PR and a Drum T-Shirt Company called Spirit and Groove

Spirit and Groove Groovy Press Release

As I write this blog post, I am preparing for the first press release to hit the wire for my drummer t-shirt company, Spirit and Groove .

I chose to add a PR marketing channel to my online business to achieve a couple of marketing objectives, but before I hand those out. I wanted to explain why I chose to add this channel to my marketing mix.

First, understand that I always think “big-picture.” If I am going to do something, I am going for it. As for Spirit and Groove, my ultimate idea is a clothing brand, not just a drummer tee shirt company.  This dictates that my planning always be long-term and to properly build a brand. I must tell everyone what the heck groove is all about and why I am placing so much faith in one word.

“The goal of our first Groovy Press Release is let everyone “step into” the mindset of our brand. You shouldn’t be afraid if you are not a drummer, because as you will learn.  The beat is beyond any other instrument. It mimics the heartbeat and as such it was our species first language. We celebrate with it, we have worked in unison to it, and we have followed it into battles. We are all connected by the drum. It doesn’t matter if you play it, move to it, or feel it in your soul. We are all part of the groove.”

Second, we are building a community and that requires a very strong social presence. To achieve this organic build, we need solid backlinks to increase our credibility and reach. In addition, strong backlinks will provide increased “Opportunities to See” at a lower cost through higher Search Rankings. PR can be a cost-effective way to achieve worthwhile backlinks that Google will respect and hopefully bump us up the search ladder.

Finally, I was a newsman and enjoy writing. So why not write about something I am passionate of… the groove.

Click here to read Spirit and Groove Drum Tees first Groovy Press Release. 

My New Groovy Venture

It has been a long time since I last posted in the ol’ blog here, but there is a good reason.

Earlier this year I launched a drummer clothing company called Spirit and Groove. It is an exciting venture that is pulling from all of my professional experience (e.g. running my own company, my work as a graphic designer and photojournalist, my MBA training, and absolute passion for drumming).

I am working Spirit and Groove during my down time as a booking agent, and if you are in the business you know there is very little of that. However, I have accomplished a lot in these first few months.  We currently have forty plus drumming and groove-inspired t-shirts up for sale and a whole bunch in the coffers.  We have also established a number of “Groovy Communities” on various social platforms where we give out Groovy Cookie Comments to people we feel have got groove.

 

Is Your Groove Cookie Worthy – Spirit and Groove Drum Tees Marketing


You can join those networks by clicking on these links:

Spirit and Groove on Facebook

Spirit and Groove on Twitter

Spirit and Groove on Instagram

Spirit and Groove on Google Plus

Spirit and Groove on YouTube

Speaking of YouTube, we have also put together a groovy drumming video blog where we offer insights into best drumming practice techniques, top groovy drummers and albums, and a whole lotta’ fun.  Here is our most recent video for you to check out and you can follow the entire drum video lesson blog here.

 

Well, I’ve got to get back to designing some more drumming shirts, checking our drummer website, optimizing our SEO, working on our paid click campaign, or launching another Facebook ad among other things, but please go check out my groovy new website www.spiritandgroove.com.

You’ll be glad you did!

EXTRA, EXTRA, Social’s All About It!

 

An old time News Stand

Copyright All rights reserved by mwr83 from Flickr Creative Commons

 

I started my career as a photojournalist at the age of 18. The local newspaper had hired me after I investigated a minor scandal at my high school, which got a lot of people in some hot water. This landed me on their radar and eventually on assignment for a Pulitzer-Prize winning editor.

Oh wait.

For all of you that don’t know, a newspaper was a printed version of say…Facebook. The only difference was instead of paying with likes, loves and shares you paid with real cash to see a daily tally of what everyone in your hometown was up to.

The economics of a newspaper are quite simple.  Present enough relevant knowledge to attract advertisers to buy up space surrounding that information. A consistent run of good stories drove-up a key metric in the news business – subscriber rates.

Subscriber rates are important because, in a nutshell, they guarantee to your advertisers how many people will have access to their marketing messages. If the newspaper has more subscribers, they can charge those advertisers more money. To increase those subscriber rates, newspapers offer readers a deal to switch from just picking up the paper at the store, to having it thrown on their front porch by a crazy haired mother whose kid didn’t get up in time to pedal his route before school.

I like to equate social media to the economics of the newspaper industry. However, the model is slightly different.  First, we still have businesses looking to tell consumers about their products and regardless of what you have heard about The Long Tail, Niche Marketing, and On-Demand Production. Deep down inside, marketing is a numbers game and admen (and adwomen) know that the more opportunities to see – the better their chances are of making a sale. Things change slightly in the “subscriber” section of our social model, because our customers no longer must pay to subscribe to relevant information. Instead, they are now in control of which channels they will accept through a Like or Follow.

The major change in the social model is the blurring of the line between advertiser and news. Many traditional journalism brands such as CNN, The New York Times, and USA Today still follow the basics of the elder model. They provide the information people want to see and advertisers pay to show up beside those stories. I will assume that this is because they too see the similarities between their past “ink” audiences and today’s “click” consumers. The problem arises with the many organizations who do not understand this similarity between print and digital. They either un-wittingly leave out the information component of their online publications or purposely remove them to utilize the entire space as nothing more than a billboard where they bombard their audiences with sales pitches and marketing messages. Interestingly, these same publication tactics exist in the print medium as well. They come in the forms of penny savers, car flyers, and grocery store circulars that probably spend more time at the bottom of a bird’s cage than in a consumer’s hands.

So, why am I explaining the similarities between the news medium of yesteryear and today’s social advertising strategies?  Aren’t newspapers dying off?

Yes, print news is dying. However, our appetite for information is not. We have become an interconnected species hungry for more information. YouTube has made millions on videos that teach you how to fix your own car, grow your own vegetables, or learn calculus among a host of other subjects. Facebook connects thousands of people everyday to share their life stories, anecdotes, and views on everything under the sun and, according to some sources, over two million blog posts are published each day on a range of topics. We have become a society in demand of more information than those before us. However, unlike our predecessors who wound up with ink on their fingers from thumbing that information we cleanly click and swipe.

With that being said, I would like you to return to the newspaper model I described earlier. Think about its simplicity. Provide enough relevant information to attract a sizeable audience and charge advertisers to surround that information. Now apply that theory to your social pages. Provide your consumers with enough interesting information so they return to your pages over and over again. In the marketing world, these are called opportunities to see. The more you have the statistically greater your chances will be for a positive result such as an interaction, or better yet – a sale. It doesn’t matter if you do not want outside advertising on your site. Instead, you can simply display your own messages. Just remember to empower your social team to focus on the “news” element first and your long-term ROI will be greater.

Sure, newspapers are dying, but their economic model can be a powerful tool in today’s social-focused ad world. All of the basic elements are there. You have a medium for news distribution and you have an audience hungry for that information. Put those elements together and you have an opportunity to create a sales channel for any internal or external brand.

But only if you can put the news first.

Solving The Casino Millennial-Baby Boomer Marketing Funnel Conundrum with Entertainment

Millennials Versus baby Boomers in Gaming

What do Millennials, DJs, and funnels have in common?

The answer may surprise you. As fun as the three combined may sound, it isn’t the set-up for a new drinking game. Instead, the three components come together to help us understand the future of the gaming industry and how we can capitalize on an impending change now efficiently and cost effectively through entertainment.

The Millennial demographic was the topic of discussion at the 2015 Global Gaming Expo in Vegas, as this collection of consumers brings with them a huge opportunity and perhaps an even larger challenge. According to the PewResearch Center, Millennials are projected to surpass Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation 75.3 million to 74.9 million by the end of 2015. Normally an increase of this magnitude would be a welcome sign in any market – a fresh crop of new consumers to replace the old. However, this new charge doesn’t appear to be responding on the gaming floor in the same way as their ancestors. Research is revealing that Millennials typically find current slot products uninteresting, seek skill-based games, want a social atmosphere, and prefer night clubs over gambling – pretty much the opposite experience that has been cultivated collectively by the industry up until now. This has left many in unchartered waters as they seek out what drivers will lead this next generation to the gaming floor. According to the CEO of the American Gaming Association, Geoff Freeman, there is “going to be a lot [of] throwing things up on the wall and seeing what sticks.”

Freeman’s statement provides us with a key element regarding Millennial based marketing in the casino business. It suggests that they may not be opposed to gaming, but rather they are sitting at the top of the marketing funnel, a place where consumer behavior teaches us that prospects are still learning how the intended products and services can enhance their lives. This, in turn, tells us two things. One, it will take time before this group will take the place of the profitable consumers currently on the gaming floor. Second, because the head of the funnel is larger than the spout we will need to fill it with more prospective Millennial gamers so a reasonable amount can filter down the funnel and eventually replace their predecessors. Taken together, this creates a unique challenge as we are left with two disparate groups within the funnel. Sitting at the bottom are previous generations who are converted, loyal, and most likely advocates for a particular brand. As such, they provide the property with the majority of its revenue at this moment in time. However, the longevity of a casino’s success will eventually rely on getting enough Millennials to replace them at the bottom of the funnel.

So how does a casino’s marketing team attack this situation? With the current mix of generational consumers nearly split down the middle, you cannot simply cut the budget of one and give it to the other. Especially when you are taking away from the profitable sector in the Pre-Millennials and allocating it to the generation that is still contemplating if your services are the right offerings for them. For these same reasons, it would be unwise to dramatically re-align your entire marketing message and risk alienating those gamers that currently help you keep the lights on. What you can do now is to re-align through your entertainment offerings– especially if you are a larger entity with various programming opportunities such as lounges, clubs, showrooms, pools, and restaurants. Take Las Vegas where many prominent casino brands have adopted a tent pole design that “props up” the organization by attracting non-gaming individuals to the property through key entertainment offerings. Many big names on the strip include four elements in their portfolio: (1) a branded show such as Cirque, The Blue Man Group, or Absinthe; (2) a headliner such as Céline Dion, Carrot Top, or Britney; (3) a celebrity chef/kitchen such as Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck or Emeril Lagasse; and (4) a big-name DJ such as Steve Aoki, Dash Berlin, or Tiësto.

These poles achieve a lot of good for the casino. For one, they create additional income centers for the property. In 2013, an article in The New Yorker reported that half of Steve Wynn’s profits were coming from his dance clubs with the gaming floor beginning to take a back seat to bottle service and confetti cannons. The pole’s also provide powerful branded ammunition to compete in Vegas’ noisy market. Today, nearly every major casino on the strip features a high-end night club and outlandish pool parties stacked with brand-name DJs. MGM has Hakkasan with Steve Aoki and Tiësto on regular rotation; Encore has XS with the likes of Diplo, Zedd, and Manufactured Superstars; The Cosmopolitan has Marquee with Cash Cash and Dash Berlin. You can grab a Gordon Ramsay Burger at Planet Hollywood or one of his steaks at Paris before you head out to a Cirque de Soleil show at AriaNew York New York, the Bellagio, the MirageMandalay Bay or Treasure Island. Any of these offerings could be destinations in and of themselves in other markets, but in Vegas they are revenue centers, marketing machines, and perhaps most importantly investments in a Millennial generation that hasn’t even been realized yet. Why? Because they continue to bring potential new prospects onto property, which places them in the mouth of the funnel where they begin their journey of learning how gaming can enhance their lives and (hopefully) move down into the spout to become brand ambassadors.

This pole design is not exclusive to Las Vegas or even properties with big brand names and even bigger budgets. Many casinos outside of Sin City have multiple bars, more than one restaurant, and spaces that can create revenue and achieve long-term branding goals if properly utilized. This makes it very plausible to craft a diversified entertainment program that appeals to your current profitable customers while luring future prospects onto the property. You can continue to appease your Pre-Millennials with showroom entertainment while hosting afternoon pool parties with regional DJs that drive those Millennials across your floors where they can hop in the funnel and begin the process of learning about your brand and how it fits in their lives. Clubs, lounges, and bars can easily be rebranded by adjusting the entertainment offerings towards one side or the other and then allowing the demographic shift to happen naturally (or with a little marketing push if needed), just as adjustments in menu selections and price points can sway the clientele in a chosen restaurant. These are all efficient and cost-effective modifications that can be done without sacrificing your budget or the overall brand of the property and they can help protect your very valuable current assets in the Pre-Millennials while positioning your property for long-term success with this next generation of prospective consumers by allowing them to investigate your offerings while your management team can learn what drives their behaviors, so your property is ready to capitalize when the time is right.

Lego Photo by Stefan Schindler from Flickr Creative Commons

Marketing Funnel from http://adamhcohen.com

Herd Mentality in Entertainment

Herd Mentality in Entertainment

Regardless if we want to believe it or not, at our very core humans are animals. As such, there are primitive psychological behaviors that influence many of the things we do – even if we don’t notice that we are doing them. One of these rituals is the need to follow the herd.

At its core, herd mentality is a survival instinct ingrained in our DNA. According to Pat Thomas, general curator at the Bronx Zoo. Over the course of our evolution, we have been taught that individual members of a herd should relate and act in a similar fashion so they do not stand out and appear different from other members of the group. Why? Because, in the wild if a member of the herd acts too much out of the norm, they are often singled out by a predator and do not survive.

Over the course of human evolution, this survival instinct has become lodged in our brains. Dr. Gregory Berns, Professor of Neuroeconomics and Director of the Center for Neuropolicy at Emory University, informs us that those fear receptors are located in a very specific spot called the amygdala, which is comprised of the brain stem and cerebellum. Some still call this the old mammalian brain and not only is this place responsible for that fear of being eaten by a predator, it is also accountable for our emotions, long-term memory, connects events with feelings and controls hormones and body temperature.

So, why is this entertainment manager spending his time explaining biology and evolution? What does this all have to do with booking entertainment?

Let’s put the pieces together.

First, the ingrained concept of pack protection that is inherent in all of our mammalian brains causes us to seek out crowds of people whenever we are in a public environment. It is something we do naturally and often without even noticing it. It works like this. A potential consumer walks by the room and sees it is jammed with people. Subconsciously the receptors in their mammalian brain begin to fire, kicking in long-term memories and coded DNA from the evolution of our species, which tells them they would be safer within the pack, so they enter.

Many will argue that sold out shows are the result of numerous causations such as marketing spend, notoriety of the performer or club, day of the week, etc. These are correct assumptions. However, marketing teams and management often cease their efforts once the show has begun. This is ill-advised, because it is likely that they will achieve greater success if they continue to strategically manage the room once doors are open in an attempt to first achieve, what I call, the adoption tipping point and then work to avoid (another one of my terms) the exodus tipping point.

The adoption tipping point is when the room begins to build at an exponential number. If you have ever worked in a live environment you will notice that a 200 plus person venue will not grow with only ten fans in attendance. However, once twenty, thirty, forty or more arrive the adoption cycle approaches a steeper upward slope. Studies by Rick Nauert PhD and his team at the University of Leeds, discovered that it takes a minority of just five percent to influence a crowd’s direction and the remaining 95% follow, without realizing it. In my years as both an entertainer and manager, I have witnessed this phenomenon. For instance, I have watched the attendance of a 253-person club jump nearly 370% in less than 15 minutes due to the adoption-tipping point being initiated.

Unfortunately, the same biological influencers can also work against club attendance. If enough of the crowd is removed, evolution causes the brain to re-investigate the environment and if it is deemed unsafe (too few in the pack) it will initiate the fight or flight reflex. As you guessed it, just like adoption a tipping point will be reached and exponential losses will occur.

These biological influencers suggest that, with the assistance of proper marketing and promotion, management should seek to ensure that (1) the adoption tipping point is achieved as soon as possible; and (2) the room should constantly be monitored and adjusted to avoid the exodus tipping point. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  1. Start with a stacked deck. Entertainers should have a following of at least 10% of room capacity or the venue should provide ways to increase the initial attendance to at least 10% out of the gate. Offering free entry, free drinks, etc. can achieve this. Females are of particular importance, because they initiate the mating behaviors of males, which are also controlled by the mammalian brain. However, many venues think that just letting ladies in for free the whole night will work. This isn’t necessarily true. It is best to find ways to stack the deck early and reach the adoption tipping point as soon as possible. However, it serves a club little purpose to let in females for free if they are approaching capacity. Instead, they should hold off on free entry until the exodus tipping point is being approached and then open up the floodgates to prevent the negative tipping point from being hit. Letting ladies in for free is important – but it should be done strategically throughout the night.
  1. The venue should never be dead. This is extremely true in live entertainment situations where bands take breaks. Keep the lights on, keep the instruments lit, keep the music pumping and keep people on the dance floor. If there are televisions in the club, do not turn them on, especially to sports or the news. Do everything you can to remind people that the show will continue.  Breaks should never be used to calm the room down as that would inevitably cause you to reach the exodus tipping point.
  1. Breaks should never be longer than fifteen minutes. To be honest, in today’s market breaks shouldn’t exist. I know a lot of entertainers will send me hate mail on this one, but it is the truth. There should be a DJ or other entertainment happening if the group must take a rest. Consumer behavior has radically changed to the point that even thirty-second television commercials are becoming obsolete. The modern consumer’s attention span has diminished by unprecedented amounts. What makes you think they will hang out for fifteen minutes while the band is on break? My on-site research estimates that for every two to five minutes after a fifteen-minute lull in entertainment attendance drops by nearly 10% and follows a strong negative compounding effect from that point onward. Keep the energy up. Do a raffle, have the bartenders do tricks, give out free drinks, monitor band breaks religiously, or find entertainment that doesn’t need to rest for so long.
  1. Be fluid. Someone needs to take control of the room and monitor behavior for an approaching exodus tipping point. They must have the authority to make changes “on the fly” including promotions, getting the entertainment back on stage, or letting in females for free without resistance that will cause the exodus point to be hit.

In closing, there are no hard numbers for an adoption or exodus tipping point. Entertainment is largely qualitative in nature and numerous outside forces impact the speed at which a room reaches capacity and when the process reverses. It is up to the club owners and management to gauge their venues. I would encourage many to start off by logging hourly headcounts. Don’t worry about bar sales or other metrics at this point. Create a baseline over the course of at least a month or longer. If you utilize numerous styles of entertainment, you should have multiple metrics for each act. Numbers are an amazing tool and they will reveal very valuable information including when the room generally approaches capacity, when the trend reverses, and which styles of entertainment help you approach a full house quicker and which hold crowds longer. From there, make adjustments and then re-analyze your results. Continue this process as you adjust for demographic parings relative to bar sales and marketing.

For all of you “marketing whizzes” out there, remember true marketing is not just about pretty posters and television commercials. It is part quantitative science that involves understanding numbers and how to adjust your business environment to move those metrics into a positive relationship. In entertainment management, a large portion of this analysis is done during the show.

Strategic Analysis of Live Nation Entertainment

Rock Concert and Rock Horns

 

The following paper was the final deliverable for my MBA strategic management course at Southern New Hampshire University. The purpose was to analyze the macro-level strategy of an organization of our choice.  For ten weeks, we explored how that strategy impacted virtually every aspect of the firm from their financials to their competitive position and H&R practices. I chose to put my experience as a booking agent and undergraduate degree in music business to good use and analyzed the top promoter in the world – Live Nation Entertainment.

My analysis of Live Nation Entertainment revealed an organization executing a well-crafted strategy to vertically integrate the unique value chain elements of their main concert business. As a result, the company has catapulted past their competition in the U.S. concert and event promotion market as well as the global online ticketing industry where they hold commanding market shares in each. Despite this success, there is much more opportunity for the company to grow…almost an entire planet.  I touch upon management’s future plans throughout the paper and offer my own insight as well.

Jeremy Larochelle’s Strategic Analysis of Live Nation Entertainment