By Lisa Major
An experiential marketing event is much more than connecting with consumers, at least behind the scenes. Of course, the customer experience is always the focus, but the activation can’t happen without proper execution. While a vendor may have big ideas, can they communicate them and execute them well? Do they have the necessary knowledge and experience to create a successful event? Experiential marketing vendors are often responsible for some of the most critical elements of an event, so finding the right vendors is crucial. One wrong move could impact the entire event as well as your relationship with consumers, clients, and other vendors.
A vendor can’t provide exactly what you want if you don’t know what you want. Before you begin searching for vendors, document in detail what your needs are, how you want them executed, and what your expectations and goals are. It’s important to give vendors specific instructions so they know what you expect of them. Experienced vendors can often provide extra insights that you might not have considered. Take their advice, and if it fits into your vision, roll with it.
Start out with your network. Some of the best vendors can come from industry connections that you know. Whether that be personally or virtually, reach out to those connections for referrals. Typically, when a vendor does an outstanding job (or a bad one), people remember that and are happy to share feedback.
Social networks are also beneficial in finding vendors. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations. There are numerous LinkedIn Groups geared towards the experiential marketing industry that are great resources for referrals.
The old saying that you get what you pay for couldn’t be truer regarding experiential vendors. Don’t sacrifice quality to save a few bucks because it will most certainly come back to bite you. In this industry, there are so many fly-by-night vendors that enter the space with little to no experience. Experiential events are volatile, and you never know what can happen. Vendors who have been around for a long time and have years of experience under their belt can take on those “what-if” scenarios and have a plan of action for almost any issue that may arise.
Finding the right vendor can be daunting, especially when considering everything that goes into planning an experiential marketing event. One way to siphon off some of the work without losing vendor quality or integrity is to lean on other vendors that you have already hired to help you check off your to-do list. Trust in their experience and networks to get you what you need. For example, event staffing companies can provide you with brand ambassadors and help secure load-in/out staff, rental vehicles, storage facilities, and so forth. As a result, you can focus your energy on other tasks that need your attention. Just be sure to provide your vendor with specifics about what you need.
Vetting vendors is an essential part of the process. You don’t want any surprises at your events (unless you planned them), so finding vendors that align with your brand, brand values, and goals is important. The great thing is, vetting your vendors isn’t that difficult or time-consuming. You can ask for references, check out websites, social media pages, connect with the vendor’s employees on LinkedIn, and so forth. This will give you insights into who is a good match for your campaign and your company, and who will represent you in the best light.
A company would never hire an employee without interviewing them first, either in person, virtually, or over the phone. While it may seem like a given to speak to potential vendors, email and text are often the go-to methods of communication in our busy lives. However, you must remember that you will be talking to your vendor contact A LOT. During the planning stages, the actual event, and even post-event. With that said, you’ll want to ensure that you have a positive connection with that person and that your personalities mesh. Are they happy to talk to you? Enthusiastic about helping you? There to support you and answer questions whenever you need them? You’ll pick up on those vibes just by taking the time to talk to potential vendors.
A lot of effort goes into planning a successful experiential marketing event, and that hard work often begins with finding the ideal vendors. Vendors are the foundation of many events, as well as the first (and maybe even last) impression of your event as a whole. Finding and securing honest, passionate, knowledgeable, and engaging vendors will elevate the customer experience and, in turn, make your event wildly successful.
ATN Event Staffing has been a preferred staffing partner for countless brands and agencies. With over 20 years of experience in the industry and an internal team that boasts 200 years of combined experience, we consider ourselves experts in our space. If you need staff, have a question about staffing, or need advice about an event you’re planning, don’t hesitate to reach out! We’ve got former event producers, tour managers, FMMs, and staffing gurus in-house who are ready and willing to assist you in any way. Contact ATN today to learn more about our nationwide experiential event staffing solutions.
ATN Event Staffing has been a dependable, responsive, and professional partner to work with. They always deliver quality staff for our events, whether the requested markets are in large cities or small, rural areas.