by Jonathan Margolis
At MAG we pride ourselves in offering in-house staffing services. We have a back-end database filled with thousands of actors and promotional models from around the country, and can easily identify and enlist these individuals sometimes at a moment’s notice (though we would kindly request a minimum of two weeks lead time, please and thank you).
Having been at this for close to 20 years now, and having staffed thousands of events over the years, you get to know some of the staff who return to work for you year in and year out. They become sort of like family. Speaking of which, there have been five “Michael Alan Marriages” to date, or in other words, five couples who met while executing an event for us and since got married. Several of those marriages have since welcomed kids as well! No one has yet to name one Michael or Alan, but that’s ok.
At a recent event I asked one of our Brand Ambassadors (otherwise known around here as BA’s) what they like best about the job. They replied…
“I love meeting new people. You get the chance to talk about something new, and most of the time people are nice and stop to listen.”
Personally, I really enjoy being onsite at an event and connecting with both the client and our staff. With many of our projects, especially street teams, sometimes we’re only as good as the staff representing us on site. It got me thinking just how important their job is, and how others in the business world help prepare their own teams to best support them on the ground.
While I couldn’t confirm this online, I’m pretty sure I remember reading somewhere that part of UPS’ Management Training Program requires the employee to drive an actual delivery truck for a week, so they see what it’s really like on the road as they make their deliveries.
I believe there’s a similar rule in place around Taxi Medallion owners, that each year for at least one day the owner must drive the vehicle themselves.
Then there is the Emmy-winning reality series, Undercover Boss, which gives management a chance to see what it’s really like in the field. Or as Google more accurately describes it… “when high-level corporate execs leave the comfort of their offices and secretly take low-level jobs within their companies to find out how things really work.”
We know being a BA is not always an easy job. Between inclement weather conditions and uninterested consumers, making that connection can sometimes be challenging. Here are five ways I feel you can help ensure your team does the best they can out there:
Arming BA’s with proper talking points in advance is the key to a meaningful consumer interaction. Often times the BA has less than 30 seconds with a consumer as they quickly run off to their next engagement. But sometimes there’s additional dwell time and it’s in these instances when the more information the BA has about the brand the better. In addition to talking points, whenever possible we give the BA’s a chance to experience the product or brand firsthand. Whether that means tasting the food they’re sampling, viewing the premiere they’re promoting, or wearing the clothes they’re endorsing – their word suddenly becomes more organic and ultimately, more sellable.
While some of the younger team members here may not relate, most of us know this quote from “The Secret of my Success”:
Brantley Foster: But how can I get any experience until I get a job that GIVES me experience?
Employer: If we gave you a job just to give you experience, you'd take that experience and get a better job. Then that experience would benefit someone else.
Here at MAG we feel the more experience you have the better. To some, touting a product or brand and talking to strangers about it comes rather naturally. But to others, the more you’re doing this, the more you know how to best engage with a consumer, make them feel what we’re doing is both educational and entertaining, rather than inconvenient or intrusive. There are also benefits to having experience in certain fields, whether that be health & fitness, fashion, or tech, as brands sometimes specifically request a more specialized team.
As mentioned, street-level tactics often call for staff to arrive onsite before dawn or stay past midnight. The mere act of showing up on time (regardless of call time) and prepared for the weather (whether that be extremely hot or cold) is invaluable to the Account team who work so hard for months setting the stage for the campaign.
Oftentimes teams can be left alone and simply report in at the beginning and end of the shift. However whenever possible it’s best to offer a greater level of supervision, especially when we’re activating “guerilla” and can be asked to move at any given moment, or feel it’s best to move if the particular location isn’t as busy as initially anticipated. Checking in hourly with the Event Manager lets them, the staff, and your client know exactly how things are progressing, and together can pivot elements like location, call to action, or distribution quantities in real-time, rather than discussing “what should have been” following the event.
All that said, it’s on us as the Account Team to properly support the BA’s whether they’re on the streets, inside at an event, or on the road. Ensuring they are wearing warm clothes in the winter, positioned under overhangs should it be raining, have access to someone back home should when needing assistance from the road… all of these things go a long way. Like anyone in the business works, it’s important for our staff to feel appreciated and supported throughout the entire process.
So next time you’re on the street and a friendly, attractive, outgoing Brand Ambassador offers you a sample-sized cereal bar, be a mensch and take one, you might just like it (and you would certainly be making their job a whole lot easier..).