Blog

Rethink Your Marketing with Tom Shapiro

Rethink Your Marketing with Tom Shapiro

Tom ShapiroToday’s guest is Tom Shapiro, founder and CEO of the branding, web design, and marketing agency Stratabeat, Inc. Throughout his career, Tom has developed marketing strategies for more than a dozen Fortune 500 clients, including AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, and P&G. He also served as Director of Digital Strategy at iProspect for five years, a time that saw the agency grow from 85 to more than 700 employees.

Tom’s marketing insights have been published in CMO.com, CNN.com, Forbes, and many others. His wisdom can also be found in his new book, Rethink Your Marketing: 7 Strategies to Unleash Revenue Growth.

In this episode, Tom discusses powerful and innovative marketing strategies, what it takes to increase revenue, and much more. Listen in to hear his tips and inspiring stories of what companies have done to explode their growth.

If you enjoy the show, please drop by iTunes and leave a review while you are feeling the love! Reviews help others discover this podcast and I greatly appreciate them!

Listen in:

On Today’s Episode We’ll Learn:

  • What dictates 90% of purchasing decisions.
  • How to drive your audience to action.
  • Why restricting your target market is a smart move.
  • The problem with brands trying to explain their products.
  • What advertising should focus on instead of text.
  • Why businesses should be wary of following marketing trends.
  • How to use behavioral science and psychology to change your marketing.

Key Resources for Tom Shapiro:

WP EngineOne of the companies Tom describes in his book is Austin-based WordPress hosting company WPEngine. Roger knows the folks there, and moved his busy Neuromarketing site there earlier this year. Instantly faster, without complicated cache plugins or CDNs! (WPEngine handles all that!) In the podcast, Roger mentions that he’ll try to get Brainfluence podcast listeners a discount offer – here it is: www.rogerdooley.com/wpengine .

Share the Love:

If you like The Brainfluence Podcast

  • Never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes, Stitcher or by RSS
  • Help improve the show by leaving a Rating & Review in iTunes (Here’s How)
  • Join the discussion for this episode in the comments section below

Full Episode Transcript:

Get Your Full Episode Transcript Here

Welcome to the Brainfluence Podcast with Roger Dooley, author, speaker and educator on neuromarketing and the psychology of persuasion. Every week, we talk with thought leaders that will help you improve your influence with factual evidence and concrete research. Introducing your host, Roger Dooley.

Roger Dooley:    Welcome to the Brainfluence Podcast. I’m Roger Dooley. Our guest this week is Tom Shapiro. You may have seen his insights at CMO.com, CNN.com, Forbes, MarketingProfs, MediaPost, and many more. Tom is the CEO of Stratabeat, a branding, web design, and marketing agency in the Boston area. Previously, he was Director of Digital Strategy at iProspect during the period that the agency grew from 85 to more than 700 employees.

Tom’s new book is Rethink Your Marketing: 7 Strategies to Unleash Revenue Growth. Among other things today, we’re going to learn how putting sumo wrestlers on a basketball court turned around one NBA team’s fortunes. Tom, welcome to the show.

Tom Shapiro:      Thanks, Roger. Happy to be here.

Roger Dooley:    Great. Tom, I saw you spent five years at iProspect. Were you a search engine guy?

Tom Shapiro:      Yes, yes. That’s my background so I was at iProspect for five years, and that’s the agency that grew from 85 employees to over 700. I can explain during our talk today how exactly we rethought our marketing and accomplished that, but yeah, my roots are in search.

Roger Dooley:    Yeah, I spent some time in that industry, too, and it’s sort of a good background to have because it informs stuff that you do later on just like … I haven’t used my engineering degree in decades, but I feel like having that base of knowledge has helped me in many other fields. I think SEO was kind of the same way, particularly in digital marketing.

Tom Shapiro:      Absolutely. I completely agree with you. You know the way that I see it is search is simply looking inside the minds of your target audience, right? How do they think? How do they articulate their thoughts? What are they looking to do? What are they looking to accomplish? And in my experience, a lot of what we did was we had to kind of transform the way that companies approached search, where they were just kind of tacking it on at the end after they had developed their strategies, after they had developed their products, and-

Roger Dooley:    No, that never happened I don’t think.

I can tell you, more than once I got a call from a client, “Hey, we got our new website up, now can you do that SEO stuff to it?” Wanna blow your brains out.

Tom Shapiro:      So yeah and the key for us was educating and transforming companies’ approach so that they would use search for the insights, and it would feed the strategy, it would guide the strategy, and those were the most successful companies.

Roger Dooley:    Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, Tom, the title and theme of your book is “rethink.” Are businesses doing it wrong when they focus on sort of incremental improvements? You know, trying to do what they did yesterday only better and bigger?

Tom Shapiro:      Yes, they are doing it wrong. Tinkering around the edges just doesn’t work, but that is what you commonly see. And so you’ll see they might feel that they’re stagnant or they’re frustrated at the pace of growth, and so you just try and tinker and optimize what they have. Yet, if what you have is mediocre, if what you have is not producing results, it’s very, very challenging to have transformative results come out of that. And so what you really need to do is take bold, decisive action, implement very clear change in what you’re doing in order to have the biggest impact on your revenue.

I could give you countless stories that are included in the book that prove this out time and time again. It takes bold, decisive change in order to unleash revenue growth.

Roger Dooley:    Yeah well, I want to get to some of those stories, Tom, but I’m thinking that what you’re suggesting probably kind of triggers some risk aversion in people. We know that humans are loss-averse and risk-averse, and it’s certainly a safer strategy to say, “Okay well we’ll just increase this part of the budget 20% or try and do a little better conversion optimization to squeeze a little more out of the traffic that we’re getting,” and that kind of thing than to say, “Okay, we’re going to adopt a new revenue model,” or something of that nature.

Do you think it’s tougher for small businesses or big businesses to do the rethink process?

Tom Shapiro:      I think that it’s more difficult for larger organizations to actually execute on it. People at larger companies – and I have a lot of experience with Fortune 500, I’ve worked with dozens of companies in the Fortune 500 – and what you find is exactly what you’re saying. There’s a lot of risk aversion, and risk aversion really drives action at these companies. People do not want to lose their jobs, and so there’s a lot of risk aversion that comes into play.

There’s also a lot of groupthink which happens at larger organizations, where you might be in a room with ten of your colleagues and there’s an alpha dog in the room kind of guiding everyone towards one direction, and it can be very intimidating for you to speak up and propose something that’s radically, radically different. At smaller companies, it’s a lot easier, however, that doesn’t mean that you see small companies rethinking their marketing as often as, certainly, I would like to see, and I think that’s just human nature.

If you’re a marketer and you’re stagnant and you’re frustrated with your marketing, what tends to happen is you tinker, you try incremental improvements, you copy more successful competitors, you follow what’s being hyped in the media, and that just doesn’t work. You know, we had an enterprise software company say to us that, at the time that Pinterest came out and it was all the rage, they wanted a Pinterest strategy. And I said no. I said, “That’s a really bad idea for you because your audience doesn’t care about Pinterest.” And they said, “Nope. No, our CEO is demanding that we have a Pinterest strategy. We read about it all the time. It’s the shiny new object.” And against our advice, they went ahead with it, and it was a complete failure.

And so copying, looking at what the media is hyping, tinkering around the edges, these are all very, very common patterns, and none of them work.

Roger Dooley:    And you know, I suppose one thing that’s different between large and small organizations is that, in a big organization, an individual can have career prospects that are different than the company’s prospects, where in a small entrepreneurial organization a career and the business sort of rise and fall together. There’s no option. Either the business is successful and the entrepreneur is successful or not. So you get a little bit of that sort of divergence there, where some individuals may choose safe strategies that aren’t necessarily the best ones for the corporation.

Tom Shapiro:      Absolutely. Absolutely. And I can tell you that, even at smaller companies, if the company has been around a while, you might have thought processes that are rather ossified. They’re in a rut. They think the same way, and it’s very difficult for them to see other options.

So for example, one company that I had joined years ago was a Japanese localization firm. At the time, when I joined, they were inundated with phone calls, and they were very, very busy. Lots and lots of busy-ness, and no one had time for anything because they were so busy. But when I looked at what they were busy with, the orders that were coming in were for $50, $500, all very, very tiny requests, and so myself and some others at the firm proposed that we actually only focus on software companies as our target audience. We only work with software companies, to the extent that we should fire every client that was not a software company.

The reason being is, software companies have projects that might be $100 thousand, $500 thousand for one project, and a software company might have multiple products and then they have releases every year. And so to us that was just a far greater opportunity for growth, and it took some convincing of the owner at the time, who was a brilliant, brilliant guy, it’s just that he had been in the industry for a very long time, he had been with the company for a very long time, and so it wasn’t as obvious to him that we should rethink everything and get rid of half of business. And so he was great; he finally granted us our wish and allowed us to fire 50% of the clientele. We focused only on software companies, and from that point forward, within two years, we grew revenue by 250%. Our growth was so strong that the company was then acquired for a multiple of revenue by another firm in the industry.

So even at small companies sometimes, the longevity of someone being in the industry and seeing things done a certain way can be a barrier to rethinking your marketing.

Roger Dooley:    Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah that kind of reminds me a little bit of the Grasshopper story that you tell in the book, and they’re the phone company that was targeting small businesses and entrepreneurs. And those two groups seem to have a lot of overlap in needs. In fact, I would say that many people would probably used them either interchangeably or sort of hyphenate them, meaning that yeah, these two groups are mostly the same but … Explain what Grasshopper found about the difference in how they too had to shrink their market target to grow their business.

Tom Shapiro:      Right. So Grasshopper, as you mentioned, is a virtual phone systems company started by David Hauser and Siamak Taghaddos, and originally they were targeting small businesses as well as entrepreneurs. And yeah, a lot of people, as you say, Roger, might see those as very overlapping businesses. An entrepreneurial mindset is very, very different than, say, someone who’s operating a small business. And they were experimenting with new ways to drive growth, and one of the things that they found was, when they featured David and Siamak on their homepage as entrepreneurs and they really started appealing to the entrepreneurial message, their sales exploded. So then they started experimenting with, “Okay, well what if we only targeted entrepreneurs? We forgot about small businesses, and we only target entrepreneurs. Our entire message is about entrepreneurs, everything we do is focused on entrepreneurs and the specifics of what entrepreneurs would like in a product.”

And so they started going down that more targeted approach, and it even infiltrated all the marketing that they were doing. So for example, giving away 10 thousand complementary copies of Mark Cuban’s book, How to Win at the Sport of Business, so obviously something that’s very, very appealing to an entrepreneur. Or coming out with specific features that an entrepreneur would be willing to experiment with, but yet, say, an older, smaller business might hesitate trying new things. And what happened was, their business exploded and they grew to $30 million in revenue and they were ultimately acquired by Citrix for approximately $165 million. And it was all because they took these two seemingly overlapping groups and eliminated one of those groups and had a hyper-targeted approach.

Roger Dooley:    Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s a really great lesson, and one other example that I love because it’s an Austin-based company and I know the people there is WP Engine, and probably many of our listeners have heard of them. They are a web-hosting company that does only WordPress hosting. They don’t really do other stuff there like most web hosting companies, and so I mean at first glance that seems like a crazy strategy. Like if you’re a web hosting company, you’ve got servers, you’ve got technicians, and so on, why would you arbitrarily restrict yourself to one particular piece of software, content management system, even one that’s the most popular on the web but … why would you do that?

And I know that I ended up switching my neurosciencemarketing.com site to WP Engine, and it was a little bit painful. I actually had to have the site architecture changed a little bit so that it met their criteria. I had to eliminate a plug-in or two that was not compatible with their allowed plug-in list. And it seems like absolutely the wrong approach to business. You always think that you want to accommodate your customer needs and, “Oh if they need different architecture, okay yeah, we can work with that.”

But they really sort of laser-focused on super-efficient WordPress hosting, and for the companies that make a little bit of a sacrifice to do business with them or to get their site put up there and get it operating right, it ends up being a really great experience, very seamless, everything happens automatically. So I think even though, again, they seem to be restricting their target market in a way that would be foolish, it’s ending up making them more effective and successful. They’ve got customers all over the world, right?

Tom Shapiro:      They’re going global right now. I think they just opened a new office in Australia literally just a few weeks ago. And Roger, you’re correct; narrowing your focus, it’s counterintuitive, but oftentimes it can unleash growth. And exactly, that’s what WP Engine has done, and it enables them to think more convincingly, in a more compelling way to their target audience because they’re strictly focused on that target audience. Others who are more generalists can only scratch the surface of what WP Engine can talk about in terms of security, in terms of architecture, in terms of caching capabilities, in terms of site speed, in terms of even tech support.

You know, you call up tech support for a generalist in web hosting, and they are not engineers. They cannot solve your engineering and development challenges. You call up WP Engine, and they can all help you with your development challenges. They are actually the largest group of WordPress developers in the entire world, and so it’s very powerful when they can tell you that and you know that you have that type of backing on your website versus someone who may be just as focused on Joomla or might be focused just as much on Drupal websites and so, you know, they have knowledge, but it’s much more on the surface level.

And another thing that WP Engine did was, to compound their growth, was that they looked at how they were engaging with their audience and how other web hosting companies were marketing to their audiences. And a lot of it was on a technical level. And so what WP Engine did was went all in on content marketing, and not just on the technical side of things, but also on the marketing side of things, the digital experience side of things, helping companies realize all that they could achieve online. And so they went on an effort to 10x their content, they launched a separate website entirely around education called Torque Magazine, and then on top of that, they decided to launch another website called Velocitize which is strictly helping their target audience in becoming better digital marketers and understanding digital marketing to a much deeper degree.

And so they’re going all in on education. That even extends out to holding events, whether it’s here or in London, again just focusing on the digital experience and helping their clients develop better digital experiences rather than what a lot of other hosting companies do, which is really just focus on the technicalities and the price.

Roger Dooley:    I actually attended one of those events not too long ago, and I don’t want this to sound like a WP Engine commercial, so we probably ought to move on, but what I will do is include a link in the show notes for our listeners, and what I’ll try and do is contact the folks over there and see if they can offer our listeners any kind of a discount and then include that in the show notes too. So if somebody’s looking for that hosting change for WordPress, check the show notes page. But anyway … and that will be at rogerdooley.com/podcast.

So let’s change gears a little here. You’ve got a section in the book that’s titled “Rethink How They Think” that focuses on using behavior science and psychology to do things differently. I know our listeners will enjoy that. What are some of the examples you can offer of doing that?

Tom Shapiro:      Sure, sure. So, Roger, I’m sure you’ve experienced this yourself and your listeners have experienced this, where you go to a website or you’re engaged with a brand and they are trying to explain everything to you. They’re trying to explain how great their product is or how great their service is, how great their company is, how many employees they have, how many offices they have, how great their technology is. They focus on explaining. And oftentimes, they’re just trying to throw as many details at you as possible.

And the problem is that that is marketing like an encyclopedia. It’s marketing like a dictionary. It just doesn’t work. Why? Because you’re not moving the target audience to action. And so Nielsen found that 90% of purchase decisions are actually made by the subconscious. Not by the conscious where we feel that we’re in full control and we’re aware of everything, but actually by the subconscious. And part of the reason for that is just the construction of the brain. The brain processes 11 million bits of sensory information through the subconscious, whereas you compare that to under 100 bits by the conscious mind. So 11 million bits versus less than 100 bits every second of every single day.

So that’s a huge differentiator in terms of the power of the subconscious. You know, you’re looking at 90% of purchase decisions being made by the subconscious, and then you say, “Okay well how can we appeal to the subconscious then more effectively?” And one of the ways of doing that is through emotional marketing. The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio found through his studies that, when people with damage to the part of the brain that triggers emotion try and make decisions, they have a very, very difficult time making any type of decision, certainly with purchase decisions especially, because they waffle endlessly. They can’t feel any emotions, right? So they can’t feel strongly about one option versus another. So whether you’re talking about having salmon versus meatloaf for dinner or whether you’re talking about buying product A versus buying product B, they can’t feel strongly enough one way or the other.

And so translate that for your brand and your marketing, and what that means is that your brand necessarily has to be evoking an emotional response out of your audience in order to drive them to action, to purchase from you, to engage with you, to fill out your site form, whatever it might happen to be. And so it’s really this subconscious level and this emotional level that is much more effective. Also on the subconscious level, you can look at the vision system. Make your marketing as visual as possible to connect on a subconscious level. The human brain processes visual 60 thousand times faster than text. That’s not 6 times faster, it’s not 600 times faster, we’re talking about 60 thousand times faster. Half of the brain’s neurons are dedicated to the vision system.

Just to give you an example from the book Brain Rules by John Medina.

Roger Dooley:    Yeah, that’s one of my favorites.

Tom Shapiro:      Yeah, it’s a fantastic book, and I’d recommend it to all of your listeners.

So he gives this example where a group of neuroscientists gather some of the world’s best wine tasters in the epicenter of wine country, Bordeaux, France. And they gathered 54 of these individuals and they handed them a glass of wine. So each person received one glass of wine. The wine was actually a white wine, however, before handing over the glass, they secretly added odorless red dye to the glass. And so it looked like red wine. And in wine circles, there’s very, very different vocabulary that’s used for describing white wine versus red wine, and they asked each of these 54 wine specialists to describe the wine that they were drinking. And remember, it was actually white wine, but the color made it appear as if it was red wine. And so you might think that they could fool a few of the best wine tasters in the world, but actually what happened was it fooled all of them, all 54. And that is the power of color in appealing to the subconscious.

Roger Dooley:    Right. Well wine is a great metaphor for persuasion and psychology because it’s a fairly nebulous product that, as you point out, even experts can be fooled so … There have been all kinds of experiments about expectations and expensive wine tasting better than cheap wine and even, not only tasting better in how people describe it, but even lighting up their brain a little bit more when it was an expensive wine, so they actually experienced a better wine. And most often, too, it’s Two-Buck Chuck, which is a inexpensive Trader Joe’s product that’s mass-produced, and it’s great for psychologists because A, it’s cheap and … since it’s mass-produced, it doesn’t vary much from bottle to bottle or year to year or batch to batch. It’s pretty much the same.

So I could do probably a whole episode or two here at the podcast on wine stuff. That’s a good idea. Maybe we’ll do that. You know, you’ve also got a chapter on rethinking your marketing mix, Tom, and it reminded me of my time in the higher-ed space. My business then was College Confidential, and we had built the busiest website for college-bound students and parents. Actually, it still is, but it’s no longer ours. We sold it years ago. And we were just crushing the competition from a traffic and engagement standpoint. Our metrics were off the chart, but we had a lot of difficulty selling ads to colleges and universities, who were the logical advertisers because these people were coming there to learn about the admissions process and to search for colleges.

But what we saw was that, in higher-ed in particular I guess, things change kind of slowly, and the decision makers tend to repeat what they did the previous year. And we ended up solving the issue by … acquired by a much larger firm that had existing contracts with schools and a dedicated sales force with strong relationships, so they’re able to more forcefully redirect some of that business. But do you see that in other industries too that … you know, every year businesses pay for exhibit space at a conference because well, they always do it, and, “Hey, the competition’s gonna be there, so we have to be,” and you know, making decisions that aren’t really informed very well?

Tom Shapiro:      Absolutely. Absolutely. And so I’ll give you a very personal example, though my prior employer, iProspect, is your marketing agency. So when I joined the company, iProspect was very dedicated to very, very large conferences, and they’d been doing them forever and spending literally hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on large conferences because that’s the way it had always been done. And it took nine years for the company to grow to 85 employees; I was the 85th. And myself and a colleague an idea of, well, these conferences are useful from one perspective. However, they’re also really challenging because you have 25 or 35 or 50 of your competitors exhibiting right next to you and talking to all the same people and so it’s very difficult for a conference attendee to remember each of the conversations that they had if they’re talking with competitors.

And so we said, “Well what if we did the exact opposite? What if we rethought everything about conferences and we did the exact opposite, and instead of trying to get in front of thousands of people all at once, what if we only got in front of a few, but they were the right ones and it was only us, no competitor?” And so we launched a local event in Chicago, invitation only, and only ten people showed up. And Roger, you would think, okay, going from thousands of people to ten is a really stupid marketing decision, but again, we wanted to rethink things and just experiment and try something drastically different from what everyone else was doing in the industry.

And so we had ten people show up to this first local happy hour event, and we wound up getting a multi-million dollar contract from one of the attendees, and a six-figure contract from another one of the attendees. So we tried another local happy hour event, and again, not too many people showed up, but again we got another multi-million dollar contract out of it. So we kept on doing this, and we turned it into a road show and did it all over the country. Very quickly it became the number one leads driver for the agency, and, as I mentioned, the agency went from 85 employees to over 700 in five years. And so very, very powerful stuff. Now if we had only kept with what everyone else was doing and focusing strictly on these larger events, this never would have happened, but by rethinking, flipping event marketing on its head, doing the exact opposite of what everyone else was doing, and even the exact opposite of what we had been doing previously, this never would have happened.

Roger Dooley:    Mm-hmm (affirmative). You know, you’ve got some great stories in the book, Tom. As an author, I’m curious. Some of these stories are from your own experience, like that one, which is great. There are quite a few others from different times, different industries, and so on. How did you find these stories? How’d you do your research to get those?

Tom Shapiro:      Right. So a lot of it was reaching out to brands which I knew had either rethought their marketing and accomplished a great deal or had a very specific story to tell in terms of rethinking their marketing, whether it was rethinking their audience targeting or rethinking their marketing mix or rethinking their marketing metrics they were following, and literally just reaching out to these individuals. So for example, if you remember the transformation of Domino’s, where several years ago they came out with a campaign revealing that their own customers were describing their pizza as tasting like cardboard or that their sauce tasted like ketchup. And typically a brand would try everything to hide this type of customer feedback, but Domino’s did the exact opposite and they flipped it on its head and they were 100% transparent with everything. They came clean and they walked the customer base through how they were going from customers describing their pizza as cardboard to trying to come up with something completely new based on this feedback.

And so I love that story, and I literally just reached out to the president of Domino’s and I asked him if we could talk about the story together. And Roger, he was one of the most gracious, nicest human beings you could ever imagine. Got back to me immediately, got on the phone with me for over an hour, and simply was just very, very truthful and transparent in describing how they went about this transformation. And he spoke to some great principles in rethinking your marketing. He said, “Look, if you are going to transform your marketing, you have to be 100% authentic, and that doesn’t mean being 96% authentic and then hiding the stuff that you don’t want your audience to know. It means literally being 100% authentic.”

And so they would even go to the extremes of … One time there was a customer who had ordered pizza. The pizza came to the woman’s house, and along the delivery route, the cheese and the toppings had slid off of the crust of the pizza.

Roger Dooley:    Oh I hate it when that happens.

Tom Shapiro:      I think we all do. And so, rightfully, she was angry and she was upset. And so she called Domino’s and complained. And so what do you think they did?

Roger Dooley:    Well they probably didn’t come out and slide the cheese back onto it. What did they do?

Tom Shapiro:      Domino’s called a TV station and had reporters come and cover the story. That’s right. It was Domino’s that called the TV station, not the woman. The woman just wanted another pizza. Domino’s wanted to transform their brand and the brand experience. And so they said, “This can never ever ever happen.” And so they had a TV crew come out and film it and showing Domino’s coming through with a better pizza, but really shaming the local Domino’s outlet that had allowed this bad customer experience to happen.

And so you can imagine, that is very transformative in getting every single employee across the country to understand just how critical it is to deliver superior customer experiences every single time. And you know, to have that type of authentic storytelling in your marketing, again, it hits your audience on a very subconscious level. Rather than explaining how great your pizza is and how great it tastes, instead, they’re connecting with audiences on a very emotional, subconscious level. Very, very powerful. Since the time of the pizza transformation, Domino’s has become the number one fastest growing restaurant in the entire country.

And Roger, I’m not just talking about pizza, and I’m not just talking about fast food. We’re talking about every single category in the food space. They are the fastest growing.

Roger Dooley:    Hmm. Very good. And it must have been a slow news day to cover a sliding pizza, but even so, that’s impressive. Very few companies would think about doing that. Tom, at the start I teased about sumo wrestlers ending up in NBA arenas. Why don’t you tell that story?

Tom Shapiro:      Sure, sure. This is one of my favorites in the book. The New Jersey Nets – at the time they were the New Jersey Nets – were a horrible, horrible basketball team, and back in the day, they would just lose and lose and lose. They were experts at losing, and so a new president came on board, Spoelstra, and what Spoelstra did was, he decided to rethink absolutely all the marketing that the Nets were doing, and instead of trying to hide that the Nets were a bad team, he wanted to think of new ways to connect on a subconscious level with their target audience.

So for example, what Spoelstra would do was he would market the other team’s superstars, and at the time that was unthinkable. Nowadays it’s commonplace. Everyone has stolen Spoelstra’s strategies, but at the time that was unthinkable. And so, at the time, Michael Jordan was huge or Scottie Pippen, whoever it might happen to be, Dr. J … And so he would promote the other team’s players. He would try and turn an NBA game, instead of being something where winning and losing mattered, he turned it into this entertainment extravaganza, and they would have fireworks literally within the indoor stadium, and they’d have all these spectacles during breaks.

One of the spectacles, as you’re saying, they would have sumo wrestlers dribbling up and down the courts and slam dunking at either end of the court during breaks of the game. And that was actually the favorite part of the fan experience was seeing these sumo wrestlers dunking the ball.

Roger Dooley:    They were probably hoping the Nets would sign one or two of them.

Tom Shapiro:      Right. They were certainly better than the Nets at the time. And so, you know, you might say, “Okay well all of this outrageous marketing, it’s fun, it’s interesting, but what did it do for business results?” Well, actually, ticket sales went through the roof. Ticket sales more than tripled, and their sponsorships exploded. I think there was a 20 times increase in sponsorships for the team in just three years. And so it’s not just that rethinking your marketing can be fun and outrageous and you have these fun stories to tell, but it really impacts the bottom line, and as you can see through what Spoelstra was able to do with the Nets, it really is a very concrete, specific strategy for unleashing your revenue growth.

Roger Dooley:    Yeah it’s almost a minor league baseball marketing strategy where, you know, the product on the field is not exceptional most of the time so you have to do other stuff, and that’s why they have all these event nights and fireworks nights and this night and that night and on-field entertainment between innings and so on, just because they want to make it an event because people are not coming out just to see pure baseball.

Tom Shapiro:      Absolutely, and Jon Spoelstra was really the founder of that type of marketing in professional sports. A lot of organizations, a lot of leagues, have copied what he wound up doing with the Nets. You can see just how powerful his rethinking of marketing was.

Roger Dooley:    Great. Well, that’s probably a pretty good point to remind our audience that we’re speaking with Tom Shapiro, CEO of Stratabeat and author of Rethink Your Marketing: 7 Strategies to Unleash Revenue Growth. Tom, how can people find you and your content online?

Tom Shapiro:      Sure. You can go to rethinkyourmarketing.com, which is the book website. There are links to Amazon to purchase the book, there are blog posts, resources there. You can also go to my Twitter feed, which is simply twitter.com/tomshapiro. You can go to our agency website, so that’s stratabeat.com, and we have hundreds of blog posts, a lot of them on principles of rethinking your marketing as well.

Roger Dooley:    Great. Well we will link to all those places on the show notes page at rogerdooley.com/podcast, and we’ll have a text version of our conversation there too. Tom, thanks for being on the show.

Tom Shapiro:      Thanks so much, Roger. Really appreciate it.

Roger Dooley:    Thank you for joining me for this episode of the Brainfluence Podcast. To continue the discussion and to find your own path to brainy success, please visit us at RogerDooley.com.

Join 23,647 smart marketers like you.
Better results, less money! Get my newest, best ideas free!

Leave a Reply