Dispatches from the front line: Meeting our brand ambassadors

Great in-store experiences are all about people. No other marketing tactic puts brands in front of the consumer in such a direct way. And without great front line staff who can engage, amuse, entertain and inspire, an in-store campaign would be dead in the water.

We’re blessed with a HUGE team of hardworking in-store brand ambassadors who bring all of this and more to their day-to-day, and we invest heavily in making sure they have everything they need to do a great job.

So we thought we’d let you meet some of them. We chatted to Coral, Jean and Patrice to get their thoughts on what it takes to make a great ambassador, and what it’s like to be on the front line. Here’s what they had to say:

Name: Coral Hatherly

Brand Ambassador since: October 2014

Campaigns worked: Costco and countless brands for large clients including P&G, Unilever, Ferrero and Diageo.

Fizz Brand Ambassador Coral Hatherly

Fizz: What are the key things that make a good brand ambassador and why?

Coral: A great brand ambassador is 100% a people person: comfortable in their skin with great social skills and able to talk to anyone. They are friendly, approachable and bubbly, with a warm inviting smile. They also need to be versatile – able to promote any product, be it electrical, food, cleaning products or kitchens.

F: What are the best things about working with Fizz?

CH: Fizz genuinely care about their team members. We are constantly asked for ideas on how to improve our working conditions. The training covers everything, from health and safety to food and hygiene. All our new recruits are trained to a high standard to be brand ambassadors and help is on hand if they are struggling. Also, the variety of the job: brands are constantly changing their products, which keeps our job interesting.

We have a great relationship with our members and tease them sometimes. I have one family that comes into the store that loves samples. So when I see them coming, I call out “Hide your samples, they’re coming!” and they love it. I do let them have the samples, of course, and they usually buy the product.

F: What are the most rewarding things about the job?

CH: You get paid to talk. You meet some great people – right characters, some of them. It feels like you’re spending your time with friends. I’ve worked in Costco for five years and have made some great friends in-store.

Name: Patrice Belton

Brand Ambassador since: December 2015

Campaigns worked: Costco, P&G, Unilever, Ferrero and Diageo. Won Bronze Brand Ambassador of the Year at this year’s FMBE awards.

Fizz Ambassador Patrice Belton

Fizz: What are the key things that make a good brand ambassador and why?

Patrice: You need to be professional – to see yourself not as a worker but as a business partner, helping to support everyone under the umbrella to be the best versions of themselves. You need to be able to embrace challenges and uncertainty, be open and inviting, creative and consistent. I’m a people person and yes that does make a difference, but I don’t have any special powers, I just keep trying and listening to feedback, both positive and negative.

F: What have you learnt from working with brands that you didn’t know before?

PB: Each day is a new experience, even if I’m offering the same products days in a row, and that is what I appreciate most. The role challenges you and coerces you to be a better version of yourself, each time. I’ve learnt what it means to be a true ‘investor in people’: from my very first encounter with WDS as a Costco member to being supported, encouraged, and valued – even during challenging times and ill health.

F: What are the most rewarding things about the job?

PB: Being able to connect, laugh and grow with everyone from management to new starters. It makes you feel valued and a part of something much bigger than yourself, but most of all, like you matter and could make a difference. I feel valued as a team player and an individual. When I walk through the doors, I turn off my worries and turn on my smile.

F: What advice would you give a brand to get the best out of brand ambassadors?

PB: That they should trust and believe in their brand and what they have to offer. The world is a diverse platform, and so their uniqueness will always be valuable to someone somewhere, and without their efforts and products, networking in supermarkets and stores would not be the same. We make a difference because each brand is so different.

Name: Jean Lowe

Brand Ambassador since: December 2014

Campaigns worked: The Food Warehouse. Won FMBE Silver for Brand Ambassador of the Year.

Fizz Ambassador Jean Lowe

Fizz: What are the key things that make a good brand ambassador and why?

Jean Lowe: A good brand ambassador cares about people and enjoys the job. You also need to be able to adjust the sales pitch to suit each customer’s needs: you can’t promote a product to a family in the same way you would to a person who lives on their own.

F: What have you learnt from working with brands that you didn’t know before?

JL: Never assume! Don’t pick the obvious customers – someone may not come to the demonstration but still buy the product. They are flattered you’ve asked them and you’re getting them to try something they possibly would never have thought of trying.

F: Any funny stories from your time working in-store or experiential campaigns?

JL: I once had to walk round the store wearing a sleep-easy nose strip. I was trying to persuade customers to try them on so they could see how they worked. I sold lots to people who had colds as they could immediately breathe better. A couple bought some and nearly had an argument, as she kept it on whilst they were shopping in the store. Her boyfriend was mortified when she turned round to him and said, “Jean looks ok wearing hers so why can’t I as I can breathe better?” Luckily he did see the funny side eventually.

F: What advice would you give a brand to get the best out of their brand ambassadors?

JL: Brand ambassadors need to be informed. We need to be able to relay information to suit customer needs and they mainly want to know about allergies, whether something can be frozen, how to store the product and recipe ideas for varied meal ideas. TV adverts that customers associate with the product can be a good icebreaker. I once had members laughing when we were working with R Whites lemonade, and I asked if they remembered the advert in which a man got up in the middle of the night singing “I’m a secret lemonade drinker”, which we all sang together.

 

Our thanks to Coral, Patrice and Jean for sharing their stories with us. From singing songs to sharing stories with customers, good brand ambassadors bring a fun, human element to the in-store experience. Supporting them with product information and effective training gives them the confidence to create a truly memorable connection between customers and the brand.

Our people are one of the main reasons Fizz is an award-winning in-store agency. Learn more about what we’ve won here.

Your in-store advent calendar: 24 reasons to embrace in-store demos in 2019

In-store and experiential marketing has become an integral part of the marketing mix for many retail brands. No other marketing tactic has quite the same, direct impact on consumers at the point of purchase.

In time for Christmas, we’ve pulled out an advent calendar’s worth of stats, facts and figures around retail, in-store and experiential – some naughty, some nice. Here’s the lowdown on how retail and marketing have changed in 2018, and how experiential can meet the challenges of the coming year.

  1. Christmas 2017 was a rough one for retailers: footfall was down and online competition was up by around 5% apiece, while Black Friday distracted the bargain hunters who’d normally hit the bricks on Boxing Day.
  2. Retail stores are closing at faster and faster rates. The first half of 2018 saw 4,400 net closures on UK high streets. The surviving businesses are those which invest in the customer experience and make bold decisions.
  3. Growth in retail is concentrated around either premium or bargain brands: the in-between retailers are turning to “discovery shopping” to arrest their decline. In-store experiences need to provide that feeling of discovery, catching the attention of browsers.
  4. Consumers are less confident and feel they have less disposable income now than in the last seven years. Marketing needs to offer confirmable value for money to overcome this increased caution on the consumers’ part.
  5. While the average consumer now does 20-80% of their shopping online, their chief barrier to doing so is not being able to see or feel products before purchasing – so hands-on experiential marketing still has an edge.
  6. 80% of people who attend a live demo or free sample and say it “drastically helped solidify their purchase decision”.
  7. Experiential marketing is now an integral part of the marketing mix: 77% of marketers now use experiential as part of their overall promotional strategy.
  8. 63% of marketers already on board with experiential plan to invest more in live activations – that’s more activations, and more spend on their existing ones.
  9. A massive 86% of marketers believe that technology has a major positive impact on the success of live activations, including in-store events.
  10. Augmented reality is growing in popularity, and the process of creating AR apps has been noticeably streamlined. Experiences which create shareable AR content are likely to do well in 2019.
  11. Integrating technology can increase attendance and lower costs by 20-30%: often, at no additional (monetary) cost. Live streaming events on Facebook is free, but can pull in more attendees and improve the odds of achieving the event’s goals.
  12. Sensory engagement is the most powerful marketing tool, according to Charles Spence (professor of experiential psychology at Oxford University) – but you have to strike a balance. Tapping into one or two senses and thinking about how they coordinate is better than overloading them all.
  13. City marketing – experiential campaigns that spread across a whole town, often around a major sporting or other calendar event – is on the rise. This gives retailers an opportunity to align their activities with something bigger – and something else to keep on their calendars.
  14. Traditional Christmas advertising isn’t the charm it used to be. Debenhams has taken a step back from “vanity ads” and focused on the in-store experience for this Christmas – specifically, the hunt for the perfect gift, the literal shopping experience which ends with Debenhams as the ideal destination. Where the big names lead, industries follow.

    Christmas shopping experience

  15. Promotion is power: only 11% of brands which use experiential marketing claim they can get by without using social media to complement it.
  16. Despite the downturn in user numbers across the biggest social platforms, consumers still prefer Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – so concentrate your promotional efforts there.
  17. Group experiences can be powerful: 24% of consumers prefer to shop with friends, so try to bring small groups into what you have planned instead of fragmenting them.
  18. Try putting your ethical credentials front and centre, or offering an experience that comes with an ethical payoff like a charity donation: 40% of shoppers feel more positive about brands that present their ethical standards.
  19. Transparency – being clear and honest – is also a key brand value. 91% of shoppers are more likely to use and recommend a brand that is genuinely transparent. Build that clarity and honesty into your vocabulary training so your instore experience speaks well of your brand.
  20. As shoppers turn toward self care, bargains are more important than ever. 44% of UK shoppers will wait for a discount code or voucher before buying, but 47% have self-gifted in the last twelve months, motivated by bargains. Offer discounts: get results.
  21. In-store isn’t just about generating sales: it’s a powerful way to collate data. Consumers concerned about privacy are still likely to exchange personal information as a way in to exclusive events or experiences.
  22. Retailers are primed to introduce more experiences to their store environments: the growing popularity of e-commerce has prompted brick and mortar retailers to make their spaces more engaging and exciting.
  23. 72% of retailers are using mobile marketing to drive in-store sales. We’re not in conflict with e-commerce: we’re working in harmony with it.
  24. 98% of people who attend a branded event feel more inclined to purchase the brand’s products afterwards. 70% turn into regular customers.

If you want yet more reasons to embrace in-store marketing, check out some of the work we’ve done this year.

How to prepare your in-store campaign for Christmas 2019

‘Tis the season for Christmas marketing campaigns: the Coke lorry is on the road, the TV ads are already competing for attention, and – if you’ve planned as far ahead as we’d hoped – your in-store marketing experiences are already rolling out.

But what about next year? Is it too early to think about 2019? For consumers, yes. For brand managers, Christmas 2018 is the perfect time to start planning for next year’s festivities. This year’s results will undoubtedly have an impact on what you do next year. So, what sorts the Christmas crackers from the lumps of coal?

Ten tips for making the most of the season

Goals. What are you trying to achieve in 2019, and how will you know when you’ve achieved it? Assessing what happens this year is a great place to start. Were your goals simply sales? Or brand building? Were they realistic? Do you need to push harder? Setting goals is the cornerstone of any great strategy.

Vision. What do you want customers to feel and do? Did you deliver a coherent and fulfilling experience that reinvigorated your customers and put them in a positive, pro-purchase frame of mind in 2018? What can you do differently next year to improve or refine? In short, what is the big idea?

Seasonal context. At Christmas time, marketing is all about differentiation. You’ll be competing against everyone else’s rebrand, campaign, discounts and events. How have you managed to stand out from the crowd?

Audience. Christmas is fun for the whole family, but that doesn’t mean market segments cease to exist. Who are your most profitable customers, where are you trying to achieve growth, and what appeals to the personas that represent these market segments? Do you need to go “bah humbug!” or be a jolly old elf?

Brand cohesion. You may have decided to put a seasonal spin on your branding – special packaging, tie-in adverts, Santa hats for staff – but you’ve still got to hold that branding together and keep it associated with the vocabulary, tone and style you’ve established in the rest of the year.

Creative. There’s a fine art to festive marketing. It’s easy to sink into twee clichés and turn your audience’s stomach over; you need design, promo material and a script that balance the festive theme with impactful claims. Sometimes, less is more.

Execution. Stores are busier, shoppers are preoccupied, and time is short – you only have a few weeks for a Christmas campaign to make a splash. Did you nail the logistics, the timing and the staffing, or is there room for improvement?

Comms. Don’t forget that your in-store marketing needs to be marketed. As ever, you’ll need to set a budget, and put people in charge of monitoring your social feeds to manage the feedback, share the content and address any complaints. Beware of oversubscription too: #Christmas is, shall we say, a somewhat crowded hashtag.

Data collection. Next year’s campaign will depend on your learnings from this one. You’ll need a way to collect insights on who’s attending, what they’re feeling, whether or not they purchased – and you’ll need to make the collection swift and seamless so it doesn’t slow down the Christmas shopping experience.

Before/during/after. Christmas marketing doesn’t end on Christmas morning. It needs to feed into whatever you have in mind for the January sales, and beyond into Q1 of the New Year. For that matter, it doesn’t start on the first of December either – if you’re running a month-long campaign, you need your plans in place by Hallowe’en.

So much for nice: what about naughty?

There are two major ways a Christmas campaign can go wrong.

Starting the campaign too early. People aren’t in Christmas mode in mid-November. Yes, Christmas products have started to appear on the shelves by the time the pumpkins are on discount, but the marketing push has to wait its turn. The backlash against Christmas creep is real, and your campaign will have outstayed its welcome if you set it off before Black Friday’s been and gone.

Solely sales thinking. In-store marketing is a sales push, but it’s not about pushy sales. People, after all, don’t want to be sold to – especially not at Christmas. Overt and in-your-face salesmanship alienates customers; experiences that add value bring them on board.

Christmas offers so much potential for in-store sales activations. If you can win a customer over at Christmas, then between gift-giving and word of mouth, their whole family could end up with your products in their hands. Reflect on your Christmas marketing, and plan ahead to make next year’s Christmas campaign a proper winter wonderland.

Want the deeper insights into experiential and in-store strategy? Download our comprehensive experiential marketing guide.

 

Image (CC) Gerald England

Fizz experiential marketing guide download

Steal from digital series: All about data

By Andy Youings. 7th December 2018
Steal from digital series: All about data

The world of digital marketing has set a precedent for collecting and analysing data to its advantage. But it didn’t invent data. Long before any social media platforms were dreamed up, people stood in stores with clipboards conducting surveys and gathering statistics. The great thing is that now retailers can combine the best of real world and digital tactics to build a rich set of information that provides real insight.

While Amazon may dominate the digital marketplace with predictive analytics (their personalised recommendation tool generates 35% of their annual sales), they’re still interested in the high street – opening a variety of pop-up stores around the world. Digital can learn from the physical and, of course, vice versa.

So what can in-store campaigns pick up from their pixelated cousins, and how can they apply data thinking to hone and improve real world marketing efforts?

Collecting in-store data

While ‘big data’ is typically thought of in digital terms, in-store and experiential efforts can collect and manipulate data just as ambitiously and effectively. Whether it’s punched into a mobile device or scrawled onto a clipboard by hand, the most important thing is the data itself. So what can we track?

Sales statistics are a rich body of data that can be analysed to help you make informed sales decisions. It will tell you sales uplift, footfall for the store overall, geographical data, time of day and days of the week so you can ascertain the impact of your campaign on the bottom line. These stats come from us, working closely with the retailers themselves.

A more direct route to data gathering is surveys. Perhaps you want to know how customers feel about a new tactic or product. By asking them there and then, while they are still in the store, you can capture their immediate thoughts and observations, rather than relying on memory and perception at a later date. Don’t rely on your customer remembering to fill in a form online once they’ve got home – take advantage of your captive audience and set up a kiosk with questions on a touchscreen. Instant feedback.

It’s something we do for a lot of clients – for example, Fizz has used exit surveys at Food Warehouse. They wanted to know what customers thought of the food samples available, to gauge whether to continue with that kind of activity. They found it to be an informative exercise – telling them how many people went on to purchase the item, and their overall perception of their experience in the store.  

A final route to getting that all-important insight is coupons and vouchers. The benefit here is in tracking the customer after the initial demo. We can find out when and where customers spent their voucher post-purchase (or whether they used it at all).

How in-store data can be used

Data on its own is worthless, the real value comes in the stories it can tell you, and that comes from effective analysis. In digital marketing, for instance, you might find that you’ve encouraged ten thousand more visitors to your website than last month, but e-commerce conversions have dropped and overall sales are down. You’re attracting more people, but they’re not your audience. Either that or your e-commerce system has broken, or product pages aren’t optimised for conversion. So what can you learn from in-store data once you have it?

Well, sales data can be used to inform future campaigns, and give you info on where and when to focus other marketing activity. Do you sell more whisky (for instance) in the North East? Perhaps a focused, personalised marketing or advertising campaign for that audience could work? Do more people buy your chocolates in April than June? If so, a timely promotions campaign would make sense around that time of year.

Surveys, on the other hand, will provide demographic information, again split geographically. Not only will people give honest feedback on products giving you ideas for product tweaks or special editions in the future, you’re also building up an all-important picture of the most important people – your customers.

Surveys can help to build up a picture of your customers

Meanwhile, tracking coupons and vouchers can give vital insight into shopper habits. Did the in-store campaign have a lasting impact beyond the demonstration on the day? Did people keep the voucher and return for more? We may only be able to track the next purchase, but we can see whether the campaign has started to force habit. From here, we can see if the sales uplift is long-lasting or short term.

We want to encourage sales in the short term, of course, but part of the job of in-store is to change people’s habits and get them buying more of your products long-term. Understanding where and when people use your vouchers can again give important insight and sales data for marketing teams to assess.

Conclusion

Digital marketing is built on metrics and data. Because information is based on zeroes and ones, the depth of information can be a lot richer than in-store. But that doesn’t mean you can’t extract all-important details from in-store interactions.

The point is, in-store is one tactic in the brand manager or marketer’s arsenal. In-store data may not be as illuminating and thorough as those online, but when you put it together with other sales and marketing insights, it can give crucial information that isn’t available from other channels. No other form of marketing happens so directly at the point of sale than in-store. By analysing all this data holistically, savvy marketers can truly start to harness the power of in-store, and have the numbers to back it up.

Fizz experiential marketing guide download

Christmas in-store: 5 sure-fire ways to drive sales over the festive period

Christmas might be a nightmare for many consumers, but it’s a bounteous time for brands and retailers. For two months at the end of every year, consumers descend into a mad panic in order to fulfil the desires of their loved ones and inspire a little of that crucial Christmas Spirit. We need to be the ones making this annual process less challenging; guiding them in the right direction and making the most of the frantic festive free-for-all.

Of course, with the season now officially descended, most of us will have already sorted our Christmas in-store campaigns. Indeed, we will probably have settled on them months ago. However, there are plenty of things we could be doing throughout December to leverage the festive atmosphere, the innate hysteria of the season and the increasingly fickle fancies of the general public.

Below, we’ll examine five last-minute ideas brands could use to stand out this December: tactics that will draw attention, drive sales and (perhaps) claim loyal customers.

1. Get social

“Getting social” at Christmas used to mean rallying the troops and knocking on doors to drum up business. These days, things are a lot more immediate, but a lot more complicated. It means utilising social media to make sure people know you’re there and that you’re ready to help them get in the festive spirit.

The best way to nurture a convincing and attractive social media feed that will draw in consumers is to make sure your brand ambassadors and in-store teams are given access to your feeds. This could mean anything from documenting daily in-store activities and referencing popular trends (or even memes), to promoting in-store competitions and sales.

You don’t want to give your ambassadors too much freedom, of course. Give clear instruction and limitations around the type of content and the tone you want to convey, but give them enough freedom to be creative.

By its very nature, social media is a beast in perpetual motion. Leverage this by never standing still and updating feeds at least a few times a day to keep up not only with your competitors but also with shifting trends.

Social media outreach doesn’t need just to be a national concern either. Indeed, there are thousands of local Facebook groups and Twitter feeds that you could be taking advantage of. Don’t just rely on your brand feeds, as these will only be reaching the already converted. Make sure you share your relevant posts to local groups in order to grab the attention of local consumers. If you’re lucky, you might even get a share from a local influencer, which is always a major free advertising boost. Over the season, you’ll also find social media groups that are specifically tailored towards Christmas events and activities, so try to keep these on your radar too.

Be brave, and be different!

2. Festivise your brand ambassadors

Whilst you don’t want to go too far here as it could risk turning away consumers who are a little timid and perhaps not quite as inclined towards the festive delights of the season, there’s a lot to be said for simply making sure your team gets into the spirit of things. It can’t hurt to make sure your staff are dressed to impress and are referencing the season in some way, without going overboard.

Everyone is also sick of hearing the same Christmas songs on a loop in every store they visit, so why not avoid Wham and Band Aid this year and instead pop a few more esoteric and playful songs on the playlist. This will not only lead to less employee and consumer fatigue, but could also even be promoted online and in-store as a shareable Spotify playlist or bespoke compilation CD.

As the day itself approaches, you might also want to consider ramping up the festive cheer by encouraging carol singing and festive in-store karaoke. These are ideas it would be ill-advised to even entertain at any other time of year, but Christmas is special so don’t be afraid to make a noise.

3. Incentivise your brand ambassadors

Simply giving them a song to sing and allowing them access to the Twitter feed might not be enough to incentivise your workers to increase productivity over Christmas. It’s a busy and stressful time for everyone, remember. In order to keep staff spirits high, give them added incentives to draw attention, footfall and sales.

On a local level, you could create incentives such as a special Christmas present for the staff member with the most inventive Christmas outfit or the best rendition of their favourite Christmas song. These are all ideas that can, of course, be shared on social media to draw in local customers who might want to involve themselves in the festive frolics.

Incentivise your brand ambassadors with Christmas gifts

On a national level, meanwhile, consider offering a prize to the best performing store over the Christmas period. You’ll have to consider a fair and reasonable way of comparing performance (a store on a busy high street in London is always going to perform better than a store on a deserted high street in Kidderminster), but competition has always been a guaranteed way to motivate team members.

4. PR stunt

The phrase “PR stunt” might have been a dirty one in years past that brands would shirk for fear of being seen as cheap and tawdry. However, with social media now amplifying these stunts organically and on a wider scale than we could have possibly dreamt of even a few short years ago; stunts sell brands.

This doesn’t need to be something as ostentatious as gift wrapping a helicopter, like Harrods did with their “Anything is Possible” campaign. There’s a middle ground to be claimed where extraneous stock meets the potential for shares and column inches. Raffling off extra stock or donating it to charity can create a positive buzz. Fizz managed to find this sweet spot when they distributed unsold Lindt chocolate stock to local schools. In 2016, meanwhile, Burger King allowed customers to exchange their unwanted gifts for free burgers, with the gifts being donated to local charities.

Whatever the plan and whether you’re aiming to make an impact on a local, national or even international level, think “show-stopping”, think creatively and think fast! Of course, it’s important to share on social media, but also make sure the press is at least aware of the activation. Local outlets, in particular, are always sniffing out light stories for the season and your local teams need to tap into this.

5. Link the in-store to wider advertising

Brands should always bring their wider advertising in-store in order to drive sales, particularly if their TV and digital advertising is gaining traction. This is doubly important at Christmas when brands are competing on a very public stage to capture the hearts and imaginations of the public. This can mean anything from having your Christmas ad playing on a loop in-store so your customers make the connection, to creating displays and activations that reference the ad and build on the world it’s created.

Aldi hit a goldmine recently with their Kevin the Carrot campaign when they decided to bring their computer-generated mascot into the physical world. The Kevin the Carrot stuffed toy sale went beyond traditional in-store success; it became a legitimate phenomenon, with mainstream news coverage, blanket social media posts and unprecedented in-store footfall. Indeed, Aldi couldn’t keep up with demand, to the extent that Kevin the Carrot toys are now being sold on eBay for more than 10 times their market value.

If you’re fortunate enough to have created a campaign or a mascot that transcends its origins to become a cultural touchstone, don’t neglect it; capitalise on it. John Lewis do this almost every year. Whereas at other times of the year you would run the risk of burnout, the Christmas retail season only lasts for 2 months of the year, giving consumers just enough time to get emotionally invested in your brand’s virtual ambassador, but not too much time to get sick to death of them.

‘Tis the Season

A long-term strategy is always important, but being creative on the day/week of your in-store campaign is equally crucial, particularly in the lead up to Christmas. You don’t have to lose sight of long-term goals by focusing on short-term gain, however. The Christmas season is a true anomaly in the retail world, and one that we should all be taking by the reins.

Christmas comes but once a year, after all.

 

Of course, in-store isn’t just for Christmas. Check out some of the creative (and successful) campaigns we’ve launched for brands all year round here…

Fizz experiential marketing guide download