GamePlan Marketing & Events Advances Concept of 'Experiential' Marketing

Small Austin, Texas, firm occupies key spot in growing niche of experiential marketing; clients include Dell Inc. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

Austin, TX, May 20, 2007 --( Back in October 2004, a year after it was founded, the bank account for Austin, Texas-based GamePlan Marketing & Events LLC dwindled to a mere $42 – a formidable cash-flow wake-up call for any startup. Cutting costs, giving up paychecks and promoting their strengths led GamePlan out of trouble and onto the path of success.

Throughout its four years in business, GamePlan has marched ahead with two meager lines of business credit totaling $45,000 as well as personal credit card debt assumed by co-founders Keith Dudley and Tim Hayden.

More than 18 months ago, Dudley and Hayden had pondered an offer of $350,000 from an angel investor. But that proposal wasn’t embraced by the partners, who say bootstrapping ultimately was their only option.

"It's been extremely challenging at times," Hayden, president of the experiential marketing firm, says of GamePlan’s progress. "But we've never wanted to dilute the company or share our great opportunity with someone who doesn't share our vision and determination. Instead, we’ve chosen to let revenue dictate our growth."

Despite sometimes rocky finances, GamePlan has flourished. In 2003, the firm posted revenue of just $150,000. Revenue surged to $400,000 in 2004 and $800,000 in 2005, and surpassed $1 million in 2006.

This year, GamePlan is moving along even more swiftly: During the first 45 days of 2007, the firm billed more business than it had during the first six months of 2006. GamePlan shares its success with the community by committing nearly 10 percent of its resources – time, talent and money – toward community support and contributions to nonprofit organizations.

Hayden attributes the success of the experiential marketing firm to patience, resilience and persistence, "the three virtues that every entrepreneur must hang onto and must couple with his or her vision and passion."

Creativity hasn't hurt, either. For instance, GamePlan provided design labor and Web site production to a company in exchange for the conference table and four of the desks at its offices in downtown Austin. Furthermore, the company operates with only six full-time team members. Until September 2005, Dudley and Hayden were the only employees; they made do with contract workers and interns.

Dudley says GamePlan leans heavily on its "bench philosophy" – outsourcing design, copywriting, production and a variety of other tasks to 30 to 50 contract workers around the world. This empowers GamePlan to provide the level of service you’d expect from a larger advertising or marketing firm, while remaining small and agile, still able to conduct business just about anywhere around the world.

"It doesn’t make sense for us to keep people on the payroll 365 days a year when we may need their concentrated services for only 30 days. Each client and campaign is so different," says Dudley, creative vice president of the experiential marketing firm.

Indeed, GamePlan's clients are diverse as well. Among current and past clients are Dell Inc., Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Oracle Corp., the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, Bacardi U.S.A. Inc. and Aspen Pure Water.

GamePlan Marketing & Events, founded in 2003, is an experiential marketing agency that helps companies build their brands, increase awareness and improve success through memorable, engaging experiences. Those "experiences" often are events whose components include new media, entertainment, sponsorships, viral marketing and guerilla marketing.

At the outset, Dudley and Hayden ran their business from a coffee shop. They moved to an office rented by the hour, followed by "seed" space provided by a major law firm in Austin. The first true GamePlan address was 2,800 square feet subleased from public relations firm Loomis Group. Now, GamePlan is housed in 2,000 square feet it leases in the Hannig Row office building at East Sixth and Brazos streets in downtown Austin.

"We're on solid footing now, and we keep building our client base," Hayden says. "We are extremely excited about our future."

GamePlan Marketing & Events LLC
John Egan