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July 16, 2020

Episode 038 - Evan Brandoff, CEO of LeagueSide

Episode 038 - Evan Brandoff, CEO of LeagueSide

Today's guest is Evan Brandoff, CEO of LeagueSide.

LeagueSide helps connect brands with communities through the power of youth sports sponsorships. For youth sports around the country, grants and sponsorships are the lifeblood of their sustainability and vital to helping the youth of our communities, especially the most socio-economically challenged.

For teams wondering how to get sponsored by the amazing brands that LeagueSide works with, visit: https://leagueside.com/

And for brands looking to leverage the power of youth sports sponsorships, I'd connect directly with Evan on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/evan-brandoff-b9954836/

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Welcome to out-of-home insider today's guest is Evan brand off evidence, the CEO of league side, an out-of-home platform that connects brands with youth sports and combines technology with grassroots to create powerful campaigns that create local affinity with national advertisers. A sports fan himself, EVIT approaches out of home advertising with social purpose at the forefront and understands the importance of advertisers for programs beyond just results to the bottom line.

League side is not a newcomer to the out-of-home space though. They've been at it since 2014 and are poised for record growth in the push for scalability of hyper-local advertising strategies. Evan, thanks for being here today. Thanks for having a tin. That was, uh, quite the intro. I was feeling amped just as here.

I feel like every, everyone deserves a great intro at least once in their life. And we try to do it here on the show. So I'm glad, glad that, uh, that I got it all in there. But tell me about how you came to start league side. Right? It's kind of, it's kind of a cool concept. I don't think many people know about.

Yeah, I appreciate that. And uh, last week Zubin, my co-founder and I. Celebrated our five-year anniversary of getting paid by league side. Hey, getting paid is not a bad thing. Uh, and yeah, to, to, to, uh, the point of your intro back in 2014, uh, I was living in Detroit as part of a fellowship program called venture for America.

So I was working for a tech company in Detroit, uh, Zubin. My co-founder was part of venture for America, living in new Orleans. We both loved volunteering at youth sporting event. One week. And in particular, I was volunteering at a basketball tournament in Detroit. These kids were like 12 years old and dunking, Rasheed Wallace was there watching his son clay.

Uh, more importantly, I looked around the auditorium and I realized there's no better way to engage with families in the community. And when they're together, watching their kids play sports. And the flip side of the coin, this tournament that we were at wouldn't have been able to operate. If it wasn't for the local businesses, local pizzeria at the local dentist, sponsoring this organization.

So talk back to my youth sports playing days. I'm from long island. Mike's pizza was the sponsor of my baseball team, my soccer team by Mike's the man, my favorite sports memories were going to my feeds to after the game. So thought, you know, how can we solve the fragmentation of youth sports and build a network of thousands of community sports leagues and connect them with regional national sponsors.

So Nash five and a half years, we've now we've built a network of 10,000 community sports leagues where they could seamlessly upload their sponsorship availability, and now companies, including Comcast, uh, Panda express McDonald's 35 different hospitals leverage our platform in order to achieve both their community marketing and community impact goals through youth sports, sponsorships that are targeted, measurable.

I love it. I think that the idea is great being, you know, the father of a, of a boy who plays youth sports year round, I coach and leagues myself. I know how important the advertisers are to the leagues and the equipment that's available, how well the fields are taken care of the different types of communication platforms for parents and coaches.

All of that money really, really matters. And as we start to see America opening back up, youth sports are coming back. Talk to me about the unique opportunity that exists. Right? We see professional sports coming back, but we know that there's not going to be fans in the stands. What do youth sports offer right now for advertisers that maybe has never existed before?

Yeah, it's interesting. You say that, uh, youth sports are back in action. Uh, originally I'll fit. These states are, are operating. Uh, a lot of spring sports leagues are running during the summer. Uh, this kids are home this camp, uh, unfortunately it was canceled. Uh, and what's interesting to your point, Tim is that pro sports are on hold or have no fans.

There's, there's no collegiate sports right now. Uh, and we don't know what the false season will look like. Marathons are on hold pretty much. Every other mass gathering over a hundred people at most states are not allowed to go on. So what we're seeing is we're working with a lot of companies that have historically sponsor different properties and they're shifting their budget to league sides, sponsoring youth sports organizations, uh, for two reasons, one, it's the only way to reach people out of the home.

Right. Uh, and to the value of getting kids back onto the fields, playing sports is not only great, uh, physically, but it's great mentally. Uh, and there's so much data that suggest how kids who play sports are more likely to do well in school. They're more likely to stay out of trouble. They're more likely to perform better in their careers.

So this isn't just a way to connect with your target audience. If you're a brand. Uh, in a meaningful way, it's also a great way to make positive impacts on communities that you serve, uh, which has been a unique opportunity because of the presence of youth sports currently and all other mass gatherings, uh, not able to, to go on.

No, I think it's gray, right? I played sports growing up, you know, of course you did as well. And. What was your main sport? My main sport was, and if you saw me, you'd probably be surprised as I'm a big guy, right? I'm six foot. I'm big. And I, I played soccer. I played soccer. My mom thought I'd get hurt playing football.

Um, she, she, she just didn't realize that I was bigger than the rest of the kids, but, uh, yeah, I was a goalie in soccer. How about you? Oh, nice. So, uh, the sports that I maintained through high school, I was a two sport, varsity athlete, tennis and bowling. I was younger. I played every sport. Baseball was probably my best.

Uh, but my best friend was also a lefty and a pitcher and he was a little bit better than me. So I got, I got the same exact story. My best friend was about the same size. He was a little bit taller than me. And he was a goalie too. And he was a little bit better than me. So he always played school. He was, you know, varsity, I played club soccer.

Cause I knew I was never going to start over the guy. So it looks like we have some pretty talented friends, but. We're here now. So we're the real winners, right? So we all ended up in, out of home, all of us, second string guys, we ended up at, out of home. Uh, so I love, I love the social impact and it's something that a lot of brands are focusing on.

Right. But there's still, we still got to sell stuff. We still got to put dollars on the books and what I love about league side and in the way that you guys are able to position. It's kinda like putting the Oreos on the bottom shelf. Right. We know that the kids are going to pick them up and say, mommy, daddy, can, can I get the Oreos?

I'm guessing if there's, if Chick-fil-A is on the back of my Jersey, I could imagine that my son's probably going to be asking me to take him to Chick-fil-A a little bit more frequently. Do you see real world results coming from campaigns with Lakeside? Yeah. And, uh, you know, something that has been a main focus for league side is taking something, youth sports sponsorships, which historically has been thought of as Goodwill for the community and proving that it is Goodwill for the community, but more importantly for your business, it's an effective marketing channel.

So what we do, all of our campaigns were measuring the impact of the sponsored. I serving parents all throughout the campaign to measure increases in awareness consideration, likeliness to choose. There's often a call to action component of a campaign with some sort of coupon redemption. Uh, and additionally, we're able to do really good market research for companies because they're tapping into different community sports leagues.

So we're able to ask different questions, doing market research about, you know, for. Uh, Panda express, where are people more likely to, to get their orange chicken versus their bourbon chicken? Uh, and by understanding that data of the families they serve, they're able to advertise more effectively and other channels, uh, and ultimately drive more sales to Panda express while simultaneously helping kids play sports and doing amazing things for the community.

That's really valuable to be able to, to get that. Ground level, real time market research from people that are exposed to the brand and the community level. Right. We talk about DMS or CBS, but you're talking about actually getting into the fibers of a community data. Stand that correctly. You're able to do that.

Exactly. So, uh, where, if you're a restaurant brand with a lot of different locations or doing a bunch of you get different car dealerships, where we can make sure that we're matching you with leads have been just a couple of miles, uh, of, of your stores, of, of your different locations, uh, and tracking the results on a region by region basis.

Uh, to, to help you optimize, uh, you know, all of your advertising, uh, and, and your store operations in those different regions. I can imagine that that's, uh, having been on the buy side as well. That's really valuable feedback. So I think that's interesting that you're able to do that. And. Advertisers make better decisions with the rest of their marketing mix through again, doing something that's effective and also provides a social good for the community.

Talk to me more about, you've got some really, really insightful data points about the impact on communities that have youth sports. Talk to me about why you sports are just so important in general. And it's interesting that you it's, it's a hot topic right now. Uh, fortunately is how can big companies make positive impacts on underserved, predominantly African-American communities?

Uh, and there have been, I think it's a few billion dollars that's committed to. Underserved communities over the course of the next decade, but not all companies have a plan as to how they're going to allocate those funds. And we have so much data to suggest that kids that play sports more likely to stay at a time.

They have, I think it's 75% more chance of, of, uh, going to college, a crazy stat, 10 95% of fortune 500 CEOs or former athletes, youth sport athletes. Wow. Uh, so, so there's, and you know, kids that play sports are less likely to be obese, more likely to be socially inept. So there's so much data that suggests that kids that play sports, it's just good for you in so many different ways.

Uh, and we could use sports as a mechanism to bridge communities together, uh, and, you know, bring people from different socioeconomic backgrounds together as well, uh, in order to make a community and societal impact in the. Think that's pretty powerful. If nothing else that stresses the importance for having youth sports, but also underlying some of the fundamentals that allow you to sports to be sustainable, I E money.

So what you do, I think is it's really important, you know, hats off to you guys for doing that as somebody. Who was the beneficiary of youth sports. And, you know, obviously now having my son participate, it really, it really does matter. It does make a difference if, for anybody listening, if you participated in youth sports, uh, whether you did or didn't.

And if you just believe in the importance of them, think it's important that you get familiar with league side, whatever, and his team are doing, uh, cause it's really important. As we see a huge Exodus from Facebook and Instagram advertising. Again, we've talked about the brands that are looking to reapply dollars and make investments in communities, but you kind of have like, like the new Facebook ad, right?

What was Facebook? It was this social gathering place where we got together to exchange pictures of our kids and our families and our meals and those sorts of things. It was really a, it's a community. Type platform that shows advertising youth sports are a lot the same. Do you see league side conquesting, some of that advertising investment that was traditionally reserved for social platforms?

Do you see some of that coming out into the real world? Yeah. And what we're seeing a lot of the companies that are doing the Facebook ad boycott, it's typically brands that, that are more so, uh, Brand awareness focused. Uh, and our, their goal is to just stay top of mind and build Goodwill in target communities.

And we're seeing a bunch of, uh, partners that we work with that have decreased their spend on, uh, Facebook are increasing their spend sponsoring more youth sports leagues. This one checks a lot of those boxes. It's reaches their target communities. It builds good. Uh, there's nothing more apolitical than, than youth sports now that yeah.

And there, I I'd be lying if I thought that sponsoring youth sports leagues, isn't just a spend all your, your marketing budget on sponsoring youth sports leagues. And you're going to grow. That is not the case. And there certainly value in, in all different parts of the marketing media mix. Uh, and, and Facebook ads have a great purpose.

If you have a specific call to action there, there's nothing more targeted, uh, at the bottom of the funnel, then a well-placed, uh, Facebook, uh, you know, that said for more so top of funnel, uh, and, and to the point of the companies that are boycotting Facebook, I think that they're making an educated bet that the PR that they're going to earn in the short term.

Is going to be just as good for their top of funnel goals as advertising on Facebook. So to do a chapter leader or to accelerate that sponsoring you get sports is, is we like to say that we make sponsoring youth sports leagues across the. Just as simple to execute, I setting up a Facebook. I think that's the key.

And that's, that's been the focus of a lot of guests on this show is how do we make out of home advertising, easy to spend money with. Right. That's that's, that's the key with Google. That's the key with Facebook, Instagram, and ways, a ways from that positions directly against, out of home, they make it very, very easy to spend a lot of money.

So knowing that you do that is great for the out of home community and really a key takeaway. For anybody listening to this show, whether you're a business development type, if you're a media executive, what can you remove from the process in terms of friction that allows advertisers to spend more money with you?

Because I think that when we really step back and you look at platforms that are kind of the small business facing the blips, the ad symbols of the world, where you can just go in and set up a campaign like five minutes, it's really easy. So don't complicate it. If you, if it doesn't have to be complicated, Evan, I'm sure what a lot of people are imagining in their head right now, in terms of sponsorships, youth sports leagues are, you know, on the back of the Jersey, on the trophy.

Is that, is that all you guys do or are there more placements than that for advertisers and the sports? So our campaigns, what we've found to be most effective is a multi-channel approach with physical digital and an activation element. So physical being logos on jerseys or signage up the field, digital being dedicated emails coming straight from the commissioner or the coach or social media ads on that league, social media.

And then different activation opportunities, whether it's distributing samples, coupons, having on-sites at different league events, or we do online, uh, contests, uh, as well. So the combination of those three channels, we found to yield the most effective results, uh, in a youth sports spot. It makes sense.

Right? We've got this audience. So how can we, how can we stack things vertically right there, the offline component, the online component, and then a direct call to action. So it's really this immersive approach. So I liked that. What are some of the physical things beyond jerseys? What are the, some of the physical signage at the field?

What are some of the physical things that you guys have done with. Th the two main ones are, uh, logos on jerseys and signage, uh, different signage opportunities at the field. Uh, and then we have fun things, uh, like snack bar takeovers, or could have wrapped the entire snack bar. Uh, we're we're working with one company right now, figuring out how we could, uh, provide soccer nets and basketball nets to different sports organizations.

And that company's logo will be on the net. That's pretty. Yeah. So we're, we're able to be creative and still make it turnkey and scalable to reach thousands of community, uh, sports orders. So you're really bringing what professional sports teams and collegiate sports teams have been able to do with big stadiums and lots of places to put signage.

You're you're using the landscape creatively to kind of recreate. Exactly. We we've standardized certain sponsorship assets at each lead, which has been necessary in order for it to be scalable. That's to your point, a big brands want to be able to reach a lot of people at once. Uh, but with those assets that we have standardized, we're able to be really creative in the.

Yeah, I love it. And like, as, as a parent, right, moving myself from the coach youth sport from a parent's perspective, what am I doing? I'm taking pictures and sharing them on social media. I'm doing all those things. Almost circumventing the need to advertise on social. Cause you know, the parents are going to take pictures of their kids.

Logos are going to be all over everything. It's gotta be pretty cool to see a snack bar takeover and, and wrapped a building at the field. I talked to my son about it after we talked last week and he just got such a kick out of the idea of feeling like a big league baseball player, you know, having big league sponsors, uh, you know, potentially at the stadium.

So I think that's cool. Did you ever get feedback from the kids? The kids probably get a kick out of it, kids. They love it. They feel like professionals, the big brand come in and sponsor them. And then we do fun campaigns as well. Uh, you know, for example, working with a company called NetSpend down at, down in Texas, a couple of teams won the chance to go to an Astros game and go on the field to meet the buyers before the game.

Uh, and then working with ax, uh, the, you know, Axe, body spray, body spray, they came out with a new hair gel that turns your hair, blue and green. And with them, we set up photo booths at their front soccer and lacrosse tournament. It's all across the country and the kids loved it. That's cool. There's an experiential element to this that we haven't even talked about.

Exactly. Very cool. You're doing a lot of awesome stuff. Where can people find you? Through our website league side.com. Uh, that's the best place to find, uh, all the information on con league side. We're on all the different social channels, a few, a couple weeks side. Uh, you could, you could find us and feel free to reach out to me directly.

My email is evan@leagueside.com. Lead status, spelled L E a G U E S. Awesome. We'll make sure to link out to everything. We've come to a segment of the show. Shout out to my man, Carlos Zavala. He's the marketing manager at InMotion media group. And a few weeks back, he asked me, he's like, Tim, can we like you start asking all your guests, you know, some, some kind of, not out of home questions so we can get to know them a little bit better or you down you and let's do it.

Awesome. So the first question, if you weren't. Running league side right now as a partner, what would you be doing? Would you be doing something out of home? You're an idea guy. What would you be doing if you weren't at Lakeside? Such a it's funny, someone asked me this question last week. Uh, and the truth is, I don't know, I'd probably be creating and building something.

Uh, this that's what's in my DNA, but I I'm kind of the person who. When faced with, uh, a fork in the road and, and making a decision, uh, once I make that decision, like I figure that I'm going to make that path like as optimal as it possibly can be. Uh, and often don't think about what I would be doing in snatch.

Cop-out answer. I know, but now it's a different company pop out or committed. I'm going with committed. I dig it. I like your approach. What are you most excited about right now? It could be league side. It could be personal. It could be anything. What are you most excited about? Ooh, that is a very good question.

Uh, what I'm most excited about is. A huge shift in focus, uh, seemingly the last month, uh, from, from brands, uh, shifting their focus to away from, you know, how do we drive as much sales today? Towards, how do we make positive impact and impact on our consumers? How do we make positive impact on, on society at large?

Uh, and then how do we tell people about the impact that we're making? And, and I think that those trends, you know, one, we, we need corporate dollars. We can't just rely on the government for a positive change. So, so I think, you know, corporations stepping up and, and make. Change will impact society, uh, in a meaningful way.

And too, I think that it's going to be a really big for, for league side and the out-of-home industry. Uh, That's great. No, I think it's, it's really important for all of the, for all of the tangible reasons. And also it's this kind of marketing reset. We became obsessed, obsessed by tying everything back to a click and measuring every single dollar we invested kind of lost sight of what really grows brands, why startups choose out of home.

There, there, there are more ways to skin this cat than just, uh, the, just measuring clicks. So I think it's a, it's a good reset. It's a good reset for everybody. Where do you go for reflection, meditation, education, inspiration, or your Raider podcast guy? Where a, where would you, where would you point somebody for some great knowledge?

I love this. Dig it. Tell me more about. So every morning. So the first thing I do and then every evening, it's the last thing I do. It just gives you a few prompts, asking you what are three things that you're grateful for. What's what are what's something you're looking forward to today? And what's something that you're is going to make today.

Great. And then at the end of the day, reflecting on the day and asking, you know, what, what would have made today even better? Uh, yeah. That's a great place for all of the above it and the words of the legendary Zig Ziglar, right? It's your attitude, not your aptitude that will ultimately determine your altitude.

Having the right attitude is really important. I think gratitude is a great place to start. Evan. This has been a lot of fun, man. We're going to have to do it again sometime. Yeah. Gladly do this again, Tim, this was a lot of fun. Uh, and I'm now very intrigued to know your answers to those three questions. I don't know if I'm going to do it online or we want to spit it.

All right. Listen, I haven't answered him. What, what am I most excited about right now out? I I've got a lot of things going on, so let me just pick one. What am I most excited about truthfully? This and this may seem a little self-serving I'm most excited about the evolution of the pod. Right. I started this 10 months ago as a way for me to learn.

Selfishly James Heller was gracious enough to be my first guest and I sent him three different zoom links. And my son shows up in the background holding a hand grenade and, uh, we can look back and really reflect on how much the show has evolved, but I'm most excited for where it goes from here. Uh, I've made a commitment to myself that episode 50, which we're getting close to.

I'm going to write a book. I'm going to write a book about how anybody can. Pick their niche start a podcast. And in a short period of time, really positioned themselves as, as a, as an expert reference, if you will. So that's what I'm most excited about is to continue to see the show evolve and start writing a book seems that I will definitely read that book.

Thanks, man. I'm looking at hilarious that I have a five minute journal and you have a hand grenade. I have a hand grenade and the sword man in case things get crazy. Uh, what, uh, yeah, so that was that, that was what I was most excited about. What would I be doing if I wasn't doing this? Um, gosh, I'm kind of doing, I'm doing all of those things.

I do. I do some marketing coaching for, uh, for a team of real estate agents and that's spun off into its own thing. I just launched another platform called connected pro.io, and that's really, um, part of a bigger mission for out of home. And that I'm going to me personally go after and conquest OTT space.

Be able to bring people into my OTT ecosystem at a discounted rate. So then I can start to introduce out of home advertising ideas and connect them with all the great people that have been on this show. So those are a couple of things that I'm working on. And where do I go for inspiration, meditation, uh, education.

There's a few that I like. I like a guy named Greg Braden. Uh, he's kind of into some, you know, some different stuff that might be a little fringe for some, but, uh, Greg Brayden's grade. Dr. Joe. Dispenza's awesome. I love Jim quick. I love it. Anything that, uh, that, that lends itself to a human optimization. So those are some of the places that I go to.

Yeah. Cool, man. Well, Hey guys, if you found this helpful, I encourage you to share it. Please click the share button. Don't forget, click the subscribe. They're over in the corner. And as always, if you want to get swagged up, visit oh H swag.com. Make sure to use promo code insider for 10% off your first order.