When I was young and carefree, I loved taking long road trips to nowhere in particular. Nothing felt more liberating than an open road full of possibilities. I’d just get into my car and drive for hours until I found a landmark or town worth visiting.
But today, as the leader of an experiential marketing agency, my impulsive road-tripping days are behind me. Every mobile tour we orchestrate has predetermined destinations and predetermined goals.
Over the years, we’ve learned just how difficult this goal-setting process can be for brands. We’ve also seen the immense pressure they feel to deliver concrete results to CFOs who know very little about event marketing.
When we sense this anxiety, we always ask one simple question: “How do you measure the ROI of your other marketing initiatives?”
The typical answer is “Well, we don’t really have much clarity on those either.”
So really, the confusion surrounding mobile tours really isn’t all that unique. This is a common challenge in pretty much every marketing realm. In fact, 40 percent of brands say proving ROI is their top marketing-related challenge.
Even though event marketing agencies identify objectives and set goals for a living, brands aren’t completely off the hook. They still need to communicate openly and steer their partners in the right direction.
Here’s what the three-step discovery process should look like:
- The brand maps a “why.” Before an agency can work its magic, brands need to look in the rear-view mirror and remember what initially sparked their interest in mobile tours. Deep down, even if they don’t realize it, there will be an underlying goal that set the wheels in motion. It could revolve around boosting brand awareness or providing product education, but most often — 83 percentof the time — the overarching goal is to sell more product.Although this will only reveal the basic “why” of the program, it will put some much-needed fuel in the tank and lead to a more successful, goal-oriented mobile tour.
- The agency molds the vision. After the preliminary “why” is identified, a brand and an agency can collaboratively mold it into an actionable, measurable strategy. This discussion should be a two-way street of questions, comments, and debates where trust is built between both parties. The brand will make its overarching desires abundantly clear, and the agency will add a dose of reality to the equation, citing examples of real-life mobile tours that have achieved similar results.
This conversation will continue until relevant, realistic success metrics have been identified. At that point, all parties can hit the gas pedal.
- The goals are put in writing. To avoid any miscommunication or misalignment, the mobile tour’s goals should be written down in clear terms and distributed throughout both teams, and every stakeholder should sign off on them. In one recent study, just 65 percentof brands said the agencies they work with truly understand their businesses and goals. Taking the extra step to write things down will ensure that all parties are operating from the same road map and that there will be no surprises or wrong turns down the line.Further, when it comes to proving marketing ROI to non-marketers (such as CFOs), brands should err on the side of over clarifying the goals of their campaigns. A verbal conversation will likely muddy the waters; a written document is much easier to digest.
When budgets are involved and ROI is a priority, every road trip needs to have a clear, measurable purpose. Otherwise, brands aimlessly drive across the country, hand out their product to the masses, and return home with little to no idea of whether the trip was worthwhile.
Before you hit the road, gas up with the “why,” mold it into a measurable goal, and make sure every passenger is revved up and ready to go.
Let us know what you hope to achieve on your mobile tour in the comments below!
Steve Randazzo is the founder and president of Pro Motion Inc., an experiential marketing agency located in Missouri. With more than 30 years of experience in the industry, Steve has longstanding relationships with big-name clients, including Dr Pepper Snapple Group, The Walt Disney Company, Hewlett-Packard, Duck Brand, Fiskars, Citgo, the NBA, and Tractor Supply Co.