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Event, Exhibition and Experiential Staffing

Never underestimate the importance of people.

Whether you're staffing an exhibition stand, a mall kiosk, an experiential activation or an instore sampling campaign, the people on that stand are vital to your success. As the old adage goes, we can help you take the horse to water, but we can't make it drink - that's what your staff do.

But don't think that those staff need to be your own staff, as that's often a mistake. Many of your existing staff may see the event you've asked them to work as a time to slack off or as rather an imposition. Either way, they're likely to be ineffective. You need staff that are go-getters in this environment and happy to interrupt someone's flow - they need to be confident to approach strangers in the aisle or street and accept a brush off like water off a duck's back.

So let's take a closer look at what you should consider when organising staff for your stand.


Cutting through the clutter with supermarket sampling staff

Let’s be honest; for most people, grocery shopping is a fairly mundane activity that involves picking up a relatively pre-determined list of items and placing them in a trolley before then parting with a heap of cash and driving home surprised at how much you just spent.

Based on recent research, a shopper tends to spend only 34 minutes in a supermarket and a fraction of this is actually at the shelf, making their decision on which brand to purchase. So how do you make sure it’s Your brand that goes in the trolley? We know that 33% of shoppers are influenced in their purchase by demonstrations, so an in-store demo would be a good starting point!

First of all, your brand has actually to be on the shelf and presented well – that’s where good merchandising comes in.

Next, you need to accept that consumers are generally risk-averse. They need to try a brand before they purchase it or feel that the ‘special’ is so good that they can justify the gamble.

With several brands to choose from in most categories, your brand has to stand out from the crowd and break through consumers’ ‘autopilot shopping’ habits.

Displays 2 Go create some of the most impactful portable displays in the country, so of course, their demo tables tend to create awareness for your brand in-store, but this alone will not convert to a sale. In any sampling campaign, it’s important to actually convert shoppers into making purchases. If you can persuade them to purchase once or twice, then chances are your brand will make it onto that shopping list, and now you have reached FMCG brand nirvana, the repeat purchase!

This is where demo staff are essential. 87% of consumers believe friendly, and professional promotional staff are important, and 83% either made or considered making a purchase after being introduced to a brand via experiential marketing*. A good demonstrator will actually interrupt the shopper and breakthrough that auto pilot mindset. A good demonstrator must actively approach shoppers, not simply stand by their table waiting for a shopper to approach. Once the demonstrator has persuaded the shopper to sample your brand, then it’s time to get persuasive. Your brand still hasn’t made it into the trolley at this point; the demonstrator hasn’t closed the deal.

It’s vital to continue the conversation with the shopper and provide positive cues about the brand as they are actually trialling it. Once the shopper acknowledges that your brand is pretty good, then the opportunity comes up to place your brand in their trolley with the deal-sealer, the money-off coupon or special price point.

The interaction between brand ambassador and shopper is absolutely key to driving purchase and creating for your brand a future advocate out of that shopper. The shopper walks away from their engagement with several things:

  • A good taste in their mouth
  • Essential information about your brand to pass on to friends (if you're lucky!)
  • Your brand in their trolley

The seeds of advocacy are well and truly planted.

*Research by iD in the UK, 2004
** Research by Shoppability, 2009

Delivering better ROI with Exhibition Sampling staff 

Successful exhibitions and trade shows are worthy of your best people if the show is worth attending at all. It will be your exhibition stand staff that actually talks to your potential clients and those same staff that engage with visitors.

Exhibition staff are often the key to unlocking customers’ rational side, and when they’re good, they can also be the key to unlocking customers’ emotional side.

Your staff must be fully aware of your objectives for being at the show, so they can modify their behaviour to suit. Irrespective of why you have chosen to be at the exhibition, everyone must understand what the measure of a successful show looks like. Your reasons can be as simple as...

- head office insisted on it

- we are here because our competitors are here

...but hopefully, you have some more positive reasons than that. You could be at the exhibition to...

- make sales at the show

- generate sales leads to follow up after the show

- demonstrate your terrific product/service to as many people as possible without generating sales leads

...but whatever it is, be sure that everyone understands why you are there. Attending trade shows costs too much money to be unclear about what a successful show looks like for you.

So what should you be looking for when selecting staff for your campaign? Is it good looks? Is it reliability? Is it affordability?

Delivering a better customer experience with Experiential Staff 

“Experiential marketing is really quite amazing. It is equal parts philosophy, artistry and psychology. Simply put, experiential marketing is a more holistic approach to the customer/brand relationship. Experiential campaigns are designed to appeal to both our rational and emotional sides. They go way beyond traditional feature-benefit methodology and open up new points of connection with customers - their senses, hearts, and if you do it just right, their souls.”  Experiential Marketing, Erik Hauser

Successful experiential campaigns often rely on the staff that activate them, on the staff that actually talk to customers, and the staff that engage with customers. But engage is such a neutral word – it fails to communicate the emotion required. If it were merely an engagement, then it would be sampling, perhaps even market research. Experiential is more than just sampling and takes more than just demo staff.

Experiential staff are often the key to unlocking customers’ rational side, and when they’re good, they can also be the key to unlocking customers’ emotional side.

So what should you be looking for when selecting staff for your campaign? Is it good looks? Is it reliability? Is it affordability?

The key skill for staff is ENTHUSIASM. Of course, people can fake this, but they better be good at it, or they’ll be spotted as fake a mile off!

The next important skill is EMPATHY. Choose staff that your customers will be able to empathise with and can connect with. This drives credibility and enhances the overall experience, potentially unlocking an emotional link.

If you’re excited about your campaign, you must make sure that this is shared by all the field staff that work with you. Reliability should be a given; it’s why you work with your agency, isn’t it? Good looks should be secondary in all considerations; of course, if you are a makeup brand, then good skin should be a pre-requisite.

In our experience, good-looking Brand Ambassadors don’t make a great experiential campaign. If amazing model looks are important to you, then perhaps use a modelling agency to hire your staff. Most experiential agencies recruit their staff based on their ability to deliver enthusiasm and emotion. When linked to a great concept, the results can be dynamite!

Training and product advocacy are keys to ensuring the delivery appears to be from a trusted source. Customers should think, ‘I am talking to a person that is passionate about this product or service and wants to tell me about it - they especially want me to experience it and know all about it.’

To ensure this message is delivered passionately, find people that LOVE the brand and ensure they can impart some interesting key facts. This is mandatory and is achieved through robust staff training.