Live Agenda blog: Staffing matters

In Event's first Live Agenda blog we talk to three agencies about the importance of having brand ambassadors with the right attitude, and the difference it can make to consumers' involvement and overall experience at an activation.

Eatenton says it is up to agencies to embrace the positive attitude of brand ambassadors
Eatenton says it is up to agencies to embrace the positive attitude of brand ambassadors

Tom Eatenton, founder of Kru Live Staffing and Kru Talent International:

Our job is sourcing and selecting great people to deliver great experiences and to engage with brands', or let’s say 'events'' audiences. Most of those that gravitate to this industry have great attitudes, enthusiasm and motivation. It is up to us as their agencies to embrace this and ensure this is capitalised upon when working on our clients’ events.

Nothing has changed in our ten years of business. The path to a successful event team has always been preparation – a friendly and charismatic booking team, delivering great briefings, having an open ear for team concerns and efficient processes so that those working for our clients are content and confident in the fact that doing a fantastic job will be recognised, paid lightening-quick and paid well. Get this wrong however and you may find the same team arrive on site with a completely different outlook and approach. 

Those that work for us, and our clients, do not believe they are doing a ‘temp job’ or a paid day’s work. Long gone are the days of ‘promo staff’, today’s generation are brand ambassadors or ‘mini-marketeers’ - they are trained on the bigger picture and understand the importance of engagement and their role in creating a memorable encounter for a consumer or guest, as well as the impact that has on that person’s future actions - whether it be sharing the experience via word of mouth or social media or becoming/remaining a loyal customer.

Chris Wareham, managing director, Mash Staffing:

Staffing is often considered the end of the line of an experiential campaign, but the question is – which end? As the final product in the process – after potentially a long line of brand strategists, campaign conceptualisers, media buyers and the experiential agency – staffing can be considered a last minute, ticking the box exercise. 

But looked at from the other direction, promotional staff are the living, breathing face of the brand and often the only people the consumer sees. As well as being responsible for projecting the brand’s values and personality, they are also critical to an activity’s success. 

Experiential marketing asks consumers to join in – from a simple interaction like taking a sample, to more immersive experiences that demand greater participation. While consumers are becoming ever more comfortable with giving things a go, there is still a level of "very British" reticence, particularly within certain demographics. It is the job of the event staff to explain, persuade, reassure and congratulate those consumers that get involved.

Depending on the activity and the day, the staff may also be required to sell product, qualify consumers, charm crying children, smile through the rain, wear high heels in a muddy field, negotiate with disgruntled customers…the list goes on.

So for all the talk of aspiring actresses and hard-up students, promotional staffing actually takes a special kind of person. 

Training is also key to the success of a campaign – not only does it give those front line staff the tools to do their job well, it also shows that the client respects their role, which in turn elicits loyalty and greater enthusiasm for the job.

Carrie Watson, staffing executive, Sense:

We’ve all been there. Wandering through Waterloo station on the way home from work, or relaxing with friends at a summer festival and suddenly some stranger comes up to you in a bright, branded T-shirt, or perhaps even a weird costume.

The first instinct, particularly if you’re a naturally reserved Brit, is flight or fight. What happens next is crucial to the success of an experiential campaign.

As someone who manages experiential staff and has a background as a brand ambassador, when I’m on the receiving end of a promotion, I’m quite frankly beside myself to, for once, be on the consumer side.

After the initial excitement is over (give it a couple of seconds) I then go on to wonder how the staff perform, particularly at this crucial point. I find myself staring at them, checking out their appearance, listening out for whether they are simply shouting: "Free drink", or being a client’s dream by telling people exactly what they are offering and enthusiastically expressing the key messages.

Of course, if you really want to appreciate the value of great brand ambassadors and get your team performing to the max, then it’s essential to put yourself in the position of the general public or whoever your target audience is – on the receiving end. Only then will you fully appreciate the importance of making sure you get that initial contact right, as it’s key to winning over customers.

Here are some making-contact essentials:

Service with a smile

Starting off with a smile on your face not only makes you more appealing to consumers, but helps to get you in the right positive frame of mind.

Polite and personable

No matter how dynamic and active the experience is you’re creating, it’s vital to always be polite and friendly when dealing with consumers and sensitive to the fact that you are intruding into their day. The only time you can stray from this is when you’re playing an actual role and the purpose is to surprise or shock.

Be the brand

Brand ambassadors are a physical extension of a brand and as such should immerse themselves in its values, ensuring that they present and respect these at all times when engaging with consumers from the first point of contact to the last.

Know your audience

Clearly understanding the kind of person you are engaging with is essential to making sure you initiate the conversation in the right way.

Stick to the script

Although you should tailor the key brand messages, you need to deliver to the conversation and situation, it is still important to make sure you are following the agreed strategy to achieve maximum engagement and impact, and to ensure everyone is performing consistently.

Comment below to let us know what you think.

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