Living The Brand 

One of the best parts about summer when you work in the experiential marketing field is the prospect of taking out new tours.  So many programs launch as temperatures rise and the opportunity to be a part of events that draw people out comes.  When looking at new programs there are a thousand things to learn about the equipment and how the actual shows will run.  Something that is hard for new people to the industry, at least those who travel with the tours is that you also have to “live the brand”.  The moment you step near that marketing vehicle you represent that brand; fueling, stopping at a rest area, even pulling into a hotel. You, as the road team you are part of the visible element for your client. This should be reflected not just in how you act but also how you present yourself.

Guests to a mobile experiential program don’t know and aren’t going to be understanding that you are “just the driver” or don’t work for the brand on display.  It is crucial that you match the image clients to reinforce their message.  One of the programs we currently work with is a high-end firm hosting training seminars.  It’s key that anyone coming in sees us as a person they can engage with, that we are supposed to be there.



On the other hand we serve two roles when in the field. when setting up the truck or moving down the road we also represent our employer.  You never know when a random contact could turn into a long term program.  We are careful to look professional even when setting up an exhibit.  Years ago we met a gentleman while setting up a trailer in Washington DC, that brief contact put my firm on his radar and a few years later he was a driving force to put a tour on the road.  What he saw of us ensured that we would be the right choice to representing that brand on a national scale.


Living the brand goes deeper than that, it takes very little effort to be knowledgeable about the industry your client operates in.  It’s as easy as taking a gander of PR Newswire a couple of times a week just to see what is going on with a client’s customers and their competition.  This can help you talk the talk as you walk the walk.

Scofflawery in Field Marketing

During dinner a few weeks back we started to both bring up examples of times we have broken the rules.  Looking back at our early days in promotional marketing, there were many times we joined crews of brand ambassadors handing out fliers and giveaways.  Rarely did we have a permit to be there.  To be frank it was a highly unauthorized promotion that led us down the path where we found MRA and started the adventures in marketing tours.

 

We drive the wrong way down roads, illegally park, take up handicap spaces, put up signs without permission.  How often do you send out event staff as a field team to drive in traffic?  On a recent call with city planners office some strange questions started coming up.  About half-way thought the process I realized that she had at one time worked with a different firm who widely misrepresented their event and left the city with damage and cleanup.  She wasn’t trying to get more permit funds from me but instead to make her local police and park employees aware.  Maybe too often we view people in those positions as an obstacle versus a partner.

 

We recently had the opportunity to help out with some planning on tour run by our employer but outside of our client portfolio.  They needed help to secure a year’s worth of tour stops in three weeks.  This was a great opportunity to put forth a concentrated effort treat the contacts at locations like they were a preferred vendor, a partner.  By expressed our excitement to be in the community and to use their facility. It was a striking difference, out of the entire list only one location said no.  We were able to give the client exactly what they asked for.  It has been a great opportunity to grow professionally from this and noticed immediately how differently it felt to work some of other vendors.

 

We wear a number of different hats within the company and it will be a long time before again seeing anyone as a road block versus a partner again.

Rolling In Two Directions

Well this year has brought a great deal of change and some heartbreak.  In January of this year we sat down with management and were informed that they needed us to fill some slightly new roles.  Abigail was needed in-house as project manager for new and relaunching programs.  Josh was needed in the field for some tours that were having troubles.  He has a keen ability to come into stressed situations with a clear head and patience to fix problems.  Abigail has a knack for sorting through huge lists of tasks and keeping it all organized, detail work.  As you can imagine we were both excited at the opportunity to increase our skills and help out the company.

 

Well that was January, it’s now May and we are still on separate programs.  Not to say we have not seen each other in five months but it has been limited.  For two people who are used to and enjoy working together, the separation is wearing on us. The other difficulty has been the passing of Abigail’s father.  While it’s never easy to say goodbye to a parent, Randy was only 60 and leaves behind a very close family.

 

We are two people who consider each other partners in life and in work.  While some joke about how nice must to be get a break from each other, it’s not.  We enjoy working together, sharing our work.  Being apart while one of us going thought such a hard time has made this all even more taxing.  It has also helped us look at some things differently, as grief does to anyone.  We appreciate our partnership even more, thankful to have found another person who makes you feel good about yourself.  We have to share our work day happenings via an evening phone calls now.  Most of these conversation include a moment where you realize “wow, you are the perfect person to handle that”.  The work we have both done this year really has helped us both grow and set our focus for what the rest of the year might hold.

Randy and his Fairlane

Adult Field Trip – Portland

Adult Field Trip – Portland

We thought it was about time to share another one of our Adult Field Trips, taking in Portland.  This place is made for an AFT.  , While we have been there a few times, the opportunity to explore had not been present as our main client has an office in the Portland area.  When we finally had a weekend off and the time to see downtown, the focus was on finding what the must do things were.  Beer, bikes, and Blues (well music) were the pieces to put together.

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Safety First

Portland has wonderful museums and galleries, a great place to pick up your cultural requirements but we chose to go the live music route.  Josh is a big fan of Trombone Shorty and could not believe our luck to see he was playing that weekend.  After securing tickets it was time to sort out rest of our weekend.  The cycling culture in Portland is prolific, a part of the very entrenched green living lifestyle.  There are all kinds of resources to find bicycle tours around the area, covering just about any subject you are into.  We found a place that rented bikes and decided that we would try out one of the brewery routes.  Now I’m not gonna lie, I am in no way proficient on a bike and this whole idea was a bit scary.  Amazing how much more confident I got after each stop, LOL.
Josh had participated in a guided bike and booze tour of New Orleans (Confederacy of Cruisers) and says it was the highlight of that trip, I can say that I am now a convert.  In bike friendly cities like Portland this is really the way to see things.  We crossed bridges and peddled through neighborhoods.  There is a delightful amount of street art.  On one of my first trips to Cincinnati my BFF Becky took me on a culinary tour, teaching me the art of trying a signature cocktail and snack at each stop.  It was the perfect way to see and taste the city.  We tried to do the same thing with our brewery tour.  Nearly all of these places served a small menu and it’s a very veggie friendly place.

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In all we stopped by Burnside Brewing Co., Hair of the Dog Brewery, Green Dragon, Buckman Botanical Brewery, Base Camp Brewing, and The Commons Brewery.  After all this a nap was in order, HA.  The Old Town area of Portland is laced with music venues and is a great place to hop around taking in tunes and enjoying even more local beers on tap.

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On day two with the Trombone Shorty concert later we decided to lounge about a bit and search out some of the spectacular food in the area.  I am a HUGE fan of farm-to-table restaurants, mostly because they offer a wider variety of vegetarian entrees.  Downtown Portland is home to some of the coolest boutique hotels available and it was in one that we found the Urban Farmer.  Honestly it wouldn’t matter which one you chose, but I would recommend adding a restaurant within a boutique hotel to your list, it’s a way to see two unique parts of Portland culture, even if you don’t stay at one.  We rarely do, as our travel is a bit different and we have negotiated rates with many large chains.

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While we didn’t visit a VooDoo dounuts this trip, it is a don’t miss.

So here is your list:

1. Portland Breweries, this is a mecca of micro brewing and a wonderful experience, new trends are set here.  There are about 70 breweries in the city proper and over a 100 in the metro, so even if you could try them all, would you remember it?

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-If you are a wine drinker then boy oh boy would Portland make you happy, we didn’t have time to stop at wineries on this trip but we had helped host a wine tasting party earlier this week.

2. MUSIC, it doesn’t matter where you go or really what you find the scene is so much fun

3. Think alternative transport, we got around the entire time on bike and Lyfts

4. VooDoo Donuts, they really are that good

5. Art and green living are essential to Portland life, you will see so many cool ways the two cross and how they like to keep local culture alive.  This is not the land of chains.

6. Find the food trucks!

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Coming This Week: Oct 2nd – 8th

You can see from the red pins on the map that we are getting a little time in Florida, it looks like we will spend the batter part of two weeks soaking in some sun.  We will need it, very shortly we will be off to Canada.

Courtesy of Google Maps

Courtesy of Google Maps

Song of the Week: B.E.R. – Night Begins to Shine

Week in Review: While heading north we had the most delightful thing happen, we were stuck in New York traffic NEXT to another MRA truck.  We have over the years seen another vehicle going to other way on an interstate and once at the same Penske but this was a first.  Thankfully they also had a chase vehicle that was able to capture this unique moment.  It was a fairly busy week with work but we did visit my beloved New Hampshire and enjoyed the lovely cool weather but there wasn’t time to go up to the SNHU campus this time.

Fun Photo of the Week: This was snapped by our co-workers Gordon and Robyn  Marks

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Know The Brand

We often make references to “Living the Brand”, which covers not just how you present yourself but also how you approach working on a new project. To create and maintain dynamic programing you will want to “know the brand” throughly and also have some insight into the industry. While we did extensive research about our German Headquartered client’s unique attributes, it was also essential to understand their American competitors. Had we developed the program with a narrow view there would definitely have been small elements we would missed that participants expect.

It is rare that you will be given the opportunity to reach new consumers who have zero exposure to your client’s segment. Whether they know your brand already, or at least some part of it, there are going to be expectations. Understanding how the competition approaches their marketing and programing allows you to not miss out on any triggers. But how do you find this info? The best place I have found to not only gather industry info but also what those top companies are doing is via a website called PR Newswire. This is a clearing house for organizations, PR Reps, and marketing firms to share press releases. There are also a number of research and statistical groups that contribute.

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For example my firm has partnered with Target in the past to showcase products from specific brands via a “sampling” truck.  While Target is a unique brand with some very distinct attributes it was necessary to also merge that with special features of the other brands.  Not only was it key to see what the other product lines in the segment were doing that summer but what sampling events had been done at the specific location the new program planned to visit.  Guests don’t get the full effect of a program if they don’t understand what is going on or how they are supposed to participate.  By doing a little research we could shape the experience in a way that consumers would be excited to enter and hopefully come out with a full enriched impression.

With a jumping off point it’s easy to get started and also figure out what questions you should be asking. Checking this site or one like it should become a habit, knowing what is going on around your client puts you in the position to give them solutions before there is a problem. Keeping a program fresh sets you apart as a vendor, keeping the client happy.