Version: primary August 2015 - Gemba Marketing

What’s Poppin’ with… John!

  Today for What’s Poppin’, I sat and talked with John, a heroically talented business developer and one of my favorite people to talk Game of Thrones with. When it comes to making popcorn, this man is a loose cannon; he would describe his technique as “freestylin’,” and when I asked him to elaborate on this, he said, “I feel it out. I go off-book.” That said, let’s get to know John. What’s your most useless talent? Guitar Hero. Let’s just say that, in my prime, I beat more than a handful of songs on expert at 100%. Also Rock Band. That’s when the singing starts. Can you sing? I don’t injure people with my voice, but I also don’t inspire them. (This prompted a very long derailment from the interview about John’s hypothetical set list for his hypothetical concert tour. It included a surprising amount of late 80s/early 90s rap.) What’s your least favorite book? Can I do a least favorite book-to-movie adaptation? (I allowed this.) Okay, then The Firm. Loved the book. Hated the movie. What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you in the past week? I don’t actually get embarrassed very easily. Okay, here’s one—I was at a bachelor party. I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but fate conspired to have me enter a push-up contest in front of everybody. I struggled on my last one, and I got one more in there, and then I lost. And I lost hard. It was rough. Which Hogwarts House would you be in? I know it’s cliche, but I like to think I’d be in Gryffindor. I’m honest. I’m a hard worker. I thrive in stressful situations....

Let’s Break Down the 2015 Event Track Summary: Why Experiential Marketing?

Why experiential marketing? What’s it going to do for me? Why should I use it? And was One Direction’s hiatus/break-up really inevitable? These are the questions people are asking. I can’t speak to that last one (at least not yet—critical analysis at this juncture would be purely speculative), but I’ll take a crack at the others. Let me paint you a little picture of the barren, desolate landscape that would be a world without experiential. You would buy groceries at a store utterly bereft of free samples. We would sit joyless in sports stadiums with nary a T-shirt cannon in sight. And without vending machines that take hugs instead of change, Twitter-powered water fountains, and this garden made entirely out of cake, what would we spread around on social media? Minion memes? I’d rather die. If answering “Why experiential?” with “Because of free samples,” “Because of the Internet,” or “Because of the minion memes” isn’t good enough for you, check out these stats and trends from the 2015 Event Track Summary, courtesy of the Event Marketing Institute: First and foremost, the biggest thing people want out of experiential marketing is to increase/create brand awareness. 81% of brand respondents said they want people to know who they are what they are about. It’s no coincidence, then, that experiential is on the rise: 79% of brands said they’ll be executing more experiential events this year compared to last. By far the most popular criteria for assessing an event’s impact this year has been total attendance. 85% of brands are measuring success by how many people hug their vending machines or eat their cake gardens. Events improve brand perception. The numbers say that’s a...

Back-to-School Shopping is Music to Event Marketing’s Ears

The hour is nigh for back-to-school jingles. In the experiential world, this is sometimes referred to as the goldmine of marketing, because back-to-school shopping is not really a question of if, but when. Kids are going back to school. That’s just something that’s happening. And plenty of them are already elbows-deep in pencils, Lisa Frank stickers, and JCPenney outfits. With experiential, you want to focus on when your campaign will make the biggest splash: before, during, or after an event. Only 3% of back-to-schoolers and their parents are strolling through stores after the semester has already commenced so that they can buy whatever remains in the ransacked, post-apocalyptic wasteland of picked-over merchandise. But a whopping 93% of shoppers comprise the battle-ready faction heading to Target weeks in advance to buy school supplies with determination and valor, like they’re storming the beaches of Normandy. Those are the people you want to target. But how? Well, by creating unique experiences to connect your brand with consumers and impact purchasing decisions. Macy’s partnered with Pentatonix to mastermind a little friendly inter-school a cappella competition. Dell utilized the talents of teenage superstars, like a nuclear physicist, a fashion designer, and a tech entrepreneur. Target capitalized on our obsession with small animals and released an advert with kittens getting dressed, ducklings taking selfies, and tortoises hiking up their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle backpacks. The takeaway: engage your audience, and do it early. And consider using small animals. I’m not even in school and the tiny Dachshund wearing tiny pants with a tiny lunchbox made me want to go back-to-school shopping in the worst way. (And there were...

10 Things We Learned at Outdoor Retailer 2015

John and Kurt returned from Outdoor Retailer this week—a little older, a little wiser, and a little more sunburned than before, but ultimately better for having gotten a picture with one of the llamas from Cotopaxi. However, they didn’t just accumulate sweet merch and try their hand at fly fishing. They also learned a thing or two, or ten: 1. OR is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts looking to stock up on gear, and for businesses looking to partner with like-minded people. There were a whopping 30,000 attendees and 1,500 exhibitors. 2. The place was chock full of retailers. Every facet of the retail spectrum, from international mega-brands to start-ups, was aptly represented. 3. In fact, 232 of the brands were new! 4. The future is now, and it begins with Goal Zero. They want to help people stay connected in the great outdoors with solar-powered solutions for lights, laptops, and cameras. All you tech-obsessed indoors people (like yours truly) can now have the best of both worlds. 5. There was so much going on at any given time that seeing everything there was to see pretty much required the perseverance and stamina of an Olympic athlete. 6. If you were going to be doing a lot of chatting, walking, and test-driving, you were going to need water, and lots of it. CamelBak offered several serve-yourself water stations where you could refill as you perused their products, which included the latest and greatest in hydration packs for hiking, cycling, and festival-going. 7. In a B2B trade show space, the sky’s the limit. OR featured everything from three-story behemoths with intricate lighting and landscaping to simple 10×10 spaces with sampling. 8. The National Park Service was...

A Letter to My Younger Self

Hey. It’s me (you) from the future. Look, I’m going to be straight with you (me): neither of us is going to become an astronaut. I’m sorry, but it was never in the cards. You will, however, become a writer (score!), just not in the way that you think. As far as you know at the tender age of nine, the Internet is a magical, omnipresent force that lets you play flash games online. What you don’t yet know (other than the fact that, in thirteen years, those graphics are going to look like absolute garbage) is that the Internet’s going to open up a whole new world of opportunities. The job I have now simply doesn’t exist for you yet in the way that it will. So what is this cool, futuristic job of jobs? You’re going to work for an experiential marketing agency called Gemba. I know this sounds like boring grown-up jargon to you, but stay with me. Remember that time they let you try out a bedazzler at the mall, and then you forced Mom to buy it, and then you bedazzled the crap out of the living room couch? It’s kind of like that, but better, and with less bedazzler-related time-outs. Experiential marketing lets you connect with a brand. It would be like if Nintendo set up an actual, real-life Super Mario Bros. course, complete with gold coins, and let you run it. Okay, relax. I know you’re excited, but you’ve got a few years before that kind of thing becomes a reality. Basically what I’m saying here is that the world is always changing, and you’ll have chances you can’t even conceptualize...