As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful Service Business,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Andre Gaccetta, founder and CEO of G7 Entertainment Marketing.
Andre brings more than just a bounty of strategic thinking and creative solutions to the table. He embodies an inexhaustible passion for the music industry experienced through the eyes and ears of a fan. Gaccetta and his team specialize in music marketing strategy, sponsorships and endorsements, tour activations, branded content and talent booking — bringing brands to full, vibrant life through music entertainment.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I’ve always been interested in the business of sports and entertainment and dreamed of working in the field professionally. I started my career in Sports Management as an intern with the Cincinnati Reds. While I was learning the ropes, I kept up a side hustle promoting concerts in my hometown of Dayton, OH. The more work I did in the two industries, the more I realized success in both comes from the same thing: keeping the focus on the fan above all else.
Looking back, one of my standout memories was organizing a show with the legendary Ray Charles in 2001 in my hometown. I’ve never been more proud than I was that night, seeing my parents and in-laws soaking up every moment. I fell in love with being able to bring that kind of experience to the people I was closest to. The excitement of facilitating that passionate connection between artists, entertainment properties, and fans is something that to this day has yet to get old. I pointed my career in the direction of entertainment marketing and I’ve enjoyed every minute of the past 20 years I’ve spent helping brands harness the power of the fan to emotionally connect with their audiences through unforgettable experiences.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Believe it or not, I have Oprah to thank for that. One day she had power couple Faith Hill and Tim McGraw on her show as guests. Any country fans out there will know, Tim and Faith share a love story that is uniquely centered around an old Jeep Wrangler.
It just so happened that Jeep was a client of ours at George P Johnson at the time and I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be a great idea if we connected Tim & Faith with Jeep for their 50+ market North American Tour? That was the inspiration behind the “Jeep Presents” tour partnership that we packaged up and amplified Tim & Faith’s totally authentic Jeep narrative.
Everyone fell in love with the story and our integrated marketing approach that brought it to life throughout the tour. The campaign was a massive success and my first big entertainment marketing win at that scale. What this win really illustrated for me was the power of the fan in driving business outcomes. I got to see firsthand how much it means to fans to get to participate in the stories that move them. The “Jeep Presents” tour changed the way these folks saw Jeep, all of a sudden it wasn’t just a way to get around, but their way to participate in a story that meant something to them. That’s what made this experience so powerful and gave me the confidence and inspiration to build an agency around the power of the fan.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
As an intern at the Cincinnati Reds I was responsible for game-day fireworks. During one memorable game, I surprised everyone by mistakenly shooting off the fireworks after the Reds play-by-play broadcaster, Joe Nuxhall, inaccurately called a ground-rule-double a home run.
The incident earned me the nickname “Misfire’’ for the remainder of my Reds tenure and was memorialized in Sports Illustrated, which quoted Nuxhall’s broadcast partner Marty Breneman’s on air comment following the incident… “Well, Joe, at least you know someone out there’s listening to ya!”
The mistake was all mine, as I didn’t follow the team’s established checks and balances protocols. There’s no better way to learn the importance of keeping an eye on the details for a big event than a humbling mistake in front of thousands of fans.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
As I mentioned, I’ve always had a passion for live events and creating moments for people they might just remember for their whole lives. Understanding the power of the fan, my vision was to actively find opportunities where brands and celebrity talent could partner to meaningfully impact deserving organizations and individuals.
What do you do to articulate or demonstrate your company’s values to your employees and to your customers?
At G7 we communicate our values by living them every day. There’s not a day that goes by that someone on our team is not engaged with our clients to create opportunities to give back. Some of these give-back opportunities include Keith Urban’s partnership with Cisco, where he used their Telepresence to communicate with patients at St. Jude’s hospital and lift their spirits once a month for an entire year.
We’ve helped Ram trucks partner with Chris Stapleton to furnish musical instruments for his hometown high school music program and Salesforce to partner with U2 to support (RED) in the fight against AIDs. These are just a few of the countless examples of how we work every day to connect brands and people to make a difference.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
I sure do! Our number one principle is to recruit, develop and retain great people. As an agency, we are smart and fearless in our pursuit of industry defining work and aim to maintain positive relationships with existing clients as we continue to grow and onboard new ones. Abiding by these principles assures that we may enjoy the fruits of our labor with our families and communities, and gives us the opportunity to reinvest in our business for our future.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
When you’re running a business and you’ve got people depending on you, giving up is simply not an option. Sustained growth for a marketing services agency is hard, really hard. The last ten years has been like driving down a highway and building the car at the same time. There’s no cruise control option — we always have to remain nimble and adapt to unexpected business detours and industry transformation. Those are the table stakes and what it ultimately takes to keep going through the hard times and the good.
So, how are things going today? How did your values lead to your eventual success?
Things are going great! We’ve finally figured out who we are, what we’re really good at and have built a sustainable business model marked by an average YOY growth of 15% — 20%. Most importantly, we settled on a winning value formulation:
Evolving To Remain Relevant — we are nimble enough to adapt to cultural, technology and client transformations
Strengthening The Foundation — we retain staff and build institutional knowledge
Building To Scale — we foster the development of smart business systems that allow us to efficiently grow
Collaborating To Win — we recognize that our agency can’t be a turn-key solution for all of our clients’ marketing needs, and are able to focus on being great collaborators to the world class, like minded partners we’re lucky enough to work with
Sustaining Our Culture — we’ve built a unique, family-centric culture, and as our business evolves we will only continue to thrive by fiercely defending what’s made us special in the first place
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a very successful service based business? Please share a story or an example for each.
- The first step is to concisely define your value proposition and develop a way to effectively communicate it.
- From there you’ve got to define your business culture and stick to it.
- Once you’ve articulated your vision and defined your business culture, you have to build the right team to get the job done.
- Through it all you can never lose sight of the fact that business success is based on the relationships you’re able to build with your clients.
- Finally, all of these things have to work together at once. You have to always stay true to your vision and culture to deliver great ideas to clients while actively listening to their needs to ensure solutions meet their business realities.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without all the amazing support and guidance I’ve gotten through my career and throughout my life from friends, family, colleagues and mentors. Family and friends were my earliest validators — having them show up at my events and just really, wholeheartedly have a great time gave me the confidence I needed to keep on pursuing this crazy dream. I’ve also had countless mentors who have helped me work out the kinks along the way and a second family made up of incredible colleagues who have had my back every day as we keep building this ship together.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I’ve always believed very passionately that everyone has a right to the safety and security of a home of their own. That’s why if I could solve anything it would be the persistent challenge of homelessness. I believe that finding a solution to homelessness can only happen if we all come together and work toward it together and I’m excited to be an advocate toward that goal.
How can our readers follow you on social media?