Putting together a mobile marketing tour is a long, multifaceted process that requires a talented team to make it a success. Here are our top 10 tips (plus a bonus tip) for planning a successful mobile marketing tour!
1) Location, location, location!
Cliche, yes, but as you already know, location is very important with all things marketing. Go where your customers are! Seek out strategic points of interest, competitor locations, events, fairs, festivals, conventions, retailer stores, etc. Procure any necessary permits in advance to secure locations, such as schools or ticketed events. We recommend a strategic mix of permitted locations throughout your tour combined with some guerrilla marketing routing between sanctioned events.
Last summer, a pharmaceutical company visited medical conferences and large state fairs. We also lined up visits to physician offices with their in-market reps, as well as partner retailers for in-store point-of-sale promotions. When we were not activating at a scheduled tour stop, we used our market knowledge to scope out high traffic areas near pharmacies and shopping centers to intercept unsuspecting consumers. We were able to surprise and delight more people with a free slushy while educating them about the pharma company’s new health and fitness app.
Even when going guerrilla, locations should be well-planned in order to maximize your tour’s reach of qualified impressions.
2) Vehicle selection
Sometimes media planners come to us and say, “We want a large coach bus on this campaign,” or, “We need to do a food truck campaign.” But the tour planning will dictate what type of vehicle makes the most sense. Sometimes, we’ll make their request work; others, we recommend a more functional vehicle in order to meet their overall objectives.
Are you distributing food items? Maybe a branded food truck is right for you. Or perhaps due to your permitted footprint sizes, you may need to do a smaller tow-behind food trailer that can be dropped into your space. Want to make a visual impact with a message? You can go with a mobile billboard tour paired with some smaller field marketing mediums. If you’re an eco-friendly brand, selecting an electric or solar-powered ride might be the only way to go. Maybe your experience fits within a pop-up tent and all you need is a cargo van to haul it from site to site. Have an idea so unique you need a custom-designed vehicle? Or, does your experience demand a tricked out interior as well as exterior? No matter which direction you go, pick a vehicle that will create the biggest impact for your message while also providing the function your tour requires.
Cost, availability, size of vehicle, drivability, insurance, tour maintenance, aesthetics, branding, creative build-outs, temperature controls, storage, lift gate and function are all critical considerations during the vehicle selection process. If you’re utilizing warehouses in multiple markets throughout the tour to house the campaign’s assets, the vehicle must be able to easily enter the storage facility’s lot to pick up your merchandise.
For the Montana Moment tour, we converted a food truck into a replica of the well-known Polebridge Mercantile. It worked both creatively and functionally for that campaign.
3) Creative & messaging
Simply focus on one key message. Make sure the art team you work with understands this message and can integrate it into the creative effectively. Design the brand experience around conveying this message to your target audience in a memorable way.
No Kid Hungry’s Hangry Tour had one message: We’re angry that kids in America are hungry. Timed with back to school, the vehicle design supported this while promoting the need for in-school dining programs. Participants were asked to create and share their own hangry testimonials, leveraging user-generated content to help spread this one key message. The message is simple and memorable, yet it informs and rallies communities together for this one cause. We’re all hangry that 1 in 6 kids in America goes hungry.
4) Tour managers and brand ambassadors
Not only is the vehicle important, but so are the people driving it! Once the vehicle is on the road, it’s up to them to make sure your message is getting to the places and markets that you so strategically mapped out. Drivers should be professional, experienced and have a good safety record with the right permits, licenses and insurance. Drivers will need to follow Department of Transportation guidelines, and we always recommend having at least two people qualified to drive each vehicle on tour. You never know when you might need a back-up driver, so plan for that in advance.
The tour manager is the person who holds it all together in the field. From training and managing staff, to handling last-minute tour stop changes, to ensuring all the samples are picked up and ready to go, this person has a lot of responsibility. A poorly run tour can jeopardize the brand experience – and the brand’s reputation.
We find that hiring tour staff who are not only experienced on campaigns but who have an existing affinity for the brand and/or product we’re promoting are often the best performers. We go to great strides with our staffing partners to fill tour positions strategically. For example, on the pharma tour mentioned above, we searched for team members who were personally touched by certain medical disorders and therefore could best relate to our audience. We screen talent carefully, so we’re confident in their ability to represent the brand on tour.
Brand ambassadors should be upbeat, energetic, knowledgeable about the brand/message and dressed in accordance with the tour. If there is any special equipment involved or maintenance expectations, be sure everyone receives adequate training. Even though the tour is designed around just one message, your brand ambassadors also need to be educated enough to answer consumer questions in the field or communicate more widely to those who show a deeper interest.
During the Freedom Rings Tour, bilingual brand ambassadors communicated proficiently with the Hispanic target audience.
5) Supporting media in market
As the experience travels, so should the other media elements with stronger pushes on TV, radio, mobile, digital, print, etc. as the tour draws nearer to that market or location. Get people excited before the tour arrives, and keep the message strong through the entire time you’re in that location. Choose media channels that reach your same target audience.
Radio remotes or scheduled on-air interviews in each market will increase reach and visibility. Submitting op-eds and supporting articles to local press and magazines in market well in advance of your scheduled tour visit will help them to also plan a well-timed publication while the experience is activating the in the market.
6) Influencers and PR
A big trend in marketing is to partner with influencers, either in-market and/or industry-specific. They can help spread the word, promote the tour on social media and take the mobile show to news stations and radio stations for on-air interviews and added publicity. A pre-tour kickoff party for journalists is another great way to create buzz early-on and get the tour schedule out to the public. (Read our tips to take your PR event to the next level.)
Prepare your network of influencers with social media content, such as post copy and graphics with a schedule of events, in advance so they can be pushing out brand-approved messages.
7) Online landing page
An offline tour should have a home online with information, schedules, locations, appearances, announcements, etc. Integrate the page design with the creative for the rest of the tour and update it regularly. Make live announcements for guest appearances or contest winners. Use it to house your live stream or other campaign videos, as well as to track social media activity in one centralized hub. Perhaps a blogger is following the tour and sharing journal entries here. Optimize the page for desktop and mobile formats so your audience can easily view it at home, on-the-go or on-site. Point your digital ads to this landing page to generate more buzz about the tour and brand experience.
8) Social media
Leverage social media throughout the entirety of your mobile marketing tour. Use social platforms for pre-publicity efforts to drive excitement and participation. During the tour, provide fun photo ops, create a campaign hashtag and give incentives to share or post online. Stream live videos from the experience to amplify your reach.
We recommend staffing an on-site brand social media manager to travel with the tour, as well. Whether they are full-time during all tour hours or on-site during peak events, someone who is responsible for the brand’s online image should be included with the tour. Post live content and updates directly from the field. And also monitor and engage with participants as they post to social media. Listen and react, as needed. But more importantly, keep any conversations about the experience going!
For the #TasteOfSummerTour that just wrapped up, Sara Lee Deli was able to leverage their retailer partner social media channels, as well. For example, Jewel-Osco posted event updates to drive participation and sales.
9) Entertainment and engagement
Your creatives can grab attention, but how will you keep participants engaged? Provide entertainment or activities that will make someone want to hang out with your brand for a while. That’s where experience experts can really help you design an interactive tour that effectively motivates your audience to action. Our services include research, strategy, experience development and campaign evaluation – from start to finish. The most important thing about your mobile marketing tour is to engage and inspire through unique experiences for your consumers.
There are other little tricks you can try, as well. At many of our experience footprints, we include charging stations for mobile devices which tend to increase dwell time. Food sampling is always a hit, and incorporating a photo capture area will create social media opportunities.
Based on your objectives and key messaging, design an experience that reinforces your brand and helps connect the dots for your audience.
10) Content factory
Once the tour is over, it doesn’t stop benefitting you! Not only can social media give your tour a longer life, using the experience for other media can be very effective and economical. Decide what content you should collect from the experience to repurpose into your next tv commercial, radio sound bites, social media campaigns, outdoor media imagery, print collateral, signage, etc. Planning content needs ahead allows you to have the right content writers, photographers and videographers on site to capture all the goodies. Work out the timing needs, as well. For example, you may want to have a photography day before the tour kicks off for a shoot with your company’s leadership or influencers. You may want to release a pre-tour video campaign or use the tour vehicle in the pre-roll video ad you’ve scheduled six months down the road.
Your mobile marketing tour is an investment, but it can actually produce a year’s or more worth of content if you plan accordingly. The tour’s payoffs go beyond one-time consumer engagement.
11) One turnkey, trustworthy tour partner
Especially if this is the first time your company is embarking on a campaign like this, you’d be wise to partner with a company who knows the ins and outs of mobile marketing tours. From experience, there’s always something that happens outside your control that your tour team will have to react to in the field – weather, road closures, lost sample shipments, a flat tire, a protesting consumer, partners who go rogue. Flexibility and adaptability are important attributes when choosing the right partner. Knowing that regardless of what comes their way, they can overcome it professionally will help you sleep easy at night.
From the strategy to the logistics, a good tour partner will handle all the details so the whole process goes smoothly for you. Choosing a team who provides turnkey operations, including graphic design, will make planning your mobile tour easy on you! With your tour partner’s assistance, you can monitor your ROI and focus on what matters the most – singing your tour’s praises to your bosses.
Of course, we would be pleased if you wanted to partner with dio on your next mobile marketing tour. Let’s plan it together!