8 Tips for Best-in-Class Roadshows
Bringing your brand on the road allows you to forge meaningful connections with your target audience, meeting them where they are (read: making it easy for them), while also cultivating emotionally rich, loyalty-building associations with your brand (read: getting results for you).
But, of course, it only works when it works.
Before starting your brand’s next roadshow, consider the executional and marketing tips below that will combine to help you get the most bang for your buck.
1. Vehicle preparation and maintenance are critical.
Suffice to say, vehicle-based tours don’t have much to offer when the vehicle’s out of commission.
Avoid such a fate by waterproofing your rig, either by letting it undergo the rigors of a harsh storm before hitting the road or by giving it a good soak at a do-it-yourself carwash. You’ll be able to see if water’s seeping in anywhere, so you can solve the potential problem before it occurs in real life.
Similarly, remember that maintenance matters. Plan your oil changes, tire rotations, and other routine checks during breaks. Don’t forget about that spare tire. In short, do whatever needs doing to keep your rig on the road.
2. Highway time is invaluable marketing time.
Don’t underestimate the importance of good design and eye-catching creative. When drivers see the drooling mad scientist title character of Adult Swim’s animated hit “Rick and Morty” staring at them from the rear of the Rickmobile, they routinely follow the vehicle to rest stops, desperate to snap pictures and learn more.
Fans aren’t even at a proper roadshow destination — some aren’t even fans yet at all — and they’re having an unforgettable experience that bonds them to the brand. One they’re bound to share, too. (Indeed, rubbernecking and rest stop snaps abound on social media.)
3. Leverage social media.
Speaking of sharing, don’t leave it to chance. Use social media purposefully and authentically through every leg of your brand’s roadshow, to communicate fundamental event information, reinforce your brand identity, and connect with your audience on a human level.
That means posting in a voice that’s true to your brand — offbeat and irreverent for Adult Swim’s roadshow, for example, but decidedly more refined for HydraFacial’s. It means responding to (and retweeting) fans who post proud selfies. And asking and answering questions. (The Rickmobile even solicited fans’ tour stop requests via social channels.) It means using social communication to make right any challenges along the way. And socializing the hashtag widely enough that it’s easy for audience to join the conversation.
4. It may not be sexy, but inventory management is the core of a successful campaign.
The XD Agency’s executive producer in charge of the award-winning Rickmobile, Amy Williams, emphasizes the importance of online inventory management capabilities.
“If you are selling merchandise, make sure your sales platform gives you the flexibility and reporting capabilities that you need,” she said, adding “Organization in tight spaces is also key to a successful outcome. Invest in shelving and strapping to ensure assets stay in place during transit.”
5. Follow the rules.
Ignorance is not bliss. Get up to speed on Department of Transportation rules and regulations in every jurisdiction you’ll hit. And follow them.
An accidental error can wind up in the plus column (see Rick’s inadvertent toll evasion) but only if it’s truly an accident, committed by a group consistently operating with the utmost integrity. (And only if all parties happen to have a sense of humor.)
Insist that your staff follow every rule closely, too, including the driving ones but also those that have to do with permitting and timekeeping and sales processing.
6. Measure all the time, every time.
At a fundamental level, live experiences are both resistant to quantification — and undeniably worthwhile. After all, how do you measure the intensity of the fans who show up to the Rickmobile having cut their hair to look like the title character? Or who drive hundreds of miles to express their fandom? But while some of that emotion might be best captured anecdotally (and with some striking screenshots from social media), measuring everything possible should be a core tenet of roadshow marketing.
Take a page from the B-to-B book and capture numbers with care and vigilance. Especially on tours with scores of stops, measurement is critical, not only for demonstrating ROI to the C-suite but also for spotting trends and making appropriate adjustments along the way.
To that end, record every metric you can. Sales numbers are nice, but capturing everything from social media metrics to foot traffic numbers to survey feedback provides historical data that will be invaluable as the roadshow stops — and future tours — continue.
7. Hire the right staff. And empower them.
“Find the best most experienced people — particularly those who like tour life,” Williams said. “It can be physically demanding, and it takes a special personality to be able to walk away from your home life for weeks or months at a time.”
In addition to the hard-to-overestimate importance of experience, it’s critical that the on-the-ground staff have the personalities to ensure an unforgettable fan experience. Equally important: productive staff relationships. “Don’t be afraid to make changes if there’s a team dynamic that’s not working,” Williams said.
Speaking of changes, tour staff need to be able to make adjustments of their own to ensure success. This might involve imposing a product limit when too many people are in line — or loosening limits when crowds are light. It might mean calling in extra security. It might mean making accommodations in the name of exceptional service. When you hire the right people and trust them to do the right thing, you’re in a good place.
8. Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
Remember that your roadshow team will have their hands full managing the present, so at least one individual needs to be back home, peering through a wider lens with an eye on the future. This individual should not only help to coordinate logistics and anticipate any challenges, but also proactively manage the client relationship, monitor and respond to consumer feedback, and deliver real-time reports on the roadshow’s results.
Success awaits. (And if you want to be sure of it, give us a holler at email@example.com.)