Steve Randazzo is the founder and president of Pro Motion, Inc., a trusted, award winning experiential marketing agency located in St. Louis, Missouri since 1995. Pro Motion helps B2B and B2C brands and Agency partners cut through the clutter and drive real tangible results. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, Steve has lead his agency’s relationships with big-name clients, including, The Walt Disney Company, Dr Pepper-Snapple Group, Hewlett-Packard, Duck Tape, Anheuser-Busch, Fiskars, Citgo, NBA, Tractor Supply Company, and many top notch agency partners. Steve has over 50 published articles and is known as a thought leader in his industry. He has been awarded such accolades as Top 100 People You Should Know in St. Louis and one of Fortune Small Business’ Best Bosses.
Brad Burrow: Hello, this is the In a World, with Real Media Podcast. And I have a special guest, Steve Randazzo. Steve is from St. Louis and happens to be in Kansas City, so we’re glad to have you on the podcast here. Let me just read a little bit from your LinkedIn page here, is award-winning experiential marketing pro, author, keynote speaker. And says, “We help B2B and B2C brands grow through experiential marketing.”
Brad Burrow: I also found out that you’re a baseball dad. I have immense respect for baseball dads because we all know what kind of sacrifices we have to make for our kids to play baseball, right?
Steve Randazzo: Oh, that’s for sure.
Brad Burrow: As a matter of fact, I’m thinking about getting an RV. What do you think about that idea?
Steve Randazzo: Oh my gosh, Kathy is laughing about that. One of my coworkers is with us because I talk about getting an RV all the time.
Brad Burrow: I’m going to turn your mic on here in a second.
Steve Randazzo: I talk about getting an RV, and that’s what… I’m going to load up the wife and the dog, and we’re going to travel around the country and watch our boy play.
Brad Burrow: Why not?
Steve Randazzo: I know. We can work from anywhere, right?
Brad Burrow: Right.
Steve Randazzo: Have a laptop, have a cellphone, get to travel.
Brad Burrow: I could have an editing station in the back of the RV.
Steve Randazzo: That’d be a blast. That’d be so much fun.
Brad Burrow: Well, I’m glad. Maybe we should partner.
Steve Randazzo: That’s right. I’ll check the boy’s schedule, see if that’d workout.
Brad Burrow: But if you think about it, my son’s a pitcher, and if we go for a weekend series, I’m not sure when he’s going to pitch. So now you talk about hotel rooms, I can pay for an RV, easy.
Steve Randazzo: That’s right. I think it’d be a blast.
Brad Burrow: All right. Well, we got off on that tangent a little bit. Tell me a little bit, we’ve been talking a little bit, tell me a little bit about your background, why you got into experiential marketing. And then I really want to get into the science behind it, because we were talking about that too; how our minds work, how we remember things. It’s really important, and a lot of people in marketing, that just goes right over their head.
Steve Randazzo: That’s right. Let me tell you about my Kansas City connection. Which is really fun for me. Back in 1985, I graduated from Warrensburg, CMS is just down the street. And my first job was with the Kansas City Royals. I was a marketing assistant. It was a great time to be with the Royals. Obviously, in ’85, they won the World Series. They played against my Cardinals, which was great. I was there for ’85 and ’86.
Brad Burrow: So you don’t have emotional scars from that at all or anything like that?
Steve Randazzo: I don’t. I always told people that my heart is in St. Louis, but my wallet was in Kansas City, so go Royals go. I did tons of events. I got to work on so many different great programs with the Royals. And really, it was my first chance to really get into events. So whatever events happened at that stadium, I was involved in. That was really great. And then after those two years, I moved back to St. Louis. I was with a regional soft drink company, and I was head of all their events. And we did tons of events. We had a parachute team, we had an old fire truck, we had four hot air balloons, we had all these concession trailers.
Steve Randazzo: Every weekend, we had events all over the Midwest. And so that was my job to book those events and get our product out and get some of those toys, those marketing toys out. That’s where I really fell in love with event work. And then I spent four years with Ralston Purina brand marketing. And then I had my first gig at an agency called McCann Erickson Event Marketing. I was there for about 18 months. We turned that company around, and then I decided I’m going to start my own company. I started promotion back in 1995.
Steve Randazzo: So I pretty much have only done events my whole life. It’s probably the only thing I know how to do. It’s the only thing I’m really good at, thank goodness I figured it out. But I love it. I still love it today. I’m really passionate about our industry and how our industry has really grown, and brands have really embraced what our industry does and how we can help them grow and really connect with their customers or consumers. We work on the B2B and the B2C side. We’ve been fortunate to attract some really great brands over the past 24 years, and the work, I’m really proud of.
Steve Randazzo: I’m excited to see where this industry is going to go, and continue to promote the industry because more and more brands… I got to tell you, Brad, we’re working with brands that 10 years ago, I would never have thought that they would have come into our industry, and now they have. They’re figuring out that they need that physical connection with their consumer or their customer. Maybe they did trade shows before in the B2B world and they figured out trade shows really aren’t working for them anymore, so they’re figuring out something else.
Steve Randazzo: And we have a program called a reverse trade show. So instead of going to the trade show convention, we actually take their displays and their products and we go directly to their customers’ parking lots. There’s no competitors there. The customers literally walk out of their office instead of having to get on a plane and go to Las Vegas or whatever. And it’s a program that’s really taken off in the B2B world [crosstalk 00:05:20].
Brad Burrow: What do people think when you do something like that? I’m assuming that was one of the IT companies that I was looking at online, maybe I’m wrong on that. But you show up with a trailer or something in the parking lot of a company who you’re representing or wants to do business with. That’s a pretty cool idea.
Steve Randazzo: Yeah. You know what? And like I tell you, driving over here today, we saw a B2B RV in a parking lot so we went by and checked it out, but they were doing exactly what we do. It’s an opportunity to cut through the clutter. Your competition’s not there. You set it up ahead of time, so everybody knows you’re coming. You set up in the morning before the employees show up, and then the ones that… because we only invite, maybe, depending on the client, maybe five people or 25 people. And it may be a company that has several hundred there, but all of a sudden, there’s a buzz.
Steve Randazzo: It’s like, “Hey, what’s that bus or RV or trailer, or what’s that marketing display out there in the parking lot?” And then a lot of times, we do luncheons also. So then we invite more employees to come out and have a chance to experience our customers’ products or services. And it works out really well. We did a program for HP in their software division a couple of years ago, and their salespeople told us the program actually cut the sales cycle in half and doubled their pipeline.
Steve Randazzo: Now, I don’t know about you, but if I can find something that would cut my sales cycle in half and double my pipeline, I’m all in, I am all in. And that’s what our customers are saying. We’ve seen some crazy ROI numbers. We had a customer who had a 50 to one ROI. So for every dollar they spent with us, we gave them back 50. And that was tangible, it wasn’t hocus pocus, it was sales, what they documented. So when we can do programs like that, I get so excited and have so much fun with it because everybody’s going in fighting for their marketing budget, they get the budget, we make it work, and then they get to go back into their CEO or CFO and actually-
Brad Burrow: “Look at this. Look at this.”
Steve Randazzo: Yeah. And they become a rockstar. And we tell them that. We’re like, “Hey, that’s our goal. Our goal is to make you a rockstar at your company. So we’re going to bust our butts. We’re going to do everything we possibly can.” You know, we’re a small company, we only work with 10 clients at a time, and that’s on purpose; so we can give just crazy focus and crazy service to them. And from a selfish standpoint, I get to work on all of our customers’ business. And we were much bigger before, and it wasn’t as much fun for me, I was dreading coming to work.
Steve Randazzo: I was doing admin and like, “This stinks. It’s not why I got this business. I want to get out.”
Brad Burrow: Creative people hate doing admin duty.
Steve Randazzo: Right. And so it gave me the opportunity to refocus the company, and we’re not… We’ve been around for a long time, 24 years, and it’s not about our growth as much as our client’s growth. And a lot of agencies struggle with that. It’s like they’re trying to grow and grow as fast as they possibly can and get as many clients as they can. That’s not our focus. Our focus is just having these 10 really great clients and doing fabulous work and making our clients into rockstars at their companies.
Brad Burrow: Yeah. That’s great. Let’s get into the science of this thing a little bit. I’ve studied… We’re a media company here, so I’ve studied how the human brain works, how we remember things and even looked at it from a storytelling standpoint. If you read an article, it’s saved in one part of your brain. If you hear something, it’s a little bit different. If you see video or movement, even movement, so even text going across a screen, that’s different. What you do is even different from that, from just the way our brains work. Can you talk about…
Brad Burrow: Man, that’s a huge impact. If a brand is looking at something, and they say, “Okay, I can put out a brochure or something, some texts on a website, that’s one thing. I can add some visuals to it, I can add some movement to it.” But now, you add experience to it. Wow. That’s complete different level of retention.
Steve Randazzo: It really is. It takes that whole memory and emotional connection to a whole new level. And that’s what we’re really focused on. Your company and mine, we tell stories every day, and that’s what consumers relate to, that’s what they’re attracted to. Everybody want to know, “Hey, what’s your brand story?” You all capture it in video, we do it in basically live performances, where we’re face to face with our clients’ customers or consumers, because we work on the consumer side too. But we’re also telling stories and we’re trying to get that emotional connection.
Steve Randazzo: The end goal that we’re looking for is that word of mouth. We were just at the Kansas State Fair over the weekend. We have a program there. Our goal is to have people come in and engage our client. It happens to be a tractor supply company, engage with our client’s experience there. We have a lot of fun games. When you go to a state fair, it’s very expensive to go for a family, so our exhibit is free, and you get to play a lot of different games, and you get to walk away with a lot of cool premiums.
Steve Randazzo: What we’re shooting for is to build a memory so when mom and dad go home after spending the whole day at a fair, they’re going to remember that they spent some time and their kids spent some time with the tractor supply booth. And what we want them to do is obviously then go check out tractor supply and go there, and there’s a lot of great products that you can buy there. But we also want them to tell other people about that experience because research shows that, I think it’s about 92% of people believe what their friends and family tell them about a particular brand, but nobody’s believing what brand marketers are telling them anymore. It’s actually less than 50% of brand marketers are reliable in the eyes of a consumer. So that’s huge. So word of mouth is really key to our industry.
Steve Randazzo: So you extend that reach beyond that actual experience that they had at the Kansas State Fair into… They take a family photo, we give them a printout, but they can also upload it and send it to grandma. I promise you… This is a true story. We have people tell us that they take pictures at our tractor supply experience, and it becomes their Christmas card because for their family, which is amazing to me. But when you think about that, they’re sharing that experience with other people. So tractor gets the benefit of not only engaging those people there but then that engagement continues on well after they engaged us.
Steve Randazzo: So we make that emotional connection with them, and it’s so much stronger, and it cuts through the clutter, which in today’s marketplace, there’s so much clutter out there. I remember a lot of experiences we did yesterday at the Kansas State Fair. I don’t remember anything I looked at on Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook. It’s almost like there’s so many messages just flying by your head, nothing’s sticking with social media. I’m not even sure why we still call it social media because it’s not that social, it’s just media. It’s more messages going out, people throwing it at the wall, and trying to make it stick.
Steve Randazzo: Now, I believe digital media is important in the marketplace, but there’s so many brands that are not successful there and very few that are successful. We find when you marry digital with experiential, then you get great results. So, that’s our story and what we like talking to people about; trying to stand out in that clutter, the experience. You probably remember a birthday you had growing up where you got a great gift or maybe you went on a trip or something from your past that you can remember, but heck, I don’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday. Experiences are key.
Brad Burrow: You think about how we learn. You can learn a lot from a book, and that’s the college, when you go to college or high school, you learn from a book, that type of thing. But it’s when you get into the workforce that you actually experientially learn things. There’s a company here in town I was going to mention called Learning Exchange, a not-for-profit. And what they do is they take, I believe sixth grade kids, and they put them into an environment where they learn how to buy and sell goods. So one runs a shop, one runs the bank.
Brad Burrow: So this whole echo system of a market, basically. And those kids learn so much from just experiencing what it means that, “I have to make this product, I got to have to make a profit on it. I’m going to sell to this person. The bank’s going to take that money.” You could learn that in a book all day long and not have a clue what actually you just learned, but experiencing it takes it to a whole different level in the way our minds work. Why? To me, it seems interesting that more brands haven’t figured that out
Steve Randazzo: Well, I think it’s so easy to continue doing what you’ve always done. And status quo marketing just drives me crazy. The brands, especially in the B2B side, who come to us, they tell us things like… because I always want to know, “Hey, what drove you to our industry? What drove you to my company?” And what I hear more often than not is, and we just had a client a couple of months ago tell me this, he’s like, “We did 32 trade shows last year.” And he said, “And I put out a note and said, I’m not funding any more trade shows if you can’t give me a business reason for us to be there.” And they went from 30 to trade shows to seven.
Brad Burrow: Oh my God.
Steve Randazzo: Because they were wasting their money. So we had excess money and he said-
Brad Burrow: And those are expensive.
Steve Randazzo: They are expensive. And so he had excess money, and he’s like, you know what, “I’ve read about your reverse trade show and the road shows that you put on into B2B world, and I’d really love to learn more about it.” I think it’s so interesting, and I completely agree, I learn so much better from an experiential standpoint. I’ve never been all that great about gathering information from a book and retaining that information. I think it’s just really important. I love your example of the kids learning.
Steve Randazzo: We have a similar program in St. Louis through junior achievement that does the same thing. And both my kids went through that, and they learned a great deal about it. And you’re right, you can’t just read about it or you can’t just… When you think about billboards, and you go to a stadium, and all those flat ads just drive me crazy. Sponsorship marketing, there’s millions or billions of dollars are spent every year in sponsorship marketing. But I got to tell you, I don’t know about you, but I don’t retain any of those ads when I go to a baseball game or go to a football game or a hockey game, it’s like they’re there, I see them, but I don’t retain it.
Steve Randazzo: But in order to retain it… Now, here’s the difference. If you go to a Royals game and they have, I don’t know, they’ve got lots of sponsors all over that stadium now. If you bring your brand to life out on the concourse and you have that flat ad, all of a sudden people are going to remember that. And they’re probably going to go, “Oh, I didn’t know that ad was in that field until I engaged out on the concourse with that brand and we had an experience.” There are some brands that see the value of that and they don’t just throw their ad out on that flat surface. But unfortunately, I think with a lot of sponsorship marketing, it’s all about getting the tickets and doing either the customer or the employee gratification, which I think is awesome.
Steve Randazzo: I think it’s great that you show your appreciation, “Hey, I got four tickets to the Royals or whatever.” But if you really want to reach the masses, you’ve got to bring that ad to life. You’ve got to do something and create an experience. Otherwise, you’re just clutter in that environment.
Brad Burrow: Well, I was reading something on your website and somebody had some weird requests and they said, “I don’t know, but you’ve got to call Steve.” And I thought, well, that’s pretty good testimonial right there. You get some pretty weird requests sometimes, don’t you? I can only imagine the things that you’ve been asked to do.
Steve Randazzo: Well, I don’t know if they’re weird. We get challenged every once in a while where a customer would come to us saying, “Hey, here’s our problem, can you guys help solve that?” And more often than not, they’re trying to gain attention.
Brad Burrow: So they don’t usually come to you with an idea already in place? They’re saying, “Can you help me solve this problem?”
Steve Randazzo: We love it when they don’t have the solve already figured out. But sometimes, they come to us and maybe another agency they work with us has said, “Hey, this is what you need to do, and here’s what it would look like. You just have to figure out somebody to build it and activate it.” But the example you were talking about, that, “Hey, call Steve,” is an agency in New York called Fathom Communications that we’ve worked with for 15 years.
Brad Burrow: Is that movie-related or no?
Steve Randazzo: No. There like a general promotion and advertising agency, and actually, they do a lot of video these days. But the owner there, Tres McCulloug, and I have known each other for 15 years. He’s a great guy. He’s the one who said that. He was like, “Hey, when I get stuck and challenged, I just know I can pick up the phone and call Steve.” It was a great compliment for him to say that. Like I said, we love it when someone comes to us and says, “Hey, we’re stuck.” But again, it all comes around attention. We’re all trying to get more attention in this marketplace. So that’s what, if you really look at the funnel, somebody comes to us and says, “Hey, we lack awareness. Or, if our product could just be experienced by more people, they’d really understand it,” It’s a technical product or whatever.
Steve Randazzo: Or, “You know, if they could just taste this product.” We did lots of-
Brad Burrow: A different experience. Right.
Steve Randazzo: Yeah. So many companies are like, “If I could just have more people consume my product and see how great it is, we’d sell more of it.” So that’s where they come to us and they say, “Hey, we need more samples out there. We need more people to taste our product.” Or, “We need more people to experience our product.” Or whatever it happens to be, it’s all about attention. We’re all striving to figure out how to get more attention. And when you get more attention, then people pay attention to you. It’s kind of when it comes all the way down the funnel, they may say, “Hey, I need more people to consume my product.” At the end of the day, they’re looking for attention.
Brad Burrow: Do you have a process that you take every brand through? Let’s say I came to you and I said, “I want to solve this problem.” Do you take them through like, “Okay, here’s the first thing…” And I’ll give you an example of what we do at Real Media. The first thing I have to know his target audience. If I don’t know target audience, I can’t help you.
Steve Randazzo: Yeah, you got to start with, “Who”.
Brad Burrow: Yeah. If I’m a fishermen, I need to know what kind of fish I’m trying to catch. And then message; okay, what’s my message for that target audience? And then, what is the call to action? What do I want them to do? If I don’t know those three things, I can’t create any content that’s going to be effective because it’s the shotgun approach. Do you have a process like that that you go through with brands?
Steve Randazzo: We do, and it’s a full discovery process. It is extensive, and we learn so much, and a lot of times our clients learn something in that too.
Brad Burrow: I bet. Yeah.
Steve Randazzo: They don’t always want to go through the process. Sometimes they go, “Hey, we want to go right here.” And we’re like, “Well, let’s make sure that’s really the problem. Let’s take a step a couple steps back.” But another thing that we focus on once we know the “Who” and the “Why”, is now on the emotional side. What do we want the customer to think, feel, and then do after they’ve had this experience? So really getting into that emotional side. What do you want them to think about your product after they’ve experienced it? What do you want them to do after that? So it’s really important for us to take it all the way through that level.
Steve Randazzo: And it doesn’t matter if it’s B2B or B2C, we pretty much treat both those brand discoveries the same, because what we’re finding out is even on the B2B world, their customers are buying their products from an emotional standpoint, not what you would think of back 10 or 20 years ago where everything’s based on price or everything’s based on something kind of stale business type of metrics. They’re starting to figure out that, “Hey, this company can help us do more than just whatever their product is. There’s other attributes that are more on the emotional side. So, “I like this company because they donate a dollar to XYZ organization, or I like this company because they’re social-minded, or their product saves energy,” or whatever it happens to be. It’s starting to get into the emotional side making those decisions.
Steve Randazzo: Emotion has always been there for the consumer on the B2C side, but we’re seeing more and more on the B2B side, so we treat experiences for B2B the same as we do for B2C, which is fun.
Brad Burrow: Interesting. Do you think that’s changing because of more and more millennials being in the workforce? Does that have anything to do with it at all?
Steve Randazzo: I don’t know. I don’t know if there’s any studies out there about that. We’ve all read so much, the millennial has been covered so well and maybe over-covered. And I think some of the stereotypes are really not that accurate. Based on our experience, especially some of the negative stuff.
Brad Burrow: Well, I’m just thinking from a cost standpoint.
Steve Randazzo: Oh, for sure.
Brad Burrow: A lot of the millennials are more cost-driven-
Steve Randazzo: They are.
Brad Burrow: … and they want you to, I think they want brands to be that way.
Steve Randazzo: They do.
Brad Burrow: So I was wondering from an experiential standpoint, if that’s something that you hone in on from, “Here’s how we’re going to solve this problem.”
Steve Randazzo: Yeah. You mentioned my book it at the beginning. There are two chapters at the end all about getting out and being more socially conscious and giving back, and the right way and the wrong way to do programs. It’s always good to show the right way to do it, but also I think it’s good to show, “This is not going to work if you do it this way.” So don’t think of doing a program, like right now with the hurricane, there’s a lot of brands doing some really great things for the hurricane. And if it’s not authentic, then people see right through it. And so it’s really important that if it’s not authentic, you better not be promoting it.
Steve Randazzo: It’s fine you’re going to write a check for $1 million and help that out, and I think that’s wonderful, but if you promote the fact that you wrote a check for $1 million, and you’re out trying to pound your chest for the wrong reason, if you’re going to write a check for $1 million, do it because it’s the right thing to do and you feel sorry for these people and they need help. And you can do it. Don’t do it because you think that you’re going to build your brand. And that’s where some brands do a really poor job of doing community give back.
Brad Burrow: Let’s transition a little bit. I want to talk a little bit about some of the fun things that you’ve gotten to do. For doing it over 20 years, you’ve probably done some pretty amazing things that are, you can look back on and maybe even at work, there’re very hard problems to solve that you came up with a really cool solution. Can you talk about some of them?
Steve Randazzo: Yeah. Gosh. Someone asked me a couple of weeks ago, “What’s your favorite program you’ve ever done?” And it’s like, “Oh my gosh, it’s like picking which kid is my favorite.”
Brad Burrow: We haven’t talked about the kids yet.
Steve Randazzo: Well. My daughter will tell you that she’s the favorite. She’s firstborn, so she gets that advantage. She’s been around longer. But gosh, for the first 14 years, we were really fortunate to work with Anheuser-Busch, being a St Louis Company. Growing up as St Louis Kid, I still remember the first day I drove down to Anheuser-Busch and I pitched our company, our brand new company. I think we were like 14 days old. And it took us about nine months to get into Anheuser-Busch, but once we got in there, it was 14 years of so much fun and so much great work. This is all pre-InBev, and they were great company to work with and a bunch of really smart people who really embraced what my industry does. And so Bud Light, Budweiser, Michelob, Michelob ultra, on and on and on.
Steve Randazzo: We’ve done programs for all those brands. A lot of it has been sports marketing. So we’ve been to all the big events, some really cool events. If you name it, we used to have the Budweiser show cars with Dale Earnhardt Jr. So we’ve been to Daytona and Talladega and Darlington and all those bass tracks. And we had three of the cars and we’d take them around to the cities where the big events were, just have so much fun doing that. We’ve done major league baseball with Anheuser-Busch and just, the gamut, PGA Golf. I can go on and on and on, but for 14 years my team loved working with Anheuser-Busch, and it was great company to work with. So a lot of fun stuff there.
Steve Randazzo: We’ve done a lot of programs with Disney, and what a great company that is. And boy, they’ve just exploded now. They’ve got their hands in so many things right now and they’re so good at what they do. They’re great marketers, we really love working with Disney. We’ve done some fun things with Disney’s. We’ve had a couple of programs, Promo of the year, National Awards and things like that. We did a give back program actually with Disney several years ago, where if you gave eight hours of your time to a non-profit, Disney would give you a free ticket to go to Disney park.
Brad Burrow: It’s great idea.
Steve Randazzo: It was called, Give a Day, Get a Day. And they gave away a million tickets, so they had a million people give eight hours of their day.
Brad Burrow: That’s a great idea.
Steve Randazzo: A lot of families got together and did that, and that was a fabulous program. I think we’re in 32 markets all over the United States. Disney’s always fun.When Disney calls us, we get so excited. They’re tough, there’s no doubt about it, but they know exactly who they are, and if you get it, you can be successful. And we’ve been working with them now almost 10 years. They’re a great company. Some of the B2B clients that we’ve had, which aren’t as sexy, but still like I said, I love a program that works really well and we get great ROI. So some of our B2B programs are not very sexy, but damn, they work, they turn the sales dollars.
Brad Burrow: The idea of taking a trade show booth to the customers, that to me is pretty cutting edge idea. Can you talk about that one at all? To me, I’d love to hear that, “Okay, here’s how… We had this problem,” and I know you probably can’t get into details, but maybe from a 30,000- foot type view, “We had this problem, we knew these guys weren’t going to come to a trade show,” So you thought, I’m just guessing, “But let’s take the trade show to them.”
Steve Randazzo: Right. Exactly. We’re working on a program right now that will launch in early 2020 for a B2B client. Essentially, what they’ve come to us with is, “We want to show our innovation,” and this is not a sexy company, it’s a manufacturer in the grocery industry. They basically come to us and said, “We have all these new products coming out and the timing is such that we feel the best way to launch them is on a more custom level than trying to fit them into our trade show schedule. And we know that some of our trade shows, we don’t get a lot of people. And so because we’re a leader in our industry, we have to be at those trade shows, or at least we feel right now that we have to be. So we need to do something more creative to get our products in front of our customers.”
Steve Randazzo: And so we introduced them to this reverse trade show idea.
Brad Burrow: So that’s what you’re calling reverse trade shows, is when you actually take the trade show to them?
Steve Randazzo: Right. It’s exactly opposite of what a trade show is. After 2008 so many brands cut back on their marketing. So people weren’t going to trade shows and decision makers who didn’t go to trade shows still aren’t going to trade shows. Not like they said, “Oh, our business is better now, I’m going to start going to trade shows.” They let other people go to the trade shows and walk the trade shows and coming back with all the brochures and stuff.
Brad Burrow: Tell me what you learned.
Steve Randazzo: Yeah. They’d end up in the trashcan or from our customer standpoint, their sales people have all these “leads” because they scanned all these badges, and they’ve got 400 new names now. And then they divide them all up and then they go back to their offices wherever they are. And guess what? They’d been gone for three or four days, they’ve got a bunch of fires to put out, they’ve got a bunch of things they’ve got to do next week and these leads never get touched. So it’s a total waste of money and it’s a waste of energy. And I know there’s some, like CES is still a great trade show that is very well attended and I’m sure for a lot of brands it’s a great place to be, but there’s too many trade shows.
Steve Randazzo: Honestly, there’s just too many of them. They’re great moneymakers if you’re the trade show company, but if you’re an exhibitor-
Brad Burrow: They make money, don’t they?
Steve Randazzo: They do. But if you’re an exhibitor, how do you stand out? You’ve got to figure out a way to stand out. Again, going back to the whole attention thing, the reverse trade show is, we package up an experience, we bring it to their customer’s parking lot, and it’s so much easier for their decision makers to come out of their office, and engage, and have this experience. Now, the true magic comes when the decision maker brings, let’s say the decision makers are buyer, the buyer then brings the engineering department head and then the maintenance head, and all these other departments that never get to go to a trade show, but they’re part of that decision making process, and these people need to be involved.
Steve Randazzo: Here’s the cool thing. Here’s the magic of these programs. So we’re sitting in this truck or trailer or bus or whatever it happens to be, sometimes we go to hotels, and we’ll be in a banquet center and we’ll build the experience. But when all these people from your customer they’re there, showing up, they start talking about the value of your product. And it’s so fun to just sit back and let them sell themselves, because they’re like, “Oh, this is really cool.” The maintenance guy goes, “This would save us money on X, Y, Z.” Because they have this already built into their product. And then the buyers listening to all this data, and you watch them go through their buying journey.
Steve Randazzo: So they go from, “I didn’t know what this product was,” to, “Now I understand it and now I’m going to tell you how the benefit is to our company.” And by the time they go through the experience, they’ve already made up their mind. They’ve already decided, “Is this a product I’m going to need today here in the next several months or the next several years?” And it creates these conversations also. So our customer sales team is always on site along with our teams. And so they have these conversations, our clients talking to their customer, they’re having these conversations that they don’t have anywhere else. In the conversation, all of a sudden you find out that in five years from now, their customer wants this.
Steve Randazzo: Now you can go back and talk to your engineering group and saying, “Hey, XYZ company’s interested in this. How can we help them sell their product problem? What problems can we design?” It’s an incredible experience that buyer’s journey gets cut in half. You know when they leave that experience where they’re headed, they’re going to say, “Hey, call me next week.” Or, “Time is not perfect here, but in six months it is. So let’s talk about this in six months.” You get a pipeline that’s real and you have the opportunity to survey that customer, find out the emotional side of it, find out what else they’re interested in. It’s been a really successful program for our clients and we’re really excited to talk to more and more people about it.
Brad Burrow: The ROI has got to be incredible on something like that for a brand.
Steve Randazzo: Yeah. It really is. Like I said before, we’ve had some as many as 50 to one, which is crazy. We had a client who actually got promoted from doing a program, got a huge bonus and his whole team got a huge bonus, and that phone call he made to me and said, “You’re not going to believe this, but we’re at this level now in sales and we attributed 100% to that road show that you guys did.”
Brad Burrow: That’s great.
Steve Randazzo: That’s awesome. I love those calls.
Brad Burrow: Can you talk about your creative process a little bit? My mind keeps going here. I bet the creative meetings are a lot of fun, because there’s probably no idea that’s off the table on those, “Hey, you could try this, try this, try this.” What is that process like? I’ll tell you one of the things that I’m a big believer in from a creative standpoint, for us. A lot of people come to us and say, “Hey, help us figure out how to solve this issue with a video.” But I think the best creative comes when everybody works together, because I might say something that this person then makes them think, “Oh, when I thought of this and then I thought of this.” And now you’re at a completely different place that couldn’t have happened without the input of all the people at the table. Are you guys like that too?
Steve Randazzo: Oh my gosh, yeah. Like I said earlier, we love when someone comes to us and says, “We don’t know what it is, but we know we need to use experiential, help us design something.” Those are the most fun meetings we can have. We have a war room that has whiteboards all around it. And I visualize what it looks like… When we left the office on Friday, and it’s got all kinds of designs and arrows and words and ideas and pictures and jots and little doodles and things like that. Because we’re all very visionary, so in visual, in our creative ideas. It’s kind of funny, I’m usually the first one who stands up, we’re talking about it, someone’s saying, “Okay, here’s the problem that a client has and here’s a little bit about their industry and here’s the research we have and we need to solve this.” And we’ll be talking and bantering ideas and then all of a sudden I’ll stand up.
Steve Randazzo: And it’s like, “All right… ” I’m better scribbling than just talking. So I’ll get up and I’ll doodle something. And it’s what I really love to do and my team feeds off each other. So we have people that are so different in their backgrounds that sometimes somebody will say something that nobody else has even thought about going there, and it just takes us down this avenue that is magic because it’s like, “Oh my gosh, that’s the idea. That’s the direction.”
Brad Burrow: You just kind of know, right?
Steve Randazzo: Strategically, that’s perfect. And that’s exciting. And then we have to be careful not to just plow through that. It’s like, “Okay, that’s one really great idea. Let’s leave that.” Because we never do brainstorming all in one setting. We’ll do two or three of them and go away and do some more research, do some more thinking.
Brad Burrow: Do you have a pad by your bed at night, so when you wake up-
Steve Randazzo: No kidding. That’s for sure. Because sometimes your best ideas are at 3:30 in the morning, it just hits you, and it’s like, “I know I’m not going to remember this when I wake up, so I’m going to jot this down.” But the creative process is really fun. There’s a couple of key areas in our process that I think get us all excited and it’s what keeps us coming back every day. And it’s at the very beginning to have that creative process, come up with an idea and then the client go, “Yes, that’s it. I’m going to fund that. That’s pretty cool.” And then you build it out, and then that idea goes from something on a piece of paper to now it’s in three-dimension, and there it is.
Steve Randazzo: And you could see it’s like, wow. It’s not always exactly what we illustrated, but it’s like, “This is where we started and now this is even better. ”
Brad Burrow: Pretty cool.
Steve Randazzo: Yeah. And it’s like, “Aww.” We always go out to the first event and so we can see the reaction, and you always have to fine tune things, but going into that first event and seeing either customers or consumers engage with that idea, and just see that, we call it that Aha! moment. We always strive to surprise and delight. So when a consumer is engaging with one of our clients, it’s like you take them from either a little bit awareness or maybe no awareness at all to like, the light bulb goes off and it’s like, “Aha! I get it.” We did these lawn tools from Fiskars. Fiskars are the orange scissor people, your kids may have them, or they’ve had them in the past, but they’re known for their scissors, and they decided, “Well, we’re going to build these lawn tools.” So they’ve got sheers and loppers and stuff like that.
Steve Randazzo: They’re a Finland company, so they’ve got these engineers over in Finland creating all these products. And so we go to Home Depot and Lowe’s, where their products are being sold, and we demonstrate them. So we’re out in the parking lot and we give these people the leading brand and they cut off a branch and they go, “Yeah, that was pretty good.” And we go, “Okay, now try it with the Fiskars’ brand. These are just engineered to work so much better.” And they cut them and I swear to you, 90% of people go, “It cuts like butter.” And it’s like that Aha! moment. It’s like, “Oh my gosh.” And we sold thousands and thousands of those products over a couple of years because we created this experience where we had this Aha! moment that the people understood.
Steve Randazzo: So they were like, “This is what I’m used to and now, this is so much easier.” And who wants lawn work to be hard? So Fiskars is all about making it easy. And they’ve got some connections with the Arthritis Foundation and things like that because they’re so ergonomically superior, they’re so much better. And so their problem was, “We have an awareness problem and we need people to experience it, to truly understand it.” And we hit both those out of the park. Those are fun.
Brad Burrow: Yeah. That’s amazing. I’m going to wrap up here pretty quick here, but I want to talk about the future. What is the future of experiential marketing? Do you even know? Who knows what is coming down the pike?
Steve Randazzo: No.
Brad Burrow: Does anybody know?
Steve Randazzo: I can tell you what I think. I think technology is going to continue to be a bigger and bigger part of what we do. Augmented reality and virtual reality, they continue to grow.
Brad Burrow: Are you getting into that now?
Steve Randazzo: Oh yeah. We’ve done several programs on the B2C and B2B side with augmented and with AR, or with VR.
Brad Burrow: So you got to understand all of that pretty well if you’re going to be offering that to a brand, right?
Steve Randazzo: Well, I’ll tell you, we understand it enough to know who to partner with, who does that every day. We did this really cool augmented reality for Spiderman movie a couple of years ago. And we had these tours all over the United States where we went to Walmart stores. Walmart was selling all the licensed merchandise. The stores that we went to sold about 32% more than stores we didn’t go to.
Brad Burrow: And thank you for listening, and we’ll see you next time.
Steve Randazzo: So, that was a great ROI metric that they provided for us. But they had a really cool AR that we developed with a partner, where if you took your cell phone and you looked at our trailer, you would see the Spiderman fighting the lizard on top of the trailer. Obviously, it wasn’t there, but it was so cool, and Spiderman people, the fans really got into it. It was really cool. So technology, I think, is going to continue to grow, but there’s something interesting happening too, and it happened at South by Southwest, which is a huge event down in Austin every year.
Steve Randazzo: Over the past couple of years, there’s been brands that have gone low tech or no tech, where one actually had a coloring book for adults to sit down at a picnic table and color. And that cut through the clutter and it wasn’t some fancy sexy thing, but it got that engagement and it got that connection. And it was so low tech. So I think we’re going to get a balance of low tech, no tech and high tech. There’s so much stuff that hasn’t been invented yet or we don’t have the awareness of, that we can be using to help our brands get that attention that they strive for.
Steve Randazzo: I know our industry is going to continue growing because there’s more and more brands that are coming into it again, that I would have never put on a list from a target standpoint. So they’re trying to figure out how to get that attention, they’re not getting it at the trade shows, they’re not getting into advertising. What was the last time you watched an ad on TV? I don’t know about your family, but we’re DVR past all that stuff.
Brad Burrow: Pretty much.
Steve Randazzo: A lot of money’s being wasted in advertising. And I think when brand marketers realize that status quo doesn’t work anymore in 2020 or 2030 or whatever it happens to be, they’re going to figure out that they’ve got to do something different to get that attention. And we feel really strongly than having a face to face experience, where you can have a two way conversation and people can really learn and understand about your brand, we think that’s really beneficial. Now, we don’t have the scope and reach that digital has, but they don’t have the memory that we have.
Steve Randazzo: I think the future is bright, and it’s still a lot of fun after doing this for almost 30 years. It’s still fun for me to do this, and it’s exciting where the industry is going, and some of the brands we get to work with, and it’s still fun every day.
Brad Burrow: Yeah. Well, let’s wrap it up. Where can we get the book? That’s the first thing.
Steve Randazzo: The book is at Amazon and it’s at Barnes and Nobles, and as they say, where other fine books are sold. It’s called Brand Experiences: Building Connections in a Digitally Cluttered World. And it’s been a lot of fun. It was something I wanted to do for years. And I finally, when the kids went off to school, we were empty nesters, it gave me some time to sit down and really finish the book and get it out there. And it’s just been a labor of love.
Steve Randazzo: We also give back with the book, so every book that we sell, a dollar we give to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, which is an organization in St Louis that I’m very passionate about and they do fabulous work. And I’ve been involved with them for probably 15 years. And like I said, the people there do magical work with the youth in Missouri, and so we’re happy to be able to continue to support them. It’s been a lot of fun. I get the opportunity because of the book to talk to people like you and to share this message, and it’s been a lot of fun.
Brad Burrow: And Pro Motion? Give us the web address. If somebody wanted to get a hold of you, how would they do that?
Steve Randazzo: Well, they can get me at www.promotion1.com, promotion1.com. Or if you want more information on me and the book, it’s www.steve-randazzo.com. And there’s lots of information on both those sites, all about our industry and tons of case studies and videos. I’m sure your business is doing great because we are doing more and more video work than we ever have done. And it’s like less words, more video on our site and the programs that we do.
Brad Burrow: You’re speaking my love language.
Steve Randazzo: Yeah, I know. I know for sure. Like I said, we both tell stories every day.
Brad Burrow: That’s right.
Steve Randazzo: And we just do it in different ways. And then we use your industry to capture the stories that we’re telling and the experiences that we’re creating. So it’s fun, very symbiotic industries, for sure.
Brad Burrow: Well, Steve, thanks for being on the In a World with Real Media Podcast. I appreciate it. Hopefully, we can do this again. That would be awesome.
Steve Randazzo: That would be great. I’d love it, Brad.
Brad Burrow: All right. Thanks for joining us, check us out on iTunes and Spotify and all of the podcast platforms out there, and be sure to subscribe so this show’s up on your phone every time we release a new podcast. Thanks.