[00:00:00] Hello, fitness business nerds. What’s up? Welcome to another episode of the Business Unicorns podcast. Today I’m here with a friend, unicorn Sighting member fitness business badass Mike Braas from Stoked Athletics. Welcome my friend. Hey, what’s going on? Welcome back. I should say you’ve been on the podcast before.
I think you’re back on. We just looked it up episode 1 91 where we talked about you really incorporating more planning in your business. Dear listeners, if you want more Mike from after this podcast, go back to episode 1 91 and hear more of his genius from that episode. But welcome back. How are you doing, my friend?
I’m doing all right. We’re all moved into a new home, so you could see behind me they can’t, but you can. Lots of boxes, lots of unpacking, hoping my internet connection is nice for this. So we’ll see how it goes. You’re doing it. You’re living life. You’re living life.
For people who have not heard your previous episode, can you just give a little a little high level overview of what Stoked Athletics, where are you, what kind of people do you serve? Yeah, for sure. Stoked Athletics is a small group personal training [00:01:00] facility on Long Island. We’re in West Babylon.
For anybody who knows Long Island, it’s like South Shore. Typically we serve, the key demographic is adults 35 and up. Mainly I would say what we call active adults. So people who still are very active on the weekends surfing, rock climbing, recreational sports. Things like that as well as a weird niche we fell into, which is pro wrestling too.
So we got a good amount of those guys. But I would say the active adult is our main demographic for sure. That’s amazing. How’d you fall into the pro wrestling community? That seems like a book waiting to happen. Yeah, I’ll make it into a quick one. I grew up in that realm cause my dad was a part of a local school, but I vowed never to work with them.
And then I was a powerlifter. I met a guy powerlifting, he happened to be a pro wrestler for. The competitor of my dad’s company. And then I just started helping him with pro wrestling things and he started just like a, bringing more people to me. And now I work really closely with the company that was my dad’s competitor.
And now we work with a lot of the TV company as, as well, like a e w and w E. Wow, that’s super fun. Yeah. What a [00:02:00] fun niche to work in. Those dudes are su such amazing athletes and women, of course. Those people are such amazing athletes and like great performers, like what a, yeah.
Great personalities. Like what a treat people don’t realize how much theater it is. Oh my gosh. It’s mostly theater. Yeah. Physical theater. Yeah. Yeah, that’s great. I, we’ll have to have a separate podcast about that cause I have a million questions. But what I invited you here today to talk about was, during one of our calls you had mentioned that you were throwing a lot of events recently as a lead generation tool.
And it’s something I think, more people on this podcast should be considering. And you had said that you had one event recently where you generated about 250 leads in a single event, which I thought was just a mind blowing thing for people to hear and understand. And I know you’ve done other events in the last month or two.
I think you’ve gotten something like 400 leads from events. Over the last, few months, which is incredible. I think the most seminars listening to this podcast would love 400 leads in a year. And the fact that you’ve been doing this with in-person live community driven events is amazing.
So I wanna just get you on the podcast to pick your brain and [00:03:00] have people hear what your process has been to create such amazing events. So thank you for agreeing to jump on and sharing your experience. First things first is, what led you to this strategy? What led you to the idea of doing in-person events?
I’ll start by saying that I think it’s always been naturally my knack to be the party guy. Like in high school, like I was the one in my friend group organizing the parties. When I got into college, I was the social chair of my fraternity. So I do feel like I’ve always had just the want to get groups of people together and just hang out.
So once I really started, with Stoked Athletics, I think that was one of my biggest movers in terms of getting leads in the door was just I know how to throw events together. I know how to make people have good time. If I could just get in front of them. I could convince them to get into the gym and see how that goes too.
Yeah. Amazing. Yeah. So you had a little bit of a inclination to this is something you’ve done before. You’re not afraid of jumping in and wrangling a bunch of people in a space. That’s amazing. Yeah. So why the strategy for your gym? I think looking at our gym, I always looked at your guys’ and always felt like the idea of a clubhouse that [00:04:00] happens to be the place where people train needs to be the main driver of the business because you want to be that, what do they call the third home? It’s like home, work and then your gym. So I figured if I could just get in front of people and get them together and show them that our culture is a place that’s welcoming and that they’ll have a good time at, and then.
Serves a purpose, which they probably want anyway, which is creating a healthier and more fit life. It would only serve us well, so early on. That was always my motivator to get people together for events. Yeah, I love the way you’re talking about that. Certainly it speaks to our approach at Mark Fisher Fit as, as well.
Thinking about our Ninja Clubhouse as being a community center, that third place where people are going after work. For fun to hang out where their friends are, that happens to be where they work out as well. So I love that approach. I think, it served us well and I can see that serving you well.
Yeah. Yeah. And so just walk me through like the first few decision points you had to make about this event. We’re gonna talk about what was the kind of on ramped even saying, we’re gonna do this event. [00:05:00] So I would ta I would start with the predecessor to this event, which was an event that I had called Brogue Barn, which if you follow me on social media.
The name is the Stoked Brogue. And I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Long Island Institution of Boardy Barn. So it started with having a party. We threw this party one time. It was like, a hundred people. It was $75 a person. All you could eat tacos, all you could drink alcohol, DJ blasting, all the old tunes going crazy.
And that was just like for fun to test the waters and see if we could throw some sick event. And then what happened was my father-in-law, he’s been in remission with leukemia and he’s always doing this fundraising. So I was like, let’s get a, an event together to help fundraise for that.
But we can also make it a fun, lively event and do it through the gym. So it really started with that and culminated into what we call, and this is a long title, inspired by the Office, but it’s the Stoked Athletics 5k. Very fun run Blood Cancer Awareness, ProAm for people who hate running, but love beer for the fight.
Wow. And that’s the full title of the event, which already off the bat, gives people the idea that this [00:06:00] is A fun joke event, but at the same time, we raise a lot of money for the l ls and we have a good time doing it. That’s amazing. How did you even fit the title on a t-shirt? That’s like a full front of a t-shirt.
That is all it says is I survived the, and then the title. That’s amazing. So it really was born out of this. This a sense of connecting with other local businesses that are well known to throw a big party and get your community together. Also tied with this sense of we could also do something for charity.
We could also raise some great money, get people together for a cause and have a good time. Yeah. Great. So then walk me through, how did that turn into this event? You end up throwing. Yeah. From an event planning standpoint, we knew that we wanted to go bigger, so we actually hired out for an event planning company.
Great. Who, luckily I knew some people actually from the taco place that I threw the first event from Uhhuh. One of the managers there has his own event planning company, and he works with the l s. So it really was like it came together there. And we knew that we had to, we wanted this to be a legitimate event where a lot of people are coming by and they’re actually like having fun and there’s a [00:07:00] lot of things to do.
So we had to start looking at businesses to get involved, not just from a sponsor standpoint, because these events do cost a lot of money to run and we wanna at least break even. But also from what value are you providing at the event to, to have people walk in and actually have a good time. So starting off, I think you’re familiar with the idea of the Dream 100, which I believe we talked about last time too.
Yep. Which is just. The a hundred businesses in our area that serves our demographic of clients that can be of service to us as well. So going through that list, finding the people who are interested in coming into the event, seeing what level of sponsorship they want, and then just starting to plan out the event and see where they fit in.
Yeah. I think those are, you’re already, those are two amazing tips for our listeners. One is sometimes you need someone to run this event. Sometimes you need to actually raise the money or find the money to get someone to be in charge of this, cuz a big event that has hundreds of people takes a lot of coordination.
So I think that’s a really great tip. And yet it doesn’t mean people have to start that big, but once you decide to get that big, you might need someone who pays some attention to it. And then I love [00:08:00] the second idea, which is if you don’t know your kind of Dream 100, or even if you’re Dream 50 the 50 businesses in your community that serve your avatar, you gotta know who they are, if not for throwing events, for other kinds of partnership opportunities and for just marketing in general.
Yeah that’s really awesome. And so you start to find people who are interested in participating through sponsorship. Can you walk through what the sponsorship levels were? Yeah. So we have a ton and, excuse me, but I gotta pull up. Our deck. Cause there’s a good amount of it here, but the first ones is I wanted to make sure that even my friends who wanted to participate could easily sponsor if they wanted to.
So we had some lower level ones called I think it’s just the homie and the two rad. So for those, it was like $250 to $500, things like that. Great. Other ones that we had too were registration sponsorships. So a lot of the sponsorships started at a thousand to $2,000. And that seems like really hard to, of an ask, but when you’re actually like approaching other businesses, and I used to think this for myself.
If somebody was asking me for a thousand dollars and they were throwing a [00:09:00] sick event and I could be in front of. 200, 300, 400 people, I would say Yes. Almost hundred percent the time. Yeah, so 100% we’ve wasted way more on digital ads than, oh, yeah. So it really came down to making the connection.
Yeah. So a lot of these sponsorships, it was like you could re sponsor the registration table. So G M C, the local GMC dealer sponsored that, and they were able to if they wanted to bring a truck, they could bring a truck there and have that at the front. Wristband sponsor. So your name would be on the wristband.
The big one is games. So those like carnival games, like striking the thing, the bell rings. Yep. We have one of those, a ton of games like that. Water sponsor, the photo booth sponsor like any little. We call ’em any, anything at the event, you can sponsor it and that’s where your booth is.
And then you’re set up next to it. And we help try to drive you people there so you can collect leads and you really have to sell this to the companies. Show them how it values up. How it helps them create value as well. I think they, that’s, it’s so smart, Mike, because if you put together a list of people who share your avatar, they’re just as interested as [00:10:00] you are at generating leads from this event.
So they will pay to be there because they wanna be in front of all the people that you’re inviting. Yeah. And a couple thousand bucks. Is nothing to be in front of couple hundred really qualified local leads for the day. But I’m guessing that a lot of these companies you reached out to, this was not your first touchpoint with them.
You’ve probably, at least for some of them, been developing this relationship over time, and I think that’s important for our listeners to hear is that you might not out the gate be able to get. A dozen people to give you a thousand dollars for a sponsorship. This might be relationships you need to cultivate over time, but when you can, it turns into what Mike is gonna be describing in a minute, which is a pretty big event that has huge huge impact on lead generation and just good in the world.
Yeah. Got it. So you’ve got a bunch of sponsorship options. You’re reaching out to a bunch of local businesses. What’s the next series of kind of decisions you had to make? I guess was location. And for that we wanted to find a brewery. So the whole idea of the 5K is that it’s one lap around a brewery that’s [00:11:00] made to seem like a marathon, and then we just party for three hours.
Yep. So again, thankfully I had a good relationship with one of the breweries around because we’ve done events at their place already, so they were able to knock away the the cost of doing the event there as a donation right off the bat, which was super helpful. Yeah. We wanted to include things with the ticket price.
So one free beer, or I think we did two free beers with your tickets. So we c created a price that we agreed upon with the brewery that, $5 per beer. We’re gonna hand out tickets. However many tickets at the end are redeemed. We’ll pay them that bill. Sure. And I would say just really hitting the ground running with both marketing the event and getting the word out to the sponsors who are starting at this point to agree on how we’re actually going to be promoting it and what we’re asking of them to promote it as well.
Because so much of the traffic is driven from the sponsors not just us. Yeah that’s the power of this collective event, right? This collaboration means that the word about this event is going on to every single person who’s participating. And when you’re working with other businesses, they also have lists of hundreds or [00:12:00] thousands or tens of thousands of people on their email, on their social media.
This is how you amplify, your voice as a small gym is by partnering with other small, midsize, large voices, right? And then suddenly you’re a big, loud community event that everyone in town knows about. So good for you. I think it’s such a great way to leverage those relationships. Can you talk just a little bit about the participation or of regular people, so not sponsors.
How did regular people participate? Yeah, so that was mainly just buying tickets. I think we did $60 for a ticket. You got two free beers, the swag bag, that certain level of sponsorships were able to throw in some stuff for and I guess it was really just participation. We also.
Allowed some influencers as well to participate. And by promoting the event, they got, a few tickets and then if they got X amount of tickets sold under their code, they were able to throw things into the bag as well. So it wasn’t just company sponsoring, but also influencers as well in the area.
Yeah. And then people really just came out and everybody loves the idea of this event, so people love sharing about it, posting [00:13:00] pictures of it and that always gets the word out as well. Yeah. What did you require your sponsors to do? What asks did you make of them when it comes to spon to come, when it comes to promoting the event?
Yeah, so a lot of it was, social media posting and if they had an email list, we asked them that they posted there as well. So what we did for social media was I wanted to take all the work away from them. I didn’t want this to be a headache for them. Sure. So we just said, Hey, we’re gonna write out the posts, we’re gonna post them and we’re gonna collaborate post with you on Instagram about it.
So it goes right onto their page. Great. And then it’s just, Hey, anytime we’re tagging you in something, please just post it on your story. And I had my social media manager checking in on people, being like, Hey, we posted this today. Please. When you get a second, put it on your story.
Yeah, I love that. I think that’s an important mantra, Mike to. When people tackle a project like this is if you want to have sponsors who really collaborate with you, you gotta make it easy for them. Just like you. Yeah. They have a million other things going on, and while they’re paying to participate, they don’t necessarily have the capacity that you do to produce the event.
So you, they might need some nudges, they [00:14:00] might need some pre-made posts and social media things or emails. You meant to make some of that content for them to make it easy for them to participate. But I think that’s huge. So at the end of the day, walk me through how many people and sponsors did you have?
Participating in this event. Actual sponsors, I would say off the top of my head, maybe like 12. And then people, I think we sold just under two 50, so it was like in the two 40 s in terms of ticket sales. That’s amazing. Which, yeah, I’m not, I honestly, I wanted more obviously, but of course I was, it was still more than last year’s, so I was very happy with it.
And there’s a lot of room for growth, which I’m excited about. Yeah, totally. I think when we spoke about this before, you said a lot of those two 50 were people who had not been on your list before. Had not been, yeah. Had, were, not current GEM members. Majority of people were brand new leads coming into your world.
And so then when, what do you do with those leads? So once you capture all that information from ticket sales, how do you follow up with those folks? I know you’re still in the process of doing that now. Yep. So a lot of it is one, I forgot who told me this[00:15:00] I think her name is Marie Merritt.
Is that right? Yeah. Yep. Yeah. So she I was on one of our calls I was asking like, Hey, how would you guys follow up with people from this event? Because I didn’t get a lot of transfer over from last year’s event to clients. And one was, don’t sell at the event, just have a good time.
And I was like, damn, that’s hard for me cuz I just wanna, I’m always thinking about sell, sell. Yep. And then in the follow up it was, ask them if you could hop on a call with them about the event just to see like what they thought of it. And then while on the call as a thank you all for them.
X for whatever your normal trial is. I’ve just been doing half off our trial for anybody who came to the event. I appreciate it. You could come try us out for half off, see if you like it. I love that. I love that. It’s so smart because you’re really doing two important things, right? It is important to get feedback about the event, see how people saw it, especially brand new people that don’t know you or your brand.
See what their impression was is really smart to do. And then if you can offer a thank you that’s a come into the gym half off I think that’s a really smooth way to get in that also. Gets you great feedback. So next year’s event [00:16:00] could be even better. Good for you. And thanks. Thanks Marie. Shout out Marie.
So maybe can you walk people through just high level, like just the finances? Cause at these kind of events, I think we have to be willing to lose a little money. I hopefully we break even and don’t have to, but we’re spending time and energy and money to generate, in your case, the 250 leads. So it should be expensive, right?
I mean it should take a lot of our time, energy, and some money. But if we can come out of it with breaking even. Then, you’re a real fucking wizard. So can you just walk through a high level how that all panned out for you? Yeah. So if you would’ve showed me these numbers like three years ago, I’d say absolutely not doing this right.
Cause it’s so scary. Yeah. But when we looked at the actual numbers total event cost was $20,042. The majority of that is the event planning company. But I cannot run this without them. It is, they take everything off my plate. When I have a sponsor that I want in, I just send them the email, I make the connection, and they take it from there and get them invoiced and everything.
Amazing day of, they’re [00:17:00] running around doing everything, registering people. So most of the money, almost half of that was the event fee. Just over half of that. The donation to the ls, the The, buying the things for the event, the t-shirts, the water bottles, the this, the, that, whatever. Yeah.
All about 20,000. And then in terms of total profits, we came. To $18,000. And the total pocket out-of-pocket cost for us was about 1900. Wow. That’s so only $1,900 to have these new leads, these people in the gym. If I signed up one person from this event, Yep. It’s already more than paid for it.
Yes. Yeah. That’s amazing. That’s amazing to have such a huge impact on your community, to raise such money for charity to make so many great social connections with local businesses and generate 250 leads for $1,900. Like I’ll do that all day. Yeah I’ll do that all day long. Give me, gimme that formula all day long.
We should have an event every week. Yeah. That’s huge. It’s a great way to scale and obviously you [00:18:00] can’t do this kind of event that often, so I’m being cheeky. But the fact that has been such a great strategy for you is fantastic. I know you’ve done more than this event too.
There’s been others that you’ve been doing that has also generating more leads. Yeah. Any other lessons from those that are different than this kind of event? Yeah. So I would say there’s two other kind of ways we do this. Number one would be just joint ventures in general. So you mentioned before, this is not my first time talking to a lot of these sponsors.
These are deep connections I’ve had over the years. Yep. Doing the Instagram giveaways and easy one where I’ll buy the a hundred dollars gift card to Swell Taco and do a giveaway with them on Instagram where they have 20,000 followers. And when we do that simple Hey, follow both accounts, tag your friends, yada, yada.
We get two, 300 followers in a month just from that. Yeah. Other things that we’ll do is, we’ll sponsor events for other companies. We’ll do those giveaways. And one thing that we’re doing now is creating like a lot of resources and we’re trying to include other businesses in the Dream 100 on the resources that we’re given out so that when we promote it on Instagram, We’re tagging [00:19:00] them, they’re sharing it, their followers come to us and then download our free resource.
Yeah. The other big thing is our zero cost community activities, like our run club, which in the last two months has given us, I, I just checked today, we have 80 people on that, that are not members. Wow. So On that list alone, it’s, adding people left and right and then, maybe 20 of them come out each week, join the runs over time they’re gonna trickle into the gym as well.
Yeah, I think that, listeners, you can go back in this podcast and re-listen to everything Mike just said, cuz that was a lot of great information. The fact that you have some free events, people can do like a run club or a book club and people can trickle into those and they provide a source of leads.
Those partnerships you do with. With a business on a regular basis where you just buy something from that business and do a giveaway to you get more more people following you on social media. What you’re doing here, the image I have in my head is you’re just creating this big net. To catch people in your community, you’re just creating this big social network of all these connections with other businesses where it’s gonna be really hard for someone to live within a five, 10 mile radius of stoked, [00:20:00] and not have heard about it. Yeah. Because you have all of these, this web of connections throughout your whole community that makes it almost impossible for people to slip through and Right.
And that’s just a. Perfect example of what kind of thing grassroots, local marketing should look like for a gym. So you’re doing heroic work here, my friends. Any other kind of pitfalls you’ve experienced, you think our listeners should be aware of when it comes to producing collaborations and partnerships like this?
Yeah, I would say choose wisely in who you’re working with. Number one I think before. I was with bfu especially, like I didn’t understand what a good sound, strong foundational business look like. Now when I’m talking to owners and stuff, I’m like listening in on not their numbers necessarily, what systems do they have in place?
Are they collecting leads, are they doing the work that I’m doing? Cuz I know that they’re gonna be in it for the long haul on this relationship. Will, bear fruit year after year? I always try to make sure that the business that I’m choosing to work with is a sound business that aligns with not just our our demographic, but with our like values as well.
Yeah, said. My friends, I think that’s a great message to [00:21:00] end on, is find partners who are in it and as focused as you are, they got their shit together. They’re gonna try to make the most out of every partnership, every collaboration, every event. Those the folks who are gonna be coming back year after year to year, 5k.
They’re gonna, they’re gonna be in it just like you. Beautifully said. Alright, my friend. Thanks for doing this. I’m sure I can ask you a million more questions here. Listeners, if you have any more questions you want me to ask Mike, I’ll have them back on the podcast. Just email me, Michael Lopez unicorns.com and let me know.
But if you found this podcast valuable, please leave us a five star review everywhere you listen. That’s how we find more badass business owners like all of you. Thanks again for the great conversation, Mike. Of course. Thanks for having me on. See you on the next one later.