Some refer to us as experience architects, because we are a fully turnkey experiential marketing agency. We develop an experiential marketing strategy, design a creative concept and test that brand experience before production. But I think at this stage, our building skills are truly put to the test.
During the experience development phase, we bring the concept to life. Every experiential marketing campaign requires different tools to build. Each is unique. Building the experiential marketing campaign often involves many hands. And sometimes, hard hats.
But first, we create a deliverables timeline so the client and our team are all on the same page.
Let’s take a deeper look at the experience development phase in our seven-step journey. In this phase, we build the experience in four steps: production, logistics, staffing and adding the final touches.
From concept to reality, experience development converts the creative concept into a creative masterpiece. As a turnkey experiential marketing agency, we are highly involved in the production process. It’s soup to nuts! From ideation to execution, including production.
To start, our art team turns mock-ups into working creative mechanicals. They create high-res art files that can be used for vehicle wraps, exhibit booths, building projections, signage, flooring, complementary ads or other visuals for your campaign.
While turnkey, sometimes we don’t have the Bob Villa know-how required of every project. Therefore, we identify and select any third party vendors that need to support our experience development.
During this experience-building phase, we retrofit or fabricate any media formats to the campaign’s specifications. This could encompass pop-up shop structures, experiential vehicles, staging or other main framework. While a ‘real man’ might not need a manual, we find working from the strategy and final approved concept plans are imperative to build-to-spec. We’ve already tested the concept and have the blue prints. For example, in preparation of the Montana Moment tour, we constructed a front porch to convert a food truck into a replica of the Polebridge Mercantile. Bring on the power tools, argh, argh, argh!
Everyone knows that size matters. Well, we don’t think so, either. Production could be as easy as wrapping an existing vehicle or ordering a canvas pop-up tent. Whatever the campaign calls for! No matter how simple or how elaborate.
Once the main focal point is into production, our team sources all of the other elements needed to fill your experience footprint. Do you need carpeting, artwork, tables, table covers, serve ware, seating, point-of-sale equipment, etc.? We’ll order any signage and get to work programming any event tech needed.
This is also the time to execute any pre-launch marketing or communications. We buy and place supporting media or schedule a series of social content. If the client wants to use the brand experience for mass content creation, we get those details ironed out. We prepare for all of those content production needs.
The brand experience is taking shape!
While production is underway, our logistics team also gets to work. There are often several things they must accomplish, such as:
- Strategic routing
- Event sourcing
- Obtaining permits
- Shipping campaign assets
- Warehousing campaign assets in-market
- Transporting assets once in-market
- Setting up campaign reporting
This is a lot of tedious, detail-oriented planning. But our logistics team are pros at orchestrating the various moving parts.
A brand experience most likely needs some warm bodies to help excite, educate and guide participants.
Every one of our experiential marketing campaigns is led in the field by one dedicated brand experience manager. This person, sometimes titled a field manager or tour manager, assumes full responsibility for executing the activation. He/she is also in charge of communicating the on-site needs back to our corporate logistics and leadership teams. He/she trains the rest of the on-site experience team, oversees transportation and warehousing in-market and manages the day-to-day team budget.
The brand experience manager is part of our company’s network of field managers. He/she is a staff member and has been thoroughly vetted and trained on our campaign standards. Depending on the size of the campaign, we may assign assistant experience manager(s) to support the on-site activation.
In addition to the brand experience manager(s), the experiential marketing campaign likely calls for additional staff members. We turn to our talent pool and book local brand ambassadors that fit what we’re looking for. During the casting of brand ambassadors, clients can have as much or as little say in who is hired.
For talent selection, we recommend these three measures:
- Resemblance to brand persona – do they “fit” the brand’s own look and feel?
- Ability to resonate with target audience – do they connect with or show empathy for the consumer?
- Charisma – do they charm and engage in the way the experience demands?
There may be additional staff needed, such as an on-site producer, production assistant, makeup artist, costume manager, choreographer, media spokesperson, photographer, videographer, prop assistant, staging/lighting team members, sound control technician, etc.
Once the brand experience team is fully staffed, we schedule a mandatory team training. Some of the topics during training include:
- Brand messaging and positioning
- Product/service information and details
- Objectives of the experiential marketing campaign
- Key performance indicators and staff goals
- Speaking points or scripting
- Attire, costumes and appearance requirements
- Experience layout and design
- Target audience or buyer persona understanding
- Logistics and tasks
- Safety and security
- Operating any necessary media formats
- Other special instructions
- Any campaign no-nos
We take brand ambassador training very seriously. The people who are activating an experiential marketing campaign are representing the brand and communicating its values. Therefore, the casting and training of the experience team needs to tightly align with the brand.
If needed, we also will schedule a rehearsal or run-through of the experience. We want everyone to be well practiced at the start!
Staffing and training are crucial in the experience development phase. The on-site team needs to be prepared to launch the activation seamlessly.
Once production is complete, logistics are planned and the brand experience team is staffed, we evaluate everything for those final details. This gives us an opportunity to refine one more time.
Maybe during production, we realized the sidewalk couldn’t turn left but had to turn right, so we tweak placement of props. If budget allows, we may add additional props or lighting. We select the background music or the aroma for the scent emitter. Maybe the tables look bare, so we add a vase of fresh flowers. Every small detail matters.
I’m reminded of what the Chinese philosopher Confucius once said: “A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.” During the experience development stage, we must build excellently what we said we would…and beyond. And our production team never ceases to amaze! A solid campaign build is the start to fulfilling our client’s expectations.
To discuss your brand’s experience development, let’s get started.