Who Is Christian Banach?
How It All Started
I grew up in a Chicago working-class household. Dad immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine and played soccer for the U.S. National Team and professionally in the 1970s when sports salaries were not what they are today. After he retired, Dad worked as an airline chef.
Mom grew up at a time when women were discouraged from going to college. She struggled to find good work and waited tables to make ends meet.
We were a decidedly lower-middle-class family. Any extra money my parents did make went to making sure my sister and I had the necessities and a good education.
I told myself I didn’t want to live like that. I was entrepreneurial early, starting a lawn service at 12, and buying and selling baseball cards.
In high school in the late 1990s, I was hanging at juice bars that were still playing ’70s and ’80s music, just as house music was booming. I saw an opportunity, rented a banquet hall, booked “real” DJs, printed flyers, and went to promote at every school, shopping mall, and record store around. Over 1,000 tickets sold, and a business was born.
I did events wherever I could get space, and soon was also selling DJ mixtapes out of the trunk of my car to pay for college.
I graduated from DePaul University and got a job as a marketing coordinator. I was still producing and promoting events on the side. But I soon realized that I was making more money, having more fun, and learning more with my side hustle than I was with the “real job.”
Taking a Leap
I quit and went all in.
My company, Global Adrenaline, managed, marketed, or hosted over 300 events and concerts annually. Soon I was doing business with major hospitality groups like Starwood and Hilton. I built a sales and marketing machine that leveraged outbound sales to sell tens of thousands of tickets to our events. I sold sponsorships to Anheuser-Busch, Absolut, Miller Coors, and Red Bull. The business earned more than $10MM in lifetime revenue.
Corporate America took notice that I knew how to get the attention of millennials. I launched an experiential marketing division that would activate events and marketing programs for brands like Disney, Toyota, and Allstate. It soon became my primary business focus.
New Kid on the Block
I was doing a wide range of business development functions for the agency: researching, prospecting, and networking at industry events.
I was an outsider. I learned on the job with no agency experience.
We expanded to Las Vegas, Cancun, Miami, Phoenix/Scottsdale, and Louisville, working with major artists like Lady Gaga and Pitbull.
But, as a small-business owner, I wore many hats. If a printer broke, I was IT. When someone needed a check, I was accounting. I found myself frustrated. My real passion was strategy and business development.
In the late 2000s, things began to unravel. Our experiential marketing business evaporated in the Great Recession. We fought a frivolous lawsuit. I had a daughter and became estranged from her mother. I broke my ankle and leg in a sports injury. And then I lost my downtown condo in the subprime mortgage crisis.
The business did not survive.
A New Start
My life felt like it was in chaos. My professional and personal lives were unraveling, and I was in a dark place. I had hit rock bottom.
But I picked myself up and landed a business development role with an experiential marketing agency. I was later recruited to Catapult New Business, the leading outsourced business development firm for agencies and marketing service providers.
At Catapult, I worked with over 60 agencies ranging from small independent shops to large network agencies across a diverse set of disciplines including creative, CRM, digital, experiential, market research, public relations, social media, and shopper marketing.
By refining and implementing the outbound sales process that I originally developed for Global Adrenaline, I soon became the company’s top sales performer and generated over $20MM in new business opportunities for my agency clients.
Within two years, I was promoted to Vice President.
Under my leadership, we exceeded the company’s revenue goal for client new business wins. I led strategy and developed action plans for new agency clients with a focus on positioning, ideal client profiles, buyer personas, messaging, and thought-leadership development.
Of most satisfaction was recruiting, training, coaching, and inspiring our team of business development directors, which grew 140% during my time. I implemented a peer-to-peer training program and sales knowledge center, which helped us grow the total number of client accounts 70% YOY.
But something else was calling me.
As an outsourced lead generation firm, our business development directors at Catapult lacked the internal agency knowledge and were spread across many agency clients.
I strongly believed that the outbound process that I developed and refined would be wildly successful if it were implemented through an in-house business development representative who focused on it 100% of the time.
Genuine Interactive (a part of Jack Morton and IPG) believed in this vision. I was recruited to build, implement, and lead the in-house outbound sales program across the agency’s Boston, New York, and Chicago offices.
Outside of work, I live a healthy lifestyle with a focus on my mind, body, and spirit. I exercise 4x per week, watch what I eat, and practice Zen meditation. I’m a baseball fan and was there in Cleveland when the Chicago Cubs ended a 108-year drought and won the 2016 World Series. My lifelong goal is to live happy and healthy to 100 years old.
I have had the unique opportunity to own an agency and get under the hood of many different agencies. Through this work, I developed an outbound sales process that’s effective, efficient, and scalable.
Most agencies do not have an outbound sales program and struggle to get in front of their dream clients. I started this website to share my knowledge as an entrepreneur, agency owner, and sales leader.
I may be an outsider, but what I do works. The days of a “Mad Men” advertising industry are over. The world is exponentially changing, and what worked ten years ago, five years ago, even last year – is often irrelevant.
My story is one of perseverance and seizing opportunity when it presents itself. I hope my experiences and insights can help you, too, learn the skills that will catapult you to success, prosperity, and happiness.