Mar, 30, 2016
By: Nathan Williams
What is your first thought when you, your friends, and your family are at an event and see a marketing display that has really caught your eye? You’re thinking, “wow, that is super eye catching,” or “I’ve never seen anything quite like that before,” or even “I need one of those for my house!” Once you walk away from that display, the hope is that you leave with a lasting impression of that brand and will want to interact with their products again in the future. This is the ultimate goal for those of us in the marketing industry. If we’ve represented the client’s brand and our agency in a positive light, and the client’s expectations have been exceeded, it has been a good event.
With that being said, consumers couldn’t care less about the agency that stands behind a display or a brand. Most don’t even know the world of marketing agencies exists. To non-event people, we might as well arrive onsite, sprinkle some magical powder, and poof! Everything is up and running and everyone is having a good time. This, of course, isn’t the case.
There are MANY factors and obstacles that go into planning client activations. Let's start with the weeks, if not months, of preparation prior. Whether it’s sorting through and inventorying swag (free items you get at a display for interacting), the countless meetings with clients and vendors, building out custom data capture applications (creative ways to get your email address and send you more information about the brand), or coordinating with sites about spacing, the list of pre-activation responsibilities can get long. The number of to-do lists and checklists can get nauseating at times, but one minor detail forgotten before an activation can ruin the overall experience once the event is underway.
So you’ve gone through all of your pre-activation checklists, all your display items, swag, tools, and everything you’ll need has been packed up and ready to go…..what’s next? Well, we’ve got to get those items to the event, right? Time to load up the truck and head out! I won’t lie and say that, yes, there are many times we get to fly to events and fly back, but there are plenty of other times where we have to drive. Whether the activation is in California, Texas, or Florida, if display items are needed, someone has to make sure they get where they need to go…..and most of the time, that someone is the marketing agency representing a brand.
We’ve pulled up to venue where the activation is taking place, thank goodness! It’s Monday and the activation doesn’t begin until Thursday, so now what? Now it is time to setup and put together all of those items you just drove across the country. Depending on the type and size of the activation, set up could take a few hours or a few days. Those 20’x20’ tent style activations you may see? Not too bad. Those 100’x100’ semi truck and trailer displays? Yeah, those take some man hours to get up and running. And no matter the size of the display and how many times you checked that pre-activation list of yours, a Home Depot and a Walmart trip or two is inevitable!
The first day of the activation has arrived….you’ve been up since 4am putting the final touches on the display before everything is up and running at 10am. Time to sit back and relax, right? Mmmm, not quite. Now it’s time to make sure brand ambassadors (temporary help hired to work at the display) are fully trained on the brand, clients that may have come out to the event are entertained, and to make sure nothing, all of a sudden, falls apart. Does it happen often, no, but if something does go drastically wrong, it’s our job to make sure clients aren’t freaked out and consumers’ experience isn’t affected in a negative way. Since most events and activations take place outdoors, one thing that can never be predicted, is weather. What if it rains? What if it snows? What if it is so hot that the whole display melts (ok, that one probably would never happen, but you never know!)? There has to be a backup plan in place juuuuuust in case.
After reading all of that, you may say, “Man, your job sounds terrible! Why would you even want to do something like working with an agency??” It is hard work, but not even close to terrible! Putting all the work in and seeing the smiles on consumer’s faces and having clients pat you on the back is what it is all about. If we walk away from an activation knowing everyone left there with a positive experience with the brand, we’ve done our jobs and we can celebrate that success.
So, the next time you’re at an event and you see some activation that really blows you away, remember the work that was put in to it to give you that feeling!