THE THOUGHTFUL ENTREPRENEUR PODCAST
Phil Mershon emphasizes the need to go beyond just providing good content or service. He believes the key to success is delivering a great overall experience. This can be achieved by adding surprise and delight, personalization, and going above and beyond to turn negative experiences into positive ones.
For instance, consider the example of Disney. They've implemented creative solutions, such as fast passes and interactive experiences within lines, to enhance the overall experience for visitors.
Phil also delves into the power of creating memorable experiences in events. He acknowledges that while there may be unavoidable negative aspects in any event, such as long lines or uncomfortable weather, the key is to focus on creating strong and powerful moments that overshadow the negatives.
By doing so, people will remember the highlights, like meeting characters or watching fireworks, and forget about the less enjoyable parts. This strategy, referred to as “stacking,” emphasizes positive moments to make the negative ones seem less consequential.
Key Points from the Episode:
- Importance of creating memorable experiences in various settings
- Elements of surprise and delight, personalization, and going above and beyond
- Identifying and addressing potential friction points
- Examples of Disney's creative solutions to enhance experiences
- Power of creating memorable experiences in events
- Strategy of “stacking” positive moments to overshadow negatives
- Introduction of the concept of “DRiED” challenges for event planners
- Recommendation of the book “Unforgettable” for event planning
- Applicability of the book to various contexts
About Phil Mershon:
Phil Mershon is a creative innovator who combines existing products and ideas to craft unforgettable experiences. Notably, in fourth grade, he conceptualized the barbequed Pringles potato chip and garnered hundreds of signatures on a petition to Pringles, although the idea didn't materialize.
Today, Mershon's imaginative approach is evident in his role as the Director of Experience for Social Media Examiner, where he curates the exceptional atmosphere of their signature event, Social Media Marketing World.
He also enhances the experiences across products like the Social Media Marketing Society and Crypto Business Conference. His innovative touch includes incorporating live music, original performances, and professional emcees into conferences, making them stand out.
Beyond event planning, Mershon is a skilled conference speaker, workshop leader, and upcoming author of “Unforgettable: The Art and Science of Creating Memorable Experiences.” He also hosts the “Man in the Pew” show, guiding Christian men seeking to integrate their faith into all aspects of life. With expertise in leadership, public speaking, writing, and event organization, Phil Mershon is a trailblazer in creating impactful and memorable experiences.
About Social Media Examiner:
Social Media Examiner is the premier destination for small businesses seeking effective marketing strategies in the digital age. Serving as the world's largest small business marketing resource, it empowers millions of companies by offering insights on connecting with customers, driving web traffic, boosting brand awareness, and increasing sales.
At its core, Social Media Examiner believes that strategic marketing can level the playing field, enabling even small businesses to compete with industry giants. Their mission revolves around helping companies navigate the ever-evolving marketing landscape, providing valuable resources to stay competitive.
Social Media Examiner delivers a wealth of information through original articles, expert interviews, groundbreaking research, and up-to-date news to enhance marketing efforts. Additionally, they host large-scale events and training sessions that grant access to top industry experts, ensuring businesses can stay at the forefront of marketing trends and innovation.
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Links Mentioned in this Episode:
Want to learn more? Check out Social Media Examiner website at
Check out Social Media Examiner on LinkedIn at
Check out Phil Mershon on LinkedIn at
Check out Phil Mershon website at
Check out Phil Mershon on Facebook at
Check out Phil Mershon on Instagram at
Check out Phil Mershon on Twitter at
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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence.com and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now. I'm so excited for this conversation because it's my good friend, Phil, Mershon. Phil, we've known each other. I should have looked this up. And I want to say maybe 2015 or 2016 is maybe how we connected through social media marketing world, which of course you have a long and storied background with well known in the marketing community.
Josh (00:01:22) - And also, Phil, you are the author of the new book Unforgettable The Art and Science of Creating Memorable Experiences. Well, Phil, you're the perfect person to pen this book, so I want to say congratulations and thank you. And you are also found on the web at Phil Merchant. Phil, thank you so much for being here.
Phil (00:01:44) - Hey, it's my pleasure. Josh, and I think you're about right. 2016 sounds about when we first started working together. Yeah, I know you were there a few years and a bunch of different capacities, So yeah, it's exciting to be on the show with you, man.
Josh (00:01:57) - Yeah, absolutely. It's and by the way, I just have to compliment, you know, and to anyone who's not familiar with social media, marketing world or social media examiner, please do look into that amazing community that that you and Mike have created in so many others have put together and facilitate. It is it's just a great culture and in the world of marketing, to get it right, you know, where it's not to grow and transactional, but it truly heart centered social media marketing world is.
Josh (00:02:32) - Absolutely. You guys have just nailed it on culture. So I just want to compliment you for all of your work there. Um, but, and you know, obviously let's get it get into the book, but anything that you want to share, you know, about, you know, kind of social media marketing world and social media Examiner in the work that you do with Mike.
Phil (00:02:49) - Yeah, I think you nailed it. I mean, I'd say some of the things we've done, we learned as we went. Some of it is kind of observing what happened here. How do we keep that going? So I think the culture is one of those things that in the first couple of years we're just being ourselves. You know, we're just being ourselves generous and noticing who are the people contributing that that created that culture, watching and seeing the things that were happening, things like people who called it a family reunion for the business world or is like the best case of summer camp and saying, well, why are they seeing that and what are they doing that's making it different? And notice who the speakers are that seem to really resonate.
Phil (00:03:30) - They're the ones that will hang out in what we call a networking plaza. And so why do some do that? And others come in, drop their bomb of knowledge and leave, Which do we want? And so just over time, noticing what's creating this culture and then service just became something that we understood, just like in a restaurant, just like anywhere you go, if you have great service, that's going to make you want to go back. I was thinking about this this week, Josh, that if a restaurant has great food but bad service, you're going to order takeout. Right?
Josh (00:04:03) - Yeah.
Phil (00:04:03) - If it has. Okay. Food, but great service. You might keep going back because the experience was so wonderful. Oh yeah. Chefs will say they're about 5050 in importance. Like the great chefs will say the food has to be great, but the service does too. You can't say it's just about the food and obviously you can't say it's just about the service. And I think at an event the same thing is true.
Phil (00:04:26) - We can put so much focus on having the right content and great content, but if it's not delivered well, I was talking to a friend yesterday who he went to hear some of the best drummers in the world and he was sitting in this session and the nod was great, but it was not delivered in a great way. It was boring, so it wasn't served to them well in a way that made them stay engaged. And he he wished that he hadn't spent the money. So I'll just start with that. That's, that's what comes to mind.
Josh (00:04:53) - Yeah. So when we're talking about experiences filled, can you maybe set some, some framework for what we're talking about when we talk about experiences? Because it says application to everybody today.
Phil (00:05:06) - Yeah, I mean, the book was written from the perspective of an event organizer. My whole career I've been involved with training for non-profits for corporate America and then social media marketing World the last 11 years I've been working on that. So it's written from that perspective.
Phil (00:05:24) - But truly, if you're creating an experience, it could be a dinner party, could be a day long workshop or seminar that you're doing. If you're in corporate America and you're running events and you're a manager or a mid-level manager and you're responsible for training people, it could be that there's so many places that the experience that you're creating does matter. And so I want to help you create something that stands the test of time. And I think what what the truth is, I like to draw a bell curve on the left end of that bell curve is the negative, unforgettable experiences that we wish we could forget. But you can't forget because it was so bad. And on the right end of the bell curve are those events that everybody wants. Those are the ones that we treasure. Those are the ones you want everyone talking about. But unfortunately, the 80% in the middle I would call boring in the sense that they're forgettable. People do forget about it. And those are the things, you know. So it could be your restaurant, it could be your store.
Phil (00:06:22) - There's nothing that stands out, nothing that makes them talk about it, nothing that makes them want to go back or tell their friends, you've got to go experience this. So people talk about social media marketing world the way they do because we've created that kind of experience. Concerts, you know, Taylor Swift does that right now. Right? There are swifties, whether you like it or not. She creates a great experience. Your business can do that no matter what business you're in. You can create great experiences that make people glad that they're doing business with you and look forward to the next time.
Josh (00:06:54) - Yeah, you know, and I was I remember listening to maybe it's Tony Robbins or someone like that, but they were talking about these, you know, creating moments of surprise and delight. And I would imagine that that's a key component to this, right?
Phil (00:07:10) - 100%. Yeah. I think it's creating the unexpected. So something that people aren't necessarily expecting. But if it's personalized and it's a surprise and you're making somebody's day, you're going out of your way to either turn a negative experience into a positive, that could be surprising delight.
Phil (00:07:28) - Like they're having a bad day and they're lost their luggage or their tickets not in the system, and they're having to wait in line an hour. And you make their day by saying, you know what, we are so sorry here, here's a ticket for a coffee, here's a ticket for lunch. Actually, let me go get you a coffee. All of a sudden you're like taking. Oh, and is there someone you want to meet? Is there something I can do for you? Like just keep adding on. So personalizing your experience. And if it's a they're already having a good day and you just make it that much better. You met them and realized, Hey, they wanted to meet Josh Elledge and Josh is the person that would make their day if they could meet him. And you make that happen for them, then they're like, Whoa, blown away. So 100%. That's part of making something memorable for the individual. So you've got those individual experiences and then you've got the group like everybody being surprised and delighted by something.
Phil (00:08:21) - Maybe a surprise visit from Seth Godin. If you're at a marketing conference or a surprise musician dropping in or if it's a birthday party and no one's expecting, you know, their favorite Disney character is going to show up or whatever it might be, you can create those moments that everyone's going to talk about. It's like it takes something that's ordinary and makes it extraordinary.
Josh (00:08:43) - You know, one thing I'm thinking about as we're talking about this is also being aware, introspective, curious as well about maybe those those friction points. Right? So, for example, like I'm thinking about, you know, we live here in Orlando and we go to Disney quite frequently. And it's amazing what people do that's actually not quite fun. You know, crowds certainly if you go to Disney during the summer, which I don't highly recommend, but, you know, it's like 95 degrees, 100% humidity. You're crowded, you're waiting in line for hours at a time. And so Disney's got some big hills to climb, you know, in terms of like this baked in friction.
Josh (00:09:32) - And I think as an event organizer, you know, understanding and being aware of these potential friction points and, you know, some of these negatives that might come with just logistics. Right? How do you handle or how do you advise event planners to kind of anticipate and, you know, find solutions or find ways to make that a better experience overall?
Phil (00:10:00) - Couple responses there. So, number one, acknowledge what those spots are. Identify what they are. Don't be afraid of them. Acknowledge them and then come up with plans. In some cases, all you can do is neutralize it. Some things are just what they are like. Lines are going to happen. But why did they create fast passes at Disney? Because that was a creative solution. Why do they actually have experiences happening within the line? So if a lot of those rides, at least once you get in the building, maybe if you're standing outside in the stanchions, there's not much going on. But once you get in the building, there's experiences that they've created knowing that you're going to be in line for 45 minutes.
Phil (00:10:42) - They've got something every few minutes that's happening. So come up with solutions that will either neutralize or maybe make that a highlight. But here's one thing that Disney knows and the Heath Brothers, Chip and Dan Heath, who were professors at Stanford, wrote the book The Power of Moments. And so they studied this with Disney and they said, you know, there are just those bad things. There's things that are going to get a low score no matter what you do, standing in line, buying expensive Cokes, sweating when the kids are, you know, yelling and screaming and crying and they've got snot in their nose and whatever. You can't totally avoid those things. But the thing that you can do is you create such strong, powerful moments that when people look back on their experience, they don't remember this standing in line. They forget that it's miserable in the middle of July and August to stand in line in the heat of Orlando. They forget about it until they go. The next time. It's like, Oh shoot, why did I forget that? But because what they're going to remember is Space Mountain meeting Goofy, the fireworks show the parade.
Phil (00:11:47) - So they've hit those high points and they're ending on a high. There's nothing like the fireworks show at Disney. Right. And they they spend a lot of money on it. Not as much as they used to because they use lasers now, but they spend a lot more money on that show than anyone else does. And they do it every day of the year. So so that's one thing is focus on the high points. Make those so good that the the bad ones don't seem so bad anymore and people won't remember them if they've had a lot of highs. So I call that stacking just like in atomic habits. He talks about stacking habits. I think you can stack moments up and create such a powerful memory that the negative things don't seem as consequential anymore, but then have a plan for each thing. You know, I come up with the formula called dried, which looks at dull or boring things about your event resistance. So where do people stand back and becomes skeptical and how do you solve that? I stands for isolated.
Phil (00:12:47) - Where are they? Where are they staying To themselves and not getting engaged. E stands for exhausted. What's going to cause them to be overwhelmed or worn out? And then the final is distraction. What's going to cause them to have their squirrel moments, you know, where they're not staying focused and have and your your list might look look different. I think those are five that are really powerful within an event. But depending on what kind of experience you have, you may come up with a slightly different list, but have a plan of attack for each one of those things. And so I think lean into the positives, neutralize the negatives, and then have a plan of attack for each one of them.
Josh (00:13:23) - Yeah. Phil, the book, which I highly, highly, highly, highly, highly recommend, Unforgettable The Art and Science of Creating Memorable Experiences. Who should be reading this book? Is it just people that are putting online or in-person events together?
Phil (00:13:41) - That's one audience. I think if you're responsible for creating events anywhere.
Phil (00:13:47) - If you're a business owner, you're a meeting planner. Yes. I wrote this for Subject matter experts who want to create workshops and seminars and events around their knowledge area. I also wrote it for people in the association world who are putting on monthly meetings for their membership. I also put it together for the people inside of corporate America who are responsible for helping managers put on training events of all different varieties that could be new employee orientation. It could be some kind of management philosophy, it could be whatever. A lot of those are the places that people say, You know what, I have to go. This is required training, and I wish I didn't have to go. So if you're if you are responsible for something that's like that, that's like mandatory and you could take it from being something people dread to something, they actually look forward and come back and say, Man, that was the best thing ever. That was nothing like what I thought it was going to be. This is for you.
Phil (00:14:46) - But I think you can also use it if you're planning birthday parties and family vacations, like there's principles in there that apply outside of the business world, but it's written for the business world. If you're in the religious space and you're planning retreats for your church or even business retreats, it's for anything that has a group of people coming together to have an experience, and you want it to be profound and impactful and memorable, then you're going to find help in this book.
Josh (00:15:16) - Yeah. Phil, I want to just get your insights as well on what do you see as the future of events. You know, and I think the past few years have been interesting to say the least. Where do you think we're headed?
Phil (00:15:34) - Live events are back. They are growing again. People are investing in them. I don't think we can escape them. In fact, I don't think we want to escape them. I think people want to be together, but they want to come together with intention. I think before the pandemic we put on events because we're supposed to put on events and there's a lot of things that were wasteful about events and impactful.
Phil (00:15:58) - So I think people's standards have risen and they're going to question, you know, do I need to hop on a plane or a train or a car to get to this meeting? Is it worth being there in person? Could I get the value out of it by staying home? I think is a question that people are going to be asking themselves if it's purely just to learn. So you need to show them that the community and the experiences that you're creating are worth the travel and it's going to be something that they want to do. So can you do something together in this space that you couldn't do at home? That's that's going to be something people are measuring. They want to travel. You know, a lot of us are concerned about the environment and the carbon footprint of events is huge. When you start thinking about all the gas that's consumed with 1000 or 2000 or 5000 people getting to an event, it's not something we thought about five, seven years ago. We just did it because this is what we've always done.
Phil (00:16:57) - Now people are asking different kinds of questions and so the value is being measured differently. I think online events are also here to stay. I think hybrid is going to be part of the future, but maybe not the way we've always thought of it. And I don't know, but VR could actually be part of our future and be a significant part of our future, especially if you listen to our friend Duncan Wardle from formerly of Disney. He he's putting a stake in the ground that that's where we're going. I think it's part of the world that we're going into. I do think we will experience things in VR. So I think those are a few of the trends. And AI is going to transform the way that we plan and organize our events. So it's going to help us create better apps, get more economical at certain things. But I don't think you're going to see robots getting on stage delivering content that was written by I. I don't think any of us want that. I think we want human content like we're having right now.
Phil (00:17:54) - This is a conversation that I could not have predicted, the questions you were going to ask or the things that I was going to say it. If you gave it to it in advance, it might have sounded more intelligent, but it's not going to be as relational as what we're doing right now.
Josh (00:18:08) - Yeah. So Mershown, again, your website is fill mershon.com. Your book is Unforgettable The Art and Science of creating memorable experiences where so either at your website how do people connect with you and engage with you how how can they. You are so generous. I want to compliment you this you just as a personal. Thank you. Phil, you've absolutely impacted my life in a significant, significant way. So I just. I just. I just I'm very, very grateful for you and I and I hope that other people can have the experience of kind of being in your world. Would you mind sharing maybe some ways that that folks can engage?
Phil (00:18:51) - I would say the best two places to go are LinkedIn and Facebook, and you can provide those URLs to everybody.
Phil (00:19:00) - Look me up. There are other film machines out there. I'm not the film person. Just to be clear, although my mom thinks I am the film version, but that's the only one who counts. Yeah, I would say reach me there. Email Right now I'm going to say PJ Meyerson at Gmail is the best way to reach me because my business one's not working. So hopefully it is by the time this airs. But PJ Marsan will get to me for for a long time to come.
Josh (00:19:29) - Yeah. Phil Mershon, again, thank you so much for joining us. Phil Mershon. Thanks, Phil.
Phil (00:19:35) - Thank you, Josh.
Josh (00:19:42) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up My Influence slash guest. If you're a listener, I'd love to shout out your business to our whole audience for free. You can do that by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or join our listener Facebook group. Just search for the thoughtful entrepreneur and Facebook.
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