Launching Contests to Grow Your Business
Gabe Schillinger is a music producer who took his passion for marketing and turned it into a 7-figure business, Legion Beats. Today, he also teaches entrepreneurs in music and other industries how to grow and scale their businesses.
In today’s interview, I interview him about launching contests to grow your business.
Watch the video of my interview with Gabe or read the transcript below!
LinksGabe’s Viral Contest Training, Contest Launch Secrets MidiMoney.com LegionBeats.com/free Deadline Funnel
Jack Born: Hey, everyone. This is Jack Born, founder of Deadline Funnel, and I’m here with Gabe Schillinger, who is gonna be sharing with us his experience. He’s had a whole bunch of accomplishments. You probably see some awards in the background showing some of the accomplishments that he’s done, not just in the music industry, but also in the marketing world, in growing his business. And so my team reached out to Gabe and asked if he would come and share some of what’s been working for him. So Gabe, great to have you here.
Gabe Schillinger: Jack, really appreciate you taking the time. I’m a fan of you, and I love Deadline Funnel. So I’m excited to hang out and chat with you.
Jack Born: Awesome. So as I mentioned, you’ve had a lot of success, but before we get into what you’re gonna share today, let’s take everyone back, and can you back us up and give us the context of where you started? And how did you get into the world of entrepreneurship?
Gabe Schillinger: Yeah, for sure. So for me, I am a music producer and engineer, and mostly in the world of Hip Hop and R&B. And so as a producer, mainly my job is to make the music that a rapper or a singer will rap or sing to, and in the business we call those “beats”. So when I talk about beats, I’m talking about those instrumentals, like the music itself. And so, when I started that career, I kind of started the way I thought you had to, which is sort of playing the music industry game, basically trying to sell my music to record labels more or less. And so I always thought my big break would come from getting a check from the label or getting the right manager to come save me or getting a publishing deal or whatever it was. And so I just worked on my craft and spent a long time in the studio and tried to kind of work my way up the local Hip Hop scene, which I’m here in the Bay Area in California. And had a couple of highlights, got to work with some of the rappers I grew up listening to and got to hear myself on the radio and went to see the Warriors play and heard some of my songs play in the arena there. And so some pretty cool highlights and things, but really after, 10 plus years of doing that, I realized, you know what, this is not gonna be sustainable. It’s not something where I’m gonna be able to really support myself, support my family or anything like that. I was just not feeling great about where I was at at that point. I had moved back in with my dad and just not feeling great.
And so I was pretty much ready to give up on music and then kind of thought, “well, let me try selling beats online. Maybe that would be kind of like a last ditch effort. Maybe I can make just enough to cover my rent or something.” And long story short, that kind of got me into the world of marketing because I tried selling beats online. And I just did a little bit of research and started to go down that rabbit hole. And it was interesting because I never thought of myself as a marketer, as an entrepreneur. A lot of people have that story where like they were kids, and they would like sell candy to the other kids or whatever. Like I never had any of that. I just wanted to be in a studio, but when I started learning some of these cool new marketing funnels and direct response marketing and all the cool stuff that you talk about, I got really excited about it. And I started to actually get results. I started to actually sell beats, and it’s a really, really tough industry, just being a music in general, being a producer, trying to sell beats online is really tough. And just clearing the bar of being able to quit your day job is like a big accomplishment. So I started applying some of these frameworks, like using funnels and different things like that. I was able to do the first six-figure launch in my niche, which was like mind-blowing. We had over $200,000 in sales in a week, and it was like, “selling beats online? Like this is crazy!” And then ultimately got a Two Comma Club Award for that, for doing over seven figures in sales, which at the time was higher than I think most people in our niche thought was possible as a ceiling for that niche. So it was really exciting to be like, wait, when you apply this stuff over here, and not just apply the stuff, but actually apply the creativity and the passion and the excitement and the energy and all that stuff that usually I just put in my music, you start putting that into the marketing, the business, putting together these funnels, these campaigns, then it becomes fun. And those that kind of combination is when things really took off. And then from there, started sort of a separate business teaching producers about marketing and business. Was able to grow that to seven figures. And so it’s just been a fun ride that I’ve been on where now I love marketing and entrepreneurship, and I love talking about it and geeking out about all the fun stuff.
Jack Born: That’s an amazing story. Now you kind of glossed over this, if we go back to before you became an entrepreneur and before you started selling beats online, it sounds to me from reading your bio, it sounds like you had achieved a level of success that a lot of people in your industry are striving towards. You worked with some big, big names. Like who are some of the people that you worked with in the industry?
Gabe Schillinger: Yeah, so I got a chance to work with Snoop and Kendrick Lamar, an artist who’s won a ton of Grammys and is very popular. And all the bigger artists out in the Bay Area, that if you’re from the Bay and you listen to Hip Hop you’d know. If I rattle off the names, you might not. So I did okay. I did pretty, pretty well, but what might be surprising to some people and really was surprising to me at that time is even if you’re at that level, you’re really not making much money. Unless you’re really the top fraction of a percent, even if you are working with artists that maybe people have heard of, you’re probably still making very inconsistent money, or maybe not very much money at all.
Jack Born: Yeah so one of my passions is tennis. And so when I look at the professional tennis world, you can be the top 500 in the world, and you’re just barely starting to break even with your costs of traveling to a tournament to tournament. You look at the top five to 10 players in the world, and yeah, they’re crushing it in terms of income, but there’s such a long, long tail of people who are just amazing tennis players who just aren’t making [it]. I think there’s a lot of industries like that. And one of the things that I love about entrepreneurship and I love about marketing is that, you can be at the far extreme and be just living a life like no one’s ever dreamed of before, at the top 1%. But even if you’re not at that level, even if you’re just barely above the middle of that bell curve, you can be doing really well. You can be supporting yourself and living your dreams and creating and reaching an audience and inspiring people and improving their lives, and it’s a type of thing that can sustain a really, really good income. You don’t have to be like the top 1% of 1% in order for you to be doing really well. So it sounds like your story kind of mirrors that, just instead substitute tennis for the industry that you were in. So let’s talk about what has really worked for you. I mean you said you love to geek out about this stuff. Let’s have a geek out session and talk about some of the things that have worked really well. Particularly I think one of the things that we definitely wanna hit on are the way that you use contests.
Gabe Schillinger: Yeah.
Jack Born: So talk to me about what’s worked really well for you that someone listening might be able to apply in their business.
Gabe Schillinger: Yeah, so one of the things that’s worked really well that I love to talk about is viral contests and giveaways. It’s something that I think I saw somebody implement a very simple version where somebody opted in for like a wait list, and it said, “hey, if you share this with three friends, we’ll give you this additional bonus or something.” It’s like, “oh, that’s pretty cool.” You’re kind of leveraging your current audience to bring you more people. And then so I think I implemented that first and then just turned it into more and more of its own thing. So it was like, first, it was just like, oh yeah, if you get, refer three people, you get this. And then it turned into, well, what if we did a couple of different levels of prizes? And then, what if we actually made this whole big contest thing? Whoever gets the most points gets a big grand prize. And so that contest, which originally was built to essentially be a wait list to lead up to a launch, turned into really its own thing that was profitable by itself, generated a ton of leads and was the perfect kind of way to build some momentum to go into a launch. And so we’ve been able to yeah, accomplish some cool things with that. So we did a contest actually last year with Snoop, and that one generated over 60,000 leads. And it’s a pretty specific niche. It’s rappers and singers. And that, just the contest funnel itself, which really, I’m happy if I kind of break even and get those leads, but it was actually profitable. We did, I have the stats ready for you, $117,000 just on the contest funnel itself, which again is really mainly to generate leads. But then that led into a couple launches. One was $229,000. Another one was $61,000. So altogether it was almost $400,000 in sales from this viral contest, from this viral giveaway. So it works really well. And basically the idea is figuring out what’s that- the first thing is like figuring out what’s that grand prize that’s gonna get your audience excited, right? Excited enough that they’re actually gonna want to share this and enter it and stuff like that. So the first thing is like understanding well, who is my ideal customer? What’s the result I’m trying to get for them? And so you really want your grand prize to be exciting to them, but maybe not exciting to everybody else, right? So I don’t really recommend doing, say an iPad or, I don’t know, a trip to Hawaii or something, unless you’re a travel blogger maybe. But so like for me, we did last year we did Snoop. The year before it was the winner, we were gonna fly you out to my studio, record, mix, and master a song. We’ll shoot and edit a music video. We’ll come up with a promotion strategy for your next single. All this stuff where, if you’re my dream customer, you’re an independent rapper, singer, that sounds awesome. But if you’re not, it’s not really gonna help you that much, right? Even a Snoop feature, like maybe that sounds cool, but unless you’re gonna do a song, then it’s really only gonna be my audience. So try to think, what’s something that’s pretty cool that your audience is gonna be excited about?
So that’s the first thing to get them to enter. And by the way, it doesn’t have to be super expensive. We’ve done this a few years. So we kind of know, so I can spend some money up front for Snoop or to fly somebody out. The first year I did this, the grand prize was just a bunch of digital beats. It was just digital downloads, but it was a big bundle and enough to get my audience excited. So don’t feel like you have to start there or start very big. And then from there, I usually like to give them a lead magnet as well on that opt-in page. So even if they’re like, “you know what, I never win any contest, whatever, but okay, cool. I want that lead magnet, right?” So I’m just doing every single thing I can to get them from page one to page two between that grand prize and the lead magnet.
And then on page two, I’m trying to do a couple of things. One is I’m trying to introduce myself and build some rapport. I’m also gonna explain how the contest works, which is basically they get their own unique link. When they share that link, when somebody enters with that link, they get points. The more points they get, the more prizes they get. You get the most points, you win the grand prize. And then the third thing I’m doing there is actually selling them my first offer there. So that way I can actually start making some money on that first funnel as well. So then, so now they’re on page two, right? And everything is just like, how can we, I want them to go through this funnel, right? I want them to opt in. I want them to share. I want them to buy. So everything is like, what are all the objections I can knock down to make that they do all those things?
So the first thing is, how do you get them to share, right? ‘Cause people I’ve talked to people who’ve tried to do these viral giveaways or contests, and [they’re] like, “yeah, nobody actually shared the link.” So I kind of have a little framework that helps, a four-step framework. The first one is justifying why you’re doing this contest or giveaway. So if I, on page two there’s a video of me and I say, “hey guys, thanks so much for entering the contest. I’m doing this because I want you to get me a bunch of customers for free,” it’s not very exciting. It’s not very motivating, right? They’re kind of like, “alright, well…” But if instead I say, “hey, what’s up, guys? My mission is to help empower independent rappers and singers to use all these incredible resources that are available to us today so that you can be successful independently and actually make a living doing what you love. And I’d just love your help spreading the word about that mission.” Now, all of a sudden it’s like, “oh, okay, cool. Like, yes, I wanna win these prizes and all this stuff, but I’m also enrolled in Gabe’s mission. I wanna do this”, right?
The second thing, and this kind of ties back to what your prize is, is you wanna make sure that you’re increasing their status and or reinforcing their identity when they share that link. So again, if the grand prize is like an iPad and I’m sharing on my Facebook feed, “hey guys, enter this contest you can win an iPad”, it looks kind of spammy. It looks kind of weird. And so that actually decreases my status. So I probably don’t wanna share that. But if I’m an independent rapper or singer and I’m posting like, “hey, this production team that’s worked with Snoop and Kendrick Lamar, they’re doing this contest and if I win, they’re gonna fly me out to the studio and do all this stuff,” that all of a sudden increases their status. So they’re happy to share that, right? And it reinforces that identity. So whatever their identity, maybe for somebody listening or watching t’s their audience is moms or it’s whatever it is, what’s gonna make them feel good about sharing that thing.
The third thing is that I wanna eliminate any objection they have to sharing by incentivizing them at each level. So a common objection might be, “okay, I see the grand prize. Like if I get the most people to enter is this thing, but I don’t have a big list. I don’t know a bunch of people. There’s no way I’m gonna win while don’t even share.” So I say, “hey, if you just get three people to enter this contest, I’m gonna give you this prize”, right? This free thing. And then it’s like, “well, okay. I can like text a friend. I can share it on Facebook. I bet I can get three people.” And then it’s, “hey, if you get 10 people, you get this.” And they’re like, “well, I got three. I could probably get 10, right?” And so on. And then 15, and then for the top 100, and then the top 10, etc. And so no matter where they’re at, they’re always incentivized to keep sharing. And then the last one, this is sort of the last step of the four-step framework is, there’s this other objection where they’re like, “okay, I entered this contest. I actually think I might win this thing. I have a big audience. I feel confident about it. I think I could actually maybe refer the most people, but there’s this little like cognitive dissonance where, what if I refer too many people or the wrong person and I refer somebody else who actually wins instead of me”, right? So the way that we get rid of that objection, we say, “hey, guess what? If you refer the winner, you win it, too”, and we’re prepared to give out two grand prizes. And now all of a sudden it’s like- Thank you. And now it’s like, all of a sudden it’s like, well, any objection you had is like, man, now not only am I incentivized to share it with as many people as possible, I’m actually incentivized to share it with the people who are most likely to win. In other words, the people who are most likely to bring me more and more of my leads and customers and stuff like that.
Jack Born: But I mean, all of those ideas are gold. Anyone watching this, I highly recommend that you go back and write these down, but that last one really, really struck a chord with me. I don’t know if this is a perfect analogy, but this kind of reminds me- That last idea, it kind of reminds me of that they, from my understanding, when someone wins scratch off lottery ticket, or if they sell just a lottery ticket in general, if someone wins eight million bucks, the gas attendant or the gas station that sold, it gets a piece of the action. They don’t also get the same prize, but they also get a piece of the action. So that’s really, really smart because you’re not only handling that objection, but I think you’ve mentioned this. You’re also really encouraging people. Like if they know that person who probably can win the contest, you’re actually encouraging them to send that. So you’re kind of coaching them, in a way, to send you your ideal clients. So that’s really, really smart. That’s really, really smart.
Gabe Schillinger: Thanks. Yeah, it’s all about, you know, that that’s, what’s so cool about these. It’s all about the virality. How can we incentivize people to share it and share it with the right people? So that’s, yeah, so and that worked really well. We had a lot of people share that. Some of the, we use a software called Upviral to keep track of the stats and stuff, and they keep track of some of the things like the shares. And we had like over 50% share rate, or over 50% of the people who entered actually shared it. And there was something like, I think 10 or 12,000 people who shared it on Facebook. And it’s like, if you run Facebook ads, this is essentially a bunch of free Facebook ads. So it’s just another way to get your stuff in front of people. And you’re actually incentivizing your clients to bring you clients. And then it’s also the perfect launch point to do other launches, to introduce other products. So one version of this is what we’ll do is we’ll make a big deal about the winners announcement, right? And so we’ll really make an event of it. We’ll make sure everybody knows about it. We have a big run-up to it, emails, text message, however we can reach people, let them know, “hey, show up live. We’re gonna be announcing the winners. We’re gonna be giving away more prizes.” So maybe have some prizes ready. It could be prizes that you were already giving away or something else, and have everybody show up so everybody’s there. Everybody’s excited. I don’t do like a leaderboard or anything. So nobody knows, everybody shows up because they wanna know who won or most importantly, if they won, right? ‘Cause some of these will have an option to do a leaderboard and that can be incentivizing in its own way. But to me, I want people to show up to that announcement. So I personally don’t show it.
And then what we do is we say like, “hey, like this has been awesome. We really appreciate you guys helping to spread our mission to empower artists. And we’re about to announce the winners in the second, but we were thinking like, man, we could stop here. But if there’s something we can do to keep it going. So we actually decided that one of these prizes that you guys have been trying to win,” like maybe it’s the prize for the top 10 or top 100 or something, “we’re actually gonna make available for sale right now at a discount. And the cart is open right now. So this is just our way of thanking you.” And then it’s like a no-brainer because it’s already been positioned in their mind as this thing they’re hustling, they’re trying to get, they’re trying to win. And all of a sudden they can get that thing at a discount. And that’s the launch that where we’re able to do that first six figure launch in our niche, in whatever it is, $200,000 sales a week was from that, from launching, in this case, it was a beat pack off the back of that contest itself.
Jack Born: So let me back up and make sure that I’ve got this straight, and correct me if I don’t. So what you end up selling them at a discount is not the top prize, but it’s like the second tier or third tier prize, but it’s actually what you’re gonna be launching. Is that correct?
Gabe Schillinger: Yeah, so I’ve done different versions of this, and it might work differently. So in sort of one of the earlier iterations of this, the grand prize was a giant beat pack. And it was like every beat we made that year, which is a digital download, essentially free for us to fulfill on. And that was actually the grand prize. And then that was the thing we announced as the… so if you do it that way, it’s very, very effective, right? ‘Cause it’s like, “oh my god, we’re all winners. This is awesome. I can go get this thing.”
Eventually, as we started to grow this thing and we made the grand prize something that cost us thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to fulfill on, that obviously doesn’t become an option anymore. So now the next best option is, “well, maybe we could make it something that was a lower tiered price or lower tier low price and prize.” So it works great if it is that top prize, it just might not make sense depending on what that top prize is.
Jack Born: Got you. So how long do you typically run your contests? Have you found over time an ideal number of days?
Gabe Schillinger: Yeah, so I would say at least eight weeks because it takes a little bit of time to kind of get that momentum. And usually what’ll happen is you’ll get a nice push at the beginning, especially if you have an existing list or get some affiliates or get some partners on there and then a little push at the end, right? Just like basically people are, “okay, it’s the last minute. Let me see what I can do.” So the whole thing is kind of trying to figure out how do you not have that slump? And for me the way that we’ve not had that slump is to combine the viral nature of it, where the leads are bringing in more leads, but then also doing paid traffic and also having affiliates. And by the way, it’s a great thing to bring affiliates on for, because their audience loves it because it’s like, “hey, do you wanna enter this free contest where you can win this really cool thing?” It also elevates the status of those affiliates because it’s like, “hey, I teamed up with Gabe from Legion Beats and Snoop, and we’re doing this thing,” so they’re happy to share it. They’re happy to be a part of it. And so to start, you might do about eight weeks. What we found, what I’ve found is like, for example, the one we did last year, I think we did it for like four months or something like that. And we were about at month three, and I was like, “oh man, we got the ads going. We’re profitable. Everything’s going great. This funnel was a lot of work to build, and now I’ve got to shut it down in a month, like damn.” So this year we’re actually doing a six month contest. We’re actually just launching that, but I would not start there. I would do that if you feel confident that you’re gonna be able to consistently bring in traffic, whether it- probably the only way that I could think of to consistently bring in paid traffic for six months would be if you’re doing some kind of paid traffic strategy and you feel pretty confident that it’s gonna work for you. Otherwise I’d say probably like two months is gonna be a good starting point.
Jack Born: Okay. Even the two months number is a lot longer than I thought you were gonna say, so I’m really glad that I asked. So something that you said earlier that I just wanted clarification on, you said, I believe you said on the thank you page after they enter the contest, you’re not only explaining how it works, but you’re also selling them on, so can you go through that? Because the common messaging and marketing advice is that if you try to accomplish too many things in your message, then you’re chasing too many birds, so to speak. So but you’re obviously making this work, so talk to me a little bit about that. What are some of the nuances there?
Gabe Schillinger: Yeah, I mean, that’s a tricky one. I’m a funnel guy. I believe in one call to action. A confused mind says “no”. All that good stuff. And so I’ve definitely, as I’ve made this contest more and more complex over each iteration, that’s always been a concern of mine. And so far it’s been working. So I think part of it is being really clear and being clear about, okay, I do kind of have three outcomes that I want on this page. I mean, really two. One is introduce myself, but that’s gonna go for anything. The other thing is explaining how this contest works, which honestly is complicated enough, but try to explain it. And then also explain that there is something for sale. And so there’s a few different ways to do this. The version that I like is if you can tie it to that lead magnet, it feels like a more natural progression. So think about let’s say that lead magnet is step one of your framework. Here’s the rest of your framework. Or, like for us, maybe it’s an upgrade, right? So for us it was, “hey, here’s some free beats.” The first thing that we have sold has been an upgrade to those beats, essentially, without getting deep into it, you get a certain type of license where you’re allowed to do certain things with that music. Now you can upgrade to where you can do more things with that music. So it’s a natural progression. It was like, “hey, if you like those beats you got for free, how would you like to upgrade those?” Or “if you liked that thing that you got for free, how would you like the next steps for that thing?” And then essentially we just have like an SLO type funnel, a self-liquidating offer, a tripwire type funnel where it’s like, first we’ve got the contest in front. So like opt into the contest, then that sort of thank you / share page. And then the next page is a sales page, which is really sort of an order form. It’s not very complicated because I didn’t wanna make that offer too complex, and then we’ve got some upsells and all that other fun stuff that you’d put in a funnel.
Jack Born: That’s awesome. And, okay, so the tools that you use, you mentioned Upviral. I know that you’re a ClickFunnels user. What are some other things that if someone wants to replicate this, what are some other tools that someone’s going to be wanting to use?
Gabe Schillinger: So, well, one that I have definitely used is Deadline Funnel. So one way that you incorporate Deadline Funnel, which I’m sure if people are watching this probably have a good idea, but essentially you can create realistic evergreen countdown timers. And so one version of this could be, hey, that first offer that you get is only available for let’s say seven days or five days after they opt in. So now you’re creating some urgency. Maybe you’re running that contest for a few months, but there’s not a ton of urgency if they’re opting in on January 1st and the thing ends July 1st, right? So you can use something like Deadline Funnel to give each person their own personalized deadline where, hey, if you do wanna get that first upgrade, that’s gonna be seven days within opting in or a discount on that upgrade can be… and then the way that you can set that up is you have, for the first seven days it goes to one sales page. Then after that, it redirects to another version that maybe has a higher price. So that’s something that can really help increase those conversions on the front end. And then, yeah, as far as other software, sort of the usual, an email autoresponder, something to host your videos to put on the pages, but nothing else that’s too crazy that I can think of the top of my head.
Jack Born: Got you. And how often during this two month period are you emailing the people who have entered the contest? Is it weekly? Multiple times a week? Daily?
Gabe Schillinger: Yeah, a lot. I kind of hammer my list, and I’ve been text messaging as well, and at different times, Facebook Messenger. And I just wanna hit them from all sides. And so what I’ll have is when they opt in, I’ll have an email a day usually for about 10 days, seven to 14 days, something like that, because I am trying to do all those things that I talked about on the second page of the funnel, where I’m trying to introduce myself and tell my story, explain how the contest works, maybe coach them through because not everybody who enters is a marketer. In fact, for me, none of them really are, right? My audience is not marketers. They’re artists. So I might give them a couple of tips about how to share, “hey, maybe you can find some Facebook groups or Discords or whatever, and share the link there.” You can coach them up a little bit. And then I also wanna tell them about that first offer. So I’m doing all of those things throughout those emails. So I’m hitting them up every day by email, probably for the first couple of weeks or so. Maybe a text message per week. I might sneak in like three in the first two weeks, something like that, but try not to go too crazy with the text messages. Usually about one a week I think is enough. Otherwise people get annoyed by that. And then from there, it’s sort of more like maybe checking in like once every couple of weeks of just kind of like reminding them if they were somebody who opted in early. And then as we get towards the end, maybe a month from the end, now we’re sending broadcasts like, “hey, there’s one month left,” “hey, there’s two weeks left,” “there’s a week left”, letting them know about the announcement, getting excited about that. Now they’re starting to get emails every day again, leading up to the end. And then we do the launch and then that next launch, and then they’re getting emails probably every day for that week or however long that cart is open.
Jack Born: That’s fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing all about this. If someone wants to learn more about this, do you actually teach this process?
Gabe Schillinger: I do indeed. Yes. So if you go to contestlaunchsecrets.com, I’ve got a training there, a webinar where you can check it out. And then of course, if you decide, you wanna work with me a little bit more closely, there’s an offer there and you’ll find Deadline Funnel on that autowebinar as well. Contestlaunchsecrets.com.
Jack Born: Fantastic, and if someone is in the music industry and they wanna check out your other stuff, how, how can they, what’s the best place for them to check out your beats and those sorts of things?
Gabe Schillinger: Yeah, so if you’re a music producer, you wanna learn specifically about marketing for producers, that would be Midimoney.com. And if you’re an artist or you just wanna funnel hack and take a look at what we’re doing on that side, you could go to legionbeats.com/free.
Jack Born: Fantastic. Gabe, this has been just a gold nugget of information after gold nugget. This has been fantastic. Thank you so much for showing up here and for sharing what’s been working so well in your business. This has really been great.
Gabe Schillinger: My pleasure.