Experiential marketing is becoming increasingly innovative and sophisticated, embracing social media and new technologies. However, the importance of real people in experiential should never be under-estimated. In a world where 92% of consumers believe there’s a disconnect between what brands say and what they do, according to the Generous Brands report*, well trained brand ambassadors use their personal and marketing skills to deliver that key element of authenticity, building trust.
Today, many of the best experiential campaigns are run by true brand ambassadors, who are hand-picked not just for their promotional marketing experience, but also because they embody the brand in terms of how they behave and what they say. Take our EDFE Pretty Curious campaign in which we’ve recruited Tissue (STEM CELL) engineers and MSc Physics graduates – who better to inspire teenage girls to pursue a career in STEM than women who are already making waves in the industry? Being truly passionate about the subject matter means that the team can truly represent the brand.
Building the team
As this example shows, the recruitment process is a vital part of every experiential campaign. It’s crucial to meet every brand ambassador candidate face to face and be creative about the interview process. Interactive group sessions can work really well as they help to highlight an individual’s personality and skills, and can tell you more about who they really are than a one-to-one interview. It’s also important to ensure that brand ambassadors are suited to each campaign in terms of their likes, dislikes and interests.
Our award-winning work on The Economist Discomfort Food campaign has demonstrated the importance of having a real value match between staff and the brand – people who are passionate about the arts, current affairs and sustainabilityl; people who are ready to engage with the public on these topics on more than just a surface level and who evoke curiosity in their conversations with others.
Training and support
Having recruited the right team, thorough training is critical, and the more immersive the sessions are, the better. Take our Brompton Bikes activation which saw the team spend the day with engineers at the brand’s factory. Seeing for themselves that the bikes are truly bespoke and handmade in London meant they could talk to consumers with honesty and authenticity. Immersing brand ambassadors in this way gets them excited, inspired and invested in the brand so they perform better.
During campaigns it’s important to give the brand ambassador team as much support as possible to get to know their wants and needs and address any problems that arise. Continuous monitoring and feedback is particularly important for longer-running campaigns, as this allows any issues to be identified and dealt with as quickly as possible.
Post campaign it’s good to get everyone together to discuss what went well and pull out key learnings for next time. Listening to brand ambassador feedback in this way lets the team know how much you value their opinions, building loyalty, while also collecting important insight that can be fed back to improve the performance of future campaigns.
Recognising those team members who have gone above and beyond, and organising regular social events also help to develop a strong team spirit, which can also be developed by having a core team work on repeat activations – Event Manager, Andrew Donald has managed the Coors Light Ice Cave team for the past three years and is a valued member of the core team. He was also recently nominated for Brand Ambassador of the year at the Field Marketing and Brand Experience Awards 2017.
Ultimately, brand ambassadors are real people who are tasked with engaging with ordinary people in the real world. The often complex and detailed nature of experiential campaigns means it’s vital to build strong and genuine relationships with them, so they can do the same with consumers on behalf of the brands they are representing.
Yasmin Bartlett is Senior Staffing Executive at real world marketing agency Sense
*Source: Generous Brands 2016, Sense Marketing Services LTD.