Sales tips for in-store demonstrators, sales people and promotional staff

At SublimeNZ we specialise in a wide range of promotional / experiential marketing activities.

Our services can take a number of forms, including:

  • event activation
  • sponsorship leverage
  • street sampling
  • corporate hosting
  • and in-store demonstration and sales.

Today’s blog focuses on tips for in store sampling and sales staff (in retail and grocery- or any sales environment) and will hopefully help both SublimeNZ (and other) promotional staff to enjoy their job more, and achieve better results.

Point 1: Punctuality

First and foremost, you have to show up on time! It may seem like a basic thing to include in this blog, but you would be surprised how many promotional people show up late (or, not early- which is just as bad) and this tardiness can have a huge impact on the outcome of the activity.

The example we will use today is a wine sampling campaign (where you need to set up a demonstration zone of some sort, such as a table / stand/ stock display). If your shift starts at 3pm, you need to factor in the time it takes for you to:

- arrive in the carpark of the venue

- unload the equipment from your car

- load up a shopping trolley or manually walk the gear into the store

- meet the liquor manager

- sign in

- find your promotion area

- find where the stock is on display

- put some stock near your stand (for ease of sale)

- set up your stand

- begin work.

Depending what size stand you have got and the distance from the car park to the store, expect this procedure to take between 15-30 minutes. So, arriving in the car park of the venue 5 minutes before the shift starts is not going to be enough time to get set up, on/just before your official start time.

NOTE: clients and agency managers will often spot check at the start of a shift, not midway through or at the end. They want to see that you are organised and early. This, of course, is not ideal for a promoter (especially on their first shift when they are learning the ropes) but just reinforces how important it is to be early for work. If there is one things clients hate, in my experience, it is tardiness.. especially if they are there early.

Point 2: Presentation (personal, and zone)

Presentation relates both to the way you (as the brand ambassador/promoter) looks when at work, but also refers to how you keep your display stand / zone at all times.

Presentation is key in promotions: It will impact the first impression that both the client, and customer will have with your brand, but also can effect the way a store or venue feels about the activity (and therefore whether or not they are willing to host you again). 

The ‘personal presentation’ basics you should be thinking about before and during work, include:

  1. Hair: is it neat, tidy, and tied back off your face (for hygiene reasons)?. No regrowth visible. Males should have product in their hair, it should be styled and tidy. The back of your neck (if visible) should be neatly cut and not look messy.
  2. Skin/face: females should have always makeup on so that they look tidy and professional. The amount of makeup required will depend on the brand and the location: if working in a dark environment or at night, you will need more makeup than in a brightly lit environment for it to be seen (and also because flashes from cameras will blow out the makeup). The minimum you should have is some lipstick, eye liner, and foundation to smooth out your skin and give you a warm even tone. Men should be clean shaven, unless authorised to have some ‘fashionable stubble’, or authorised to keep their beard (which normally, they will have fully grown before an event). That ‘in between’ unshaven scruffy stage is normally not acceptable.
  3. Uniform: Your uniform (either supplied, or your own) should be neatly pressed (and clean). Your logo or branding should not be obscured by anything, such as your hair or in-store pass. Uniforms should not be worn more than once if possible, and you should have nice creases. Ties should be done all the way up to the neck, and all buttons should be done up. Your should should always be clean, and appropriate to the job. If black business shoes, they should be good enough for you to wear in a corporate environment. They should be shining (gleaming!), laces done up, and all scuffs taken out. Females should have appropriate heels. Sneakers should be clean: if in doubt, chuck them through the wash or use bleach (or toothpaste is a good trick) to make the white bits white again. Or, toughen up and buy some new ones from the Warehouse or similar: your investment of $40 to ensure your feet are perfect will most certainly be noticed by your agency and/or client. Just be aware that as a contracted promotional person you are responsible for these costs.. but if you are required to have a uniform which is ‘not something that would normally be in your wardrobe’ then you may be reimbursed for it.
  4. If your uniform has a screen printed or digitally printed logo on it, you should never put it through a hot wash at home, or iron directly onto the logo (as it may melt the rubber logo and ruin the image).
  5. Hygiene: one of the most off putting things you can have when talking to a sales person or promoter (anyone, really) is bad hygiene. For example bad body odour, bad breath, dirty teeth, or dirty/chewed fingernails! Rule of thumb (excuse the pun) for nails is to have only a tiny amount of white showing (1-2mm) and (females only) to have a clear lacquer. Chipped paint, or paint in contrast to whatever you are wearing or the brand you are promoting is unacceptable.

Regarding presentation of your display or stand: 

  • Positioning: where you set up is almost as important as how it looks. You obviously need to work with the store manager (or liquor manager, in the case of the wine demonstration example) to find the optimal location that achieves:
  1. Great footfall (maximum people walking past)
  2. Proximity to the product category you are selling (ie, being in the wine department if you are selling wine!) or at least a complimentary location- (such as the chips section if you are selling/promoting dip)
  3. Proximity to the product you are selling (or at least stacking some product near you)
  4. room to move: having a space big enough for your stand which is both safe for customers to move past, and inviting for them to stop and talk.
Finally, your zone should have all of the product facing forwards, rubbish/rubbish bins, surplus product and your personal belongings should be completely out of site, and your zone should be spotless at all times.
I have always loved the saying “don’t lean, clean!”. You should always look busy at your stand by wiping down the table top, arranging display product, whilst keeping an eager eye out for customers to attract them to your stand.

Point 3: Tips for selling and promoting

Once you are in the store (early), you are beautifully presented in line with your brand and store guidelines, and your zone is set up and looking great, then it is time to start promoting and/or selling!

If there is one major tip I can give you (as someone that has promoted literally thousands of brands and products), it is to be confident- and talk to everyone. Confidence comes across and is contagious: if you are not naturally confident, then just ‘fake it till you make it’.. people will appreciate your enthusiasm, if nothing else.

Below are a few tricks I have picked up, that I would like to share with  you:

  1. Promote to everyone: We have all seen Pretty Woman where the ‘unsightly’ lady walks into a store and the sales attendants won’t serve her because of the way she looks…  it turns out she was filthy rich and spent a fortune in another store that was prepared to serve her, right? The same applies in supermarkets and other retail stores.You never know who may be a big customer even if they are not dressed the way you would expect. You are always better off to talk to everyone and treat everyone with the same level of respect, than to avoid people because of the way they look. At the very least, creating buzz / movement around your stand will attract other people to it (see next point)..
  2. Create excitement at your stand: There is an odd phenomenon where humans will follow other humans, and want to be a part of something. Have you ever stood on the street and looked up because everyone else is looking up? Why is that? We all want to be included in the action: we want to know what is going on. So if you can attract a group of people to your sales area or promotional stand, you will create far more energy than just having one person, and they can bounce off one another. One of our clients gave us a useful tip the other day: she encourages consumers that are tasting her wine to talk to one another instead of to her: in effect ‘do the selling’ to one another,  which she finds has far more credibility than if the promoter does all the talking. People believe their peers, over a sales person.. so get one happy customer to invite the next person over to your zone.
  3. Smile a lot: Smiling (really smiling, not just pretending) goes a long way towards making a sale. If you standing there looking like you prefer to be somewhere else, or like you at a funeral, people will feed off that energy and are unlikely to warm to you- or the brand. Your job is to be smiling, friendly, talkative, and have that smile that just glitters with energy.
  4. Know your product: this heading possibly belongs far further up the page, as it is crucial. Basically, presentation and appearance can go so far (to get people interested in you or your stand), but unless you really know what you are talking about (and know it inside and out) then people will see through the facade very quickly and move on. I recently spot checked a competitors wine demonstration at an event, and asked (what I thought) were some pretty basic questions such as where the product was made, and what the award stickers were for on the bottle.. her answer was that she did not know (either question) and that the wine tasted ‘good’… she may as well have said it ‘tasted like grapes’!! Know your product, know the benefits and features, and have some interesting knowledge you can pass onto your customers: people love having some ‘insiders knowledge’ and having a story they can tell their friends, when they put the bottle on the table at dinner later..
  5. Features and Benefits: the feature of a product includes what it does, where it is from, what it is made out of, who made it, and how much it costs. The benefits of a product are basically “what it will do for you”.  Which is more important? This depends on the customer of course. Some customers really care about the product features, as they are comparing one product with another and are driven by the features, or perhaps they need this product to do certain things or be compatible with something else they own.. The vast majority of people make their decisions based on the benefits of a product or service though. People, in my experience, really want to know “how will this make my life better?faster?cooler?easier?more fashionable?more attractive? younger looking?..”. The list goes on. As a promoter, it is crucial to find out what is motivating your customer (what is going on inside their head) and then answer these needs/wants/desires/pains with the right answer..
  6. ASK QUESTIONS: how can you know what is motivating a consumer, and therefore what will inspire them to try or buy your product, if you have not asked “what their need is?”. At SublimeNZ, in our brand ambassador training, we spend a lot of time on this topic of asking questions. Examples may be: “who are you buying this for today?” “what do you normally buy?” “What is important to you?” “what are you trying to achieve?”.. Once you have built a rapport for the customer (remember, listen more than you talk!) and got some insight into what they want or need, then you can hit them with some features or benefits about the product you are demonstrating, that perfectly match what they are looking for.. in our experience, this is when sales “just happen” with no effort. You are not selling, you are just helping someone to buy.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale: So many promoters, brand ambassadors, or sales people are actually afraid to go to the next step and ask for a sale! The way I like to do this personally, is to say “so Sir, would you like two bottles or three?”. So many sales or marketing people do 99% of the job with promoting, but then let their warmed up prospect walk away from them without spending a cent! Nothing is free in this world: if a shopper or customer has just spent 5 minutes picking your brain about this product and eating your free cheese and crackers, they understand that they are going to be asked to buy something: so don’t let them down! Close that sale. Remember in experiential marketing, sampling, promotion, demonstrations and retail staffing- you are there to make sales: anyone who says different is lying. Every brand or marketing manager we have ever dealt with at SublimeNZ is looking for make a return on the investment they have made in their marketing spend: and most of the time this is in the form of an increase in sales.

Wrap:

So there we have it: I hope these tips have been useful. As a promotional person or brand ambassador or sales person you must remember that you are ‘the face of a brand’. That brand might be part of a multi million (or billion!) dollar company, so there is just a wee bit of pressure on you to represent that brand in the most professional way possible.. 


If you are unclear about your role in your organisation, or do not feel confident about conducting promotional activity or sales, then talk to your boss or agency manager. It is crucial that you understand the importance of presentation (both personal, and your zone) as well as punctuality, attitude, energy, and just smiling!

Selling is such a taboo subject these days: everyone hates it. I believe that if you are a genuinely interested and interesting person, who asks questions, find out consumers needs, then answers these needs with the relevant features or benefits of a brand/product- then the sales will make themselves”. So, don’t fear selling: embrace it.. it is fun!

Robert Bruce

Director

SublimeNZ ltd

Robert@sublimenz.co.nz

Adding value and innovating in the experiential marketing industry

01/06/2012

Today I went to a very interesting breakfast session, hosted by Idealog Magazine, and presented by Steven Joyce (Minister of ‘Everything’- including Economic Development, Science and Innovation, Tertiary Education, and Skills and Employment).

The underlying theme of the session, attended by many of the top scientific, academic and business brains in NZ was that as a (small, isolated) country we must innovate and invest in research and development in order to become competitive, increase wealth in New Zealand, and to long term carve a niche for our products and services on a global stage.

According to The Minister, “one thing that almost all political parties agree on is that we all want more, and higher paid jobs”

So, the question that was posed today, is what do we need to do to create unique selling points, added-value, and international demand for our products and services? How do we move away from ‘commodity business’ (for example, promotional staffing services that are comparatively similair between agencies) and transition to a point where we are selling, and ideally exporting, BIG ideas. In summary, if we have bigger companies creating better returns and leading the way in the area of RND and innovation, then in theory there will be more jobs for Kiwis- that are paid better.

The challenge, is how to encourage, incentivise, and celebrate Kiwi entrepreneurs to ‘be the best’? How do we create a culture of ‘thinking bigger’, and how do we help create a ‘soft landing’ in emerging markets such as China, which Mr Joyce said will become our biggest export market by 2020.

Certainly, my own personal experience is that it is not as easy as it looks:

As founder and director of SublimeNZ I am infinitely interested in the concept of ‘adding value’ to companies. SublimeNZ specialises in helping brands to tell a story to customers, creating engagement and interest with target markets, differentiating products and services from competitors, and ideally helping brands to get better returns from their marketing spend.

Recently I traveled for a month meeting Kiwi (and other) business owners, marketers and entrepreneurs around the world. I wanted to know what was happening around the world in the area of experiential marketing, advertising and and sponsorship (in particular) but also what was like setting up shop in a new country. Unfortunately much of the sentiment I encountered in the US and Europe in particular is that it is extremely hard- much harder than it sounds when talking about ‘opening up new markets’ or ‘securing global distribution chains’, over breakfast.

The challenge I observed is that in most established markets such as the US or Europe there are already hundreds, or even thousands of companies that ‘do what you do’. Experiential marketing, for example, is highly developed in Europe and America and even Australia, where they have been pushing boundaries and innovating for decades. The size of budgets these agencies have access to, driven by the population they need to market to, are phenomenal. Far great than any marketing budget we will see in New Zealand for a long time I suspect. But, I observed that great ideas could still get through and succeed, if they were value-added, and distinctly unique. The door is not shut for global expansion, in any industry, as long as you have something new and better. 

This is therefore my out take from todays session: we need to innovate. Doing ‘what everyone is already doing’ cannot help a company to grow because most likely, someone else is already doing it better. For New Zealand, and therefore New Zealand experiential marketing to progress we have to be doing things that NOONE is doing, and do it better/smarter/faster/bigger/more effective. We need to innovate, as my company has done, in the area of automating the ‘commodity’ aspect of the business so that it is as painless end efficient as possible (by commodity, I am referring to the basics of experiential, such as promotional staff and uniforms and branding and collateral). Commodities like those I just described, are what my own company (until recently) and many others ‘hang their hat on’; The quality or appearance or training of promotional staff, the attractiveness or uniqueness of branding, even the speed or professionalism or experience of account managers or creatives: These are not genuine selling points and you are only clipping a ticket between your client and the consumer. When clipping a ticket, and competing in a homogenised or commodity industry, one therefore will always be at they mercy of competitors undercutting prices, and stealing clients away. Companies like ours are not ‘truly’ differentiating if this is all they are offering: there has to be more.

It is ideas.

To survive and grow (both our own companies, and the economy) we have to be selling/marketing a radically better way of doing things, something new, something completely different, something with ‘added value’ that brands/companies are prepared to pay for and really value- because only then can we (as agency owners) charge properly for the time and effort we put in, grow our businesses, create more jobs, and pay our people better.

This is how, in my opinion, one little pocket of New Zealand business can contribute to a better future for our country.

Robert Bruce

Director

SublimeNZ ltd

Robert@sublimenz.co.nz

www.sublimenz.co.nz 

The kind of briefs experiential marketers love

This week I got briefed by a forward-thinking client in a way that has got the SublimeNZ team and I extremely excited. I thought I would share it with you, so you can get a little insight into the way we think here at the agency..

It goes a little something like this (without naming clients or brands sorry- all under wraps for now).

In a nutshell this client is:

- a global company. 

- They are about doing things no-one else is doing/has done

- They are launching a new product on the back of an upcoming global event and integrating their ATL, PR, sales, and experiential around this event.

- They want to raise awareness of the brand, create need, desire, hype, around the laynch

- They of course, wish to drive sales in-store.

So the client says the magical words what all experiential marketers love to hear:

We want to engage with our customers and create buzz, hype, and ‘wow’ factor that NO-ON ELSE HAS DONE BEFORE. We want people to be amazed, and delighted, and to walk away saying “that was freaking awesome, I want one!”

 We don’t have a long time to get this proposal turned around, so here is what the team and I are going to do over the next few days:

1/ Fully tear the brand and product apart: we want to know what it does, what is cool, what makes it special, what the selling point is… what is truly unique about this product?

2/ Look at the customers/target market: who are these people? what makes them tick? where do they congregate/socialise/walk to work/go on the weekend/holiday/party? How do we meet these people?

3/ What is their tone of voice? How do they talk? what language do they use (literally and metaphorically) What is going to make them laugh/wonder/ponder/want to buy?

4/ What are other industry leaders doing? Because we can’t do ANYTHING that they are doing or have done..

5/ Then: we will brainstorm  to find the ‘Big Idea’. What is our ‘Subilme Experience’ going to be? How do we make consumers walk away from their engagement with the brand, going “Wow, that was freaking awesome!” .. and then how do we make them tell all of their friends?

6/ How do we use this ‘Big Idea’ to sell more products in store? How do we drive more sales at the point of purchase? How do we create demand, need, desire for this new product?

7/ What is the experiential concept going to be? Will it involve brand ambassadors/promotional staff? Will it involve vehicles, events, ambush, stunts, digital integration, social media?.. what are we going to ‘do’, nation wide?

This creative process is what makes us tick at SublimeNZ, and the reason I started this agency in 2006.

Watch this space, as we tender for and hopefully win this remarkable piece of business. Fingers cross.

Robert Bruce

Director

SublimeNZ

Robert@sublimenz.co.nz

Promotional staff and Brand Ambassadors

One of the great parts of this job (promotional staffing and experiential marketing), is that is you get to meet and work with so many amazing people. 

This week alone we have interviewed dozens of amazing promotional people around New Zealand for roles in our agency ranging from wine-waiters to grid girls, and last night we conducted a group training in Auckland CBD for about 20 new candidates. 

As company owner, probably the most rewarding part of this job is getting to know the hundreds of promotional staff and brand ambassadors who have been selected to work for us (and to be fair, even most of those who have been unsuccessful- it is nothing personal). These are people who are at the top of their game: students, models, actors, or full time workers who just love doing promotional work and most of all LOVE people! The new team last night were great: they interacted and engaged during the group work, asked good questions, and then stuck around afterward for a drink and made an effort to get to know both their new co-workers, and managers.

It is often over a beer that you really get the chance to really get to know someone. The types of people that we take on at SublimeNZ are those who are friendly, non-pretentious, intelligent and likable. It is always interesting hearing about their lives outside of promotions  (such as what they are studying, working on, or aspire to become). Last night I chatted to some new staff who are cameramen, physio students, and property developers! Two of our new staff drove 4 hours return to make the training. That is commitment!

The key to being a great promotional person (or brand ambassador, as we prefer), comes down to a few things:

1/ You are personable, and love people

2/ You love selling and are not afraid to close a deal!

3/ You are confident- you are the centre of attention, and love making people laugh!

4/  You are professional and organised: this job is not for the faint hearted- you need to be able to find your way to work, and not forget your uniform!

5/ You are well presented, in shape, and really care about your appearance. After all, first impressions count!

We are taking people on for a number of roles at SublimeNZ, including:

- wine demonstration

- in-store sampling

- airport/retail sales and promotion

- promotional model work (race track)

- event marketing / sampling (sports drink)

If you are interested in becoming part of the SublimeNZ team around NZ, then apply via our online staff management system Staff Connect now!

We also have a role available now: check it out here http://www.starnow.co.nz/Casting-Calls/Actors-wanted/Events/casting_for_race_team_premium_grid_girls_promotional_staff.htm

Love your work

Robert Bruce

Director

Team SublimeNZ

More engaging in-store demonstration

Recently SublimeNZ has been pitching, and winning, some innovative in-store sampling campaigns that I thought I would share with you. It is exciting stuff!

In-store sampling can be in a number of channels (grocery, liquor, even petrol stations, or shopping malls) and historically very bland- with minimal thought or strategy behind them. This, I would not call experiential marketing.

But the sort of in-store brand engagement we have been advocating /pitching at the point of purchase includes features like:

- tablets/computers with links directly to the clients website or social media,

- unique demonstration zones, matching the clients brands (more than just core flute ‘demo tables’)

-authentic/ exciting uniforms,

- and of course highly trained brand ambassadors.

Although confidential right now, I can share that the success we have had is in the wine industry, with a major liquor client who is THRILLED to have a more unique in-store display than usual, and looking forward to seeing how much we can sell. 

As with my last post about ‘are promotional staff experiential?’ this poses an interesting question, which ‘is in-store demonstration experiential?’

I would say that historically, in-store demonstration is just that: point of sale promotion. But, with clients looking for more cut-through in the highly competitive grocery channel, there is more scope for creativity and therefore experiential ideas like what we are coming up with.

One of the selling points of SublimeNZ is that we have a creative department with amazing/modern graphic artists ready to create mock ups and renderings of our ideas, and we are working towards changing perceptions about point of sale / promotional activity.

Robert Bruce

Director

SublimeNZ

SublimeNZ News Feed

Sales tips for in-store demonstrators, sales people and promotional staff

At SublimeNZ we specialise in a wide range of promotional / experiential marketing activities.

Our services can take a number of forms, including:

  • event activation
  • sponsorship leverage
  • street sampling
  • corporate hosting
  • and in-store demonstration and sales.

Today’s blog focuses on tips for in store sampling and sales staff (in retail and grocery- or any sales environment) and will hopefully help both SublimeNZ (and other) promotional staff to enjoy their job more, and achieve better results.

Point 1: Punctuality

First and foremost, you have to show up on time! It may seem like a basic thing to include in this blog, but you would be surprised how many promotional people show up late (or, not early- which is just as bad) and this tardiness can have a huge impact on the outcome of the activity.

The example we will use today is a wine sampling campaign (where you need to set up a demonstration zone of some sort, such as a table / stand/ stock display). If your shift starts at 3pm, you need to factor in the time it takes for you to:

- arrive in the carpark of the venue

- unload the equipment from your car

- load up a shopping trolley or manually walk the gear into the store

- meet the liquor manager

- sign in

- find your promotion area

- find where the stock is on display

- put some stock near your stand (for ease of sale)

- set up your stand

- begin work.

Depending what size stand you have got and the distance from the car park to the store, expect this procedure to take between 15-30 minutes. So, arriving in the car park of the venue 5 minutes before the shift starts is not going to be enough time to get set up, on/just before your official start time.

NOTE: clients and agency managers will often spot check at the start of a shift, not midway through or at the end. They want to see that you are organised and early. This, of course, is not ideal for a promoter (especially on their first shift when they are learning the ropes) but just reinforces how important it is to be early for work. If there is one things clients hate, in my experience, it is tardiness.. especially if they are there early.

Point 2: Presentation (personal, and zone)

Presentation relates both to the way you (as the brand ambassador/promoter) looks when at work, but also refers to how you keep your display stand / zone at all times.

Presentation is key in promotions: It will impact the first impression that both the client, and customer will have with your brand, but also can effect the way a store or venue feels about the activity (and therefore whether or not they are willing to host you again). 

The ‘personal presentation’ basics you should be thinking about before and during work, include:

  1. Hair: is it neat, tidy, and tied back off your face (for hygiene reasons)?. No regrowth visible. Males should have product in their hair, it should be styled and tidy. The back of your neck (if visible) should be neatly cut and not look messy.
  2. Skin/face: females should have always makeup on so that they look tidy and professional. The amount of makeup required will depend on the brand and the location: if working in a dark environment or at night, you will need more makeup than in a brightly lit environment for it to be seen (and also because flashes from cameras will blow out the makeup). The minimum you should have is some lipstick, eye liner, and foundation to smooth out your skin and give you a warm even tone. Men should be clean shaven, unless authorised to have some ‘fashionable stubble’, or authorised to keep their beard (which normally, they will have fully grown before an event). That ‘in between’ unshaven scruffy stage is normally not acceptable.
  3. Uniform: Your uniform (either supplied, or your own) should be neatly pressed (and clean). Your logo or branding should not be obscured by anything, such as your hair or in-store pass. Uniforms should not be worn more than once if possible, and you should have nice creases. Ties should be done all the way up to the neck, and all buttons should be done up. Your should should always be clean, and appropriate to the job. If black business shoes, they should be good enough for you to wear in a corporate environment. They should be shining (gleaming!), laces done up, and all scuffs taken out. Females should have appropriate heels. Sneakers should be clean: if in doubt, chuck them through the wash or use bleach (or toothpaste is a good trick) to make the white bits white again. Or, toughen up and buy some new ones from the Warehouse or similar: your investment of $40 to ensure your feet are perfect will most certainly be noticed by your agency and/or client. Just be aware that as a contracted promotional person you are responsible for these costs.. but if you are required to have a uniform which is ‘not something that would normally be in your wardrobe’ then you may be reimbursed for it.
  4. If your uniform has a screen printed or digitally printed logo on it, you should never put it through a hot wash at home, or iron directly onto the logo (as it may melt the rubber logo and ruin the image).
  5. Hygiene: one of the most off putting things you can have when talking to a sales person or promoter (anyone, really) is bad hygiene. For example bad body odour, bad breath, dirty teeth, or dirty/chewed fingernails! Rule of thumb (excuse the pun) for nails is to have only a tiny amount of white showing (1-2mm) and (females only) to have a clear lacquer. Chipped paint, or paint in contrast to whatever you are wearing or the brand you are promoting is unacceptable.

Regarding presentation of your display or stand: 

  • Positioning: where you set up is almost as important as how it looks. You obviously need to work with the store manager (or liquor manager, in the case of the wine demonstration example) to find the optimal location that achieves:
  1. Great footfall (maximum people walking past)
  2. Proximity to the product category you are selling (ie, being in the wine department if you are selling wine!) or at least a complimentary location- (such as the chips section if you are selling/promoting dip)
  3. Proximity to the product you are selling (or at least stacking some product near you)
  4. room to move: having a space big enough for your stand which is both safe for customers to move past, and inviting for them to stop and talk.
Finally, your zone should have all of the product facing forwards, rubbish/rubbish bins, surplus product and your personal belongings should be completely out of site, and your zone should be spotless at all times.
I have always loved the saying “don’t lean, clean!”. You should always look busy at your stand by wiping down the table top, arranging display product, whilst keeping an eager eye out for customers to attract them to your stand.

Point 3: Tips for selling and promoting

Once you are in the store (early), you are beautifully presented in line with your brand and store guidelines, and your zone is set up and looking great, then it is time to start promoting and/or selling!

If there is one major tip I can give you (as someone that has promoted literally thousands of brands and products), it is to be confident- and talk to everyone. Confidence comes across and is contagious: if you are not naturally confident, then just ‘fake it till you make it’.. people will appreciate your enthusiasm, if nothing else.

Below are a few tricks I have picked up, that I would like to share with  you:

  1. Promote to everyone: We have all seen Pretty Woman where the ‘unsightly’ lady walks into a store and the sales attendants won’t serve her because of the way she looks…  it turns out she was filthy rich and spent a fortune in another store that was prepared to serve her, right? The same applies in supermarkets and other retail stores.You never know who may be a big customer even if they are not dressed the way you would expect. You are always better off to talk to everyone and treat everyone with the same level of respect, than to avoid people because of the way they look. At the very least, creating buzz / movement around your stand will attract other people to it (see next point)..
  2. Create excitement at your stand: There is an odd phenomenon where humans will follow other humans, and want to be a part of something. Have you ever stood on the street and looked up because everyone else is looking up? Why is that? We all want to be included in the action: we want to know what is going on. So if you can attract a group of people to your sales area or promotional stand, you will create far more energy than just having one person, and they can bounce off one another. One of our clients gave us a useful tip the other day: she encourages consumers that are tasting her wine to talk to one another instead of to her: in effect ‘do the selling’ to one another,  which she finds has far more credibility than if the promoter does all the talking. People believe their peers, over a sales person.. so get one happy customer to invite the next person over to your zone.
  3. Smile a lot: Smiling (really smiling, not just pretending) goes a long way towards making a sale. If you standing there looking like you prefer to be somewhere else, or like you at a funeral, people will feed off that energy and are unlikely to warm to you- or the brand. Your job is to be smiling, friendly, talkative, and have that smile that just glitters with energy.
  4. Know your product: this heading possibly belongs far further up the page, as it is crucial. Basically, presentation and appearance can go so far (to get people interested in you or your stand), but unless you really know what you are talking about (and know it inside and out) then people will see through the facade very quickly and move on. I recently spot checked a competitors wine demonstration at an event, and asked (what I thought) were some pretty basic questions such as where the product was made, and what the award stickers were for on the bottle.. her answer was that she did not know (either question) and that the wine tasted ‘good’… she may as well have said it ‘tasted like grapes’!! Know your product, know the benefits and features, and have some interesting knowledge you can pass onto your customers: people love having some ‘insiders knowledge’ and having a story they can tell their friends, when they put the bottle on the table at dinner later..
  5. Features and Benefits: the feature of a product includes what it does, where it is from, what it is made out of, who made it, and how much it costs. The benefits of a product are basically “what it will do for you”.  Which is more important? This depends on the customer of course. Some customers really care about the product features, as they are comparing one product with another and are driven by the features, or perhaps they need this product to do certain things or be compatible with something else they own.. The vast majority of people make their decisions based on the benefits of a product or service though. People, in my experience, really want to know “how will this make my life better?faster?cooler?easier?more fashionable?more attractive? younger looking?..”. The list goes on. As a promoter, it is crucial to find out what is motivating your customer (what is going on inside their head) and then answer these needs/wants/desires/pains with the right answer..
  6. ASK QUESTIONS: how can you know what is motivating a consumer, and therefore what will inspire them to try or buy your product, if you have not asked “what their need is?”. At SublimeNZ, in our brand ambassador training, we spend a lot of time on this topic of asking questions. Examples may be: “who are you buying this for today?” “what do you normally buy?” “What is important to you?” “what are you trying to achieve?”.. Once you have built a rapport for the customer (remember, listen more than you talk!) and got some insight into what they want or need, then you can hit them with some features or benefits about the product you are demonstrating, that perfectly match what they are looking for.. in our experience, this is when sales “just happen” with no effort. You are not selling, you are just helping someone to buy.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale: So many promoters, brand ambassadors, or sales people are actually afraid to go to the next step and ask for a sale! The way I like to do this personally, is to say “so Sir, would you like two bottles or three?”. So many sales or marketing people do 99% of the job with promoting, but then let their warmed up prospect walk away from them without spending a cent! Nothing is free in this world: if a shopper or customer has just spent 5 minutes picking your brain about this product and eating your free cheese and crackers, they understand that they are going to be asked to buy something: so don’t let them down! Close that sale. Remember in experiential marketing, sampling, promotion, demonstrations and retail staffing- you are there to make sales: anyone who says different is lying. Every brand or marketing manager we have ever dealt with at SublimeNZ is looking for make a return on the investment they have made in their marketing spend: and most of the time this is in the form of an increase in sales.

Wrap:

So there we have it: I hope these tips have been useful. As a promotional person or brand ambassador or sales person you must remember that you are ‘the face of a brand’. That brand might be part of a multi million (or billion!) dollar company, so there is just a wee bit of pressure on you to represent that brand in the most professional way possible.. 


If you are unclear about your role in your organisation, or do not feel confident about conducting promotional activity or sales, then talk to your boss or agency manager. It is crucial that you understand the importance of presentation (both personal, and your zone) as well as punctuality, attitude, energy, and just smiling!

Selling is such a taboo subject these days: everyone hates it. I believe that if you are a genuinely interested and interesting person, who asks questions, find out consumers needs, then answers these needs with the relevant features or benefits of a brand/product- then the sales will make themselves”. So, don’t fear selling: embrace it.. it is fun!

Robert Bruce

Director

SublimeNZ ltd

Robert@sublimenz.co.nz

Adding value and innovating in the experiential marketing industry

01/06/2012

Today I went to a very interesting breakfast session, hosted by Idealog Magazine, and presented by Steven Joyce (Minister of ‘Everything’- including Economic Development, Science and Innovation, Tertiary Education, and Skills and Employment).

The underlying theme of the session, attended by many of the top scientific, academic and business brains in NZ was that as a (small, isolated) country we must innovate and invest in research and development in order to become competitive, increase wealth in New Zealand, and to long term carve a niche for our products and services on a global stage.

According to The Minister, “one thing that almost all political parties agree on is that we all want more, and higher paid jobs”

So, the question that was posed today, is what do we need to do to create unique selling points, added-value, and international demand for our products and services? How do we move away from ‘commodity business’ (for example, promotional staffing services that are comparatively similair between agencies) and transition to a point where we are selling, and ideally exporting, BIG ideas. In summary, if we have bigger companies creating better returns and leading the way in the area of RND and innovation, then in theory there will be more jobs for Kiwis- that are paid better.

The challenge, is how to encourage, incentivise, and celebrate Kiwi entrepreneurs to ‘be the best’? How do we create a culture of ‘thinking bigger’, and how do we help create a ‘soft landing’ in emerging markets such as China, which Mr Joyce said will become our biggest export market by 2020.

Certainly, my own personal experience is that it is not as easy as it looks:

As founder and director of SublimeNZ I am infinitely interested in the concept of ‘adding value’ to companies. SublimeNZ specialises in helping brands to tell a story to customers, creating engagement and interest with target markets, differentiating products and services from competitors, and ideally helping brands to get better returns from their marketing spend.

Recently I traveled for a month meeting Kiwi (and other) business owners, marketers and entrepreneurs around the world. I wanted to know what was happening around the world in the area of experiential marketing, advertising and and sponsorship (in particular) but also what was like setting up shop in a new country. Unfortunately much of the sentiment I encountered in the US and Europe in particular is that it is extremely hard- much harder than it sounds when talking about ‘opening up new markets’ or ‘securing global distribution chains’, over breakfast.

The challenge I observed is that in most established markets such as the US or Europe there are already hundreds, or even thousands of companies that ‘do what you do’. Experiential marketing, for example, is highly developed in Europe and America and even Australia, where they have been pushing boundaries and innovating for decades. The size of budgets these agencies have access to, driven by the population they need to market to, are phenomenal. Far great than any marketing budget we will see in New Zealand for a long time I suspect. But, I observed that great ideas could still get through and succeed, if they were value-added, and distinctly unique. The door is not shut for global expansion, in any industry, as long as you have something new and better. 

This is therefore my out take from todays session: we need to innovate. Doing ‘what everyone is already doing’ cannot help a company to grow because most likely, someone else is already doing it better. For New Zealand, and therefore New Zealand experiential marketing to progress we have to be doing things that NOONE is doing, and do it better/smarter/faster/bigger/more effective. We need to innovate, as my company has done, in the area of automating the ‘commodity’ aspect of the business so that it is as painless end efficient as possible (by commodity, I am referring to the basics of experiential, such as promotional staff and uniforms and branding and collateral). Commodities like those I just described, are what my own company (until recently) and many others ‘hang their hat on’; The quality or appearance or training of promotional staff, the attractiveness or uniqueness of branding, even the speed or professionalism or experience of account managers or creatives: These are not genuine selling points and you are only clipping a ticket between your client and the consumer. When clipping a ticket, and competing in a homogenised or commodity industry, one therefore will always be at they mercy of competitors undercutting prices, and stealing clients away. Companies like ours are not ‘truly’ differentiating if this is all they are offering: there has to be more.

It is ideas.

To survive and grow (both our own companies, and the economy) we have to be selling/marketing a radically better way of doing things, something new, something completely different, something with ‘added value’ that brands/companies are prepared to pay for and really value- because only then can we (as agency owners) charge properly for the time and effort we put in, grow our businesses, create more jobs, and pay our people better.

This is how, in my opinion, one little pocket of New Zealand business can contribute to a better future for our country.

Robert Bruce

Director

SublimeNZ ltd

Robert@sublimenz.co.nz

www.sublimenz.co.nz 

The kind of briefs experiential marketers love

This week I got briefed by a forward-thinking client in a way that has got the SublimeNZ team and I extremely excited. I thought I would share it with you, so you can get a little insight into the way we think here at the agency..

It goes a little something like this (without naming clients or brands sorry- all under wraps for now).

In a nutshell this client is:

- a global company. 

- They are about doing things no-one else is doing/has done

- They are launching a new product on the back of an upcoming global event and integrating their ATL, PR, sales, and experiential around this event.

- They want to raise awareness of the brand, create need, desire, hype, around the laynch

- They of course, wish to drive sales in-store.

So the client says the magical words what all experiential marketers love to hear:

We want to engage with our customers and create buzz, hype, and ‘wow’ factor that NO-ON ELSE HAS DONE BEFORE. We want people to be amazed, and delighted, and to walk away saying “that was freaking awesome, I want one!”

 We don’t have a long time to get this proposal turned around, so here is what the team and I are going to do over the next few days:

1/ Fully tear the brand and product apart: we want to know what it does, what is cool, what makes it special, what the selling point is… what is truly unique about this product?

2/ Look at the customers/target market: who are these people? what makes them tick? where do they congregate/socialise/walk to work/go on the weekend/holiday/party? How do we meet these people?

3/ What is their tone of voice? How do they talk? what language do they use (literally and metaphorically) What is going to make them laugh/wonder/ponder/want to buy?

4/ What are other industry leaders doing? Because we can’t do ANYTHING that they are doing or have done..

5/ Then: we will brainstorm  to find the ‘Big Idea’. What is our ‘Subilme Experience’ going to be? How do we make consumers walk away from their engagement with the brand, going “Wow, that was freaking awesome!” .. and then how do we make them tell all of their friends?

6/ How do we use this ‘Big Idea’ to sell more products in store? How do we drive more sales at the point of purchase? How do we create demand, need, desire for this new product?

7/ What is the experiential concept going to be? Will it involve brand ambassadors/promotional staff? Will it involve vehicles, events, ambush, stunts, digital integration, social media?.. what are we going to ‘do’, nation wide?

This creative process is what makes us tick at SublimeNZ, and the reason I started this agency in 2006.

Watch this space, as we tender for and hopefully win this remarkable piece of business. Fingers cross.

Robert Bruce

Director

SublimeNZ

Robert@sublimenz.co.nz

Promotional staff and Brand Ambassadors

One of the great parts of this job (promotional staffing and experiential marketing), is that is you get to meet and work with so many amazing people. 

This week alone we have interviewed dozens of amazing promotional people around New Zealand for roles in our agency ranging from wine-waiters to grid girls, and last night we conducted a group training in Auckland CBD for about 20 new candidates. 

As company owner, probably the most rewarding part of this job is getting to know the hundreds of promotional staff and brand ambassadors who have been selected to work for us (and to be fair, even most of those who have been unsuccessful- it is nothing personal). These are people who are at the top of their game: students, models, actors, or full time workers who just love doing promotional work and most of all LOVE people! The new team last night were great: they interacted and engaged during the group work, asked good questions, and then stuck around afterward for a drink and made an effort to get to know both their new co-workers, and managers.

It is often over a beer that you really get the chance to really get to know someone. The types of people that we take on at SublimeNZ are those who are friendly, non-pretentious, intelligent and likable. It is always interesting hearing about their lives outside of promotions  (such as what they are studying, working on, or aspire to become). Last night I chatted to some new staff who are cameramen, physio students, and property developers! Two of our new staff drove 4 hours return to make the training. That is commitment!

The key to being a great promotional person (or brand ambassador, as we prefer), comes down to a few things:

1/ You are personable, and love people

2/ You love selling and are not afraid to close a deal!

3/ You are confident- you are the centre of attention, and love making people laugh!

4/  You are professional and organised: this job is not for the faint hearted- you need to be able to find your way to work, and not forget your uniform!

5/ You are well presented, in shape, and really care about your appearance. After all, first impressions count!

We are taking people on for a number of roles at SublimeNZ, including:

- wine demonstration

- in-store sampling

- airport/retail sales and promotion

- promotional model work (race track)

- event marketing / sampling (sports drink)

If you are interested in becoming part of the SublimeNZ team around NZ, then apply via our online staff management system Staff Connect now!

We also have a role available now: check it out here http://www.starnow.co.nz/Casting-Calls/Actors-wanted/Events/casting_for_race_team_premium_grid_girls_promotional_staff.htm

Love your work

Robert Bruce

Director

Team SublimeNZ

More engaging in-store demonstration

Recently SublimeNZ has been pitching, and winning, some innovative in-store sampling campaigns that I thought I would share with you. It is exciting stuff!

In-store sampling can be in a number of channels (grocery, liquor, even petrol stations, or shopping malls) and historically very bland- with minimal thought or strategy behind them. This, I would not call experiential marketing.

But the sort of in-store brand engagement we have been advocating /pitching at the point of purchase includes features like:

- tablets/computers with links directly to the clients website or social media,

- unique demonstration zones, matching the clients brands (more than just core flute ‘demo tables’)

-authentic/ exciting uniforms,

- and of course highly trained brand ambassadors.

Although confidential right now, I can share that the success we have had is in the wine industry, with a major liquor client who is THRILLED to have a more unique in-store display than usual, and looking forward to seeing how much we can sell. 

As with my last post about ‘are promotional staff experiential?’ this poses an interesting question, which ‘is in-store demonstration experiential?’

I would say that historically, in-store demonstration is just that: point of sale promotion. But, with clients looking for more cut-through in the highly competitive grocery channel, there is more scope for creativity and therefore experiential ideas like what we are coming up with.

One of the selling points of SublimeNZ is that we have a creative department with amazing/modern graphic artists ready to create mock ups and renderings of our ideas, and we are working towards changing perceptions about point of sale / promotional activity.

Robert Bruce

Director

SublimeNZ

SublimeNZ News Feed

Sales tips for in-store demonstrators, sales people and promotional staff

At SublimeNZ we specialise in a wide range of promotional / experiential marketing activities.

Our services can take a number of forms, including:

  • event activation
  • sponsorship leverage
  • street sampling
  • corporate hosting
  • and in-store demonstration and sales.

Today’s blog focuses on tips for in store sampling and sales staff (in retail and grocery- or any sales environment) and will hopefully help both SublimeNZ (and other) promotional staff to enjoy their job more, and achieve better results.

Point 1: Punctuality

First and foremost, you have to show up on time! It may seem like a basic thing to include in this blog, but you would be surprised how many promotional people show up late (or, not early- which is just as bad) and this tardiness can have a huge impact on the outcome of the activity.

The example we will use today is a wine sampling campaign (where you need to set up a demonstration zone of some sort, such as a table / stand/ stock display). If your shift starts at 3pm, you need to factor in the time it takes for you to:

- arrive in the carpark of the venue

- unload the equipment from your car

- load up a shopping trolley or manually walk the gear into the store

- meet the liquor manager

- sign in

- find your promotion area

- find where the stock is on display

- put some stock near your stand (for ease of sale)

- set up your stand

- begin work.

Depending what size stand you have got and the distance from the car park to the store, expect this procedure to take between 15-30 minutes. So, arriving in the car park of the venue 5 minutes before the shift starts is not going to be enough time to get set up, on/just before your official start time.

NOTE: clients and agency managers will often spot check at the start of a shift, not midway through or at the end. They want to see that you are organised and early. This, of course, is not ideal for a promoter (especially on their first shift when they are learning the ropes) but just reinforces how important it is to be early for work. If there is one things clients hate, in my experience, it is tardiness.. especially if they are there early.

Point 2: Presentation (personal, and zone)

Presentation relates both to the way you (as the brand ambassador/promoter) looks when at work, but also refers to how you keep your display stand / zone at all times.

Presentation is key in promotions: It will impact the first impression that both the client, and customer will have with your brand, but also can effect the way a store or venue feels about the activity (and therefore whether or not they are willing to host you again). 

The ‘personal presentation’ basics you should be thinking about before and during work, include:

  1. Hair: is it neat, tidy, and tied back off your face (for hygiene reasons)?. No regrowth visible. Males should have product in their hair, it should be styled and tidy. The back of your neck (if visible) should be neatly cut and not look messy.
  2. Skin/face: females should have always makeup on so that they look tidy and professional. The amount of makeup required will depend on the brand and the location: if working in a dark environment or at night, you will need more makeup than in a brightly lit environment for it to be seen (and also because flashes from cameras will blow out the makeup). The minimum you should have is some lipstick, eye liner, and foundation to smooth out your skin and give you a warm even tone. Men should be clean shaven, unless authorised to have some ‘fashionable stubble’, or authorised to keep their beard (which normally, they will have fully grown before an event). That ‘in between’ unshaven scruffy stage is normally not acceptable.
  3. Uniform: Your uniform (either supplied, or your own) should be neatly pressed (and clean). Your logo or branding should not be obscured by anything, such as your hair or in-store pass. Uniforms should not be worn more than once if possible, and you should have nice creases. Ties should be done all the way up to the neck, and all buttons should be done up. Your should should always be clean, and appropriate to the job. If black business shoes, they should be good enough for you to wear in a corporate environment. They should be shining (gleaming!), laces done up, and all scuffs taken out. Females should have appropriate heels. Sneakers should be clean: if in doubt, chuck them through the wash or use bleach (or toothpaste is a good trick) to make the white bits white again. Or, toughen up and buy some new ones from the Warehouse or similar: your investment of $40 to ensure your feet are perfect will most certainly be noticed by your agency and/or client. Just be aware that as a contracted promotional person you are responsible for these costs.. but if you are required to have a uniform which is ‘not something that would normally be in your wardrobe’ then you may be reimbursed for it.
  4. If your uniform has a screen printed or digitally printed logo on it, you should never put it through a hot wash at home, or iron directly onto the logo (as it may melt the rubber logo and ruin the image).
  5. Hygiene: one of the most off putting things you can have when talking to a sales person or promoter (anyone, really) is bad hygiene. For example bad body odour, bad breath, dirty teeth, or dirty/chewed fingernails! Rule of thumb (excuse the pun) for nails is to have only a tiny amount of white showing (1-2mm) and (females only) to have a clear lacquer. Chipped paint, or paint in contrast to whatever you are wearing or the brand you are promoting is unacceptable.

Regarding presentation of your display or stand: 

  • Positioning: where you set up is almost as important as how it looks. You obviously need to work with the store manager (or liquor manager, in the case of the wine demonstration example) to find the optimal location that achieves:
  1. Great footfall (maximum people walking past)
  2. Proximity to the product category you are selling (ie, being in the wine department if you are selling wine!) or at least a complimentary location- (such as the chips section if you are selling/promoting dip)
  3. Proximity to the product you are selling (or at least stacking some product near you)
  4. room to move: having a space big enough for your stand which is both safe for customers to move past, and inviting for them to stop and talk.
Finally, your zone should have all of the product facing forwards, rubbish/rubbish bins, surplus product and your personal belongings should be completely out of site, and your zone should be spotless at all times.
I have always loved the saying “don’t lean, clean!”. You should always look busy at your stand by wiping down the table top, arranging display product, whilst keeping an eager eye out for customers to attract them to your stand.

Point 3: Tips for selling and promoting

Once you are in the store (early), you are beautifully presented in line with your brand and store guidelines, and your zone is set up and looking great, then it is time to start promoting and/or selling!

If there is one major tip I can give you (as someone that has promoted literally thousands of brands and products), it is to be confident- and talk to everyone. Confidence comes across and is contagious: if you are not naturally confident, then just ‘fake it till you make it’.. people will appreciate your enthusiasm, if nothing else.

Below are a few tricks I have picked up, that I would like to share with  you:

  1. Promote to everyone: We have all seen Pretty Woman where the ‘unsightly’ lady walks into a store and the sales attendants won’t serve her because of the way she looks…  it turns out she was filthy rich and spent a fortune in another store that was prepared to serve her, right? The same applies in supermarkets and other retail stores.You never know who may be a big customer even if they are not dressed the way you would expect. You are always better off to talk to everyone and treat everyone with the same level of respect, than to avoid people because of the way they look. At the very least, creating buzz / movement around your stand will attract other people to it (see next point)..
  2. Create excitement at your stand: There is an odd phenomenon where humans will follow other humans, and want to be a part of something. Have you ever stood on the street and looked up because everyone else is looking up? Why is that? We all want to be included in the action: we want to know what is going on. So if you can attract a group of people to your sales area or promotional stand, you will create far more energy than just having one person, and they can bounce off one another. One of our clients gave us a useful tip the other day: she encourages consumers that are tasting her wine to talk to one another instead of to her: in effect ‘do the selling’ to one another,  which she finds has far more credibility than if the promoter does all the talking. People believe their peers, over a sales person.. so get one happy customer to invite the next person over to your zone.
  3. Smile a lot: Smiling (really smiling, not just pretending) goes a long way towards making a sale. If you standing there looking like you prefer to be somewhere else, or like you at a funeral, people will feed off that energy and are unlikely to warm to you- or the brand. Your job is to be smiling, friendly, talkative, and have that smile that just glitters with energy.
  4. Know your product: this heading possibly belongs far further up the page, as it is crucial. Basically, presentation and appearance can go so far (to get people interested in you or your stand), but unless you really know what you are talking about (and know it inside and out) then people will see through the facade very quickly and move on. I recently spot checked a competitors wine demonstration at an event, and asked (what I thought) were some pretty basic questions such as where the product was made, and what the award stickers were for on the bottle.. her answer was that she did not know (either question) and that the wine tasted ‘good’… she may as well have said it ‘tasted like grapes’!! Know your product, know the benefits and features, and have some interesting knowledge you can pass onto your customers: people love having some ‘insiders knowledge’ and having a story they can tell their friends, when they put the bottle on the table at dinner later..
  5. Features and Benefits: the feature of a product includes what it does, where it is from, what it is made out of, who made it, and how much it costs. The benefits of a product are basically “what it will do for you”.  Which is more important? This depends on the customer of course. Some customers really care about the product features, as they are comparing one product with another and are driven by the features, or perhaps they need this product to do certain things or be compatible with something else they own.. The vast majority of people make their decisions based on the benefits of a product or service though. People, in my experience, really want to know “how will this make my life better?faster?cooler?easier?more fashionable?more attractive? younger looking?..”. The list goes on. As a promoter, it is crucial to find out what is motivating your customer (what is going on inside their head) and then answer these needs/wants/desires/pains with the right answer..
  6. ASK QUESTIONS: how can you know what is motivating a consumer, and therefore what will inspire them to try or buy your product, if you have not asked “what their need is?”. At SublimeNZ, in our brand ambassador training, we spend a lot of time on this topic of asking questions. Examples may be: “who are you buying this for today?” “what do you normally buy?” “What is important to you?” “what are you trying to achieve?”.. Once you have built a rapport for the customer (remember, listen more than you talk!) and got some insight into what they want or need, then you can hit them with some features or benefits about the product you are demonstrating, that perfectly match what they are looking for.. in our experience, this is when sales “just happen” with no effort. You are not selling, you are just helping someone to buy.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale: So many promoters, brand ambassadors, or sales people are actually afraid to go to the next step and ask for a sale! The way I like to do this personally, is to say “so Sir, would you like two bottles or three?”. So many sales or marketing people do 99% of the job with promoting, but then let their warmed up prospect walk away from them without spending a cent! Nothing is free in this world: if a shopper or customer has just spent 5 minutes picking your brain about this product and eating your free cheese and crackers, they understand that they are going to be asked to buy something: so don’t let them down! Close that sale. Remember in experiential marketing, sampling, promotion, demonstrations and retail staffing- you are there to make sales: anyone who says different is lying. Every brand or marketing manager we have ever dealt with at SublimeNZ is looking for make a return on the investment they have made in their marketing spend: and most of the time this is in the form of an increase in sales.

Wrap:

So there we have it: I hope these tips have been useful. As a promotional person or brand ambassador or sales person you must remember that you are ‘the face of a brand’. That brand might be part of a multi million (or billion!) dollar company, so there is just a wee bit of pressure on you to represent that brand in the most professional way possible.. 


If you are unclear about your role in your organisation, or do not feel confident about conducting promotional activity or sales, then talk to your boss or agency manager. It is crucial that you understand the importance of presentation (both personal, and your zone) as well as punctuality, attitude, energy, and just smiling!

Selling is such a taboo subject these days: everyone hates it. I believe that if you are a genuinely interested and interesting person, who asks questions, find out consumers needs, then answers these needs with the relevant features or benefits of a brand/product- then the sales will make themselves”. So, don’t fear selling: embrace it.. it is fun!

Robert Bruce

Director

SublimeNZ ltd

Robert@sublimenz.co.nz

Adding value and innovating in the experiential marketing industry

01/06/2012

Today I went to a very interesting breakfast session, hosted by Idealog Magazine, and presented by Steven Joyce (Minister of ‘Everything’- including Economic Development, Science and Innovation, Tertiary Education, and Skills and Employment).

The underlying theme of the session, attended by many of the top scientific, academic and business brains in NZ was that as a (small, isolated) country we must innovate and invest in research and development in order to become competitive, increase wealth in New Zealand, and to long term carve a niche for our products and services on a global stage.

According to The Minister, “one thing that almost all political parties agree on is that we all want more, and higher paid jobs”

So, the question that was posed today, is what do we need to do to create unique selling points, added-value, and international demand for our products and services? How do we move away from ‘commodity business’ (for example, promotional staffing services that are comparatively similair between agencies) and transition to a point where we are selling, and ideally exporting, BIG ideas. In summary, if we have bigger companies creating better returns and leading the way in the area of RND and innovation, then in theory there will be more jobs for Kiwis- that are paid better.

The challenge, is how to encourage, incentivise, and celebrate Kiwi entrepreneurs to ‘be the best’? How do we create a culture of ‘thinking bigger’, and how do we help create a ‘soft landing’ in emerging markets such as China, which Mr Joyce said will become our biggest export market by 2020.

Certainly, my own personal experience is that it is not as easy as it looks:

As founder and director of SublimeNZ I am infinitely interested in the concept of ‘adding value’ to companies. SublimeNZ specialises in helping brands to tell a story to customers, creating engagement and interest with target markets, differentiating products and services from competitors, and ideally helping brands to get better returns from their marketing spend.

Recently I traveled for a month meeting Kiwi (and other) business owners, marketers and entrepreneurs around the world. I wanted to know what was happening around the world in the area of experiential marketing, advertising and and sponsorship (in particular) but also what was like setting up shop in a new country. Unfortunately much of the sentiment I encountered in the US and Europe in particular is that it is extremely hard- much harder than it sounds when talking about ‘opening up new markets’ or ‘securing global distribution chains’, over breakfast.

The challenge I observed is that in most established markets such as the US or Europe there are already hundreds, or even thousands of companies that ‘do what you do’. Experiential marketing, for example, is highly developed in Europe and America and even Australia, where they have been pushing boundaries and innovating for decades. The size of budgets these agencies have access to, driven by the population they need to market to, are phenomenal. Far great than any marketing budget we will see in New Zealand for a long time I suspect. But, I observed that great ideas could still get through and succeed, if they were value-added, and distinctly unique. The door is not shut for global expansion, in any industry, as long as you have something new and better. 

This is therefore my out take from todays session: we need to innovate. Doing ‘what everyone is already doing’ cannot help a company to grow because most likely, someone else is already doing it better. For New Zealand, and therefore New Zealand experiential marketing to progress we have to be doing things that NOONE is doing, and do it better/smarter/faster/bigger/more effective. We need to innovate, as my company has done, in the area of automating the ‘commodity’ aspect of the business so that it is as painless end efficient as possible (by commodity, I am referring to the basics of experiential, such as promotional staff and uniforms and branding and collateral). Commodities like those I just described, are what my own company (until recently) and many others ‘hang their hat on’; The quality or appearance or training of promotional staff, the attractiveness or uniqueness of branding, even the speed or professionalism or experience of account managers or creatives: These are not genuine selling points and you are only clipping a ticket between your client and the consumer. When clipping a ticket, and competing in a homogenised or commodity industry, one therefore will always be at they mercy of competitors undercutting prices, and stealing clients away. Companies like ours are not ‘truly’ differentiating if this is all they are offering: there has to be more.

It is ideas.

To survive and grow (both our own companies, and the economy) we have to be selling/marketing a radically better way of doing things, something new, something completely different, something with ‘added value’ that brands/companies are prepared to pay for and really value- because only then can we (as agency owners) charge properly for the time and effort we put in, grow our businesses, create more jobs, and pay our people better.

This is how, in my opinion, one little pocket of New Zealand business can contribute to a better future for our country.

Robert Bruce

Director

SublimeNZ ltd

Robert@sublimenz.co.nz

www.sublimenz.co.nz 

The kind of briefs experiential marketers love

This week I got briefed by a forward-thinking client in a way that has got the SublimeNZ team and I extremely excited. I thought I would share it with you, so you can get a little insight into the way we think here at the agency..

It goes a little something like this (without naming clients or brands sorry- all under wraps for now).

In a nutshell this client is:

- a global company. 

- They are about doing things no-one else is doing/has done

- They are launching a new product on the back of an upcoming global event and integrating their ATL, PR, sales, and experiential around this event.

- They want to raise awareness of the brand, create need, desire, hype, around the laynch

- They of course, wish to drive sales in-store.

So the client says the magical words what all experiential marketers love to hear:

We want to engage with our customers and create buzz, hype, and ‘wow’ factor that NO-ON ELSE HAS DONE BEFORE. We want people to be amazed, and delighted, and to walk away saying “that was freaking awesome, I want one!”

 We don’t have a long time to get this proposal turned around, so here is what the team and I are going to do over the next few days:

1/ Fully tear the brand and product apart: we want to know what it does, what is cool, what makes it special, what the selling point is… what is truly unique about this product?

2/ Look at the customers/target market: who are these people? what makes them tick? where do they congregate/socialise/walk to work/go on the weekend/holiday/party? How do we meet these people?

3/ What is their tone of voice? How do they talk? what language do they use (literally and metaphorically) What is going to make them laugh/wonder/ponder/want to buy?

4/ What are other industry leaders doing? Because we can’t do ANYTHING that they are doing or have done..

5/ Then: we will brainstorm  to find the ‘Big Idea’. What is our ‘Subilme Experience’ going to be? How do we make consumers walk away from their engagement with the brand, going “Wow, that was freaking awesome!” .. and then how do we make them tell all of their friends?

6/ How do we use this ‘Big Idea’ to sell more products in store? How do we drive more sales at the point of purchase? How do we create demand, need, desire for this new product?

7/ What is the experiential concept going to be? Will it involve brand ambassadors/promotional staff? Will it involve vehicles, events, ambush, stunts, digital integration, social media?.. what are we going to ‘do’, nation wide?

This creative process is what makes us tick at SublimeNZ, and the reason I started this agency in 2006.

Watch this space, as we tender for and hopefully win this remarkable piece of business. Fingers cross.

Robert Bruce

Director

SublimeNZ

Robert@sublimenz.co.nz

Promotional staff and Brand Ambassadors

One of the great parts of this job (promotional staffing and experiential marketing), is that is you get to meet and work with so many amazing people. 

This week alone we have interviewed dozens of amazing promotional people around New Zealand for roles in our agency ranging from wine-waiters to grid girls, and last night we conducted a group training in Auckland CBD for about 20 new candidates. 

As company owner, probably the most rewarding part of this job is getting to know the hundreds of promotional staff and brand ambassadors who have been selected to work for us (and to be fair, even most of those who have been unsuccessful- it is nothing personal). These are people who are at the top of their game: students, models, actors, or full time workers who just love doing promotional work and most of all LOVE people! The new team last night were great: they interacted and engaged during the group work, asked good questions, and then stuck around afterward for a drink and made an effort to get to know both their new co-workers, and managers.

It is often over a beer that you really get the chance to really get to know someone. The types of people that we take on at SublimeNZ are those who are friendly, non-pretentious, intelligent and likable. It is always interesting hearing about their lives outside of promotions  (such as what they are studying, working on, or aspire to become). Last night I chatted to some new staff who are cameramen, physio students, and property developers! Two of our new staff drove 4 hours return to make the training. That is commitment!

The key to being a great promotional person (or brand ambassador, as we prefer), comes down to a few things:

1/ You are personable, and love people

2/ You love selling and are not afraid to close a deal!

3/ You are confident- you are the centre of attention, and love making people laugh!

4/  You are professional and organised: this job is not for the faint hearted- you need to be able to find your way to work, and not forget your uniform!

5/ You are well presented, in shape, and really care about your appearance. After all, first impressions count!

We are taking people on for a number of roles at SublimeNZ, including:

- wine demonstration

- in-store sampling

- airport/retail sales and promotion

- promotional model work (race track)

- event marketing / sampling (sports drink)

If you are interested in becoming part of the SublimeNZ team around NZ, then apply via our online staff management system Staff Connect now!

We also have a role available now: check it out here http://www.starnow.co.nz/Casting-Calls/Actors-wanted/Events/casting_for_race_team_premium_grid_girls_promotional_staff.htm

Love your work

Robert Bruce

Director

Team SublimeNZ

More engaging in-store demonstration

Recently SublimeNZ has been pitching, and winning, some innovative in-store sampling campaigns that I thought I would share with you. It is exciting stuff!

In-store sampling can be in a number of channels (grocery, liquor, even petrol stations, or shopping malls) and historically very bland- with minimal thought or strategy behind them. This, I would not call experiential marketing.

But the sort of in-store brand engagement we have been advocating /pitching at the point of purchase includes features like:

- tablets/computers with links directly to the clients website or social media,

- unique demonstration zones, matching the clients brands (more than just core flute ‘demo tables’)

-authentic/ exciting uniforms,

- and of course highly trained brand ambassadors.

Although confidential right now, I can share that the success we have had is in the wine industry, with a major liquor client who is THRILLED to have a more unique in-store display than usual, and looking forward to seeing how much we can sell. 

As with my last post about ‘are promotional staff experiential?’ this poses an interesting question, which ‘is in-store demonstration experiential?’

I would say that historically, in-store demonstration is just that: point of sale promotion. But, with clients looking for more cut-through in the highly competitive grocery channel, there is more scope for creativity and therefore experiential ideas like what we are coming up with.

One of the selling points of SublimeNZ is that we have a creative department with amazing/modern graphic artists ready to create mock ups and renderings of our ideas, and we are working towards changing perceptions about point of sale / promotional activity.

Robert Bruce

Director

SublimeNZ

SublimeNZ News Feed

Sales tips for in-store demonstrators, sales people and promotional staff

At SublimeNZ we specialise in a wide range of promotional / experiential marketing activities.

Our services can take a number of forms, including:

  • event activation
  • sponsorship leverage
  • street sampling
  • corporate hosting
  • and in-store demonstration and sales.

Today’s blog focuses on tips for in store sampling and sales staff (in retail and grocery- or any sales environment) and will hopefully help both SublimeNZ (and other) promotional staff to enjoy their job more, and achieve better results.

Point 1: Punctuality

First and foremost, you have to show up on time! It may seem like a basic thing to include in this blog, but you would be surprised how many promotional people show up late (or, not early- which is just as bad) and this tardiness can have a huge impact on the outcome of the activity.

The example we will use today is a wine sampling campaign (where you need to set up a demonstration zone of some sort, such as a table / stand/ stock display). If your shift starts at 3pm, you need to factor in the time it takes for you to:

- arrive in the carpark of the venue

- unload the equipment from your car

- load up a shopping trolley or manually walk the gear into the store

- meet the liquor manager

- sign in

- find your promotion area

- find where the stock is on display

- put some stock near your stand (for ease of sale)

- set up your stand

- begin work.

Depending what size stand you have got and the distance from the car park to the store, expect this procedure to take between 15-30 minutes. So, arriving in the car park of the venue 5 minutes before the shift starts is not going to be enough time to get set up, on/just before your official start time.

NOTE: clients and agency managers will often spot check at the start of a shift, not midway through or at the end. They want to see that you are organised and early. This, of course, is not ideal for a promoter (especially on their first shift when they are learning the ropes) but just reinforces how important it is to be early for work. If there is one things clients hate, in my experience, it is tardiness.. especially if they are there early.

Point 2: Presentation (personal, and zone)

Presentation relates both to the way you (as the brand ambassador/promoter) looks when at work, but also refers to how you keep your display stand / zone at all times.

Presentation is key in promotions: It will impact the first impression that both the client, and customer will have with your brand, but also can effect the way a store or venue feels about the activity (and therefore whether or not they are willing to host you again). 

The ‘personal presentation’ basics you should be thinking about before and during work, include:

  1. Hair: is it neat, tidy, and tied back off your face (for hygiene reasons)?. No regrowth visible. Males should have product in their hair, it should be styled and tidy. The back of your neck (if visible) should be neatly cut and not look messy.
  2. Skin/face: females should have always makeup on so that they look tidy and professional. The amount of makeup required will depend on the brand and the location: if working in a dark environment or at night, you will need more makeup than in a brightly lit environment for it to be seen (and also because flashes from cameras will blow out the makeup). The minimum you should have is some lipstick, eye liner, and foundation to smooth out your skin and give you a warm even tone. Men should be clean shaven, unless authorised to have some ‘fashionable stubble’, or authorised to keep their beard (which normally, they will have fully grown before an event). That ‘in between’ unshaven scruffy stage is normally not acceptable.
  3. Uniform: Your uniform (either supplied, or your own) should be neatly pressed (and clean). Your logo or branding should not be obscured by anything, such as your hair or in-store pass. Uniforms should not be worn more than once if possible, and you should have nice creases. Ties should be done all the way up to the neck, and all buttons should be done up. Your should should always be clean, and appropriate to the job. If black business shoes, they should be good enough for you to wear in a corporate environment. They should be shining (gleaming!), laces done up, and all scuffs taken out. Females should have appropriate heels. Sneakers should be clean: if in doubt, chuck them through the wash or use bleach (or toothpaste is a good trick) to make the white bits white again. Or, toughen up and buy some new ones from the Warehouse or similar: your investment of $40 to ensure your feet are perfect will most certainly be noticed by your agency and/or client. Just be aware that as a contracted promotional person you are responsible for these costs.. but if you are required to have a uniform which is ‘not something that would normally be in your wardrobe’ then you may be reimbursed for it.
  4. If your uniform has a screen printed or digitally printed logo on it, you should never put it through a hot wash at home, or iron directly onto the logo (as it may melt the rubber logo and ruin the image).
  5. Hygiene: one of the most off putting things you can have when talking to a sales person or promoter (anyone, really) is bad hygiene. For example bad body odour, bad breath, dirty teeth, or dirty/chewed fingernails! Rule of thumb (excuse the pun) for nails is to have only a tiny amount of white showing (1-2mm) and (females only) to have a clear lacquer. Chipped paint, or paint in contrast to whatever you are wearing or the brand you are promoting is unacceptable.

Regarding presentation of your display or stand: 

  • Positioning: where you set up is almost as important as how it looks. You obviously need to work with the store manager (or liquor manager, in the case of the wine demonstration example) to find the optimal location that achieves:
  1. Great footfall (maximum people walking past)
  2. Proximity to the product category you are selling (ie, being in the wine department if you are selling wine!) or at least a complimentary location- (such as the chips section if you are selling/promoting dip)
  3. Proximity to the product you are selling (or at least stacking some product near you)
  4. room to move: having a space big enough for your stand which is both safe for customers to move past, and inviting for them to stop and talk.
Finally, your zone should have all of the product facing forwards, rubbish/rubbish bins, surplus product and your personal belongings should be completely out of site, and your zone should be spotless at all times.
I have always loved the saying “don’t lean, clean!”. You should always look busy at your stand by wiping down the table top, arranging display product, whilst keeping an eager eye out for customers to attract them to your stand.

Point 3: Tips for selling and promoting

Once you are in the store (early), you are beautifully presented in line with your brand and store guidelines, and your zone is set up and looking great, then it is time to start promoting and/or selling!

If there is one major tip I can give you (as someone that has promoted literally thousands of brands and products), it is to be confident- and talk to everyone. Confidence comes across and is contagious: if you are not naturally confident, then just ‘fake it till you make it’.. people will appreciate your enthusiasm, if nothing else.

Below are a few tricks I have picked up, that I would like to share with  you:

  1. Promote to everyone: We have all seen Pretty Woman where the ‘unsightly’ lady walks into a store and the sales attendants won’t serve her because of the way she looks…  it turns out she was filthy rich and spent a fortune in another store that was prepared to serve her, right? The same applies in supermarkets and other retail stores.You never know who may be a big customer even if they are not dressed the way you would expect. You are always better off to talk to everyone and treat everyone with the same level of respect, than to avoid people because of the way they look. At the very least, creating buzz / movement around your stand will attract other people to it (see next point)..
  2. Create excitement at your stand: There is an odd phenomenon where humans will follow other humans, and want to be a part of something. Have you ever stood on the street and looked up because everyone else is looking up? Why is that? We all want to be included in the action: we want to know what is going on. So if you can attract a group of people to your sales area or promotional stand, you will create far more energy than just having one person, and they can bounce off one another. One of our clients gave us a useful tip the other day: she encourages consumers that are tasting her wine to talk to one another instead of to her: in effect ‘do the selling’ to one another,  which she finds has far more credibility than if the promoter does all the talking. People believe their peers, over a sales person.. so get one happy customer to invite the next person over to your zone.
  3. Smile a lot: Smiling (really smiling, not just pretending) goes a long way towards making a sale. If you standing there looking like you prefer to be somewhere else, or like you at a funeral, people will feed off that energy and are unlikely to warm to you- or the brand. Your job is to be smiling, friendly, talkative, and have that smile that just glitters with energy.
  4. Know your product: this heading possibly belongs far further up the page, as it is crucial. Basically, presentation and appearance can go so far (to get people interested in you or your stand), but unless you really know what you are talking about (and know it inside and out) then people will see through the facade very quickly and move on. I recently spot checked a competitors wine demonstration at an event, and asked (what I thought) were some pretty basic questions such as where the product was made, and what the award stickers were for on the bottle.. her answer was that she did not know (either question) and that the wine tasted ‘good’… she may as well have said it ‘tasted like grapes’!! Know your product, know the benefits and features, and have some interesting knowledge you can pass onto your customers: people love having some ‘insiders knowledge’ and having a story they can tell their friends, when they put the bottle on the table at dinner later..
  5. Features and Benefits: the feature of a product includes what it does, where it is from, what it is made out of, who made it, and how much it costs. The benefits of a product are basically “what it will do for you”.  Which is more important? This depends on the customer of course. Some customers really care about the product features, as they are comparing one product with another and are driven by the features, or perhaps they need this product to do certain things or be compatible with something else they own.. The vast majority of people make their decisions based on the benefits of a product or service though. People, in my experience, really want to know “how will this make my life better?faster?cooler?easier?more fashionable?more attractive? younger looking?..”. The list goes on. As a promoter, it is crucial to find out what is motivating your customer (what is going on inside their head) and then answer these needs/wants/desires/pains with the right answer..
  6. ASK QUESTIONS: how can you know what is motivating a consumer, and therefore what will inspire them to try or buy your product, if you have not asked “what their need is?”. At SublimeNZ, in our brand ambassador training, we spend a lot of time on this topic of asking questions. Examples may be: “who are you buying this for today?” “what do you normally buy?” “What is important to you?” “what are you trying to achieve?”.. Once you have built a rapport for the customer (remember, listen more than you talk!) and got some insight into what they want or need, then you can hit them with some features or benefits about the product you are demonstrating, that perfectly match what they are looking for.. in our experience, this is when sales “just happen” with no effort. You are not selling, you are just helping someone to buy.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale: So many promoters, brand ambassadors, or sales people are actually afraid to go to the next step and ask for a sale! The way I like to do this personally, is to say “so Sir, would you like two bottles or three?”. So many sales or marketing people do 99% of the job with promoting, but then let their warmed up prospect walk away from them without spending a cent! Nothing is free in this world: if a shopper or customer has just spent 5 minutes picking your brain about this product and eating your free cheese and crackers, they understand that they are going to be asked to buy something: so don’t let them down! Close that sale. Remember in experiential marketing, sampling, promotion, demonstrations and retail staffing- you are there to make sales: anyone who says different is lying. Every brand or marketing manager we have ever dealt with at SublimeNZ is looking for make a return on the investment they have made in their marketing spend: and most of the time this is in the form of an increase in sales.

Wrap:

So there we have it: I hope these tips have been useful. As a promotional person or brand ambassador or sales person you must remember that you are ‘the face of a brand’. That brand might be part of a multi million (or billion!) dollar company, so there is just a wee bit of pressure on you to represent that brand in the most professional way possible.. 


If you are unclear about your role in your organisation, or do not feel confident about conducting promotional activity or sales, then talk to your boss or agency manager. It is crucial that you understand the importance of presentation (both personal, and your zone) as well as punctuality, attitude, energy, and just smiling!

Selling is such a taboo subject these days: everyone hates it. I believe that if you are a genuinely interested and interesting person, who asks questions, find out consumers needs, then answers these needs with the relevant features or benefits of a brand/product- then the sales will make themselves”. So, don’t fear selling: embrace it.. it is fun!

Robert Bruce

Director

SublimeNZ ltd

Robert@sublimenz.co.nz

Adding value and innovating in the experiential marketing industry

01/06/2012

Today I went to a very interesting breakfast session, hosted by Idealog Magazine, and presented by Steven Joyce (Minister of ‘Everything’- including Economic Development, Science and Innovation, Tertiary Education, and Skills and Employment).

The underlying theme of the session, attended by many of the top scientific, academic and business brains in NZ was that as a (small, isolated) country we must innovate and invest in research and development in order to become competitive, increase wealth in New Zealand, and to long term carve a niche for our products and services on a global stage.

According to The Minister, “one thing that almost all political parties agree on is that we all want more, and higher paid jobs”

So, the question that was posed today, is what do we need to do to create unique selling points, added-value, and international demand for our products and services? How do we move away from ‘commodity business’ (for example, promotional staffing services that are comparatively similair between agencies) and transition to a point where we are selling, and ideally exporting, BIG ideas. In summary, if we have bigger companies creating better returns and leading the way in the area of RND and innovation, then in theory there will be more jobs for Kiwis- that are paid better.

The challenge, is how to encourage, incentivise, and celebrate Kiwi entrepreneurs to ‘be the best’? How do we create a culture of ‘thinking bigger’, and how do we help create a ‘soft landing’ in emerging markets such as China, which Mr Joyce said will become our biggest export market by 2020.

Certainly, my own personal experience is that it is not as easy as it looks:

As founder and director of SublimeNZ I am infinitely interested in the concept of ‘adding value’ to companies. SublimeNZ specialises in helping brands to tell a story to customers, creating engagement and interest with target markets, differentiating products and services from competitors, and ideally helping brands to get better returns from their marketing spend.

Recently I traveled for a month meeting Kiwi (and other) business owners, marketers and entrepreneurs around the world. I wanted to know what was happening around the world in the area of experiential marketing, advertising and and sponsorship (in particular) but also what was like setting up shop in a new country. Unfortunately much of the sentiment I encountered in the US and Europe in particular is that it is extremely hard- much harder than it sounds when talking about ‘opening up new markets’ or ‘securing global distribution chains’, over breakfast.

The challenge I observed is that in most established markets such as the US or Europe there are already hundreds, or even thousands of companies that ‘do what you do’. Experiential marketing, for example, is highly developed in Europe and America and even Australia, where they have been pushing boundaries and innovating for decades. The size of budgets these agencies have access to, driven by the population they need to market to, are phenomenal. Far great than any marketing budget we will see in New Zealand for a long time I suspect. But, I observed that great ideas could still get through and succeed, if they were value-added, and distinctly unique. The door is not shut for global expansion, in any industry, as long as you have something new and better. 

This is therefore my out take from todays session: we need to innovate. Doing ‘what everyone is already doing’ cannot help a company to grow because most likely, someone else is already doing it better. For New Zealand, and therefore New Zealand experiential marketing to progress we have to be doing things that NOONE is doing, and do it better/smarter/faster/bigger/more effective. We need to innovate, as my company has done, in the area of automating the ‘commodity’ aspect of the business so that it is as painless end efficient as possible (by commodity, I am referring to the basics of experiential, such as promotional staff and uniforms and branding and collateral). Commodities like those I just described, are what my own company (until recently) and many others ‘hang their hat on’; The quality or appearance or training of promotional staff, the attractiveness or uniqueness of branding, even the speed or professionalism or experience of account managers or creatives: These are not genuine selling points and you are only clipping a ticket between your client and the consumer. When clipping a ticket, and competing in a homogenised or commodity industry, one therefore will always be at they mercy of competitors undercutting prices, and stealing clients away. Companies like ours are not ‘truly’ differentiating if this is all they are offering: there has to be more.

It is ideas.

To survive and grow (both our own companies, and the economy) we have to be selling/marketing a radically better way of doing things, something new, something completely different, something with ‘added value’ that brands/companies are prepared to pay for and really value- because only then can we (as agency owners) charge properly for the time and effort we put in, grow our businesses, create more jobs, and pay our people better.

This is how, in my opinion, one little pocket of New Zealand business can contribute to a better future for our country.

Robert Bruce

Director

SublimeNZ ltd

Robert@sublimenz.co.nz

www.sublimenz.co.nz 

The kind of briefs experiential marketers love

This week I got briefed by a forward-thinking client in a way that has got the SublimeNZ team and I extremely excited. I thought I would share it with you, so you can get a little insight into the way we think here at the agency..

It goes a little something like this (without naming clients or brands sorry- all under wraps for now).

In a nutshell this client is:

- a global company. 

- They are about doing things no-one else is doing/has done

- They are launching a new product on the back of an upcoming global event and integrating their ATL, PR, sales, and experiential around this event.

- They want to raise awareness of the brand, create need, desire, hype, around the laynch

- They of course, wish to drive sales in-store.

So the client says the magical words what all experiential marketers love to hear:

We want to engage with our customers and create buzz, hype, and ‘wow’ factor that NO-ON ELSE HAS DONE BEFORE. We want people to be amazed, and delighted, and to walk away saying “that was freaking awesome, I want one!”

 We don’t have a long time to get this proposal turned around, so here is what the team and I are going to do over the next few days:

1/ Fully tear the brand and product apart: we want to know what it does, what is cool, what makes it special, what the selling point is… what is truly unique about this product?

2/ Look at the customers/target market: who are these people? what makes them tick? where do they congregate/socialise/walk to work/go on the weekend/holiday/party? How do we meet these people?

3/ What is their tone of voice? How do they talk? what language do they use (literally and metaphorically) What is going to make them laugh/wonder/ponder/want to buy?

4/ What are other industry leaders doing? Because we can’t do ANYTHING that they are doing or have done..

5/ Then: we will brainstorm  to find the ‘Big Idea’. What is our ‘Subilme Experience’ going to be? How do we make consumers walk away from their engagement with the brand, going “Wow, that was freaking awesome!” .. and then how do we make them tell all of their friends?

6/ How do we use this ‘Big Idea’ to sell more products in store? How do we drive more sales at the point of purchase? How do we create demand, need, desire for this new product?

7/ What is the experiential concept going to be? Will it involve brand ambassadors/promotional staff? Will it involve vehicles, events, ambush, stunts, digital integration, social media?.. what are we going to ‘do’, nation wide?

This creative process is what makes us tick at SublimeNZ, and the reason I started this agency in 2006.

Watch this space, as we tender for and hopefully win this remarkable piece of business. Fingers cross.

Robert Bruce

Director

SublimeNZ

Robert@sublimenz.co.nz

Promotional staff and Brand Ambassadors

One of the great parts of this job (promotional staffing and experiential marketing), is that is you get to meet and work with so many amazing people. 

This week alone we have interviewed dozens of amazing promotional people around New Zealand for roles in our agency ranging from wine-waiters to grid girls, and last night we conducted a group training in Auckland CBD for about 20 new candidates. 

As company owner, probably the most rewarding part of this job is getting to know the hundreds of promotional staff and brand ambassadors who have been selected to work for us (and to be fair, even most of those who have been unsuccessful- it is nothing personal). These are people who are at the top of their game: students, models, actors, or full time workers who just love doing promotional work and most of all LOVE people! The new team last night were great: they interacted and engaged during the group work, asked good questions, and then stuck around afterward for a drink and made an effort to get to know both their new co-workers, and managers.

It is often over a beer that you really get the chance to really get to know someone. The types of people that we take on at SublimeNZ are those who are friendly, non-pretentious, intelligent and likable. It is always interesting hearing about their lives outside of promotions  (such as what they are studying, working on, or aspire to become). Last night I chatted to some new staff who are cameramen, physio students, and property developers! Two of our new staff drove 4 hours return to make the training. That is commitment!

The key to being a great promotional person (or brand ambassador, as we prefer), comes down to a few things:

1/ You are personable, and love people

2/ You love selling and are not afraid to close a deal!

3/ You are confident- you are the centre of attention, and love making people laugh!

4/  You are professional and organised: this job is not for the faint hearted- you need to be able to find your way to work, and not forget your uniform!

5/ You are well presented, in shape, and really care about your appearance. After all, first impressions count!

We are taking people on for a number of roles at SublimeNZ, including:

- wine demonstration

- in-store sampling

- airport/retail sales and promotion

- promotional model work (race track)

- event marketing / sampling (sports drink)

If you are interested in becoming part of the SublimeNZ team around NZ, then apply via our online staff management system Staff Connect now!

We also have a role available now: check it out here http://www.starnow.co.nz/Casting-Calls/Actors-wanted/Events/casting_for_race_team_premium_grid_girls_promotional_staff.htm

Love your work

Robert Bruce

Director

Team SublimeNZ

More engaging in-store demonstration

Recently SublimeNZ has been pitching, and winning, some innovative in-store sampling campaigns that I thought I would share with you. It is exciting stuff!

In-store sampling can be in a number of channels (grocery, liquor, even petrol stations, or shopping malls) and historically very bland- with minimal thought or strategy behind them. This, I would not call experiential marketing.

But the sort of in-store brand engagement we have been advocating /pitching at the point of purchase includes features like:

- tablets/computers with links directly to the clients website or social media,

- unique demonstration zones, matching the clients brands (more than just core flute ‘demo tables’)

-authentic/ exciting uniforms,

- and of course highly trained brand ambassadors.

Although confidential right now, I can share that the success we have had is in the wine industry, with a major liquor client who is THRILLED to have a more unique in-store display than usual, and looking forward to seeing how much we can sell. 

As with my last post about ‘are promotional staff experiential?’ this poses an interesting question, which ‘is in-store demonstration experiential?’

I would say that historically, in-store demonstration is just that: point of sale promotion. But, with clients looking for more cut-through in the highly competitive grocery channel, there is more scope for creativity and therefore experiential ideas like what we are coming up with.

One of the selling points of SublimeNZ is that we have a creative department with amazing/modern graphic artists ready to create mock ups and renderings of our ideas, and we are working towards changing perceptions about point of sale / promotional activity.

Robert Bruce

Director

SublimeNZ