If you’ve worked in experiential marketing for more than a couple of minutes, you know it’s a wild ride. Inclement weather, shipping challenges, and brand ambassador callouts are always a possibility. And who are the brand ambassadors going to call when they need help figuring out what to do? Ghostbusters. No – at most experiential marketing agencies, they’d call their hiring manager, who is likely off on weekends. There are a couple of scenarios that could happen here:
1. The hiring manager answers the call and helps the BA resolve the issue. The hiring manager continues to do this week after week, working Monday – Friday with clients and weekends with BAs. They are on the fast road to burnout. And eventually they’ll arrive at their final destination.
2. The hiring manager doesn’t answer the calls on the weekends and the brand ambassadors figure out what to do on their own. Many times, this will result in canceled events. Both brands and brand ambassadors can get frustrated when their events are canceled.
At Health and Fitness Activations, we created an option 3, the On-Call Manager position. In 2019 we created a role exclusively dedicated to solving all the world’s problems. They are fully integrated with our HFA internal communication, and have access to all the details –
- notes on who we spoke to regarding ordering product for a retail demo
- who approved the demo
- tracking numbers for supply shipments
- client communication regarding issues that may come up
- clients’ stores lists
This information is often enough to save an event.
The On-Call Manager also has the power to make decisions to save an event. If a shipment didn’t arrive, they can order sampling cups for pickup at a nearby retailer. If there’s no product at a store, the On-Call Manager can try to move the demo rep to another store in the area with product. And they keep retailers up to date in real time. Clients can get these real time updates if they like as well!
The other uber-important role they play is handling all the incoming communication on the weekends and allowing the rest of us to disconnect. The On-Call Manager texts each person scheduled at the start of each day, so even if one of the brand ambassadors does reach out to their hiring manager, the On-Call Manager will connect with them, leaving the hiring manager free to enjoy their weekend.
The On-Call role is a tough one, with long days and every situation you can imagine. Our check-ins start at 9am EST and check-outs at 7pm PST. That’s a 13-hour day! This long day used to be peppered with breaks between check ins, but as our event count grew, there were fewer (if any!) breaks. We all agreed that was untenable, so we split the On-Call role into two. We now have an Eastern and Western On-Call Manager.
The On-Call role is something that really sets our agency apart. Having someone to handle all the things that can go sideways in experiential marketing in real time and protecting time off for the Monday-Friday team are equally important. Our clients tell us they like the option to get updates in real time. Our brand ambassadors tell us they like knowing they have support when they are at their events. Our full-time team members tell us they like being able to disconnect from work on their days off. It’s a win-win-win.
Question for you – who answers distress calls at your company when your experiential marketing events hit a snag?