10 Insider Tips & Tricks For A Successful Brand Roadshow

10 Insider Tips & Tricks For A Successful Brand Roadshow

You’re heading to the supermarket or local retail store with a list in hand and before the automatic doors have an opportunity to open for you, you are mesmerized by the activity out front. A colorful truck, with energetic representatives offering demos, samples, or giveaways draws a crowd. This is a brand roadshow. Pop-up activations can be a brilliant way for brands to personally connect with potential customers. Looking to engage a wider community with a roadshow? Read ahead for the top ten tips and tricks we’ve learned from more than twenty years of producing incredible events!

1. Consider the time of year.

The first three months of the year tend to be the worst for roadshows. This could be due to folks tightening their pursestrings after the holidays, or to harsh winter weather keeping them indoors. Whatever the reason, Q1 activations do not deliver the best ROI. We recommend planning your roadshow for any other time of year – Q2, 3 or 4 are all great options! If you are planning on events in Q1, please be prepared for the weather challenges. Simple things like hand warmers go a long way for staff.

2. Focus on the consumer.

A lot of brands can get so hyper-focused on their own needs that they neglect to fully consider the customers that are necessary for their own success! Who is your average customer? What is the best way to engage them? Once you truly know who your customer is, you’ll have a better understanding of how to connect with them, and where to travel to in order to reach the folks who will benefit most from, and be most enthusiastic about, your product. 

3. Choose your partners strategically.

This is a crucial step. You want to make sure that the company you’re partnering with (such as the retail establishment where you’re setting up an activation) aligns with the missions of your brand. Look at their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and mission statements. You also want to make sure the location makes sense with your roadshow goals. Is there a lot of foot traffic? Where will you physically be situated? Will you be near the entrance to the store? We always recommend setting up as close to the entrance as you can, enabling you to greet people both entering and leaving. If that is not possible, ask for an end cap. Some locations are even willing to provide store traffic numbers and even demographical data upon request. Finally, always ask for Certificate of Insurance (COI) requirements in advance. You want to make sure you COI meets their requirements.  

4. Have a clear objective.

Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure your roadshow’s success. Think about how you’re going to measure the success of your activation. Perhaps you want to get a certain number of emails or phone numbers from folks at the event, for example. These goals need to be clearly defined before you go out into the field. They help your team stay motivated and on target. As the saying goes, “People don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan.” 

5. Determine your staffing needs.

Remember that staff members in the field are an extension of your brand, so you’ll want to hold them to a certain standard. Consider how many staff members you’ll need to get the job done on-site. Will you need to outsource to a staffing agency or would you prefer to handle it internally? Are you looking for brand ambassadors or sales ambassadors? Remember that these roles are quite different and you’ll need to let any staff member know exactly what’s expected of them and to train them accordingly, whether that’s to hand out merchandise or to put sales leads into the funnel. Give your team the tools to be successful. Map everything out. Make sure you create an SOP (standard operating procedure) document.

6. Envision your activation setup.

It’s really important to think about this before you arrive on-site, to communicate with your roadshow partner, and to plan for any potential issues. Brands that are the most nimble tend to succeed. Bring a cocktail table in addition to a six-foot table, for example – plan for multiple setup options. If you’re going to be outside, think about how you’ll secure the tent if the weather acts up. And think about what your setup will look like to the customer and make sure you’re engaging folks from every demographic. Is it visually engaging? Will you have any technology needs like a TV to set up? Have you prepared marketing materials to pass out? Pro tip: always bring zip ties, duct tape, sharpies, and industrial scissors.

7. Provide value with takeaway products.

Extend your influence outside of the roadshow by offering free merchandise that consumers might actually use, such as t-shirts, hats, or tote bags. These are often less expensive than clients think! It creates excitement on-site as well as extends the life of your brand in that location once you move on to the next one.  

8. Capture shareable content.

The beautiful thing about a roadshow is that it can live online as well as off, increasing your return on investment. Make sure your team is ready to capture all of the amazing content at each activation. Perhaps delegate social media and photography tasks to specific individuals with those skills. Create incentives for people to share your brand message or content. Turn those potential customers or event attendees into ambassadors for your brand.  

9. Be prepared to scale your roadshow.

The work shouldn’t end once the activation does. Be prepared to act on the leads obtained at the show. If you’re not acting on leads, you’ve wasted a lot of time, energy, and money! Establish a process with your team for engaging with consumers post-roadshow.  

10. Engage with partner staff.

This often gets forgotten, but remember that the staff working at the location of the pop-up are potential customers as well! Doing something simple for them like bringing them a box of donuts and coffee goes a long way. There’s a high probability that a staff member will become your customer, so get them excited about your brand. It also builds goodwill with the partner and increases your chances of being invited back because everybody had a wonderful time. Also, have some healthy snacks and bottles of water available for your team. You want to make sure they are running at full speed.  

If you’re in the process of planning a roadshow and would like additional insights or expert help with your activations, please reach out today! 

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