Bittersweet Ending

Bittersweet Ending

Over the last nine years on the road we have worked with countless clients, taken exhibits to 48 states, and been exposed to a diversity of industries. While no two tours are the same, there are some national events that tend to draw in our customers each year. You can always count on at least one program visiting the Minnesota State Fair, one of the Maker Fairs, and the National FFA Convention. In those nine years we have been to them all, finally.

In my youth I was an active member of both 4-H and FFA. These organizations shaped who I am and gave me not just skills and experience but the confidence to reach for some large goals. I know that attending the National FFA Convention as a high school student broadened my view of the world and the opportunities in it. You see I’m from a very small town and it can be hard to leave that comfort for what adventures may be found. Sixteen year old me certainly didn’t envision a life where I get to help companies create a message and sell it.

So it is only fitting that the last show we do after nine years is at this same event. LAST SHOW, WHAT?? Yes, Josh and I have made the decision to set down some roots, in Portland Oregon. We are also making some moves in our careers that will take us off the road. This was the first time we have taken a program to any FFA event, not going to lie I brought my jacket. It was actually useful, one of the other event sponsors had a scavenger hunt challenging students to find poelpe who fit into a number of categories (Like a former FFA member). It is things like this that make FFA a great club, give members challenge to go interact with professionals and they will rise to the task.

There was one group of young leaders in particular that I was hoping to meet, the members of the Brown County FFA Chapter.  I happen to be a very proud Alumni and having these exceptional students come by my exhibit will forever remain a career highlight.  They were able to stay for a bit and talk to me about the chapter along with what they are each doing in the club.  I’m inspired.  The chapter is in the rebuilding process and as part of that alumni are coming together to support that organization. I was already excited to take part but now I can’t wait to be a help.  There are so many ways to give back to a community, I feel lucky to now have a way to repay a group that gave me a solid foundation for success.

Josh was able to find a group attending that were all former students of his mother, this was truly a special event.

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.

The Word Experiential 

One of the books I recent finished, via my library with Overdrive, was Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks. It was a pretty interesting read, I enjoy scientific writings but had little exposure to neuroscience before this book. The text covered some of the types of hallucinations and what kinds of conditions can cause them. One of the terms that came up was experiential, how even though the person having the hallucination can be aware of it, they are still fully enveloped in the sensations. I found this interesting, “mobile experiential” is the term we use to describe our industry. This job is all about creating an environment to surround participants with a desired message.  We want you to experience the brand and leave with some kind of emotional connection to it.

How We Roll


As I have been working through the program for my masters degree I noticed two things about how the term “mobile experiential” is interpreted. First of all in much of the marketing world “mobile” refers to efforts seeking to make an impression via those delightful handheld devices we all have (well expect you Dave). The other stumbling block I ran into is that “experiential” is not a widely known avenue for brand marketing. Outside of sponsorship there aren’t enough firms that put on events. And boy can they benefit from connecting directly with customers.


While the end goal of each mobile experiential campaign might be different the opportunities it presents are similar. First you get the opportunity to put something physical and hands-on with your message. Secondly you are right there with customers, talking to them, hearing their feedback. This is especially effective when they are saturated in your message. The reason a brand would choose to put a mobile on the road is they see a need or have the desire to put something physical with their message.   How that program is shaped and developed is endless.

The Big Show

When it comes to actual tours, it is the folks in the field who have the real task of implementing these programs. Someone can design a great trailer, dynamic programming, and invite the right people but unless the person working that show that day is committed to the goals it won’t be effective.  Brands entrust to us to be the front line, the connection to customers.  My own firm takes into consideration a number of factors before pairing a team with a program.  This process seeks put the best possible skill set to match what the program goals are.  That can be kind of tough at times.  We have been passed over for projects we wanted because management saw us as a better fit for something else.  The same goes for anymore working as a contractor in this business, while you might be incredibly qualified sometimes a different person is just a better fit for the brand.


This is why we work so hard to make ourselves everyone “ideal”.  This is one of the reasons why I am getting a master’s degree.  Josh and I figured out years ago that to be the team that every brand would want one of needed a graduate degree.  Well I lost the round of Roshambo and here I am; one week from completing my degree.


I’ve got an Instagram, now what do I do?

I wanted to talk a little further on Instagram this week, why it might be the right tool for some self-promotion. While having a Facebook page is almost essential it might not longer the best way to get attention. Facebook serves as a more of a guestbook or holding space for all the other media available.


This is a mobile based, real time sharing platform gives users a way to combine visual and text to grab consumers. Originally designed to pick up where twitter failed in the image-sharing realm, there is now a whole new tactic to being a super user. What Instagram allows you to do is make visual statement and expand on it with text. For me I might post a picture of post a picture of some students inside of a museum trailer and in the text put something like “Students from @WestMiddleSchool are learning to Think Like an Artist with #DIAaway. Come see us @WestboroLibrary 2/14-2/17”. To create that text I needed to do a quick search to find out if the attending middle school has a twitter or Instagram account, I need to know the event hashtag and search for the event sites Instagram or twitter. In the end all easy steps if you want to create maximum impact.


Instagram primarily uses a square format but now also allows for wider images and helps a user with some simple editing along with pre-set filters. Each filter allows members to add to the overall mood you want to create. For a museum program with kids I want to make sure the image looks bright and colors bold.


Now that I have the image and text ready I will choose what additional forums I want this image to be shared on. This is exactly why Instagram is such a great tool, it creates content for other platforms. I would choose to share this image on the Facebook page that Josh and I have set up for our professional lives (not my personal page), the twitter feed for our professional lives, and possibly foursquare/swarm (this is a geotagging app that would make that image available to anyone looking at the location on one of those platforms). There are even further options as they fit your current needs. The benefits are that you are easily creating content to push out to whatever platform desired users are seeking. Using the hashtag and @user connection you helps a post to reach even further.


The complicated element of Instagram is choosing hashtags, figuring out the right ones to use takes some time. By searching some terms within the app you can hook onto what is popular and will fit your needs. Don’t hesitate to search via a tag you came up with then look at what other terms are used on popular posts. You’ll quickly be able to take part in the discussion.


**For my regular readers this post has a slightly different format, as it is part of my coarse work for SNHU.


Keller, K.L. (2013) Strategic brand management: building, measuring and managing brand equity. Pearson Education, Inc. Fourth Edition

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2008). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press.


Streatfield, B. (2015, December 23). “Rise of a tech giant: the history of Instagram”. The Telegraph. Retrieved from:



How Social are you?

How many different social media accounts do you have? I’m guess there are even a few you have forgotten you signed up for. I’m certainly guilty of this, checking out something new then losing interest as it fails to gain participants or just doesn’t appeal to me (and can someone please explain Snapchat to me). This really isn’t a problem, when Josh or I decided to quit a platform. We are our own brand yes, but few people look for us outside of this blog, instead we get found on those networks. There isn’t going to be a great deal of capital lost from Josh taking a break from Twitter when we aren’t on a business to consumer program. However a larger brand, let’s say my employer must be a bit more strategic.


There was a great deal of buzz around the marketing department when MRA decided to start an Instagram account. This would be a companion to their existing presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These other accounts are managed by multiple members of the team who coordinate and monitor the content. Instagram in an increasingly popular and powerful platform for brands. So why would you want to wait to join in? Well, one major reason to be strategic is time. Until an organization has a plan for who will manage and when content will be added, it’s best to wait. There is also the element of listening that must be attended to, who is going to then monitor this new account and interact with followers?


Winter is definitely here as Josh, one of our drivers, discovered yesterday! #MRAmobile #LifeOnTheRoad

A photo posted by MRA mobile experiential (@mra_experiential) on Dec 21, 2015 at 12:59pm PST


Another reason to wait and evaluate the usefulness of a particular platform, is having the right content. Will the managing team members be able to gather enough appropriate and engaging material to make the efforts rewarding. Speaking of reward, what can this particular platform give an organization, the return on investment. If one employee is going to be dedicated to only monitoring and managing social media accounts, what is that cost and the cost of tasks that must now be reassigned? Are these social interactions going to lead to new business? There are certainly a number of industries and business that won’t see any benefit from platforms like Facebook or Instagram. A mobile experiential firm is not one of those. Without the right combination of presence on media platforms we could easily look outdated to a protective client. Many firms seeking these kinds of services aren’t necessary going to find a vendor on Instagram but they might be engaged enough to make an inquiry.

Winter is definitely here as Josh, one of our drivers, discovered yesterday! #MRAmobile #LifeOnTheRoad

A photo posted by MRA mobile experiential (@mra_experiential) on Dec 21, 2015 at 12:59pm PST


By having a presence on selective social platform, firms like MRA can give prospective clients great insight into how we do business and what we provide. While Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all placed that MRA shares a mixture of information about their business and the industry, Instragram is becoming a place to get to know the people behind the projects.


**For my regular readers this post has a slightly different format, as it is part of my coarse work for SNHU.


Keller, K.L. (2013) Strategic brand management: building, measuring and managing brand equity. Pearson Education, Inc. Fourth Edition

Kumar, V., & Mirchandani, R. (2012). Increasing the ROI of social media marketing. MIT sloan management review, 54(1), 55.

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2008). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press.

Streatfield, B. (2015, December 23). “Rise of a tech giant: the history of Instagram”. The Telegraph. Retrieved from:

Instagram for Mobile Experiential Programs

A few weeks ago in a “Travel Tuesday” post I shared a few of the mobile apps that Josh and I can’t live without. Well this list didn’t include any social selections. I wanted that post to be more about the things you might not have on your phone. We both use Facebook throughout the day for entertainment but the first thing I check in the morning (well after Lululemon for any new sales) is Instagram. We follow friends, a few interesting users and even some brands. Most of us subscribe to the marketing emails of some of our favorite brands and online stores, Instagram is nice for those and maybe a few that you just enjoy. I don’t want my inbox clogged up with direct marketing emails, well you could almost call it leafleting. Unless it is a store that I am actively thinking about purchasing from or the subject really draws me in, they get deleted. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve deleted an email from Athleta but then noticed on Instagram later that there was a sale I wanted to check out.


Instagram is engaging and brief, a great place for brands to create impressions. My own firm has recently started in Instagram account to reach a new audience. While all the content flows through one of two employees for posting, it originates from all employees.   We are encouraged to share images that speak to more than just the events we do or the day-to-day work. We as employees at times have to fight to be seen by clients as more than just a figure when calculating logistics. Being field staff can be a struggling in having a life outside of work, the Instagram account helps not only to put a face on the brand but also for recruitment. I just shared an image of Josh and I visiting the Alamo on our day off. We are Texas residents and were grateful to have the time off for exploring some Texas history. There are many marketing firms who use Instagram in this way, sharing moments of their staff working with client brands. While others publish their finished works as more of a resume. Both then become available as prospective clients seek out this information after seeing one of these programs in the field.


There is one more way that Instagram is becoming an integral part of the mobile experiential world. Programs and events are using it as part of the brand message. Jack Daniel’s recently did this for their Motel No. 7 campaign. Accounts where created for different team members of the program, acting as characters. Each accounts featured teasers before the event and images during, appealing to different consumers and creating a whole story. These account reach far beyond the actual program to consumers across the globe, all messages were carefully chosen to showcase selected brand attributes. What makes this mobile platform so useful to experiential programs is that by capturing something great in the moment then it can be easily and instantly shared with consumers, and across other platforms. Brands with mobile experiential programs are encouraging their field staff to find ways of catching these engaging moments and shaping then with context to push the message. The project I am currently on is not for public consumption but on past programs I have enjoyed this part of my job immensely. Not only does Instagram help the brands but it can also be a link to employees outside of the office.


**For my regular readers this post has a slightly different format, as it is part of my coarse work for SNHU.


Keller, K.L. (2013) Strategic brand management: building, measuring and managing brand equity. Pearson Education, Inc. Fourth Edition

O’Loughlin, S. (2016, January 4). How Jack Daniel’s Motel No. 7 achieved record social sharing. Event Marketer Magazine. Retrieved from:

Streatfield, B. (2015, December 23). “Rise of a tech giant: the history of Instagram”. The Telegraph. Retrieved from:



Experiential Impact

Last week I chatted a little about how hashtags and QR codes can be used on the actual surfaces of marketing vehicles, but where are they pushing consumers and why? In the mobile experiential world there are few programs that have the goal of only reaching consumers attending that event. There are exceptions to the rule, but for most it is to create public relations buzz and word-of-mouth sharing. The trouble is deciding which tools to use in moving a message forward. When a program like Coffee-Mate’s Ohio State University finals week campus invasion was being planned, the marketing team wanted a way to engage students who were outside the footprint of the event space. Not only were students using the designated hashtag given branded premiums but there was also a way to have coffee delivered around campus. By searching the hashtag on multiple social platforms, a branded coffee cart delivered to students in need. Participants were encouraged to try and talk about the flavored creamers. This program focused efforts on the message and not the platform; however Jack Daniel’s recently took a different approach. Instead of gathering impressions from multiple platforms they build the campaign from a single source and directed consumers to that platform. Like many tasting events there are a limited number of guests who will have the full experience but there is no limit to how far you can reach via the right channels. Jack Daniel’s created Instagram profile for different “characters” associated with the campaign, drawing users to the imagery even if they aren’t attending the tastings. These accounts each took on an aspect of brand attribute reinforcement.


Experiential marketing has the goal of creating an emotional response to brand attributes. Social media outreach that connects with these type of marketing activities isn’t necessarily seeking an emotional response but instead to convey those same selected attributes. When Lean Cruising added an experiential element to their “weight what matters” campaign their purpose to let consumer see themselves in the statements of others. These contributors were blogger who represented different members of the brand’s target segment.


There are many platforms and methods to social media marketing within an experiential campaign but what is going to work. What is going to have a lasting impact are those whose goal is focused on specific attributes.


**For my regular readers this post has a slightly different format, as it is part of my course work for SNHU.


Keller, K.L. (2013) Strategic brand management: building, measuring and managing brand equity. Pearson Education, Inc. Fourth Edition

Kirkpatrick, R. (2015, November 23). Lean Cuisine scales new messaging with an art wall. Event Marketer Magazine. Retrieved from:

Kirkpatrick, R. (2016, January 7). Coffee-mate fires up finals with social media deliveries. Event Marketer Magazine. Retrieved from:

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2008). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press.

O’Loughlin, S. (2016, January 4). How Jack Daniel’s Motel No.& achieved record social sharing. Event Marketer Magazine. Retrieved from:

Schaefer, M. (2011). The tao of Twitter. Lexington. McGraw Hill.