and new business for our own business, which is ironic since that’s the business that we’re in for our clients.

One day I’m sitting at my dining room table. It was May 15th, 2015 to be exact. I was feeling frustrated because we were overstaffed and we didn’t have enough business in the pipeline. I’m like, “We’re going to start a podcast.” It was like, “What? Why?” I pounded my fist on the table. I sent off an email to my team and I said, “We’re going to start a podcast. We’re going to call it Onward Nation. It’s going to be a daily show. We’re going to interview the top business owners in the country.” That was the extent of my strategy, which is not a strategy. To the credit of my team, we knew nothing about the podcast at that decision. We launched it 30 days later and we haven’t missed an episode since. A couple months in, we were fortunate enough to have a few guests come our way and say, “Could you do that for me?” and then it’s turned into monetization, a whole new business model for us, all about thought leadership and how that can drive revenue. That’s essentially how we got into it and it has snowballed quickly since then.

I’ve got to ask you a question that everybody asked me since you’re a little bit like me. I wanted to know, without going into an elevator pitch, what do you answer when somebody asks you, “What do you do for a living?”

The most innovative companies employ people who don’t stick to the status quo. Click To Tweet

We help business owners and thought leaders get clear about their point of view. We then help them create what we call cornerstone content on a consistent basis that pounds that flag into the dirt. That tells their customers and prospects what they do and who they don’t do it for. We help them generate leads and sales from all of that content by monetizing their content back into the core business at a high level. That’s what we do.

What’s your job title? Instead of saying, “I’m a CEO of Predictive ROI,” do you say, “I’m a CEO?” Do you say, “I’m a strategic planner?” Are you a podcast host? Are you a speaker? People get down to that level with me when I give the elevator pitch part of it. They’ll go, “Yes, but what’s your title?”

My official title that I use is definitely CEO. I do not refer to myself as a podcaster. The reason being is because I’m not a podcaster. I’m a business owner who happens to have a podcast. I’ve got a YouTube series, but I don’t call myself a YouTuber. I’m a business owner. I’m an author and speaker. At the core, I’m building and scaling a business, Predictive ROI, and these other things are just channels. Those are all going to come and go.

When you speak, consult and train, what’s your favorite topic that somebody could hire you to help with?

Probably in the last four months I’ve done four speaking engagements all around the topic of voice, specifically how voice can help a business owner grow the business, Biz Dev. At my core, I’m a sales guy. I love anything that has to do with marketing and sales, but I also love tech and so forth. What is hot and what people want to know more about is, “How can I use Alexa to drive leads and sales? How can I use podcasting? This voice search thing, is that going to be a problem for me or an opportunity?” We’re doing a lot of stuff around voice.

I want to know the answer to all those. Let’s start with Alexa. How do you use her? How about Echo?

There are a couple of interesting ways and the first one is by building out an Alexa Flash Briefing. Think of it as a daily drip of your insights, your wisdom, your thought leadership, and it’s totally permission-based because somebody has to subscribe to get your stuff. Like a podcast, but even a little bit more intimate than that. They can walk into their kitchen and say, “Alexa, what’s my Flash Briefing?” and then they hear Diane’s piece of wisdom for that day. The cool piece about it is that’s where most people stop. If you go to CNN, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business, whatever, that’s where most people stop as they give their daily snippet to their subscribers. It goes to the next piece in the news role, which is essentially what a Flash Briefing is.

Now, we’ve developed a way to where the Alexa voice will introduce the Predictive ROI Flash Briefing. We’re going to roll out where she’ll close it and say, “Thanks, Stephen, for today’s insight and wisdom. If you’d to learn more about that, go to your Alexa app and click Read More.” That’s pure lead gen. Somebody could open their Alexa app, see our little tile, click read more and we could take them to a landing page, an opt-in page, or whatever page.

I do the Flash Briefing in the morning. I’ll ask her and I usually start with what NPR or whatever I have first. I know you can ask for individual ones on that. If I wanted to hear mine or whatever, I could do that. If I asked her, “Alexa, play Dr. Diane Hamilton podcast,” it’ll play it but it doesn’t have that thanking me at the end thing and sending it to the app. Do you set that up? How does that happen?

We do set that up with some custom programming on our end. It isn’t that that tech isn’t available to anybody, it’s certainly possible. It’s not we’re like, “We’re going to create this and we’re the only ones that are capable of doing that,” but it is a cool idea. That’s one of the things that I encourage business owners to think how they can push the envelope with that. If it’s a function that’s available within Alexa, but nobody’s taken advantage of it, that’s a good opportunity.

You think of a lot of good ideas. You mentioned earlier that people asked you to do the podcasting for them. What did you mean by that? Did you mean that they had you set up shows?

It first started off that I’ll see the initial entry into this, maybe three plus years ago. We had a couple of guests come to us and say, “Onward Nation’s cool. It looks like you’ve figured something out from a system perspective. Could you do that for me?” I’m like, “Do what for you?” They’re like, “Seriously, Stephen, could you build us a podcast?” We’re like, “Yes, we can,” like the typical entrepreneurial will say. “How much is that going to cost?” We’re like, “This much.” After we did that a few times and we’ve got the system right and all of that, we started picking up some additional clients who wanted a similar offering, then it was like, “We’re not selling a podcast.” What we’re doing is we’re taking business owners’ thought leadership. Helping them get clear on what their point of view is and what their thought leadership is.

Then taking that episode, which is one piece of content, slicing and dicing it into a bunch of different pieces so they can be channel agnostic. They can have an episode that airs on iTunes, all of a sudden it turns into an eBook and then, “We can help them get faster shifts. If we help them invite their ideal prospects as a guest on their show, that’s a Trojan horse. That’s a direct selling opportunity.” We figured out ways to tackle affiliate marketing, sponsorships and Trojan horse with direct sales. I was in San Antonio with one of our clients and he’s like, “My podcast has generated $1 million for me.”

There's more opportunity out there. People just have no idea how to pursue them. Click To Tweet

A lot of them are using their podcast as loss-leaders for speaking or some other thing that they’re trying to do and monetizing can be tough. Do you give them advice? You talk about it in your book. Did you look at this as a revenue-generating system for you or did it happen over time? Why did you do your podcast? Did you intend to monetize it? I know you mentioned you wanted to get more customers out of it, but was this something you’re like, “I’ve got to figure out how to make money off this at the same time.” Was it something to connect and add more value?

I would love to say I wanted to improve the world, share great content and that stuff. I would be lying if that was the case. We launched Onward Nation as a way to grow the business, as a way to save the business, as a way to make sure that we could start generating leads. I didn’t know how we were going to do that. I thought having episodes out there was better than not doing anything. We’re new. We had no context. I didn’t know, “Maybe Diane’s going to listen to the episode and then think, ‘I should pick up the phone and call these guys to help me with my marketing.’” That was about the extent of me thinking it through.

A couple months later when we have these opportunities to build these podcasts, one of the guests who we built the show for, he looped back to me a couple months after his show was live and he said, “The podcast you built for me, it’s awesome. Your podcast is awesome. Why in the world are you not doing this for others?” I’m like, “Who would I do it for?” He goes, “Are you serious?” At that point, we’ve interviewed over 100 business owners. He’s like, “You interviewed 100 people who liked to be on podcasts.” I go, “Yeah.” “Stephen, don’t you think that some of them would like to have their own show? Call them.” I’m like, “Holy crap.” I did. In the book, when I say that Onward Nation has generated a couple of million dollars for Predictive ROI, that’s primarily how that’s happened. We’ve produced a couple of million dollars with the podcast services.

You tell people how to do it in your book. You go to people, in addition to if they want to read your book, they would hire you. You would show them how to set up a system and then let them go with their system once they know how to do it or do you run it for them later?

We do it turnkey. Our ideal client is the super busy, manic business owner who knows there’s more opportunity out there. Just has no idea how to pursue it or how to get one more thing done in her schedule. She’s typically a business owner of a B2B professional services firm and wants to grow, wants to do more as a thought leadership. The thought of taking on one more thing for her, for her team or whatever sounds like absolute madness. What she wants is to be able to benefit from her thought leadership and monetizing her thought leadership, but doesn’t want to have any responsibilities whatsoever except to walk up to the microphone, have a great interview and then be done. That’s who we do our work for.

Whoever you’re going to interview, no matter if somebody handles everything as far as uploading, creating graphics, and all the different things, you still have to do a little bit of time to find out about your guests. How much time are they dedicating to that part? Are they having somebody to do that for them?

There certainly is time for preparing for the interview to make sure that it’s on point and so forth, especially because typically part of the monetization strategy is, “Let’s get specific about your dream 25 prospects, the people who you would love to be doing business with. They need to be your guest for the show.” If you’re a professional service firm, you’ve got a dream list of prospects you’re likely already familiar with, the CEO or president of those various firms to some degree. It’s a part of how do we position the show in such a way that’s going to appeal to the dream 25? How do we set up things downstream from the interview so it never ever felt like a sales pitch? When Diane loops back to that person a couple of months after the episode airs, the first thing that prospect says to Diane when they get on the phone is, “Thanks for all the tweets. Thanks for the LinkedIn post. I can’t believe, Diane, you featured me in a Forbes article and then an eBook. That is awesome. I totally want to talk with you about how you can help my business.”

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Immersive Experiences: We launched onward nation as a way to save the business to make sure that we could start generating leads.

 

That’s the majority. There are a few people who want to have a show where they’re not selling them anything. They want to get paid to do the show. Do you get people who contact you for that?

It’s also not probably the best fit for us. Do those shows work? Yes, however, they’re long-term plays.

How long does it take to be John Lee Dumas?

JLD has got 2,000 freaking episodes. I have these conversations with some business owners sometimes. I’ve literally had somebody say to me, “I don’t know why I’m not the next Gary Vaynerchuk?” I’m like, “Really? Let’s review the body of work. Four New York Times bestselling books, built a $63 million wine library business, for six years created a daily show that was good on YouTube.” Some people want to short circuit the path and it takes a lot of time and effort to be able to do that. Is there going to be another JLD someday? Probably, but that person’s probably not going to do it short of 2,000 episodes. It takes a lot of body of work and you can’t short-circuit the path.

I’ve interviewed hundreds of people. You don’t realize how many you’ve interviewed and you look back and it goes by quickly. There are many people who have struggled with how to make it profitable, how to get their platform out there, and how to do a lot of that that you’re helping within your book. I wanted to talk to you about your book a little bit. Chapter Seven is called Your Avatar Dream 50 And My $2 Million Mistake. I know that Darren Hardy, he was then the publisher of Success Magazine, interviewed you and you talk about him in this chapter a little bit. I love how you share your mistakes of what you’ve learned and how to avoid that. Can you tell us a little bit about your $2-million-mistake?

The business was early on at that point. We’re still new, several years old. I had this big, crazy, audacious goal of holding an event at the Ritz Carlton in Orlando called Predictive ROI Live. It was going to be an all-inclusive event. I had zero platforms at that point, very small list. The company was a few years old and starting to gain some traction, but new. We crafted this idea for this event. We’re going to have 350 people. I don’t know where those people are going to come from, but we’re going to have 350 people. I signed a contract with the Ritz Carlton in Orlando guaranteeing a thousand room nights. I put down $10,000 and then another $30,000 deposit. We’re $40,000 in and we’re about a year out from the event. I go to Darren Hardy’s High Performance Forum, I got invited to that. There were 23 of us there.

I’m like, “Darren, would you be one of the speakers?” “Yes, of course.” By the end of the weekend, he’d signed on to be one of our board of advisors. Part of that was to help us plan the event. Over the course of the next twelve months, he kept asking me every time we would get together in person or every time we have a mentorship call, “Why would somebody come to this event, Stephen?” My answer was always stupid. My answer was always, “It was going to be at the Ritz, it’s going to be all-inclusive and it’s going to whatever.” He’s like, “That makes no sense. Nobody’s going to pay $8,000 for an all-inclusive event if your value proposition is far off. Who’s the ideal customer for this?” Every single month he would ask me that question and every single month I didn’t have a good answer.

The entire budget for the event was $2 million. We’re going to make a little bit of money. If we sold 350 seats, we’re going to make a little bit net, but most of it was in the door and then out. About six months away from the event, we had sold a grand total of three seats. Three, when you have a room for 350, is a little awkward. We had to bite the bullet and cancel the event. We said goodbye to the $2 million that we thought we’re going to bring in. The Ritz Carlton, when you cancel an event, they’re like, “Sorry that happened. Here’s a bill for $160,000 that you still owe us.” I’m like, “What?” They’re like, “You should have read that in the contract that you signed. You owe us $160,000,” and that was expensive for a brand-new company to have to pay for that.

What did you learn the most? Know your value proposition, but what else did you get out of that?

Aside from the financial stuff or being overextended and that thing, swinging for the fences when I shouldn’t have done that. Darren one day said, “You’re either the gutsiest person I have ever met in my life or you’re insane.” It’s interesting how often those lines cross. The biggest thing that I learned, aside from the financial lessons and what not, and why I put it in that chapter was you’ve got to know your avatar. You’ve got to know your value proposition. Before you do an event like that, you have to have an audience who has already said, “Yes, I will come for this price.”

How do you know if you have that? How do you determine?

Part of the monetization strategy is getting really specific about your dream. Click To Tweet

Ask. An example of somebody who did it well, one of my mentors and a dear friend of mine, his name is Drew McLellan. He runs the Agency Management Institute. For years, we members of AMI have said, “Get us all together, Drew, for a one big family reunion event.” That’s fine and dandy for us to keep saying that, but the real proof is in the pudding when you have to plunk down your credit card to say, “Yes, I’m coming.” He got everything organized. He didn’t commit to anything yet. He reached out to all of us members and said, “I need 50 people to pay for the registration by X date or the event is off. If I get at least 50 people to pay for the event, we’re going forward.” Within 72 hours, 50 people plunked down their Mastercards or whatever their card of choice is, and then the event was self-funding. I’m like, “That’s the smart way to do it as opposed to the way that I did it which cost $160,000. I guess $99,000 after negotiation.”

You are gutsy. A lot of people miss out on opportunities because they aren’t willing to leap like that. That could have worked out if you had done it right. If you had a value proposition, if you had connected with people properly, you still could have had lost money at these events. It’s interesting who’s willing to make that step. That’s probably why I did my research on curiosity because some of the people who are curious sometimes they’re risk takers, they don’t fear failure as much. Have you always been a curious person? Have you always had this lack of worrying about the fear of having an idea and having it fail?

I think so. I definitely tend to leap first and then on the way down think, “I should have grabbed a parachute.” That is the way that I’m wired. It is a weakness as well as strength. I see the possibilities in everything. It serves me most of the time pretty well as an entrepreneur. It served me very well when I was in the Air Force out of high school. I worked in nuclear missile silos for the first four years of my career. That was definitely situations where you certainly wanted to be safe, take care of teammates and all of that stuff. Oftentimes, it was like, “We need to get this done right now or it could be a big problem.” That’s where I cut my teeth on systems, being proactive, taking action quickly and solving problems fast. It’s ingrained in my DNA.

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Immersive Experiences: You’ve got to know your avatar. You’ve got to know your value proposition.

 

You’re an interesting combination because you’re also a researcher. You collect data points that you’re trying to figure out money-draining mistakes on websites. In some ways we have similar things in common because I love the research, I love sales, I love marketing, and all the things that you like. I was drawn to all the things that you’re writing and doing. You’ve been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Washington Post and Inc. Many people should listen to your show. I was honored to be on it. A lot of people want to know about your books because you’ve written several books. Share how they can get your books, find out more about what you do, and learn more about you.

You can find me at PredictiveROI.com. That’s where all of our stuff is, all of our podcast episodes for Onward Nation, and all of our free resources. I probably should let your audience know that if you happen to download stuff, it’s not because you opt-in to this 27-stage sales funnel or something like that. It’s not, we just give away stuff. All of my books are on Amazon. Profitable Podcasting, you can find it on Amazon or wherever sells books. I’m certainly happy to answer any questions and concerns that your audience might have along the way. That’s not some sneaky sales pitch. I love to answer questions and I love to get emails and reply.

You are great about that and I’ve asked you several questions. I have always appreciated all of your input. I loved having you on the show, Stephen. Thank you so much.

Thank you for the invitation. It was a pleasure and honor to be with you. Thanks again for being a guest on Onward Nation. I’m grateful.

You’re welcome.

Creating Immersive Experiences with Steve Gilman

I am here with Steve Gilman, who’s the Cofounder of Blockparty, where they create immersive experiences inspired by and for the fans who want to make their events truly unforgettable. Blockparty is the ultimate outdoor hospitality platform for live events. Welcome, Steve.

It’s a pleasure, Diane. Thanks for having me.

We got a chance to speak a little bit at the DocuSign Event in San Francisco. We were talking about what you do. I’m fascinated by what Blockparty does. You could start by explaining what an immersive experience is.

It’s the start and it’s the foundation for the business that we’ve been building for about four years now. Some of the places we’ve been, including partnering with DocuSign on customers and their success. Immersive experiences, we are going to live sporting music and all types of live events that people are going more in the market and we’re making those experiences better. The way we’re doing it is that large scale as a consumer brand. We’re doing it in a way that makes the event that they’re going to, be it the football team they’re watching, the cars they’re watching race, the country music artist they’re going to see, immersive.

We are taking care of all of the hassles around getting to and being at the event where we’re upgrading hospitality. We’re making sure that you’re spending your time with friends, family and meeting new folks that are coming around the same tradition. We want you to feel comfortable with signing up with one of our packages and then enjoying the time with the people around you. It’s immersive in the way that you’re connecting with the brand, the team, the artist, the band, while not worrying about other distractions. Blockparty is taking care of that for you.

Some of the people who are curious are risk takers. They don't fear failure as much. Click To Tweet

In my mind, I’m thinking tailgates. I’m thinking about certain things. If you’re doing that type of a thing, you do handle tailgates?

That’s a large part of what we do, especially in the fall during the football season.

My memory of tailgating, you sit in the back of your truck, you have food, and everybody sits around and parties. What do you do to make that better?

Tailgate comes from the tailgate of a pickup truck where you park and enjoy that. Blockparty, the name itself came from the block party in neighborhoods where folks get together and spend genuine time with each other. Our mission is to bring fan communities together. The way in which we do that is we add the most value. For college football and for NFL football, we go in and we determine the best thing we can do to upgrade the experience and be great partners because we’re officially aligned with those brands, teams, and universities, is coming in and providing tailgating. The three, four, sometimes eight hours before the game where we can better bring fans together around the traditions that they’re used to. If you book a package with Blockparty or you go through the school to get to a Blockparty experience, we’re taking the hassle out of everything.

If you have four hours you’re planning to tailgate before a 1:00 PM game, we want you to come, enjoy the experience and have great customer service. We’re basically setting you up in a plot of land. We’re setting you up with the tent, the ice chests, the furniture, the upgraded TV service, and everything you need. When your friends and family show up, you can spend all four of those hours getting to know the traditions that everybody else has and being able to make friends in the area.

Most of what we see and we consider successes is when people continue to come back to those live experiences because they have a uniform experience at them. Also they come away with a smile on their face because everything has been taken care of for them. They’re meeting new people and they’re putting smiles on other people’s faces if they’re hosting events. We’re taking the hassle and issues out of tailgating and bringing it back to that block party, the last American neighborhood.

I’m thinking four to eight hours of tailgating. That’s a lot of partying. Do most people do it for that long?

All of our partners have great tailgating traditions. We meld into those traditions. If there are local caterers, if there’s local live music if there’s anything that we can do to better integrate, we do that. I have been at tailgates for twelve hours. Not all, but there’s a stat out there for the top 65 Power Five schools that 38% of folks tailgating does not go into the game. It’s because the atmosphere inside the stadium gets carried on outside the stadium. With satellite TV, connection to the internet, and everything else we have, sometimes you don’t even have to leave your plot of land in the grass if you’re having a great time to enjoy the atmosphere. There are people that four-night games will start at 8 AM regardless of when the game starts and tailgate until an hour after the game ends. I was at one at LSU. Great partner, they had a 6:00 PM game and our tailgate went from 8:00 AM. We’re open at 7:30 AM, and we don’t close until an hour after the game.

Is it a big group that does something like that? How many people are involved in these things?

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Immersive Experiences: We consider it a success when people continue to come back to those live experiences. That’s what makes it immersive, when we’re melting into those traditions and trying to bring you closer to them.

 

We have a range of different products and services we can offer. We’re working with our partners multiple years. If we’re looking at a partnership like LSU, we’re going in and providing what we think is best for the community to bring folks together to start getting that atmosphere going. In that case, we’re offering packages that range from twenty to 30 people at a time, a standardized package and filling up areas of tailgating like that. A lot of alumni, a lot of corporate hospitality and everything in the middle, and then we’ll expand beyond that to individual VIP club areas or larger, customized packages which we take care of in a lot of different places.

I’m not a huge football fan, I have to admit but it brings to mind when I was working as a pharmaceutical rep many years ago. We had a company get-together where they put together this great event. They had this guy. Everybody was excited to get his signature. I’m like, “He seemed like a nice guy.” I said, “Who was that?” His name is Jerry Rice. He was nice to me, but I had no idea who he was because I wasn’t into football at the time. It’s funny when I look back. Do you bring guests like that? Do you get celebrities at all? If that’s part of the thing you do.

We sure do. We’re trying to connect fans to the brand. If you’re talking about the San Francisco 49ers, we’re not just connecting you to the game that’s going to happen. The alumni from the program, the Hall of Fame players, merchandise is a big way that people are getting closer to the brand team and alignment. If you look at universities where a bulk of our work is this year, one of the things that we do for alumni and folks traveling back in is we try to make it as close to that collegiate feel as possible. That comes with cheerleaders, dance teams, marching bands. We have experiences that put you next to the team walk-in. A few hours before the game, when the team’s coming in in suits before they go out and start warming up, those are always big attractions. It gets you closer to feel what you felt the first time you went to the experience. That’s what makes it immersive is that we’re melding into those traditions and trying to bring you closer to them. Celebrities are part of that and you’d be surprised how quick folks flock to areas where they have that.

The other thing you’re doing is you’re bringing sports and music together. We see these live events. I happen to be a huge football fan, but I’m a bigger tailgate fan. I believe that people are getting off their cell phones, less distractions, and planning for it for a while and genuinely connect with each other. I go to the tailgating field to meet friends no matter what teams are playing that night. What you find is that we’re starting to build concerts and live music into that as part of the entertainment. We also have artists coming and there are green rooms where they spend time before and after they perform, but usually in our tailgates. Not only are you going to a football game and seeing all the energy around that, but we’re bringing live music where it hasn’t been before. A lot of times you were tailgating with the band that is playing, no matter how big or how small.

Merchandise is a big way that people are getting closer with the brand team. Click To Tweet

Didn’t you bring the band at the DocuSign event or was that not you guys that did that?

We helped with an event like that. We have a variety of ways to bring live music to every place we go. We enjoy doing that. Some of our bigger shows have attracted a lot of folks. University of Missouri last year for their homecoming game, which was early in the morning, we brought the Gin Blossoms. When the Gin Blossoms get announced, they get 8,000 to 10,000 people showing up at 7:30 AM just to watch the songs that everybody knows. Our tailgate’s right in the middle of the area. When you’re coming back into Columbia, Missouri for a weekend, you have events throughout. It’s not just the game anymore, it’s about tailgating and that will be about something a little bit bigger.

Do you do things in Arizona?

We hope to get out to some of the golf tournaments in Arizona as a place that we can further bring. That’s where we’ll get the touring sports, the racing Formula 1, motocross, motorsports, and things like that. Golfing we’ve been to in some capacity, but we’ll be expanding into that. Music festivals are a large part as well. Let’s say four, five, six-day event and that we can offer those experiences certainly.

Do people do this in their homes as well or is it only at event locations? Do you do anything special that way? Are you strictly at arenas and that type of thing?

We definitely seek properties to partner with to get those live experiences coming in. What do we tend to see in the market? Who’s our competition? Everybody that has a team they follow has some type of means to follow them. Whether it’s checking out a team, whether it’s reading the newspaper, whether it’s going to a bar, whether it’s sitting at home to watch the new 3D television with items they bought at the grocery store. What we’re doing is we’re trying to get people out to the events and make sure that they’re having those immersive experiences.

What do we see in the future? As technology improves, as there are better ways to experience without being at the events, people are always going to crave having those genuine experiences. We have big visions for the future in terms of what we can do. We’ve seen content around the experiences pick up as a way to scale what’s going on at the events. There is some value in not being at our events but seeing content streaming from it and it all starts with getting a fan community together that has passion.

I attended Leadercast Live in person at the event, but I know that they have divisions around where people get together and watch it through streaming. Do you get involved in business things or is it always sports and music and more of that direction?

TTL 258 | Immersive Experiences
Immersive Experiences: It’s interesting to see how a celebrity can add so much.

 

We do. By getting people together to align around a brand, we work a lot with brands for marketing. Some of the ways that we first got on the PGA Tour to run some events are through those big brands that are in the fan zone area. Let’s say, “We want to figure out how to attract groups to come to be in our event space.” We have partners like that all across the board that we co-brand with when we go into those areas.

Do you have people request like, “I’m a Charles Barkley fan. I want to go to a basketball event and have him show up?” Do you have Tiger Woods come to visit you at the golf tournament ideas? Does it go that high level or is it lesser names that you have?

We take a number of requests and then I love hearing because as we’re working into new properties to add this value, folks have their traditions already set. Anybody can make any request to us and we pride ourselves on accommodating as much as possible. More of the feasible requests are, “I want to tailgate, but there’s an issue. We’re a group of veterans traveling in that are older and we need some extra accommodations to get to your tailgate.” We will do whatever we can to make those accommodations happen. When it comes to providing celebrities or, “I have this event going on here,” it’s a case-by-case basis. The way our model works is we’re at our properties and we bring everything to those properties. Celebrities come to the properties we know that we’re hosting because we know that way far in advance. It’s only on a case-by-case basis that we’re landing in areas we don’t have multi-year partnerships with.

We have experiences that put you right next to the team walking. Click To Tweet

It’s interesting to see how a celebrity can add so much. I was thinking of how much Larry Miller added to an event I went to back in pharmaceutical days. Sometimes the comedian is more valuable for the whole overall feel. Do you work with many comedians?

We haven’t had comedians in the area, but I love the idea.

Larry Miller was awesome. He did his five levels of drinking as part of his shtick or whatever for the beginning of the event. He was the emcee throughout the whole thing. JP Sears was a great person. I was at Genius Network. He did a great job. You’ve probably seen him, the redhead that does all the yoga tight outfits and making fun of all of that healthy vegetarian stuff. I could see combining all that with it. We were talking about something about your football properties and you’re doing something with that. Can you talk about where you’re expanding in different areas?

If you log onto our website at BlockPartyPresents.com, you’ll see all the venues that we’re at. We’ve had rapid expansion this year. Part of it is that we offer a model that helps our partners, like the university and colleges, but then also goes directly to the consumer to add value there. The thing I love about the business model is the more you add to an athletic department, university or college, the more that you’re adding to the fan, the more you’re adding to the university. Everybody’s looking for a great game day experience and that’s where it comes together. We’ve expanded. We’ve quadrupled the number of partners that we’ve taken on. Part of that was good execution as well as being in all the conversations about what a game day experience should be. How we continue to get folks as partners back out to games and keep them coming.

Nothing will replace a game day. That energy, the feel and the stories you have when you leave, when you’ve seen that overtime field goal convert and everything like that. Sometimes there are a lot of distractions, “Airline price tickets. I bought a new TV. All my friends are here. I don’t know if it’s going to rain or whatnot.” We’re trying to alleviate that to make the decision easy to come back to where you want to be and get those experiences. The comedian idea I love because I could write a list personally of folks that I’d love to see out in the tailgating fields.

The way that’s going to shape up, we had a lot of live music to what we do. Live bands can’t play for twelve hours, so we’ll bring out music, entertainment, DJs, main attractions, openers, headliners and everything like that. There’s no reason that a twelve-hour tailgate can’t have an hour of comedy at a certain time, a DJ, several artists a couple of times. We do have a lot of folks coming to us saying, “We can do this for you. We also want to get in front of people who are passionate about their teams.”

TTL 258 | Immersive Experiences
Immersive Experiences: You have to trust that we are taking care of everything that is going around that event day experience.

 

I am sure all the local agencies and all that have great connections with whoever is in the area. You can fly people in, you got unlimited options. I even told you when I saw you that my niece’s husband is one of the OH partners here in an advertising company. They focus on so much sports related stuff and it’s so huge here. We have so many teams. Arizona is into the sports and I’m sure every state you’ve got different sports, which are going to be the big focus. I could see how every area would have its unique requirements. You speak in a lot of different places. I don’t know if you’ve ever been spoken at ASU, but I know you speak at Yale. You went to Yale and did you say chemical engineer? Is that what you got your degree in?

I definitely thought about chemical engineering. That lasted half of the chemistry class. I ended up in mechanical engineering.

That’s a little more useful probably, and then you ended up going to Columbia. What did you get your Master’s in?

Everybody's really looking for a great game day experience and that's where it comes together. Click To Tweet

I ended up getting my MBA. I spent a little time in undergrad and business school. I was fortunate enough to play baseball and pitch all around the country as part of the Tigers Organization. I spent some time working with the government as an engineer and in some other capacities, to the point where I felt it was time to get out and start my own business but I needed a platform to do that. My platform was a business school, not just the education but the network. Going back to New York City, the heart of it was a great move for me and it launched me into starting this business with Adam.

Adam is Adam Ward. He’s the CEO and you are the COO. Is that how you got it split up?

Correct. Adam formulated the idea a year or two before bringing me on board. Similar backgrounds, with his education he also has his MBA. He went to two big schools, Texas Tech and Texas A&M. Before anybody saw the value that we could add to tailgating landscapes, Texas A&M is one of those schools where 40% of the people aren’t going inside the stadium even though it holds 100,000 people. He saw that beforehand. It wasn’t until I spent a little time in Austin that we linked up, got together and founded the company.

Do you have a secret for how you get people out of there without traffic? Is there any special extra amount you can pay so you can have some exit quick strategy?

I get stuck in the same traffic and our goal is what we call the street to see and then back to the street experience. We want to make everything as seamless as possible. We do have some solutions on the horizon for making that easy. As you see with the transportation network, parking’s always going to be a hassle. We have ways to alleviate that, ride sharing, some of the things that are happening with the larger companies with scootering and those pieces. We very much acknowledge that we are the company that can do something about that on game day and we’re going to be at the forefront of the best solution. At the moment, I get caught in the same traffic that everyone else does.

Maybe when everybody’s self-driving and there are fewer cars, we have to call it something else other than a tailgate at that point. It’ll be Uber-gate or whatever. You’re a partner with DocuSign. I’m on the board of advisors for DocuSign. When I saw you at the event, I’m like, “This is interesting,” because I hadn’t heard about what you do. What do you do with DocuSign as a partner?

There’s a great video on YouTube that we worked with them on which speaks to how specific and customized we had to get to have seamless we had to make our interactions. We’re selling experiences. We’re selling in some case months and months out from when something’s going to happen for a four-hour period. Unlike a ticket to a concert or ticket to the game, you have to trust that we are taking care of everything that is going around that event day experience. Sometimes things get pretty customized. We turned to DocuSign for, “How do we make it more seamless for the customer on the front end?” Everything they do starts with when they transact on our website, where they talk to one of our business development associates, even if that’s months before the game day. It doesn’t just start four hours before the game.

What our custom requirements in that we’re hosting folks we have information that we’re pushing out, but we also need to book the experiences so that your spot is saved on game day. What we worked with DocuSign on is making sure that that process is seamless for the consumer. What we did was pick up some of their beta technology, became successful with it, and now we integrate as a partner. We send a business development team to San Francisco every quarter to improve the updates and requirements that they’re pushing out on the development side. It also integrates with all the other platforms we need. We’re a good example of how seamless we have to make it when we go direct to consumer, even though all our experiences are different across our properties. They’ve been excellent to us in that capacity. There’s a great video, it’s Blockparty + DocuSign, on YouTube it will pop up and it has some of the members of our team talking about how easy it’s been to work with them.

They are impressive and Keith Krach’s probably one of my favorite guys. He’s nice and I don’t know if you went to the event at his place, talk about parties to set up that way. He’s got the spot for that.

He opens his home to folks who go in. I was in his study for a while which was part of the event with people and he was nowhere to be seen. He was entertaining the kitchen. I had a chance to meet him and it was a great environment. You can tell with respect from the folks.

Did you get into the basketball court? Nothing like an indoor basketball court, I say. What a place. I got to go to that place two weeks in a row for two different events. I’ve got to give that guy credit. He does so much work. DocuSign’s such a great company and it’s an honor to be on that board. It was fun to meet you at that event. This was so much fun. Thank you for being on the show. A lot of people would want to know how they can reach you and find out more about what you guys do.

Thank you. Our website is www.BlockPartyPresents.com. You can click on venues and see if we’re at a property that you’re heading to or looking to head to and we’ll have all the information there. You can make reservations online. In addition, there’s a number and an email, Info@BlockPartyPresents.com for career paths and everything like that or the number, if you call in. We have a very helpful team that can direct you in any capacity to help out with what you’re looking for. We look forward to people reaching out and get some of our greatest ideas from some of the feedback that we get.

I look forward to seeing what you do in Arizona. If you do something out here, let me know. It would be great to see you again. Thank you again for being on the show.

I would like to thank Stephen and Steve for being on my show. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

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About Stephen Woessner

TTL 258 | Immersive ExperiencesStephen Woessner is the founder and CEO of Predictive ROI, a digital marketing agency, and the host of Onward Nation — a top-rated daily podcast for learning how today’s top business owners think, act, and achieve. Onward Nation is listened to in 120 countries around the world with over 28,000+ email subscribers. Since the advent of the commercial Internet, Stephen has collected tens of thousands of data points that have given him the ability to identify what he calls the “8 Money Draining Mistakes” and the “8 Money Making Opportunities.” Stephen is the bestselling author of: “The Small Business Owner’s Handbook to Search Engine Optimization” and “Increase Online Sales through Viral Social Networking” and “Profitable Podcasting: Grow Your Business, Expand Your Platform, and Build a Nation of True Fans.”

About Steve Gilman

TTL 258 | Immersive ExperiencesSteve Gilman is the Co-Founder at BlockParty where they create immersive experiences inspired by and for the fans who want to make their events truly unforgettable. BP is the ultimate outdoor hospitality platform for live events.

 

 

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