Experiential Marketing in Travel and Tourism, with Paul Soseman

Episode 168

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Paul Soseman is the founder and CEO of Department Zero, an experiential marketing agency based in Kansas City, MO. Paul began his career 20 years ago, running the marketing department for a consumer electronics retailer where he oversaw a multi-million dollar advertising budget and created special events and promotions that ultimately became a primary driver of the retailers business. He then brought his event and retail experience to Road Runner, a then startup broadband internet service provider, where he created event marketing efforts to help educate consumers about the difference between dial-up and broadband internet speeds. In 2003, Paul left the corporate world to start his own event marketing company. Since then, Department Zero has been at the forefront of the experiential marketing industry, producing more than 40,000 unique event activations for a mixture of agency and brand side clients across the travel/tourism, automotive, CPG, and apparel industries. Paul leads the creative and strategic direction of the company, collaborating with client partners to design, plan + deploy live brand experiences and consumer activation programs that educate participants, amplify brand awareness, attract press coverage, and deliver quantifiable results. Some of their typical work includes pop-up shops, roadshows, and mobile tours, college campus events, sponsorship activation programs, social media content experiences, as well as press, and retail-focused events. In this episode of Destination on the Left, Paul Soseman, founder and CEO of Department Zero, joins us to share his story. He discusses the topic of experiential marketing and he explains how DMOs can incorporate it into their marketing strategies to drive more results.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How experiential marketing works in destinations
  • Why experiential marketing is so much more effective than traditional marketing tactics
  • How social media has transformed experiential marketing
  • Examples of creative collaborations Paul has done throughout his career
  • How destinations can capitalize on dwell-time with experiential marketing

Department Zero

Paul Soseman is the founder and CEO of Department Zero, an experiential marketing agency based in Kansas City, MO. And while Paul has done projects across a wide range of verticals such as automotive, CPG, and apparel, he has started to make a significant impact on travel and tourism as well. In an industry based on experience and storytelling, experiential marketing is a powerful angle for engaging travelers in any destination. In the latest episode of Destination on the Left, Paul joins us to talk about the different ways DMOs can leverage experiential marketing tactics like pop-up shops, roadshows and mobile tours, college campus events, sponsorship activation programs, social media content experiences, and press and retail-focused events.

Much More Than a Trend

Department Zero has been running seventeen years strong and it has steadily transitioned from events to brand experiences. But experiential marketing is no longer just a trend, it is a staple in the marketing strategies of DMOs across the country. Brands are constantly trying to tell us about their products and services, but when a customer experiences them first hand, it resonates on a much deeper level. Destinations are seeing real results when they add destination marketing to their repertoire and social media is a major reason for this. Social media and experiential marketing are intertwined, and we want people to share their experiences for the world to see. Not only does experiential marketing lead travelers to create FOMO moments, but it sparks a reaction of user-generated content that markets your destination for you.

Leave a Lasting Impression

Whatever the experience is, it has to be designed around specific goals. And whether it’s generating leads, press coverage, or impressions, the experience and campaign must be built to achieve that goal. One example of this is the campaign Paul helped design for Lufthansa Airlines. They were introducing a new, direct-route between San Jose, CA and Frankfurt, DE, and they wanted to find a unique way to build awareness for the new route. Paul’s team created an interactive videogame experience that both educated travelers about Frankfurt and provided them with travel tips as well. And through a live feed with a flight attendant in Frankfurt, they gave out free first-class tickets on the new route, drawing a huge crowd. There are so many ways to interact with your target audience and leave an impression!

Nicole Mahoney: 00:23 Hello listeners, this is Nicole Mahoney, host of destination on the left. Welcome to this week’s episode with another interesting guest, Paul Sose, men, founder and CEO of department zero an experiential marketing agency based in Kansas city, Missouri. Travel and tourism is all about the experience and the story of the destination. What better way to tell the story or share the experience then through experiential marketing? This is a topic that we have talked about on the show with past guests and I am excited to learn about new trends, best practices, and creative ideas from someone who has been in the experiential marketing space for 20 years. Since Paul left the corporate world to start his own event marketing company. He has been at the forefront of the experiential marketing industry producing more than 40,000 unique event activations for a mixture of agency and brand side clients across the travel and tourism, automotive, CPG and apparel industries. Paul leads the creative and strategic direction of the company, collaborating with client partners to design, plan and deploy live brand experiences and consumer activation programs that educate participants, amplify brand awareness, attract press coverage and deliver quantifiable results.

Nicole Mahoney: 01:36 Some of their typical work includes pop up shops, roadshows and mobile tours, college campus events, sponsorship activation programs, social media content experiences as well as press and retail focused events. Well, all of that experience, I know this conversation with Paul is going to be good, so let’s get into the interview. Paul, thank you so much for joining us today on destination. On the left. I’m really looking forward to our conversation, but before we get started, can you share your story with our listeners in your own words? I find it gives us so much more context and bring so much more to the conversation.

Paul Soseman: 02:13 Sure. Thanks Nicole. And a pleasure to be here. Um, so I started out about 20 years ago. Um, in college, I got a degree in advertising and, um, you know, at the time advertising was, you know, pretty limited to the traditional step TV. Yeah. Print media, things like that. But when I got out into my first job, what I found was that we started doing events and the event marketing was actually, uh, driving a lot more, a lot more to our business. And the company that I worked for at the time was a consumer electronics chain. So we were selling big screen TVs and TV, DVD players and things like that. Um, but we found that we would do these, uh, these events. It really connected our consumers with the sales team, um, you know, at the, at the retail store level, um, and with our company overall.

Paul Soseman: 03:07 And it just, you know, really kind of built a repeat business for us. And so from there I went on to work for, uh, for road runner, which at the time was a internet startup company, um, to promote broadband internet. And my role there was really over, um, you know, retail partnerships but also of that, and so we would do these events where we would bring out two different kiosks, one would be on, you know, dial up and the other one would be on broadband connection. And we’d let people explore the difference and see what it’s like to visit the same website on a high speed connection versus dial up. And of course minds were just blown. And that’s really where that marketing got was really solidified for me as, as kind of the next big thing and at least something that I was really passionate about because it’s really exciting to see people’s faces when all of a sudden it makes sense, whatever that product or, or, or services it just makes sense.

Paul Soseman: 04:04 Um, so from there, I, I was at Roadrunner for a few years and then at one point decided that, um, you know, it was time to take off and, and do it cold on my own. And, uh, so I started up a, a a small band marketing company called department zero and, uh, Bernard’s 17th year now. Um, but at department zero, it’s exactly, it’s exactly that, start out as events. Um, and really over time it’s morphed into more brand experiences. Um, but we’ve worked on everything from uh, automotive, uh, accounts to liquor accounts to a lot of travel and tourism and everything in between. And for us, what has been kind of a big pivot for our company is about seven or eight years ago we realized that, um, experiential marketing has become such a kind of a hot thing, but not, not so much as a trend, as much as it is something that everybody seems to be wanting to do consistently.

Paul Soseman: 05:04 And seeing real results from. We saw a lot of our, a lot of traditional agencies and media companies and PR companies get involved in experiential and [inaudible]. We, um, we, we realized that there was definitely a need, um, for our services to be able to come in and help consult, um, to be able to, to help kind of bring, they are ideas together and help them to be able to produce, uh, consumer facing experiences, brand experiences that make sense. And they, and they drive real results. So, um, so today we, um, you know, we work, uh, like I said with a lot of different agencies, um, and a few select brands all across the country, um, doing everything from, you know, mobile road shows and tours to pop up shops to, um, all kinds of different, uh, one off experiences and sponsored events and, um, you know, some really some really neat things there. So, uh, so that’s kind of us in a,

Nicole Mahoney: 05:57 that’s a, that’s awesome. I, I, I’m listening to you talk, actually, I started to think about this experiential marketing, which an event marketing has been around of course for a very long time, but when you start to talk about the road runner example,

Nicole Mahoney: 06:11 um, and I, I certainly can, can remember going from dial up to broadband and, and of course my mind was blown back then as well, but it actually brought me back even further than that and I started to think about, you know, the, the Pepsi challenge right? Back in LA. Yeah, exactly. And so this has always been something where when you can get out into the market and talk one on one with people, um, you know, face to face and really kind of give them that experience. Um, it really does is as you said, connect, uh, those customers with that brand. Like you saw early on when you said you were connecting customers with your sales team, I think that’s, um, that’s a really great example.

Paul Soseman: 06:49 Yeah. You know, it’s all about, um, you know, it’s one thing to, to hear about a product or be told about it or read about it. It’s a whole nother thing to have a firsthand experience with it. And that’s exactly what those kiosks did. Um, and, and really kind of show for me, it’s why I really like this business. You know, you can tell somebody, especially back then all about, you know, high speed internet and how fast it could be potentially, but it really just pales in comparison to somebody again or computer and trying it for themselves.

Nicole Mahoney: 07:20 [inaudible] absolutely. And, and I’m curious, um, you know, with experiential marketing and, and the number of years that you’ve been doing this now, have you seen kind of a change in terms of what, how social media plays a role? Cause I know when social media was, you know, really starting to, um, become more and more popular, there were a lot of questions in brand’s minds in that, you know, are people going to need that one-on-one, that face to face, that human touch? And how have you seen kind of social media maybe, um, either, you know, change I guess, um, event marketing and how you roll those activations out?

Paul Soseman: 07:57 Absolutely. So, you know, I think a few years ago, um, when social media first kind of became, uh, a bigger thing that a lot of brands and agencies were, were trying to incorporate into their overall mix. Um, you know, th th the trend at the time was really about how do we get people to share their experiences on, on their social platforms. So you came to this really cool event or a brand activation. You went in and participated in whatever that activity was. And then, you know, how do you share that? How do we make it shareable? And while that’s still a really big, um, factor for a lot of experiences that we do, um, I think that the, the latest trend that we’ve really been seeing over the last few years, and I think it makes a lot of sense, is that it experiential can really lead into not just, um, creating those FOMO moments, um, one-on-one, but it can also serve as a way to, to generate content.

Paul Soseman: 08:53 So, you know, everybody’s looking for, you know, for content and what’s the next thing that we’re going to put out there? And, you know, contents a funny thing, but if you have, you know, something that’s really compelling and you know, can really, again, kind of, kind of reinforce that FOMO of, man, I really, really wish I was there to see this. But through that content, you get to kind of vicariously live through the ones who were there. Um, that can be a really powerful thing. So I think social media has played a really big role, uh, as far as, you know, what we do with it. Um, the other term that I think is really important right now is really using experiential to help leverage relationships with influencers. Um, everyone’s, you know, looking for whoever that next influencer is that’s going to be, you know, really a really important kind of voice in their industry.

Paul Soseman: 09:45 Um, so if you are doing something to really engage those influencers, to get them to write about you talk about your whatever, um, you know, why not put together an experience that really caters to them. So then when they come, you know, they don’t need to go through bullet points or interview questions, they can really just kind of come in and, and learn about whatever that product or service or destination is firsthand. Um, and hopefully be, you know, become excited about it naturally, um, to a point that they will want to write about it. I always feel like if somebody is compelled to, um, to take action on their own, then, um, the results gonna be much more powerful than, um, you know, if we, if we are [inaudible] simply just asking somebody to do something on, you know, on our behalf for an incentive or a prize or something.

Nicole Mahoney: 10:31 Absolutely. Um, you know, what I like about what you just shared is, um, you know, the way you’re, you’re starting to describe this for us is that this is a really kind of [inaudible] strategic yeah. Integrated approach. Um, it’s not, it can’t live by itself. It really does integrate with a lot of the other tactics that you might be executing on it campaign. Um, and I’m curious, um, when you talked about generating content, is that the same as maybe user generated content where you’re generating, you know, other people are generating it for you and your repurposing it for the brand? Or are you also generating owned assets? Are owned content that the brand then repurposes

Paul Soseman: 11:11 yeah, it depends on the campaign, but we’ve, we do both. So, um, you know, I think it was, like I said, I think it’s really important for any of the consumers, anyone who comes through and participates in IX in an experience to want to go share that. Um, so if it’s, if we’re targeting consumers directly, then we definitely want them to go back and, and uh, share it on their own. Yeah. Personal accounts, um, and social media channels. But we’re also doing a lot of programs that really, it’s really designed for the brand to share as well. So, um, you know, and a lot of times it kind of plays double duty, so we might do some sort of a activation, um, or experience that we have no per participants come through. And, you know, the, our goal for them is to get them to take a picture, hashtag it talk about, you know, the fun time that they had or what they learned or what they did. And at the same time we might have a film crew out, um, who is interviewing people and really kind of capturing all the different elements of the, um, of the experience and the occupation that, you know, most consumers may not get on their own to be able to have either a really nice recap that the brand can share or sometimes it might be, um, a series of different segments that the brand can, um, can put out over time of, uh, of people who came through and what they did and learn at their activation. [inaudible]

Nicole Mahoney: 12:34 yeah, I think that’s great. So as our listeners know, we’d like to talk about creativity and collaboration on the show and I’m sure I’m pulling off a lot of these activations, takes a lot of creativity and a lot of collaboration.

Paul Soseman: 12:47 It does.

Nicole Mahoney: 12:48 And so, um, let’s start with creativity. What are some, um, examples of campaigns, um, or activations that you have done that have really helped, um, you know, your clients kind of stand out from the crowd?

Paul Soseman: 13:03 Sure. Um, you know, so we, we’ve done so many different types of activations. I w I always feel like whatever the experience is, it needs to be focused around specific goals. And I say that because whatever we end up doing, whatever that actual activity is, or, uh, the activation itself needs to be focused around achieving those goals, whether it’s generating leads or it’s, um, generating, you know, press coverage or, uh, you know, really kind of getting in with a very, uh, you know, pressing or making impression upon a very specific target audience. So, you know, we kind of build the campaign around, you know, whatever that, that initial goal is. One of my favorites that we did a few years ago for, uh, with Tonzai airlines, um, and this is through a, an agency partner of ours, um, was [inaudible] was, um, they weren’t debuting a new, uh, route between San Jose and Frankfurt, Germany and his direct flights.

Paul Soseman: 14:06 Uh, and they really wanted to, you know, build some awareness. Um, you know, so it’s right in the heart of Silicon Valley. Um, they’ve got a lot of, uh, you know, travelers that reside in San Jose that are frequently traveling to Europe and, um, they really wanted to find a really unique way to let people know about this new direct flight route. So what we did is, you know, in working with them, it was about, you know, when one of the concerns was really, you know, it’s Silicon Valley, so we want to do something that involves technology, but we don’t want to go so over the top or so, um, cutting edge that we could potentially fall on our faces with it. Because, you know, you know, you don’t know who might be working on what. That’s super advanced, you know, that you might run into out there.

Paul Soseman: 14:56 So we won’t go to the same time. We also wanted to do, we want to use some technology that wasn’t, um, can it be looked down upon either. So, um, what we did is we worked with, uh, the agency to really kind of try to understand, you know, beyond just getting people on an airplane and telling them, Hey, it could go here. You know, what really does it do for someone if they want to go to Germany? And one of the things that we found and um, and one of the, uh, ideas that the agency had already developed was this idea of being more connected at being able to feel like you’re more connected, not to just to Germany but to the rest of Europe. And so that kind of sparked some different ideas. And what we ended up landing on was this concept of, you know, let’s go out and we’ll have a big video game basically, where people could come up and play a game that would be trivia and, you know, let them, uh, give them some, some real, you know, kind of small education bites about, you know, best ways to travel and, um, tips and tricks.

Paul Soseman: 16:00 And then, you know, things about Frankfurt and Germany and Europe in general. And when we debuted this, people would come up and they would play the game. And depending on how well they did, they win a prize. Um, but it, for some folks at random, we, um, we would randomly select a few different participants who would be instantly connected with a flight attendant and Frankfurt, Germany, um, who would then interact with them and the rest of the crowd, um, in a way that everybody could tell that this was actually a live feed. Um, you know, and she would call out things about what people are wearing and you know, things like that. And it was a lot of fun. And then she would end with teaching, um, the consumer age phrase in German, which ended up translating into, I won free first class tickets to Frankfurt, Germany.

Paul Soseman: 16:49 Um, and yeah, and so, you know, from that, obviously once you give out free first class tickets, once you end up getting a huge crowd that, you know, word of mouth spreads and people go, Oh my gosh, do you know what, they’re, what’s happening over there? So, you know, so we ended up with a line around, around the block, um, to participate. And you know, kind of going back to what you were just saying a second ago with social media, part of the idea was not necessarily about how many people we got to go through the experience, but it was about connecting with the right people. Um, so we were in a location, um, is an outdoor shopping center called Rosanna square, right in the heart of Silicon Valley. Um, and you know, we wanted to make sure we’re in front of the right people, but then also, um, use this experience and have film crew out to be able to capture all the different, um, emotions of people as they won prizes, as they won their free trips to capture, you know, what people were saying kind of while they’re standing in line and after they participated.

Paul Soseman: 17:46 And really kind of bring that altogether in a series of, um, little segments that they ended up dripping out across tons of social media, uh, profiles. But then also, um, you know, as kind of one big chunk of, Hey, look at, you know, what happened. And then of course, you know, using that kind of leverage I’ve hit, this is what we’re going to do to reach out to the local press and get that press coverage to come out and check it out and see what everybody’s talking about and then hopefully go back and write about it. So, um, that’s a great example of, of kind of how things come together. But I think from a collaborative standpoint, none of it would really be possible without, um, you know, having partners at the agency level who really understand, uh, their brand and, and the airline and, you know, what kinds of goals they really need to get accomplished and what kinds of things are really going to serve that brand the best to be able to relay that to us so that we can, um, you know, really kind of grab hold of it and turn it into, um, a concept that’s gonna make sense at the street level.

Paul Soseman: 18:48 Um, I think that might be the toughest thing about experiential marketing within advertising is finding you find those great aha moment ideas. And then how do you translate that into something that’s gonna make sense for the random, um, John or Sue that happens to be walking down the street that get their attention and have them want to come over and participate and get excited about it and then want to share that on their, on their channels.

Nicole Mahoney: 19:11 Absolutely. That was a great example. And, and um, I just want to circle back to what you started with. What you said was to focus on goals, which makes me so excited because I mean, we preached it so much. You’ve got us start with the goal in mind. Uh, too many times I think, um, you know, people think I need to do email marketing, I need to do, I need to be on Instagram, I need to be on tic-tac. But they don’t, that’s the tactic. What’s the goal? So in the case of the example that you just shared, um, so the goal there was to gain awareness of these new routes, is that right? Yes. And then they had a very focused target audience. And so from that you were able to align, you know, or figure out what location aligns with that target audience?

Paul Soseman: 19:56 Yeah, they were. So for them, and I mean it’s, you know, first class tickets, uh, you know, we’re looking for people who, who would consistently to some extent purchase first class airline tickets overseas. And so we’re looking for a more fluid audience. And then from there it was about, you know, one of the things that we considered was that, you know, a lot of people who are traveling for, uh, for business, um, you know, obviously their companies are, are reimbursing for the most part, they’re their travel expenses. So we really wanted to kind of take that away from, um, [inaudible], you know, to kind of take the pressure off of, uh, trying to target, you know, going to the big tech companies and trying to do something directly with them and really turn it into something that was more of a, um, social and kind of, you know, consumer facing, you know, example when you’re out shopping. Um, so trying to catch right people in the right place. But I was trying to catch the right people in the right place. And I think that’s a, that’s always one of the biggest challenges.

Nicole Mahoney: 20:53 [inaudible] absolutely. So do you have an example of, um, you know, of an activation or an [inaudible], uh, that you may have done where not for an airline, but maybe for like a destination brand or, or, you know, something that’s maybe because we don’t have a lot of airlines listening to this show, but I love the example should definitely have destinations who have new, you know, new routes coming into their, you know, into their markets and kind of understanding. I mean, I think that was a fantastic example, but I’m curious if you have another one.

Paul Soseman: 21:23 Sure. You know, it’s, it’s funny, I think, um, and I, we’ve worked, we’ve worked across the board on so many different types of industries. One of the things they always find really fascinating is that I feel like the, the overall theories, um, of, of how this all comes together, they apply no matter what your businesses. Um, you know, I, I think that it’s a, it’s about finding ways to build a experience for whoever your target audiences that feels natural and feels authentic, um, so that they don’t feel like they’re really being sold. But at the same time, you, you wanna, you know, you want them to go through that experience in a way that, um, when they come out of it, there’s excitement that they want to share. Um, we just wrapped another one up here a couple months ago for, uh, Palm Springs tourism. And for them it was a, and again, this was through another agency partner of ours.

Paul Soseman: 22:20 And, and for, for that, uh, brand, they wanted to attract business from one of their primary feeder markets, which is Atlanta. And so we put together a something, it was fourth quarter. They wanted to do something around the holiday season. And of course, you know, we’re moving into winter time and things like that. So what we did is we worked with a major shopping mall in Atlanta and we put together a, a a 30 day pop up that was in the middle of the mall. And it was basically a big, um, is a big illuminated cube that had a interactive vending machine in it. And so what would happen is that there were screens that would promote and have different messaging about, uh, visiting Palm Springs and you know, things to do and all the fun different things you can check out when you’re there. Um, but was consumers went up to it, they were able to, um, answer different questions and, and play a little, I kind of, I call them like mini games, but basically answer a couple of easy questions and win some prizes like sunscreen and towels and things like that.

Paul Soseman: 23:19 And, um, and then because it was in the shopping mall during the busiest shopping season of the year, we had, uh, we had put together like a little lounge area so people could come in and hang out and we had some Palm trees and things like that that we, uh, [inaudible] not like full size, but, um, but enough to really kind of give that, that element of, okay, we’re, you know, too. So the people understood that that’s what it’s about. It’s about more emphasis about, uh, it’s about you getting away. It’s about having kind of a different experience, what you’re going to have in them all obviously. And, uh, [inaudible] you know, and, and so that was, and so that was the gist of the, um, the experience. But, um, it was, it was interesting because we’re able to, because for them, one of their goals was to be able to, um, collect names and be able to reach back out through, you know, their followup campaigns strike to other people.

Paul Soseman: 24:09 So, uh, so that’s one of the reasons why we and employed a interactive vending machine was that, well, when consumers would come up, if they wanted to participate, they could fill out a quick little survey and give us their name and info and in exchange they would get a set of eyes with a, with a prize. And so it was a great way to kind of build a list and it was also a great way to, you know, kind of get exposure to a bigger audience right in the kind of, I wouldn’t call it the height of winter, but it definitely is. Everybody’s got cold weather on their minds and shopping and, uh, and it was a really, it was a really cool campaign. The other thing that I think was really interesting about it, um, was again, this is through our agency partner, but they, uh, were able to leverage a relationship with Delta airlines as well. Um, so it was a nice little kind of double whammy if you will, of, you know, talking about Palm Springs and then how do you get there? Um, here’s some information on Delta that happens to fly direct.

Nicole Mahoney: 25:05 [inaudible] absolutely. And do you know, with the, with the agency where they implementing, you know, is this part of a more integrated campaign that, where there were other, um, tactics that they were implementing in the Atlanta market? Or were they solely using this, uh, experential as their, as the campaign?

Paul Soseman: 25:24 Yeah. You know, I’m not sure exactly everything that they have going on and their media mix, but I do know that this was a supplementary, uh, element of a larger campaign that was taking place in Atlanta. And I think, you know, overall, I think that makes a lot of sense when it comes to experiential because, you know, it’s, to me, I think it, it’s about, from a consumer’s perspective anyway, you know, if you hear about something a few different times and then when you get to see it in person, you’re a little bit more, um, you know, likely to want to go over and check out whenever, whenever that thing, Oh, I’ve heard about that. So you want to go over and see it. Um, and it doesn’t mean that you have to have a supporting campaign, but it definitely helps kind of set things up. So when consumers do see that live action experience happening, um, they’re going to be more apt to want to go over and see it because they, you know, they feel somewhat familiar with it already.

Nicole Mahoney: 26:14 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And so, um, as you were talking, I was thinking about our listeners, so they’re listening to these really interesting and unique approaches, um, to, uh, event marketing or experiential marketing. And as they’re thinking about maybe some of their own campaigns or their own goals, do you have some advice as to, you know, how one could think about implementing something like this, uh, into a campaign? Like what, what, get some places

Paul Soseman: 26:44 where this can really just really help? Absolutely. Well, you know, I think it’s, uh, I, I think experiential is definitely, um, something that you want to at least consider. Um, and because I believe that it’s about, you know, the, the, from a bigger perspective, it’s about bringing whatever that campaign is to life for people. And, um, you know, I, I, I feel like the last, especially in the last few years, um, you know, I think a big trend, especially amongst, you know, those in the ad industry has been about storytelling and storytelling is, can be amazing, especially when you’re talking about, um, you know, 2d on television, radio, whatever, uh, through digital or what have you. Um, but at the same time it’s about not just telling the story, but allowing people to become a part of the story. And I think that’s really what helps kind of solidify in a consumer’s mind about their relationship with a particular brand.

Paul Soseman: 27:43 Um, because they’ve been there. And I, you know, I’m, I don’t know all the, um, tourism industry statistics probably as long as you do, but I would imagine that, you know, most people, once they go to a destination and have a really great time there, that they are more apt to want it prioritize going back to that destination, overseeing others. And I think it’s for the exact same reason, um, that we’re talking about here. They, they, there’s some familiarity. They have already had a firsthand experience, um, doing whatever activities they did when they were at that destination and they want to go back and experience it again. And when it comes to experiential from a marketing perspective, um, you know, there’s some amazing campaigns that are out, but, you know, how do you really kind of bring that home, particularly for your most important consumers, um, you know, the ones that you know are going to be the most apt to want to go there.

Paul Soseman: 28:35 How do you really kind of bring that to life for them and, and do it in a way that, you know, at their home market they’re able to, um, to really kind of wrap their heads around and, and, um, and embrace. So I, that’s I guess kind of the, the reason why you want to consider it. Uh, once you get into that consideration phase, I think the most important thing to really decide before you do anything else is to decide what do you want to have come out of that experience. Um, because there’s so many different ways, things that you can do or that you can get out of an experiential program and you know, you can get, you can build a lead gen, uh, you know, if you’re trying to, to a bolster up your database, um, you know, you can use it as a way to, as a, as a press play to try to get, you know, local press coverage.

Paul Soseman: 29:21 Um, you can use it in a general kind of building awareness building, uh, you know, mindset. But, you know, really it’s about what are we trying to accomplish and, and then really looking at, you know, why so and not just, well, we need more people to come here. But, um, you know, if your goal is building awareness, you know, what we really trying to build awareness about and then, you know, what, what are some ways that we’re going to be able to truly measure if there has been an impact on that awareness. And I think, you know, how that is done is really gonna come down to the specific, um, you know, brand and client relationship. And you know, how they’re currently measuring things. But I think it’s really important to try to understand a write up from what are you trying to do, how are you going to measure it? How do you know it’s going to be successful? And then from there you start building up a concept or out there a creative concept or it

Nicole Mahoney: 30:11 [inaudible]. Absolutely. Let’s talk about measurement a little bit. Um, what are some of the ways that you, that you do measure from experiential? What are, what are some of the things I’m sure it’s based on the goals. Yeah. Can you expand on that a little bit?

Paul Soseman: 30:27 Absolutely. Um, so there’s all kinds of different things you can measure. I think, again, the important piece is knowing or at least understanding what elements are the most important, um, metrics to, to your brand or to, or to the program. So, you know, a lot of times what, like our general kind of, uh, measurement, uh, metrics I guess would include things like, um, overall [inaudible] impressions. So if we have a program, um, you know, what are the overall impressions, not only from how many people saw it that were physically there, but you know, was there press coverage, um, you know, what kind of impressions did that go if there was social media? Um, if we had to like use like a hashtag or, um, you know, we had people, we were encouraging consumers to, um, to post, you know, on their own, you know, how many of those posts occurred?

Paul Soseman: 31:19 How far did that hashtag go? If there’s influencers, how many of them, you know, did we connect with? And how many of those translated into, you know, uh, articles either, um, you know, that they did have their on their own or, you know, anything that might’ve been a paid sponsorship with them. Um, and then, you know, at the event site, it’s about really trying to understand, um, not only how many people saw us, but how many people came by and, um, and, and, and participated. And I think, um, you know, a really important metric that we like to use is one that we call quality engagements or calling interactions because you will have at any of that like this. And um, you’ll have a lot of people, they’ll come by and, you know, they may not spend a lot of time, they may come up and look at it and decide us as for me and they move on.

Paul Soseman: 32:07 Um, and so we can count that as an impression. But what I feel is a really important metric is understanding how many people came into that activation space and how long did they participate? You know, did they go through the entire experience? If there is a, you know, sometimes you get lucky and there is a entry and an exit area and you can see physically how many people went through it. But all of the times it’s pretty open air. So, you know, so we look at things like how, you know, what’s the dwell time? How long do people hang out? I like to believe that anything over about two minutes, um, counts as a or should count as a quality engagement. And again, it kind of depends on, you know, what we’re doing and what our goals are. But in theory, if somebody, you know, hanging around your events site for more than a couple minutes, then they’re probably, you’re doing something and having a conversation, whatever that is.

Paul Soseman: 32:54 So that’s why we tried call the engagements and then we track, um, conversations. So a little more, um, qualitative than quantitative. But, you know, we’re looking for, you know, how, what was kind of the general feedback and um, you know, what were some of the more, um, you know, a common questions that we would get asked. A lot of times that kind of data, it can be really interesting because, um, it can really kind of help open a brand’s mind too. Maybe you have a new campaign or you’ve got a new product that’s out and getting some real feedback of people. Did they understand it? Do they not understand it? What are they, you know, what do they think about it? Um, you know, and so we can do that either through verbal conversations or through surveys. Um, and so that’s kind of another way to track it, you know, and so there’s, there’s a lot of different ways that you can, that you can, uh, different things you can measure.

Paul Soseman: 33:49 I mean, I think, I know, you know, in our earlier days it was about how many chotchkies did you give away and things like that. But to me it’s about, you know, you can have a high number of, uh, of impressions or giveaways or people that came through or whatever. I think the more important pieces is what do people do with it? And you know, what did that translate into? So, and all of our programs, we have an ask and yeah, because in the, in the overall sales funnel, experiential is still pretty high up there. We’re not necessarily asking them to make a purchase on site. Um, but we are asking them to do something. So we’re asking them to post a photo or two, you know, download something or use a coupon or whatever that that ask is. And I think measuring that ask is and what the research, the results are from that ask is the a is the most important because that’s how you’re going to know if your activation is successful or not.

Paul Soseman: 34:48 Which goes right back to understanding and the very beginning, what do we want to have happen when we do this experience? So what do, what are our goals and how are we going to make sure that we know is successful? If, if the goal is we want to do something that is going to help kind of change perception and it’s going to get a lot of press coverage, then maybe the metrics that are going to be the most important may not be about, you know, may not be about how many people physically came through your event. But it might be more about, um, you know, what kind of, uh, what kind of media coverage you got or you know, what kind of a change in, uh, maybe you do pre and post surveys. So was there a change in PR of how a consumer perceived your brand before they entered the experience? Then after they left it, um, you know, and really kind of honing in on, on, on some of those, a very specific metrics to be able to, to truly understand did you make an impact or not?

Nicole Mahoney: 35:44 Yeah, absolutely. And I love how you keep bringing us back to goals because you have to have those goals in order to know what you’re measuring. Um, and, uh, I, I think that’s really awesome and I, and you actually just gave us some really great ways to think about how to measure, um, everything from the improvement impressions to the quality engagements. And, um, I hadn’t thought about dwell time before you just mentioned it, but I think that’s a really great, um, you know, piece of golden nugget, if you will, in terms of thinking about, you know, the feed on the street or the people who are in front of you or the people who walk by you, the ones that actually have that dwell time over two minutes are definitely worth more. And so I think that’s a, that’s a great distinction to make.

Paul Soseman: 36:25 It is. We actually have a device that we use that um, that we see, we started deploying this about two years ago or so that, um, we can, we can actually track, uh, cell phone users and we can’t track by the individual name or anything like that, but we can see how many slow phone signals were active in a given radius. So we can put that in our activation space over set up in the middle of a festival, for example, where maybe there’s 500,000 people at this festival, but we want to know how many of those people actually came through our space and how much time did they spend there and were able to get some really definitive numbers and data that way to really understand, you know, how many people came in and how long they stayed with us. Once you start doing, um, you know, experiential rather consistently, and let’s say you wanted to do a bunch of different, um, you know, kind of larger events or festivals or things like that, then you can start to take that data and really shape your message and how what you’re doing to attract people to come over, um, to get those dwell time numbers up.

Paul Soseman: 37:33 So I think that’s really a really interesting kind of advancement and experience over the last couple years. We’re getting a lot more, not only data focused, but we’re able to be a lot more definitive and, and not just saying, well, I think there is a thousand people there, but we know that there is a thousand people there. Um, and then the other thing that I’ll just say to real quick is that, um, I like to come back to goals because I think one of the, one of the biggest challenges with experiential is, and it’s not even a challenge, it’s just that it’s a lot of fun and everybody loves coming up with great ideas. Everybody loves the being able to go out to an event and connect with people and you know, consumers are smiling and you’re usually doing something that’s, you know, really unique and special. And um, and so it’s, it’s, it’s really easy to, um, it’s really easy to go down that path of, Oh, we’re just going to do this really cool fun thing and get completely sidetracked with, you know, kind of making it feel like a big over the top experience.

Paul Soseman: 38:31 And, and then you along the way kind of forget the metrics. And to me that’s always, uh, you know, one of the biggest, yeah, kind of I guess potholes to try to avoid is, you know, you get so far down a path and then all of a sudden you decide, Oh my gosh, we need to really focus on this effort producing X result. And if it’s not set up to do that, then you’re not going to get there. You might have to start all the way back over, you know, from, from step one, from a creative concept. And sometimes if you’re too far down the path, you may not be able to do that. So I think that’s always kind of the big thing to me is, you know, really understand where you’re trying to go first before you come up with those super cool, crazy ideas.

Paul Soseman: 39:11 Um, because there’s a lot of them out there and it will be fine and it can be really exciting. But, um, you know, but at the end of the day, you know, as marketing and, and clients are, are investing their budget sign, um, you know, tactics and efforts that need to produce our results and, um, you know, fun is fun, but we gotta gotta move the needle at some point as well. And so that’s, you know, I think that’s the best way to, to try to maintain, um, you know, keeping yourself on courses, making sure that you’re constantly going back and revisiting what are we trying to do, where are we trying to do it and what is going to, um, make it successful.

Nicole Mahoney: 39:46 Yeah, absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. Uh, I thinks that that’s just a really awesome way to wrap up this conversation that it really does all come back to, you know, your goals and, and staying focused on what it is you’re trying to accomplish. And Paul, I really appreciate you taking some time with us today. Can you please share with our listeners where they might find out more about you and your company? And I know you have some case studies, I believe on your website as well.

Paul Soseman: 40:15 Absolutely. Yeah. So my company is called department zero, and you can look us up on the inner webs and it’s department zero.com. Um, I’m also on LinkedIn and it’s, um, and it’s just, you can just look for, my name is Paul salesmen, so S E M a. N. um, but if you go to our website, we have lots of different cities of audits of different examples and case studies. Um, and we, and we also have a, a blog that has a lot of different tips and tricks. So we try to put out a lot of different, um, yeah, a lot of different advice as far as, you know, not only how to plan but how to measure, um, you know, how to create and those sorts of things. And our goal is to really take, uh, the overall idea of experiential, which can be a little daunting and complex because there’s a lot of moving parts. So when you really get into a program, but we really want to make it simple for ’em, not only for our clients to understand and use, but also for the end consumer to really, you know, grasp and, and want us to embrace. So whatever we can do to help kind of promote that, um, we put out the advice that we can on our products and um, so yeah, we’d love to have that traffic and um, feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn anytime.

Nicole Mahoney: 41:27 Absolutely. Well thank you so much Paul, and we’ll look forward to connecting with you again.

Paul Soseman: 41:33 Thank you so much. I appreciate the opportunity.

Nicole Mahoney: 41:35 Thank you for listening all the way to the end of this week’s episode. This gives me a chance to ask you for a favor. We have a goal to reach 100 ratings and reviews on our podcast by the end of 2020 we are already well on our way to meeting this goal. Need your help. I love sharing my interviews with you, and if you enjoy them too, I would have greatly appreciate you giving us a rating and review. Click the iTunes or Stitcher link on destination on the left.com or leave one right in your favorite app where you listen most often. It only takes a minute and your support,

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