It all started with a simple request: “We need to generate some WoW at our next sales meeting. And we need it in five weeks.”
Yes, they actually had a budget to do it. But in a company that has more than 30 brands and in a meeting that has multiple breakout rooms, how do we stand out? How do we educate a sales force taht has already been there and done that? Most of all, how do we spur interest in six key brands?
Did I mention that we only have 45 minutes in that sales meeting to communicate all of this?
We knew that gaining alignment among the six participating brand managers would be our first challenge. Adding to that was the fact that all of this had to happen all while people were changing roles, going on vacation, even leaving their jobs. Still, we had a great kickoff meeting, with every decisionmaker present. Our brief was straightforward. Among the many ideas we came up with were to do a fashion show, a movie, a sports theme, a family album, reality show parody, and even a patriotic motif. But it became clear to us that each of these brands was very different. Each needed its own opportunity to showcase its offering and positioning, and to do so in a positive way. Most of all, the presentation had to be entertaining so that the sales team would leave energized.
After several rounds of discussion we eventually landed on the idea of game show theme for the sales meeting. This format would permit us to pose questions about each brand, deliver valuable data to the team, not to mention give us the chance to hand out some cool prizes — the underlying thrust being to build interest and get people talking. So we created customized HD video cameras as giveaways; a customized Apple iPad would be the grand prize. (Lesson #1: Grab the interest of a sales force is an incentive you can touch and feel!) The host of an event like this was going to be pivotal, so we hired a pro — an actual former game show host whom people would recognize. He also was a stand-up comic and knew how to work a room. He would keep the action lively. (Lesson #2: Don’t skimp on talent for these types of events; the extra money is worth it.)
We decided that in between each of the quiz games we would do a commercial segment that would focus individually on each brand and provide even more in-depth brand information. Until we realized that neither our allotted time nor the budget would be adequate, our plan had been to film these mini-segments. Instead we had to do it live; so we invested in several actors who would be able to play out the roles more effectively than anyone on the nonactor brand team. Besides, we really wanted the brand team to be themselves; we never wanted them being anyone other than who they were. That was important because we wanted to maintain credibility with these folks. Let the actors act silly. We needed the brand team to be taken seriously. So for the actors we created unrequited love scenes to demonstrate the difference between brands; we built slideshows that helped bring to life a complex brand assortment in fun and engaging ways. Yes, we even had a juggling bear, albeit not a real bruin (I will save the story of the animal costume for another blog).
This ended up becoming an honest-to-goodness Broadway production (minus the singing). The brand and sales teams loved it. We certainly had people talking, high-fiving, and sharing valuable information. Not only were they entertained, they were engaged with the brands, and excited to a level that exceeded anything at any other event at the meeting.
Lesson #3: It doesn’t always require a juggling bear to make an event memorable. But to stand out from the crowd you do need to be willing to take risks. Think about every aspect of your sales and marketing plan. What is your iPad? What is your juggling bear? How are you motivating salespeople and consumers to get more involved with your brands? How are your working to get them talking about your brands? How are you changing the game?
The Game Changerr • Los Angeles • www.catapultmarketing.com