Mastermind: An Interview with Dave Merrell – Part III

David Merrell founded AOO Events in 1989. As one  the nation’s most respected and sought-after award-winning design and production firms, AOO provides innovative event design, cutting-edge stage and logistics production. The company designs and produces movie premieres, corporate events, private parties and various milestone celebrations throughout the nation and internationally. As a former ISES LA President, Merrell continues his involvement as an industry adviser, expert and advocate. His leadership, achievement and dedication make him a true Mastermind. Continue reading for the details on Merrell’s journey to become an award-winning event designer and producer.

An Interview with David Merrell (Part III)
Founder, AOO Events

By Paula Estes

Q: Are the educational seminars something you do for exposure?

A: Two things that are really my intention was to give back to the industry and because I am kind of a natural teacher

David Merrell

anyhow. I thrive here at AOO because these guys learn from me and I’m constantly teaching and paying it forward if you will. But the end result was that I realized was that this was helping my reputation.

It’s formally been put into the marketing plan. We have three brands in our company. There is AOO events, Design Dawgs which is a blog that has its own personality and is really taking off actually kind of separate from AOO events and there is David Merrell which a lot of people follow me personally. There are three different brands…the strategy of the David Merrell brand is to keep speaking and eventually put out a book of some kind about design. I’m still looking for my angle for that book but there will be a book, that’s part of the plan. With the blog and everything else it’s like the three brands are feeding each other and we’ll see what the future brings.

Q: What type of marketing and public relations do you do recommend to build a client base?

A: Well it depends on the industry you are in. If you are in social you have to do the weddings and be there and you are only as good as the last wedding because you are going to get 4 or 5 new leads from every one you do. And you have to do every bar and bat mitzvah whether you like it or not because someone is going to be there who is going to have money and you gain a  reputation in the industry as you continue to perpetuate that with social communities.

That one way of marketing is completely different from corporate marketing. The corporate philosophy and the way I present myself, has more to do with understanding the corporate philosophy and mindset. Branding, as well as the reason behind each event has its own subtleties and nuances. It’s always different.

Q: Well I mean you specifically… so you have those two target markets…

A: No, I was speaking more in general terms. We really haven’t been selling social until recently. Nick in my company has a passion and actually wants to start a social division. It’s a whole different marketing scheme. I actually don’t mind creating separate marketing pieces, creating a separate genre….

Q: What does Nick do?

A: Nick is a producer. He has aspirations to do more social but it’s a whole marketing thing that we have to address. That probably didn’t answer your question.

What do we do to perpetuate our own brand, yes, speaking is extremely important, we don’t advertise anymore because any client that we want is not going to be someone looking through the yellow pages or an ad in a magazine. They are going to hear of us through our reputation and so any marketing we do at this point is targeted. We go after them, the people that we know who fit a certain profile of a client that will definitely benefit from our service and that are typically a corporate event planner. The website has to be top-notch. The website is a place where clients can go and check out your vibe and if it’s cool enough and meets their criteria, then it moves forward. The blog is also important to us. It’s allowing us to reach out, not only our targeted corporate planners, but also a different group maybe outside the industry norm. This is why we have been really careful to position our blog. Yes there are a lot of entries in there and yes, pretty much every event I do goes in there with some sort of how to, as to how I did it. But I’m trying not to make it about “this is what we did here”  I’m trying to make it about this is how you do it, and this is an idea you can use, or this is what I like right now, or this is what’s in season. And now I have at least two guest bloggers a month because I want it to be an industry conversation. We didn’t even know how this was going to really affect us. In fact in the beginning we went into it blindly; now we have a much clearer picture. It has taken on its own personality. There are people who may not know AOO Events or David Merrell but know Design Dawgs, so it allows Design Dawgs to actually create a separate brand and do something that would allow us to go to another avenue, that’s kind of why it’s there. Actually, we don’t know Design Dawgs’ complete purpose yet, but we are working on it.

Visit the ISES LA Blog Tomorrow for Part IV of Mastermind: An Interview with David Merrell.


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