Event Staffing: Representing your Brand
In a survey conducted recently by the Event Marketing Institute, consumers that have attended retail and marketing events –including retail and grocery stores, sporting events and malls – in the preceding 12 months answered questions about their experiences.
A significant aspect highlighted in the survey results was how impactful event staff is to the overall experience for the consumer.
Survey results included feedback from consumers that indicates how experiential marketers can do better when it comes to event staffing:
“Acknowledge each person as quickly as you can without overwhelming them.”
“Be sure the employees working the event are enthusiastic and upbeat.”
“Energy and enthusiasm of the event personnel and the support of the venue or retailer makes all the difference.”
“Knowledgeable and available staff to answer questions.”
“The key to a marketing event is the staff. If the staff is genuinely energetic and excited about the product, then I will probably be too.”
As connections marketers we should be more than aware of how our brand is being represented in an event environment. Having the right staff makes all the difference.
Event staff acts as the brand’s front line, the first connection point to many new prospective consumers and the familiar brand’s face to returning consumers. Proper recruiting and training are vital for selecting the right staff for the right brand.
Using a Desperado example for our client Nestlé, two very different brands need staff for product education and sampling purposes. One product has an older target consumer and the other is marketed to families. In order to obtain success in both initiatives, two very distinct staff teams are assembled, each with distinct characteristics that allow them to represent each brand best.
The “younger” team is able to connect with kids and at the same time educate their parents on the brand’s value proposition. The other team, with a more mature staff, relate well with that brand’s older target consumer.
When your staff is knowledgeable, engaging and appealing to the brand’s target; the consumer experience becomes more enjoyable and more genuine and above all, resonant.
Hiring and retaining solid event staff is simple, but it is not easy.
Here are some best practices you can follow:
Select event staff based on their passion for your brand and the audience you’re looking to connect with. Their passion will make for quality and memorable experiences for consumers.
Conduct a stringent search process for quality candidates and that includes a thorough three stage interview process (phone interview, first in-person interview, second in-person interview). This selection process should also include extensive reference checks (six or more per candidate) and pre-hire personality testing.
Personality testing has been shown to increase the success in the hiring process and in our experience, it has proved beneficial in selecting only the best people and as a management tool in helping those candidates you do hire succeed by understanding their strengths and challenges.
Once hired, treat event staff with respect and as professionals. Even staff that are beat-up-upon, beat up on consumers. Event staff who are well treated, treat consumers better.
Successful candidates should receive extensive brand and product training.
Training should include a significant module on how to interface with consumer in an event environment. This should include specific content on ‘reading’ individual consumers to determine what kind of engagement each is open to and cover the importance of treating consumers respectfully and that all consumers are treated as potential customers.
Training should also reinforce expectations communicated at the point-of-hire and reinforced throughout employment around acceptable (and unacceptable) behavior and specific non-negotiable conditions of employment (promptness, respectfulness, honesty).
On-site management should be fully brand product trained and expected to engage consumers as a key part of their on-site role.
On-site managers should be mature, responsible, committed individuals with decision rights for staff support and, if needed, staff discipline.
In order to ensure the utmost quality of consumer interactions are provided, be sure to utilize quality control tools.
Event staff and on-site management should be regularly tested to ensure that brand and product knowledge is up-to-date and accurate. Satisfactory test scores should be considered a condition of employment.
Conduct regular performance reviews of tenured staff. This allows for the opportunity to evaluate each staff member’s performance, to review their knowledge and to set goals moving forward. Performance reviews are a professional development tool and are meant to allow for two-way constructive dialogue that not only benefits the staff member but their overall value to your brand.
Select events should be ‘secret shopped’, an impartial, unannounced, candid review of the consumer engagement experience.
Daily on-site team meetings should be held to communicate daily objectives (measurables), reinforce expectations and rally team spirit.
On-site management and staff are trained to identify opportunities for improvement on a daily basis.
The engagement between your event staff and a consumer might well be the only two way interaction a consumer ever has with your brand. That interaction has to be perfect and it can’t be perfect without the right people.