Blog

Lessons From Leaders – Mike Farrell

This week we sat down with Mike Farrell, Assistant AD for Broadcasting and Video Production for the University of Maryland. In the last year, Mike and his team launched “Terrapin Club+” often dubbed “Netflix for Terps.” Mike’s passion for the project was evident through the entire interview, especially when he attributed the stories of the student-athletes and alumni as his greatest source of inspiration. From the conversation, there are three key takeaways to reinvent your content strategy and deepen connections with your customers.

How are you creating value?

The concept for Terrapin Club+ was part of a larger initiative to “reinvent” the Terrapin Club, the fundraising arm of the department, and create more of a membership experience than a donation experience.  The mindset changed from “philanthropic giving” to “providing value” and giving some of Maryland’s biggest supporters a deeper connection to the student-athletes they support through their stories in the One Maryland magazine and Terrapin Club + shows.  

If you look across most professional leagues, there is a mentality shift from being a season ticket “holder” to a season ticket “member”.  One word shifts the thought process from something that is transactional to building a long-term relationship with the fan so they are invested beyond game day.  

How else are you creating value for your most loyal customers? What else do they want out of the relationship with your organization? Do all fans want free t-shirts or priority entrance lines? Some might. But the majority just want access. Not sideline field access (although that doesn’t hurt either), access to the real story, who makes up the team off the field.  Maybe there’s a story that a fan can relate too. We become so much more invested when it’s personal.  

The digital transition we’ve experienced in the last year presents challenges and opportunities to personalizing the experience. Going from paper to digital tickets might eliminate season ticket pickup events or delivering them to fans’ houses. Team posters also went digital so do you still have your major autograph events? The time you save from organizing season tickets can be used to create several small scale events for fans, like these from New York City FC. Or invite season ticket members to be the “special ambassadors” participating in existing events like Kansas City Chiefs’ Style Lounge. Treat kids like the student-athletes and mic them up at camps – you might strike content gold like West Virginia

When you create additional value, you have leverage when you need to increase ticket prices.  Disney is a prime example of this.  Ticket prices increase yearly, but they continue to increase the value proposition with new attractions, new shows and new personalized experiences that Guests don’t blink at the price.  

Terrapin Club + provides the story and the value and coupled with the work of the Terrapin Club, they’ve seen a 100% year-over-year growth in membership. 

Attention spans aren’t getting shorter.  They are getting more selective.

We’ve asked a few guests about something they’ve recently changed their mind about and Mike beat us to the punch with this answer.  

“I don’t think that attention spans are actually getting shorter. I think that there’s just a massive amount of content out there that’s decent or okay…It’s throw away content. But if you give them something that they actually care about, that they actually will want to invest in, they’re going to watch the whole thing.”

The pandemic not only changed consumption habits – average screen time increased from just over 3 hours in 2019 to 6 hours and 59 minutes in 2020 – but what we consumed.  People watched 12.2 billion minutes of video last year (23,211 years’ worth of content!)  Netflix viewers averaged 3.2 hours of streaming per day.  155 million people listened to at least one podcast a week, 68 million listening to more than one. You could argue we were on that path though – binge-watching series didn’t just start last year.

For years, it’s been all about content marketing.  There was such a push to meet fans on every platform they were on, which has resulted in an abundance of content.  The term “content shock” was first coined in 2015.  But it also resulted in generic content that “could” appeal to wide audiences.

The creator economy is challenging brands to think about designing content for niche audiences.  Now the question is, are you developing a content marketing strategy or a community marketing strategy? 

Community marketing is about “engaging with customers while building trust and loyalty and reaching a wider audience.”

We discussed on a recent podcast with David Meerman Scott that inherently, we’re all wired to want to be part of a tribe.

That desire for community became even more evident over the last year.   

What has made Terrapin Club + successful is the relationships they are deepening with their tribe by  appealing to different groups in the Maryland fan base.  Not only were the five series designed with different audiences in mind, but the shows in the series evoke a connection with a range of long-time fans and donors who watched basketball games at Cole Field House to recent grads that might have been part of The Crew at Maryland Men’s Soccer games.  

As a result, fans are tuning in and watching the videos for an average of 6.5 minutes!  You don’t have to follow the social media guidelines of 1:00 videos and hooking people in the first 5 seconds.  The content just has to be meaningful to your audience.

The opportunities from storytelling

There will be a seismic shift once Name-Image-Likeness goes into effect and  July 1 is just around the corner.  The fear of the unknown has led to a widespread “wait-and-see” mentality.  Yes, schools have invested in new partnerships with INFLCR and Opendorse.  But, then what?

It goes back to the community marketing conversation.  People want to build connections and NIL could actually be a partnership between schools and student-athletes to build those communities.  Mike shared his unofficial thoughts to this relationship:

“We want our student athletes to be able to use the video content and the graphic content of the photography that we’re able to deliver to them to help boost their social numbers and grow their audience and really let people understand who they are, not just on the court or on the field, but as people….They can have a narrative of who they are and where they want to be already established and people and companies that want to partner with them know who they’re, who they’re going to be talking to, and the value that they’re going to be able to bring.”

Restrictions on time for official team activities can hold content teams back from asking student-athletes to participate in one more thing.  As we learned from Mike, the student-athletes wanted to tell their stories.  

There will be endorsers from NIL.  If you revisit our conversation with INFLCR’s Jim Cavale, they will be your performers.  However, the other 98% of student-athletes are producers and players.  How might you work together to share their interests in fashion, music, cooking, or growing up outside of the U.S. and produce ancillary content that can attract new fans to their brand and ultimately yours? 

From there, what can you offer them beyond tickets to a game?  Would they have an interest in one-of-a-kind shoes you design with your equipment provider?  Do you offer the right merchandise in your team store to match the latest spending trends? Could you find new artists to promote your brand around town or perform at your street festival or halftime show? 95 percent of fans will never attend a home game of their favorite team. Their lifetime value to your organization can still be impactful.

For more on our conversation with Mike Farrell, listen to the full episode here.

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Flip the Switch

How Maryland Created ‘Netflix for Terps’

This week’s guest is Mike Farrell, Assistant AD for Broadcasting and Video Production at University of Maryland.  As part of Maryland’s 75-year Terrapin Club “Reinvented” campaign, Mike and his team created Terrapin Club +.  Often referred to as “Netflix for Terps”, the subscription service is the first of its kind in college athletics and features five shows to create additional value for Terrapin Club members and share the stories of Maryland current and former student-athletes. 

We go in-depth on content strategies and deepening ties with your tribes in this episode.

6:30  Terrapin Club “Reinvented” and Terrapin Club +

8:17 Creating Membership Value Over Donor Programs

11:10 Biggest Production Surprises and Challenges

14:56 The Student-Athlete Perspective

16:30 Content Strategy and Distribution Strategy

25:06 Authenticity vs. Production Quality

28:08 Diving in on the Terrapin Club + Five Series

38:11 The NIL Impact

43:30 Measuring Success

47:46 Maryland’s Sources of Inspiration

50:24 Rapid Fire Questions

     Books Inspiring Mike

     A Life-Changing Perspective

     Mike’s Billboard

*SLIGHT CORRECTION* – Since the launch of Terrapin Club +, the Terrapin Club has seen a 100% year-over-year growth, rather than the 100% growth mentioned in the show.

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Check out  Terrapin Club+   |  YouTube


Follow Mike
Twitter  |  Instagram


Additional References
Errol Morris Documentaries

Michael’s Favorite Books
This is Not a T-Shirt by Bobby Hundreds
Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs
True Story by Ty Montague

Shout out to all those who produce and support Terrapin Club + 

Haley Timple, Jonah Haas, Tony Price, Jarred Belman, John Bartman, Josh Clayton, Alex Gross, Thomas Mason, Jason Yellin, Patrick Fischer, Taylor Smyth, Jordan Looby, Brian Ullmann, Carrie Blankenship, Kendall Butters, Jake Rose, Andy Wray, Alex Grant

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Today’s episode was sponsored by CheckdIn.  Know exactly who’s working in your venue.

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Flip the Switch

Syncing Data, Tech and Social Listening

Today’s guest is Jason Fox.  After 6 years in the NFL with the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins, Jason launched EarBuds in 2018.  What started as a platform to facilitate consumers and fans being able to listen to the same playlists as their favorite athletes in real-time has morphed into a new social listening experience through EarBuds’ partnerships with Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora and Spotify.

This episode covers everything from sports tech, data, exclusive fan experiences, entrepreneurship and digital social engagement.  


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Show Notes

5:26 The Genesis of EarBuds

7:23   Personalizing the Listening Experience in Real Time

9:07   Expanding Fandoms and Creating Community through Music

12:25 What’s Best for the End User? Uniting the Major Music Players 

16:27 Greatest Lessons in Launching EarBuds 

19:17 Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in Entrepreneurship

23:26 EarBuds’ Partnership with Fan Controlled Football

25:13 Digging Deep into Data and Unexpected Audiences 

35:47 What’s Next for EarBuds

39:08 Digital Engagement and Social Tokens

46:12 Jason’s Billboard

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Find out more about EarBuds Music
Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram 

Connect with Jason
Twitter  |  Instagram  |  LinkedIn

—–

Today’s episode was sponsored by CheckdIn.  Know exactly who’s working in your venue.

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Blog

What’s Your Story?

Brittany Hodak recently joined us on Flip the Switch to share her insights on cultivating super fans and experiences.  Combining personal stories of becoming a Wolverine fan with studying fans through her marketing and collectibles company ZinePak / The Superfan Company, Brittany crafted a SUPER strategy to foster relationships and build super fans that can be executed across a wide range of brands, including music, retail and sports.  

To find SUPER fans:  

S – Start with your story
U – Understand your customers
P – Personalize the experience
E – Exceed Expectations 
R – Repeat

Sounds simple enough, right?  

Repeat reminds us that your story is present tense and that it’s being rewritten every day.  

“Pretend that you don’t have the jerseys, you don’t have the brand, you don’t have the name. If people didn’t know which team was playing, what could you do to make them want to come back anyway?  What are the parts about your story that no other team in your league is going to be able to replicate that have nothing to do with legacy? What are those moments? What are those impactful things that you’re doing to ensure that all of your fans feel welcomed, appreciated, validated, engaged?”


Brittany Hodak

What your fans need to feel welcomed, appreciated, valued and engaged will change. Therefore, your story should change. Are you constantly evolving to meet the needs of your current customer or fan?

Within the last week, countless sports and entertainment organizations announced their venues will be at full capacity again. The photo galleries and hype videos accompanying the announcements reminded us all of the camaraderie that we have missed over the last 15 months.  

The announcement is just chapter one. What will be added to your story in the next few months? Next year? 

The words adaptive, nimble and agile became some of the most commonly used words in the industry last year. Through all the challenges and hardships, think about the positive takeaways. What did you learn from your fans through those virtual game day pivots and digital engagements? If you had fans in the past year, what experiments did you run that you will roll out stadium-wide? How will you leverage that insight to enhance the in-game experience at this year’s events? 

It starts with understanding your customers’ story and conducting regular, active listening.  In the last year, how many of us may have listened to customers’ needs, but were not able to meet them, because of capacity guidelines or other restrictions? Now you have the opportunity to act on input. Consider pulse surveys, focus groups, introducing (or re-introducing) fan councils, options that allow fans to provide feedback and impact real-time changes. 

“Super fans are created at the intersection of your story and every customer story.”

What will your next chapter say?

For more from Brittany, listen to the full conversation here.

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Flip the Switch

Cultivate SUPER Fans with Brittany Hodak

Joining the show this week is Brittany Hodak.  Recently named Chief Experience Officer at Experience.com, Brittany shares her frameworks that organizations can adopt to cultivate super fans and experiences.  Prior to joining Experience.com, Brittany co-founded a marketing and collectibles company ZinePak (later named The Superfan Company), which was featured on Shark Tank and earned one of the highest valuations in show history.   She exited in 2019 to focus full-time on speaking and consulting with organizations to harness the passion within fans.

David and Brittany set their rivalry aside to dive in to Brittany’s SUPER strategy and focusing on real-time data to perfect customer and employee experience.

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6:03    MGo(Baby)Blue – Coach Harbaugh Converts a Razorback

13:22  The ZinePak/Superfan Company Takeaways

19:02  The Future of Collectibles

22:32  Brittany’s SUPER strategy

26:39  What is special about your story?

28:10  Fostering Future Fans & Connecting to Kids

31:08  Tailoring Campaigns to Niche Audiences

33:47  Overcoming Apathetic Fans

42:53  Personalizing Customer and Employee Experiences with Experience.com

46:53  The Uber Way – Data in Real Time

Additional Resources

BrittanyHodak.com

Experience.com

Beach Boys’ 50th Anniversary Collectible Dolly Parton’s Pure & Simple Album 

Dolly’s Imagination Library

More from Brittany

The ABCs of Creating Superfans

The Superfans System

The Superfan W.A.V.E. eBook

Connect with Brittany

Brittany@experience.com

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

——

Today’s episode was sponsored by CheckdIn.  Know exactly who’s working in your venue.

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Blog

Meet Your Fans Where They Are

Insights from Flip the Switch Podcast:

We sat down this week with Rachel Jacobson, President of The Drone Racing League.  If you don’t know anything about The Drone Racing League (DRL), they’re a technology company first and a sports league second.

They are young enough to act like a startup (the league is 5 years old), but have the global footprint, sophisticated event operations, the broadcasting agreements and leadership like Rachel (who spent 21 years in the NBA) to make them competitive with the Big 5.

That startup mindset has allowed them to be agile.  As Rachel put it, they are “moving the market as fast as drones.” To reach an audience of fans interested in betting on drone racing, DRL pursued a relationship with DraftKings and had an agreement with its first state (Colorado) in 51 days.  51 DAYS!!  No paralysis by analysis in this organization.

But to partner with DraftKings required an understanding of who currently makes up the DRL fanbase and those in the wider funnel that they are trying to engage on a deeper level.  

This was my biggest takeaway from the conversation.  The Drone Racing League meets its audience where they are.

DRL appeals to multigenerational audiences – Rachel mentioned there being something for her 11-year-olds, she and her husband and her parents. Relationships with sports personalities like Chris Bosh bring your traditional sports fans in. Their fans are into sports betting and gaming.  However, it’s the tech-setters that DRL appeals to the most.  

So who are tech-setters?  They are Gen Zs and millennials who love new trends, new technology, esports.  They are content creators.  They immerse themselves in the experience, like Jay Christensen and Anthony Jaska, who went viral for their drone footage of a bowling alley in March

The ancillary programs that the DRL has built to capitalize on that audience are incredible, showing the opportunities available in STEM through DRL Academy and establishing a partnership with PlayStation to create a simulator that fans can train to be a professional drone pilot from their own couch.  

None of this would be possible if DRL didn’t make a significant investment in data analysis and researching who their fans currently are and who they want to reach. Rachel even pointed to that as the most worthwhile investment that DRL has made. 

“We’ve invested to learn more about our fans and we’re now a data and insights-driven organization.”

-Rachel Jacobson, President, The Drone Racing League

Does your organization truly know who makes up its fan base? Have you identified your current fan segments and aspirational target audiences (deeper than just age ranges and ticket-buying history)? What are the non-athletics-related activities they love?  What has changed for them in the course of the last year?

As the digital footprint expands, sports organizations are moving beyond just studying ticket purchasing data to analyzing concessions, parking and merchandise, social media engagement, app downloads and more.  It’s like that famous children’s book, “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie”. Well if you move beyond studying ticket purchasing data to looking at the whole picture, how might your organization then move beyond classifying your fans simply as “donors”, “season ticket holders” and “casual fans”?

If you move beyond classifying them in broad terms, could you better predict food and beverage trends at concession stands and find new merchandise lines that could offer more revenue opportunities?  And if you know these niche audiences, that probably opens the door for some new sponsorship opportunities. If you think like DRL, rather than trying to pull in the broad “18-34 year old demographic”, would you find that there are segments like the tech-setters in your fan base too?

One of the best ways to do that is through customer personas, one of our core competencies here at EngageMint.  Customer personas humanize your fanbase and help paint the picture of their needs and their desire to connect with your organization.  If this is something your organization has never attempted, our customer persona guide offers some of the attributes you should consider.  And reach out to us if we can help with this process!

As we begin to emerge from this pandemic and fans fill stadiums and tailgate lots again, your fans want to know that you will meet them where they are. 

And it starts with knowing who they are. 

For even more insights from the DRL, listen to our full conversation with Rachel

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Flip the Switch

High Speed, High Tech and High Growth with DRL President Rachel Jacobson

Rachel Jacobson is the President of the Drone Racing League.  After 21 years in the NBA, her last role being VP of Global Business Development, and a brief stint in the private sector, Rachel was named president of DRL just one year ago. 

DRL is a technology company first and the decisions they make from a business, employee and customer experience standpoint are all from a technology perspective, because of the outreach it enables with both traditional and non-traditional sports fans who have embraced their organization. 

We touch on everything from leadership and culture, to making decisions that serve the holistic customer and bringing new fans into their ecosystem.

Show Notes

6:34     Lessons from a 21-Year NBA Career

9:57     It’s All About YOUR People

12:44   Encouraging a Culture of High Performance 

14:58   Accountability and Transparency in Leadership

15:40   Hustle in Sports vs. Hustle in Entrepreneurship

20:36  What is the Drone Racing League?

25:14   Appealing to Younger Fans through STEM

28:35   Bringing Multigenerational Fans into the DRL Ecosystem

36:26   DRL’s Player-to-Pilot Training Program

40:42   Aligning Mentality and Markets in Corporate Partnerships

46:49   Rapid Fire Questions

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Additional Notes

Drone Racing League
DRL Academy
T-Mobile 5G Drone
Playstation Drone Racing Simulator 

Follow DRL:  Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok | YouTube | LinkedIn

Connect with Rachel:  LinkedIn | Twitter

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Blog

Lessons from Fanocracy: How to Turn Fans into Customers and Customers into Fans

Insights from our Flip The Switch podcast:

David Meerman Scott joined the podcast this week to talk about his studies in fandom, Fanocracy: Turning Fans Into Customers and Customers Into Fans.

His latest book, a collaboration with his daughter, Reiko, was a deep exploration of why we love the things that we love and the science behind the emotional connections we feel to those fandoms. For David, his love was the Grateful Dead. For Reiko, it was Harry Potter.  

Both fandoms are immersive experiences. Diehard Harry Potter fans read the several-hundred-page books over and over, finding new, hidden connections throughout the series each time, analyze how closely the movies capture the details, and create countless costumes, merchandise, and especially, fan theories.  

For some fandoms like Harry Potter, they emerge and grow on their own accord. The Grateful Dead actively encouraged fans to be a part of their growth strategy.  They were the original “social network” according to Scott. 

Grateful Dead fans were invited to record concerts – even provided power strips to do so – and share their tapes and experience with friends.  Merchandise created in moderate quantities could even be sold in the parking lots – if that was your only way to get in, so be it!  

So how might sports organizations foster a more immersive experience with fans? The “creator culture” is adding to fan avidity levels. We discussed this at length in our previous conversation with Zoe Scaman, who’s leading Mark Cuban Experiments. And we built on that conversation with David Meerman Scott.

In previous years, you would probably classify “diehard fans” as those with season tickets for 25 years or who show up every game with their lucky overalls, game day chains, and their faces painted. You may think of your diehard fans or customers as those who have phony coach Twitter accounts or fans who generate knockoff merchandise with fellow fans, or fans who create podcasts to discuss teams or create highlight reels for former players in the professional ranks.

Those types of fans reach audiences outside of those who follow your social accounts. Maybe you don’t give them free rein to create merchandise as the Grateful Dead did.  But could you bring in a few influencers to collaborate on new merchandise and use them as the models for the finished products?  Could you create video content that fans get to release?

Relinquishing some of the control of your brand may be daunting. But when you have the opportunity to reach a wider audience than those currently following your channels or subscribing to your emails, is the risk worth the reward?  

It was for the Grateful Dead. It brought in fans like Scott who have been to 75 shows and keep going back for more.

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Flip the Switch

Building Athlete Brands and Priming for NIL with Jim Cavale

This episode covers everything from leadership and building a company, to NIL legislation and empowering student-athletes.  Today’s guest is Jim Cavale, Founder and CEO of INFLCR.  With NIL legislation set to go into effect this summer, college athletic departments are facing so many unknowns. Jim and his team recently launched INFLCR Verified and INFLCR Plus, initiatives to help athletic departments and student-athletes proactively prepare for this change and provide them the tools to capitalize on their brand power and voice.

Jim Cavale Show Notes

4:20     Giving Athletes a Better Brand and Voice – Genesis of INFLCR

6:32     Leveraging Relationships and Forging Connections

10:37   Evolution of INFLCR and Partnership with Teamworks

21:31   Inception of INFLCR Verified

27:43   Building an Internal Creative Agency

30:44   From “Athlete Brand Building” to “Name Image Likeness”

33:10   Performers, Producers and Players

37:36   Combating Legislation Paralysis

40:31   Model of Leadership – SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey

43:50   Four Domains of Personal Balance

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Additional References
INFLCR | INFLCR Verified | INFLCR Plus
Wake Up Warrior

Connect with Jim
Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  LinkedIn

——

Today’s episode was sponsored by CheckdIn.  Know exactly who’s working in your venue.

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Flip the Switch

How to Turn Fans Into Customers with David Meerman Scott

Today’s episode is all about turning fans into customers and customers into fans.  David sits down with internationally-known author, advisor, educator and speaker David Meerman Scott.  Scott co-wrote his latest book, Fanocracy: Turning Fans Into Customers and Customers into Fans, with his daughter Reiko Scott.  Fanocracy unearths the science behind building emotional connections in your tribe and marketing lessons learned from fandoms outside of sports, including the Grateful Dead.  The show takes a deep dive on applying those lessons to cultivating stronger experiences and relationships with your fanbase.

Show Notes

3:16      Defining Fandom

6:15      A Family Affair – co-authoring “Fanocracy: Turning Customers into Fans and Fans into Customers” with Reiko Scott

9:47      The Individualization of Fandom

13:56    Combatting the Polarization of Social Media

15:23    What Else is There? Building Fandoms Outside of Social Media

21:45    Implementation of Fan Engagement in “Social Spaces”

24:25    Lessons from K-Pop and Growing Rabid Fans

26:41    The Power of K-Pop Fan Bases

29:36    Making Fans Feel Like Insiders

31:40    The Original Social Network

37:04    The Mentality and Psyche of MLS Support Groups

39:29    Utilizing Fandom to Create Emotional Connections

43:25    Rapid Fire Questions

  • Bad Advice
  • Sharing success stories
  • David’s billboard: “Educate and inform, instead of interrupt and sell.”

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Additional Resources

Fanocracy.com |  Fanocracy: Turning Fans Into Customers and Customers Into Fans

DavidMeermanScott.com

Other Books by David Meerman Scott

The New Rules of Marketing and PR

Standout Virtual Events

The New Rules of Sales and Service

Marketing the Moon

Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead

Real-Time Marketing and PR
Eyeball Wars

World Wide Rave

Connect with David and Reiko on Twitter

——

Today’s episode was sponsored by CheckdIn.  Know exactly who’s working in your venue.

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