August 27, 2020

The Virtual CMO Podcast

The Virtual CMO Podcast:

Season 2, Episode 8


Eric Dickmann - Founder/CMO of the Five Echelon Group, Twitter or his personal website.


Alan Currens and Mannequin can found on Twitter @mannequin 


In this episode, host Eric Dickmann interviews Alan Currens. Alan, is a former Paramount Pictures recording artist, touring rocker, and children's television show producer. In 2013, he set his sites on getting "set for life" by designing his ultimate dream job. 

He has since grown a single private event band in Denver (called Mannequin) into a globally booked, highly sought after act. Now, six years later, Mannequin Productions boasts three top-tier private event bands, the Denver Music Institute, and a live music production company! 

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Transcript: Season 2, Episode 8

**Please note, this transcript was generated by an artificial intelligence engine. It is intended only as a rough transcript and there may be some grammatical, spelling or transcription errors.

 Eric Dickmann: 0:08

Welcome to season two of The Virtual CMO podcast. I'm your host, Eric Dickmann, founder of The Five Echelon Group. Our goal is to share strategies, tools, and tactics with fellow marketing professionals that you can use to impact the trajectory of your company's marketing programs. We have candid conversations about what works, and what doesn't, with marketing tactics, customer experience, design and automation tools. Our goal is to provide value each week with a roster of thoughtful and informative guests engaged in a lively conversation. So with that, let's introduce this week's guest and dive into another conversation with The Virtual CMO. Today, I'm delighted to welcome Alan Curren's to the podcast. Alan's a true entrepreneurial musician. A former paramount pictures, recording artist, touring, rocker, and children's television producer in 2013, Allen set his sights on getting set for life by designing his ultimate dream job. He has since grown a single private event band in Denver called Mannequin. Into a globally book, highly sought after act. Now six years later, our company, he and his business partner and co musician own and operate Mannequin Productions houses, three top tier private event bands, the Denver Music Institute, and most recently a live music production company. It's a whirlwind of energy and momentum, and it's all being channeled into Allen's new podcast and book, The Bones of Giants. I think you're really going to enjoy this conversation with Alan, especially his thoughts around designing your dream job. Please help me welcome Alan to the podcast. Alan welcome to The Virtual CMO podcast. So glad you could join us today.

Alan Currens: 1:56

Okay. Do you, Eric? Good to be here. Really glad to be here.

Eric Dickmann: 1:59

So I'm excited to have you on the show because I think we've got a lot that we can talk about. Before the show started, we were just talking about the crazy time that we're in with COVID here. We're recording this in the middle of July. I'm in Florida, we just hit 15,000 new cases today. An unfortunate record. And I know that you're a runner. You get out and exercise. You live out in the Denver area. You've got that beautiful mountain wilderness around you. Talk to me a little bit about how that helps in times like this from a mindset perspective.

Alan Currens: 2:29

Oh, what a great question. Oh my God. okay. First off, that's a whole show. the, the w the fact that I landed in Denver is kind of a miracle on its own in its own, but I came from Dallas, which a very humid, very flat. I love my friends. There's very green and lush, but as soon as I saw the mountains, something happened to me, I guess it happens to other people when they see the ocean, you know, so maybe you've heard similar stories. But when, when COVID hit. I I've I've spent the last seven years rediscovering the mountains because of Mannequin. Right. We'll talk about that. I've been here 29 years and never really fully explored the mountains. I didn't camp a lot. I didn't ski much. but then Mannequin got me up and tell your ride or a, all these gorgeous Crested Butte I'm up there weekly. And for sometimes two, three days at a time, just traveling around touring. and so when COVID hit, I thought, well, let's run these darn things right now. I was already falling in love with trail running. So, I'd bent the rules a little bit, cause you're supposed to stay near your home. But I went up to Rocky mountain national park and I just, I just got away and some magical things happen that we will talk about later towards, towards my goals for writing a book and stuff on those runs. But I looked at it as a gift. I know COVID is terrible. But I literally thrived in it. I thrived in the isolation and the running was a huge part of that.

Eric Dickmann: 3:56

The Rocky mountain high as a real thing. Isn't it.

Alan Currens: 3:59

It's such a real thing. It sure is man.

Eric Dickmann: 4:02

We're also cooped up. It's just great to get out in the wilderness, get outside, just experience a little bit of nature. It can really do a lot to clear your head. So I wanna dive into your background a little bit hear a little bit more. Cause I think you've got a really interesting story. So obviously you're a passionate guy about music. How did you get started with music? Was this something that you always had an interest in as a kid?

Alan Currens: 4:25

Yeah that's a great question too, because, I was just thinking about this in writing that book that I'm, that I'm going to talk about later, because I don't really analyze myself very often. My whole life's been sort of this. Crazy self initiation for something I didn't understand. I just kept pushing myself through walls and, you know, fail, recover, fail, recover. Like I was building up an immunity to something. I had no clue what it was but when I was very, very, very young, my brother was an artist and an, and a drummer. So my memories, five or six years old, right. And then the divorce happened and he left, but they planted seeds. And when, when these seeds resurfaced in my life first, there was art. And then in my freshman year of high school, when music resurfaced, it felt like home. it had, I mean, I didn't know. I didn't know until it happened, I saw a band at our high school. I'm assuming it sounded terrible. Cause it was in the gymnasium. They were on the floor and they were from the army. So I think they were pitching something. All I remember is they played a Tom Petty song and my whole life changed. I remember in the moment thinking like a producer, like I could do that and, and they should be doing this. And why did the, you know, I was just in it. from that moment forward at my whole life was about negotiating. Why music should be in the front seat with me riding shotgun. There's nothing else mattered. I was just was a one track mind. I think I'm one of those guys that had no choice and so I always wind up back here.

Eric Dickmann: 5:54

Well, I think what's so interesting about that is there so much discussion about finding your passion? About what's your wire and I, for my friends that are creative types. You know, whether they're performance artists or whether they like to draw or paint, musicians, A lot of them seem to find their passion at a very early age they knew that was the thing. They got bitten by the bug of their artistic craft. And throughout their life, somehow that has always played a role. I think for many people who are in a more business line of work who go out and have a regular nine to five job some of them have a much harder time finding what it is they're truly passionate about. And I think it's just very interesting to contrast the personality types of people who found that passion at a very early age, compared with many people who might still be searching for it.

Alan Currens: 6:46

That's really interesting. Cause my wife and I are a perfect example of the two people you just explained. And since I've met her, I've been sort of fascinated with this question that I have for like, what's your passion, babe. What, you know what I want to support you. You you're so good at supporting me. And she's like, I don't know. I like to knit, you know? And then other times, like, I don't know, I kind of like British comedies. She's just like, whatever she's doing, she loves. And I've always envied that. How can you just be happy? Like, I I'm so driven to this thing. I can't, I can't, if I'm not doing it, I feel guilty and I just think maybe for artists, there's a clear, a more clear definition, and I don't know that it's necessarily a definition of what you want. But it's more clear what you can take. So I often look at my own drive and dedication as am I really just pushing myself toward the thing I know I want, or is this all about avoiding the things I know I can't do. I think it's an equal force. I push away as much as I pull myself toward it.

Eric Dickmann: 7:44

I see with some of my artist friends, Instagram is a great place to see this for people who are visual. I look out and I've always had a passion for photography. But I'm always looking for just that right. Shot, you know, being in the right place with the right light And I find, I don't take a lot of pictures because everything just isn't right. And then I see some of my friends who will literally see a piece of garbage on the street, and somehow they find art in it. They find just that something that's unique about everyday life. their lens is through that sort of artistic prism. We look at life differently and so I'm always fascinated by people who come from a more creative background, but that's not an easy road to take. Right. The perception is that being a musician is a tough road. Talk a little bit about your journey there.

Alan Currens: 8:30

I I'm a big advocate of Steven Pressfield. Do you know who he

Eric Dickmann: 8:33

No, I don't.

Alan Currens: 8:34

Okay, you're going to love him. he he's got maybe 20 books out there. I think the Legend of Bagger Vance might be the one that put him

Eric Dickmann: 8:40

Okay. Okay. I've heard of that. Yeah.

Alan Currens: 8:42

Okay. Right. Well, he's got all these artists related books, the, the Artist's Journey, The War of Art. Just, just look him up. He's fantastic. The artist's journey is something that really resonates with me because he says in there. We're all on a hero's journey. Like our life is a hero's journey. In fact, it might be many, many, many several in a day, but we basically have this hero's journey. And for artists, that journey ends one day. Find the thing when they understand the thing that they're called to do when they find their purpose, right? When they, when they have access to the art, when they're given that access, that's when their hero's journey ends and an artist's journey begins. I think that's exactly right. I think they're the artists are a subculture of humans and I think even, even a subculture to that might be musicians. But when that happens, a whole new set of rules pop up. It's the same hero's journey. You know, you got your ordinary life and your call to action, and you know, your mentor shows up, you cross the threshold. It's this it's the same basic story but for me, My whole life was just a series of hero's journeys, just like rolling, you know, just cycling, you know, all the way to the end. And then the next one starts. The next one starts quite often. They ended in failure, amazing journeys where Paramount Pictures drops me. Sony records loses us. I owned a children's television show. I don't know if we even talked about that, which was a blast to produce lost that. Yeah, all these things that seem like maybe once in a lifetime thing just keeps cycling. If you just let it roll. And I think my big epiphany to what I call the big one, that what, you're, what you're asking about this journey about seven years ago. I was writing the business plan for Mannequin and I was in knots. I was in knots. I realized I had a tiger by the tail, just in my head. I understood the potential of this. And then one day I realized, wait, what am I afraid of? What could possibly happen to me that hasn't already happened. What am I afraid of? And that that's when this journey started, this journey started not in so much the presence of this purpose, as much as the absence of resistance, I just let it go. I just embraced. I'm like, okay, I know what this feels like. I know what the risks are. Let's just do it. so at that time I sold my SEO company, which I did SEO. Which, is a fantastic segway to the world of marketing I've been listening to on your podcast but I just let all that go embrace this and applied everything I knew to it. And then just learned, I just learned as I went.

Eric Dickmann: 11:22

In your bio. I love the way you talked about designing your dream job. So it was a very intentional effort to sort of say, I've got this passion around music now, how can I design a job that allows me to explore that passion, and make some money of it, you know, I have control over it? So talk to me about that process. You talked about building a business plan. What was the idea in your head that you were designing?

Alan Currens: 11:48

Okay. You know, this is this interviews writing itself. This is crazy. You brought up photography a while ago, and it's really interesting that you would do that because when I was writing the business plan, I remember thinking at the time. how much time I was spending, not on the specifics of what I wanted to do, but what I didn't want to do, I was kind of like obsessed with the negative space. Like, what am I not good at? What are the weaknesses going to be here? I'd read somewhere about doing a pre mortem for your business, and I'm sure you've heard that. What can go wrong? What are the possible. Pitfalls and all these things. And in doing that, I became hyper aware of the things I really. It was going to fail because of me, if I relied on myself in these areas, cause I just had no interest and I would avoid them. Right. I like numbers, bookkeeping, all these things. So when I was designing the perfect life for me, it wasn't, it wasn't about finding what I loved. I already knew what I loved. I'm an entertainer, I'm a communicator. I think I'm a teacher. I knew what I wanted. Right. It was what I didn't want that threatened the process. So I had to find those people and, and a big part of my plan became identifying. You know, who are, who am I, assets, who are my biggest assets, who are my allies? And that's a part of that hero's journey too, in the musician's journey. Right? When you cross the threshold, one of the first thing you do. Before you go into your inner cave and do all that stuff like, like in Star Wars, you find out who your enemies and allies are. And that's I kinda was hung on the threshold and the allies parked for that was the first few years. I think that was the biggest part in designing my dream life.

Eric Dickmann: 13:24

So you're really looked at it and said, I know I want to do this, but there are some things that I definitely don't want to do. And in order for this to be successful, I need to surround myself people who can do those things that I don't want to do so I can focus on what I enjoy.

Alan Currens: 13:39

Absolutely anything I've ever failed at in my life that I sabotaged, I sabotage because I was avoiding something that I didn't like that made me nervous. That made me anxious, that I, that I didn't enjoy. Right. And I'm so driven toward. Towards fulfillment and joy. It's just kind of the way I'm wired that if I would do the math in my head, is this more counterproductive to my fulfillment and joy or, and if it was I bailed, I would just sabotage things. And I thought, okay, I don't know that I have time in this life to fix that part of me, but I can definitely embrace it and just understand I'm not going to do those. And, and if I do, there'll be compromised. There are people that do them better. I need to learn to trust people. I need to outsource. I need to lean on people who, and, and it's, it's interesting that you're doing a job right now. Who my first asset how to strengthen Dana, my business partner is a marketing mind. Right. She has the same brain you have for identifying competition for doing the research to learn about not just your competition, but what is your product going to be like through that research? And who are you trying to reach it? Who are your customers and what are they doing right now? And you leave a name them. I think. And she's kind of the same way. So that was luck. She was my first audition. I mean, you can't write that kind of stuff. but yeah, that was, there was a huge part of it. Like just knowing what I couldn't do and what I wouldn't do.

Eric Dickmann: 15:06

I love that I really do because it's so intentional. I think when you take that time to be intentional and really understand what your strengths and weaknesses are and how to leverage your strengths, and then look to others to fill in where you're weak. that's a great philosophy that I wish more business leaders would look at as opposed to trying to do everything themselves.

Alan Currens: 15:27

I feel like it's what your business is based on.

Eric Dickmann: 15:29

Yeah. Well, and let's take a step back because we haven't really introduced Mannequin as this band concept. So I think when people hear about a band, they're like, okay, you're going to be rock and rollers. You're going to go play. Was that the original idea or did you always have this idea that Mannequin was going to be a very specific kind of a band.

Alan Currens: 15:50

Okay. yeah. When I started Mannequin, I knew it couldn't be like anything I'd done in the past. First off, I didn't want what I had in the past. And I had rock and roll stardom and tours and green rooms and just the whole mess of it. Right. I didn't want anything like that. I had kids now. I wanted a legacy I wanted to retire. I wanted to have had my last job outside of music and be done with it. My whole rest of my life needed to be music. So when I designed Mannequin, I wasn't designing anything like I'd ever experienced. It was all brand new territory to me. But I wasn't inventing the wheel. There were three groups in America that I could isolate that we're doing what I wanted. None of them, the way I wanted. But what I wanted, the, the end result was there were full time musical projects. And I thought, OK, that's, that's where I want to start. so when I started to design the plan, I immediately looked at all the things that I'd done in the past that might threaten it, that I might lean into. And my motto quickly became. If it's worked for me in the past, drop it. Because I've never had anything in the past. That's like, what I want right now. So if I lean into my comfort zones, I'm going to wind up back at my comfort zones. I wanted something far more. Far greater. Yeah, I guess there's no other way to put it. I wasn't driven by money, but I wanted to employ musicians. I wanted to give people careers. I wanted to retire. I wanted to leave my kids, and inheritance. All of which has already. Happening. And that couldn't have happened. It based on anything I'd done in the past, first off other people control my career's in the past. So I had to kind of go back to that whole thing. Like, what does it look like to be my own boss in this industry? and so when I laid down the plan, there was an umbrella from the very beginning. That that branched out over multiple things. I didn't see it coming the way it did. I planned on owning a production company. I did want other bands. So in that sense where I'm kind of in line with it, but the rest of it, I've just bent in the wind. So I didn't break. I just, I had a couple of true values and core beliefs that. Every time something would come up, I would say, well, does that mess with my core belief or my value? And that is I'm an entertainer and a teacher. If nothing, if it didn't interfere with that, I give. And as a result, I wound up owning a music school, which is like, totally nothing. I. Ever would have seen coming, but it was completely serendipitous and bizarre and it landed in our lap. And now it's a huge part of our company and we put a lot of musicians through there and wait, they teach there. We have our rehearsal studio there and everything. But no, it, it. It was based on nothing. I knew in the past, in order to have what I wanted. Now, I had to come up with a whole new plan and it's wildly successful compared to what I could have done on my own. It's wildly successful. The fact that I've integrated these people that were better at what they do. I'd say I'd be stuck five years ago. I'd be stuck at five years ago. If I hadn't had that open door policy to talent. And I've been sharing parts to the company and growing that way, people have been not just working for us, but buying into us and then ha you know, having that buy in and that own personal investment and making their own dreams come true. And that's just made are stronger.

Eric Dickmann: 19:05

So now Mannequin the band is actually Mannequin the bands, right? There are multiple underneath one umbrella. In addition to what you've been able to do with the music school.

Alan Currens: 19:14

Yeah, we own Mannequin Productions, LLC was the company. I originally started with my plan in mind. Now we have Mannequin the band, which we just call Mannequin. We have Rock Slide and we have Midnight Social, all are dedicated. private event bands, right? Mannequin goes all over the world. The other two might rock slide very well might go international, midnight socials, kind of our local footprint, seven piece band. The others are 10 piece, big horn bands. And then there's Open Stage Denver, which is a production company that we have partnered with. And then there's the Denver Music Institute. That's the full breadth of it so far. But on the side we invest in startup companies. So we invest in apparel shops and startups. So we have kind of an investment side of our company too.

Eric Dickmann: 19:59

Marketing is the engine that drives demand, but too often it takes a back seat to other priorities. Awareness, fails to materialize demand drops in sales falter. Don't wait until it's too late to build your brand awareness and demand generation programs. If your company is struggling with their marketing strategy, we want to help let's schedule a call to talk about your unique situation and what options might be available to get your marketing program back on track. To learn more text C M O to (407) 374-3670 that's C M O two four zero seven. Three seven four three six seven zero. And we'll reply with further details. We hope to hear from you soon. This obviously is a marketing related podcast, so as a band, when you're out there playing, obviously word of mouth is hugely important. But it's hard to get real acceleration just by word of mouth. Right. It just takes so long for word to spread. So how did you begin to build awareness of what you were doing with Mannequin and get that momentum.

Alan Currens: 21:08

Okay. So there's there, there was definitely an end zone when I started, I thought, okay, this is going to be my benchmark. When I get this far, I'll consider myself. Completing my business plan and wherever on that there, who knows. But I had that benchmark set. So I looked out and I found these three bands. I told you about in America. I called him. I called him once in Utah, one's in New York, one's in Dallas. And I said, I am no threat to you. How did you do this? It's so amazing. And they wanted to talk. They were like, Oh my God. Well, this, this and this. And I said, well, okay, well, 20 years is a long time. What if you wanted to do it in five? What would you do? Different. And they were like, let's skip this and I wouldn't try this. And I wouldn't tolerate these kinds of people. They gave me these like nuggets of information that I made the cornerstone of my plan. I'm like, once again, I went to the negative space. I'm like, well, the thing that they were most cautious about that they regretted the most. Let's just ditch that I got. I'm going to consider that lesson learned vicariously through those guys. And so I did what I called reverse engineering, our business plan. I had to reverse engineer the client confidence. I had to reverse engineer. The, comradery with the industry people I had to reverse engineer the word of mouth. Right. So to get somewhere in five years, which we did do, we're now in year six, going on seven. and to do that, you couldn't mess around with the building blocks. One of the things I did that was so controversial was I never played a public gig. I never played a bar. I never did anything. we went straight to saying work private event band, and we're one of the best. Now you better back that up. If you're going to say it first off. So. So even the videos that we shot, because I had owned a children's television show, I knew how to build sets. So I built sets. I built the set of a band that would shoot, maybe they're five years, 10 years promo. I had the velvet curtains and the light show and I built it and built it on a CYC wall in an empty room. that kind of gay people, the visual aesthetic, and then you have to talk. So we had a little testimonial part of that video, where we just taught and Dana and I were both very comfortable in front of a microphone. She has a background in theater. And so when we talked, we said, Like we were really comfortable with what we were talking about. We were hearing comments like, gosh, you guys really sound like, you know what you're doing? That's so funny. That's exactly what we wanted you to think. And we do know what we're doing. We just haven't done it with this band yet. So now, now there's the challenge. We reverse engineered all this confidence in this presence online. Now we had to show up and be it because you don't get a second chance to call that bluff. Like you better be packing what you say you're packing or it's negative 10, right? Cause you go way back and you don't recover. Well, my SEO had worked so much better than I thought it would. We were getting calls from Mexico and all over America. I'd done SEO for different States and different hotspots and it worked. So we were real picky about what we did and didn't take. And there was a, there was a time in the beginning where we plug into what we called the power of no. Which was there's, there's a lot of power in saying no one. We're not going to over commit to something we're not capable of and then under deliver. And two, it kind of makes us look like we're busy. No, we can't do that. Well, we can't do it because we're not capable, but are, we don't have the backline connections in that town yet, but the message ends with were not available for that. And then let them think whatever they want. So you have to be super honest, but you have to be confident enough to reverse engineer that, right. With SEO, which I'm sure you deal with all the time, you have to get the client that's ready to spend the money. Well, the flip side of that coin is they're ready to spend the money. So you better have that product that's ready to be a word of mouth product, right. Something that's already worth talking about or they're going to say the wrong things.

Eric Dickmann: 25:04

I just love the fact that you talked about reverse engineering things because too often businesses, they just go in this cycle of repeating the same mistakes that other businesses have made right before them. And so it's this constant process of making the mistakes, spending the money, failing, trying something else, failing again. And eventually, maybe months, years later, they get to a point where they've got some expertise or they know what they're doing. But I think there are so many ways whether it's through coaches or consultants or reading a business book or listening to a podcast that you can hear stories very much like what you're talking about and say, Oh, I should just avoid doing this altogether. I should do something completely different. This isn't worth my time. Maybe if I just did this, I could short circuit the process and get ahead. And it sounds like that's very much what you employed in your business and we're able to do what others weren't able to do in the same amount of time.

Alan Currens: 26:05

Yeah. And I tell you I could have done it better. I really could have used a CMO before Dana found that she had that skill. marketing was the single weakest point. I had the SEO, but the website wasn't talking to my client, it didn't look like the site. My client needed to see. and it was the same thing with, with our messages on social media we didn't run ads, but that that's, that's one area where I could have fine tuned it and done even better, where we did have to learn. There was some voids, you know, we did walk into some dark rooms and just wander, wander around looking for the light switch. We did our best and I had some real good shortcuts with SEO and, and my other tricks that just working for other companies that I'd seen them do wrong. Like, like you say, one of the biggest things that I, that I had a problem with with my other companies was that I would SEO phrases for them. That I knew their website wasn't equipped to funnel, but like I knew people were gonna show up that. Worked on a big, comfortable or, or feel confident where they landed. And that's where. You know, we, we could have gotten here quicker, but I don't know if we could have handled the quicker. But not, I mean, knowing what I know now, maybe, but then it was about as fast as I could imagine it happening.

Eric Dickmann: 27:19

I'm so glad you brought up your website because when we first connected. You know, you talked about being part of this band and I'm like, well, that sounds interesting, but this isn't really a podcast about music or bands and I went to the website that you sent me, Mannequin the Band. And. I looked at that website and I said, without hearing any music. I pick up on the vibe of this band. This band looks like a good time. Having these people at your event looks like it would make this event fun. And there aren't too many websites that simply on their home page can communicate a message. I think, as well as you guys have done with your band's website. So kudos to that. you talk about your DNA, the DNA of who the company is. And I think that comes across so clearly. And I know for a lot of companies, you can't always get there in the first try. Sometimes it takes a lot of trial and error and refining to see what connects with customers. But when you talk about things, I guess, SEO, and being able to rank for a keyword, but then people come to your website and it doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel like a place where they want to do business. It that's a huge problem.

Alan Currens: 28:32

It really is. And, and, Oh man. Did you ever tap on the two biggest things? I think that, that I have, that I care about the most one is culture. Right now that's the real turnkey thing with me. if the culture's built right on the ground level, then everything up above it. Yeah. It just seems to emanate, you know, I'm, I'm more healthy. You become more infectious, especially in my industry. It's very important that, that you affect people that, you know, that you give them the, that you're infecting them with joy and you're giving them the, the. Inspiration and the motivation, the emotional edge to move forward with you and they get excited. Right. And then secondly, my past in sales, which I've had a ton of jobs, that too is another podcast and whole pot of coffee. I've had a ton of jobs in the interim of these things, all these throw away things that I would do between music, right. And one of them was sales. several were sales, but one of them in particular was sales where I became the leading sales person in the nation for this company, for the specific company. Right. And it was because I read a book called I think Guerrilla Selling, and that's kind of irrelevant to my point, but my point being the thing I took away, like, and I wonder if you run into this, when people follow their SEO, they do the keyword search and they, they. They read the tagline. That's that, that the meta description of your website, they liked that the title, they click on it. They're they want to be done so bad. Man they're like, am I done? Am I done? Just get out of the way. So my whole thing has been, get out of the way. Don't give them a reason. Not too. So in the beginning before we had Dana and Mia, And these brilliant minds that, that do this stuff. Now, I was in charge of taking the phone calls and selling the ban. So here here's what I did. And it's a great philosophy to take into life with you. A big chunk of our clients wound up being destination weddings. So it would be the bride that called right. And so I've remembered back to my job. And I thought, well, they're not buying a band and they don't certainly want to get good at buying bands who who's going to do that again in their life. How many times do you book a produce a show? You know, if you're not in the industry, how many bands are you going to hire? So. I immediately just flipped it to an emotional question. I would just say, have you take out your dress? Or, Oh my God, what's the venue. Talk to me about that. and then they're gone by the end of that conversation where they get to just get excited and talk, you know, so much more about who they are. It's my, in the moment research part of. I can't, I can't sell myself to Lindsey, the bride for July 9th. Right. Again, someone said to her. I have to sell myself to all brides. I have to sell myself to all galas from Hong Kong to tell you, right. I have to sell myself to all the event coordinators. Right? So that's a big blanket and it's pretty generic. What you saw on the website was our way of telling the world, this is our vibe. But you notice there's very little copy. There's not a whole lot of audio because we don't want really want to get in the way. We've still have a lot to learn about you. So then when we contact a person, then we can say, okay, now who is my customer? Because you're not like all the other brides and we know that you're not like everybody else and I want to know why, and that's when that exchange happens. Right. And that's when you learn, okay. Now, This is my business right now, my whole business issue. My whole business is what you need? What do we have that you want? And how can we provide that? And then under promise and over deliver that thing. We don't have the benefit of like a McDonald's, our menu's pretty limited. But we have to be able to talk to everybody in a much more in depth way than just you want number one, two or three. They've got to feel like this is the most important thing I've ever done with my money. This is my wedding, okay, and you better just blow my mind! So you can't go into that unless you know exactly who you're talking to.

Eric Dickmann: 32:36

it's that emotional connection, right? Too often, businesses want to talk. They just want to tell you, they want to just overload you with how great their product is. Look at all these wonderful features. Look at all these things we can do as opposed to establishing that emotional connection. And making the sale. There's too much friction. There's too much wanting to push things out rather than making that connection and letting that customer come to you.

Alan Currens: 33:01

Oh, my God, what you just said. At has built careers or failed them. That's exactly right. That there are so many people that want to sell that want to talk. And that goes directly against my personal policy to get out of the way. You don't talk and you let them extract what they need until, until your friends. And then you can just gush and then you can just start reminiscing about the good times and the fun stuff you've done. But in the beginning, That they're really not as interested in you as they are in your effect on their brand. Like, like if you come up and you're just dosing stuff on them, then they have this vision of you showing up at the event. Just dumping stuff on people. I like, are they going to do this to my guests? Are they can be selling themselves the whole time and handing out business cards. Or is this going to be something where they're just as receptive and warm and that's right. That's an extension of them now. Now you're now you're like a t-shirt that they wear you're, you're like, you're a part of their brand. They're going to put your logo somewhere. They're going to talk about you. They're going to make you front and center at this event and you get the massive amount of stage time. Right. And so, and at the end of the day, what defined that day? The most, you know, someone like me in my industry, I can say, well, we had a huge impact on that day. In fact it to go back to weddings, not to harp on that, that's really not all we do. but it's, it's certainly one of our funnest things. There's, there's two things about that. People remember when they leave, they're going to remember. When they saw the bride in that dress, and they're going to remember that party. and that party's either going to suck or it's going to blow their minds. There's she has nothing in between. You'd never hear the story of it that they don't. I don't know it didn't really notice the band and know they notice it or they didn't write it was bad or good. And I think that might translate well to, to every industry.

Eric Dickmann: 34:45

But to the bride. It's all about her, right? It's not about you.

Alan Currens: 34:49

It's her brand is her brand. In fact, in fact, you're only going to be on stage three hours for 18 months. She's going to be sending people that link. Yeah, look who I booked. And that's a part of her brand and you gotta respect that, man, because that's, that's the most, she's building the whole rest of her life on this union, you know, and you're a visual part of it. You've got to respect that. And I know, I do know that in, in our industry, there's a lot of people that kind of gouge, that weddings are kind of There's a lot of bar bands that kind of say, Hey, that's a big score. Get what you can out of that, because you don't know how many you'll get, and of those. And I'm not saying that's a bad thing. Musicians absolutely are in a better market there. So they up their game, they bring a better product. They Hightail it and they, they do their best work. That's exactly what it should be. However, a lot of times they're, they're caught in that, Oh my gosh, we better step up our game. How do we do this? How do we do this? And they kind of dress up the windows. but they forget about the person just does just looking in, if, if you are the window, if all you do is the window and this is why we never play any bar, we never did anything other than exactly what we do. The clarity of our brand was only half for the client to see. The rest was for our band. If they were on our stage, they knew who they were. They knew what it was worth and they knew what it meant to somebody. It wasn't about. It wasn't about everyone in the world needs to know that's all we do so that they're clear on it. Oh, well, okay, great. But if it's not all we do, and if these guys do something for $50 the night before, there's only two people left in the bar at the end of the night, and they're hollering at them to be quiet because they can't talk, that's going to come onto stage with us. They, they need to be a band that is a concert experience, right. Have that confidence. And so I'm not, I'm not saying, I mean, there's, there's a million ways this can work for other bands in the industry. There's a million ways. The only way it could work for me. because I think it's partly because I'm. I'm just on this spectrum enough that I get, you know, I obsess on things. it had to be super clear to me what they saw and who we were. So that translated into this business model of, we only do one thing

Eric Dickmann: 37:01

So you mentioned earlier that one of the ways that you jump started your business was you reached out to a couple other bands. You talk to them about what they had done, right. And they had done wrong. And now here you are successful. And you're an author you're putting together your own book. And I know that the book is targeted at musicians is the goal of this book to sort of share that same insight and wisdom that you were once given by these other bands or what's the direction that you're going with the book.

Alan Currens: 37:30

Oh, man. That's fascinating. Remember how I told you earlier, how I kind of had these core values and everything that would pop up and come into my path. I would just put it on the scale. Does that work for it? Does that work against it? Am I safe? well, something new occurred to me. I began to write what I call the band leader, survival guide when, I started to put mannequin together and I told my wife, if this works, wouldn't it be cool if I documented it, just everything. I went through my thought processes, what I did wrong, what I wish I hadn't done. Just like these guys were able to encapsulate for me. And so I started, well, a couple of years ago, I realized that it was going to do probably more than I thought it was going to do. And there was more here to tell. And this teacher side of me started to kind of show up. This is right after we'd bought the Denver music Institute. And I started to realize, Oh my gosh, I really liked talking about this. Started a couple of meetup groups here in Denver. Where I get amateur and pro musicians together. And the only rule was no, no secrets. You just spilled the beans. If they got a question about contracts, you answer it. Honestly, if they have a question about how to make money, you just tell them what, you know, Yeah. And the, and the. The professionals were so forthcoming. They, they loved it. They love just being able to give. And I thought, man, that's awesome. And I started to kind of formulate The Bones of Giants at that time. I started to realize. What I do have advice. I do have a device. There are definitely some things I learned, like those other bands where I could pass along what I know that might help. But more than that, the common denominator that I saw that I'm building this whole thing on, and I have a Facebook group called The Bones of Giants. We're we're, we're just starting to connect and build the podcast topics. The common denominator. Wasn't success stories. And anything I could find was having to bring it on. So, and so they're making eight digits a year licensing music and they come on and go, yeah, it's amazing. I can't believe I do this. And I get to meet the greatest people and it's wonderful. And you leave jazz. You're like, Oh my God, I want to do that. But there's no connection. Or you hear about the musician? Yeah. Then I played for this guy and this guy and this guy now I'm on tour with this guy and you, you leave jazz. You're like, yeah, but there's no connection. And I started to realize the only people I'm connecting with. Are the people's survival stories. Like the thing that we all have in common is we all wanted to quit. We all almost gave up. We all hit the wall. We all. Yeah. We were like, like met our all is lost moment. At one time or another and either gave up or didn't write yet, then that that's recurring in my life. As I said, it's like a snowball. I just keep spinning the wheel. But. That's The Bones of Giants. The Bones of Giants is basically. How do you survive? What, what happens internally? You know, what, what are the mechanisms they go deeper than the skin? That the things that really make a giant cause they're, they're no different. These people live in our dreams as musicians that we look to. There are no different. The only difference is they have a few more failures under their belt. You know they kept pushing through things. so The Bones of Giants is a pretty remarkable story. it encapsulates a lot of the people I've met in my life and it tells it has a lot of cool, unique things like the musician's journey I talked about earlier. As in unique perspectives on what we're going through. In, in a language musicians can understand so that they can finally understand. OK. Cause I listened to entrepreneurial books on audible and I read them and I studied. And I kept thinking, okay, that's great. Now, how does that work in my life? How did it? And I kept trying to figure it out. And I just wished I wish somebody would have just rewritten all of this for a musician. So you know, that I would understand my wall is different. My risk are different. They're very emotional. They're not just financial. They're not just social, but they, they go way deeper because the content is music and lyric and melody and, and performance. And there's so many more aspects to my risk. and I just felt like. Yeah. Yeah. So I felt like that's what needed to happen. And that's why this, this book's being written

Eric Dickmann: 41:32

Does it have a publication date or is it out now?

Alan Currens: 41:35

it's going to be out in. Okay. It's almost done. Basically. I could publish it this year if I wanted to. And that the philosophy is that I'm going to finish my pre-production for the podcast this month and start live with The Bones of Giants podcast for one year. I'm going to talk about the book. And if this is so books basically going to come out in its second edition with a lot of the rewrites already done, because I'm gonna, I'm gonna put this out there and let people say, ah, yeah. You sort of said this, Oh, you're right. Perfect. And I'm going to capture other people's info right now. It's coming from our little group, me and, and my partners, but in a year it's going to be coming from. A lot of giants out there in the industry in a lot of people that are just struggling. So that's going to be a lot more, I think, relevant.

Eric Dickmann: 42:24

Well, man, you're just adding a lot to the plate and you're going to be an author, a podcaster. You're a musician. You're an entrepreneur, a business owner.

Alan Currens: 42:32

But you want to know why? I'm aging off the stage. Eric, I am aging off the stage. I'm 55. I'm in a band that's built for 20 to 30 year olds. The energy's insane. that's probably why I'm in the gym or running every day. Just trying to keep up with these kids. So I can go to 10,000 feet and pull this thing off. But the truth is it won't be long before I have to create another project. That's not mannequin. If I want to keep performing something more age appropriate for me, that's how, just how my mind works. You know, I want to do that. I'm not saying everybody has to that's, but I personally feel like, I feel like the next stage for me is speaking. and I think that starts with podcasting and, yeah, so it is a lot, but to me it just kinda makes sense.

Eric Dickmann: 43:13

I love that you've designed this dream job that you've kind of reversed engineer it, you put all these things together. you've obviously achieved some great success with it. So congratulations I'm very excited to hear your podcast. you've got a lot going on and this has really been a fascinating interview. I've enjoyed our conversation today. like you said, a couple of times, I think we could probably go down a number of these topics and a lot more detail if we had the time. But I think we covered a lot of ground today and really do appreciate your time on the podcast today.

Alan Currens: 43:43

Well, I'm so grateful to have been here and, and we can go into a lot of those details when you're a guest on The Bones of Giants, talking about marketing, because you certainly got the brain for it. And I would love to have you.

Eric Dickmann: 43:53

Hey, I'd love to do that. I'd really enjoy that. This has been a great conversation. Alan, thank you so much. I will have all of those things linked up in the show notes so that people can find you online. Uh, see Mannequin the Band and The Bones of Giants when that podcast starts up on iTunes and all the podcast players. So thank you again for being a guest today.

Alan Currens: 44:12

Thank you, Eric. Take care.

Eric Dickmann: 44:16

that wraps up another episode of The Virtual CMO podcast. As a reminder, if you'd like to learn more about Virtual CMO, strategic marketing consulting services, or anything else discussed here today, please visit us at There's a link in the show notes. If you'd like to send us comments, feedback, guest inquiries, and your five-star reviews on Apple Podcasts are always appreciated. If you'd like to reach me. I'm EDickmann. That's E D I C K M A N N on Twitter. If you'd like to connect on LinkedIn, please let me know. You heard about me through The Virtual CMO podcast. I look forward to talking with you again next week and sharing some new marketing insights on The Virtual CMO.


The Five Echelon Group - Resources to Restart Your Business

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