An experiential marketing campaign is much more than connecting with consumers, at least behind the scenes. Of course, the customer experience should always be the focus of the event, but the experience can’t happen without the ideas and people behind it. If you work for a brand or for an experiential marketing agency, finding the right vendors for your campaign is critical. One wrong move could impact the entire campaign as well as relationships with customers, clients, and others who are working in collaboration.
Tips for Finding the Best Vendors for Experiential Marketing Campaigns
Whether you’re in the market for a creative firm, an event staffing agency, or vehicle wraps, here are some tips for finding the right vendors for your campaign.
1. Know what you want.
A vendor can’t provide exactly what you want if you don’t already know what that is. Before you even begin searching for and interviewing vendors you need to document, in detail, what your needs are. What types of vendors do you need, what is your budget, what are your expectations? Experienced vendors can often provide extra insight into your needs that you might not have considered.
2. Rely on your network.
If you have a network that includes event professionals and/or other experiential marketers, ask for suggestions and recommendations from them. Or, talk to any current vendors that you plan to work with or new vendors that you are forming relationships with. Additionally, if your event is taking place at a specific venue, they may be able to give you recommendations from past events for certain vendors like AV companies or caterers. If you are starting from scratch, reach out to experiential marketing groups on LinkedIn for referrals.
3. Do your research.
While it may seem like a daunting task, researching and talking to multiple companies will pay off in the long run. Check out vendor websites and social media accounts. Look for case studies, testimonials, event photos, and check out their blog. By doing this, you will have a better understanding of the services the vendors offer and it will also give you a good indication of their experience and who they have worked with or for. Compile a list of your favorites, grouped by categories (e.g., AV companies, promotional products, staffing companies, etc.) and reach out to them via email with a brief overview of what you are looking for. Based on responses, you should be able to narrow your list down and from there you can call on potential vendors for more detailed information.
4. Interview potential vendors.
Vetting potential vendors is an essential part of the hiring process. You don’t want surprises at your events (unless of course they are planned). Finding those who align with that perspective and who understand your goals is important. After you have narrowed down your list and you are calling on vendors, ask a lot of open-ended questions. Get them talking. Those who are very responsive, offer you suggestions and tips, and/or tell you about any challenges that they foresee are the ones you want to consider. Why? Because those are the ones that are going to make the extra effort to ensure you have a flawless event execution.
When you are talking to potential vendors, you’ll want to cover the basics, such as:
- Estimated Cost
- Protocols for any issues that arise
- If and where applicable, verify that they are licensed and insured
- Ask for references if needed
A cohesive and complementary group of vendors will create a well-rounded and successful event.
5. Communication is key.
Because your vendors are a direct representation of your company, you need to pay close attention to how they communicate with you. The way they communicate with you is the way they will communicate with people on-site. One bad conversation or negative interaction with a client or consumer can be detrimental to your campaign.
6. Don’t cut corners to save a buck.
We’ll keep this short and sweet. Most of the time, you get what you pay for. As this Entrepreneur article points out, “spending more where it matters can mean the difference between a forgettable event or an event leading to real ROI.” Don’t cut corners or base your decisions solely on cost alone. If your budget is tight, look at other areas where you may be able to consolidate costs or consider a different approach to your campaign.
7. Go with your gut.
Once you have weighed all of your options, you’ll know what’s best for your campaign. Go with your instincts, they rarely steer you wrong.
After you have selected your vendors, lean on them for help, after all, they are the experts. A vendor may be able to help in areas that you may be unaware of. For example, event staffing agencies usually have experience in securing permits and can handle a lot of the event logistics. Ask vendors about any extra services that they offer. By doing this, it will allow you to focus your energy on current vendors and event preparation.
A lot of effort goes into planning successful experiential marketing campaigns. That hard work often begins with finding ideal vendors who understand and can meet your needs. Vendors are the foundation of many events, as well as the first (and sometimes the last) impression of your experiential event. Finding and securing honest, passionate, and professional vendors will elevate the client and consumer experience, and, in turn, benefit your business.
ATN Event Staffing is more than a vendor, we are an event staffing partner. Our clients come to us time and again because our commitment and dedication to providing top-notch event staffing, execution, and management services are unparalleled.