Business to business experiential marketing or roadshows have increased in popularity. The custom vehicles that used to be reserved for the high visibility consumer tours are being repurposed for b2b tours.
The uptick began a few years back when large CPG companies began putting 53 foot custom trailers on the road as sales aids for new product cycles. The immersion trailers were such a success that they tripled in size over the following years from a slightly modified semi trailer, to a double expandable that boasts around 800 square feet of display space not including what can be built around the trailer.
The success of these trailers is not limited to CPG or any one industry. They are an effective marketing tool for companies from shampoo to infrastructure. Recently they may have trended to smaller sized vehicles but that is more a result of the current need for for nimble vehicles that can be retrofitted quickly.
So in the current budget conscious environment to put one of these big trailers or any vehicle on the road for a business to business event do you need to harness the global marketing power of a vertically integrated multi national or could you trust a small shop handle it?
Here are 3 reasons that the small shop may be the better option.
ROI, the ultimate driver, while its is not always about money, in this environment the higher the ROI the better. So simply stated small shops do it cheaper. They have less infrastructure and typically boast a significantly lower percentage fee. More of your money ends up on the road.
Quality, this may be counter intuitive. But you will get higher quality execution at a small shop. This is not to encourage the hiring an unproven agency that will slap together a discount tour. However, the reality is that it’s possible to get a better roadshow from a reputable small shop.
B2b mobile tours usually do not generate the revenue of a consumer tour. A roadshow requires fewer road staff, fewer logistics, and fewer “departments.” A large agency is comprised of departments like venues, staffing, reporting all of which need to justify their existence.
On an average roadshow there are no site fees, little or no local staff to coordinate, and the reporting is remarkably simple. A consumer tour has twice the road staff and a venue’s budget that could dwarf the whole b2b tour. Not to mention the consulting charge for design and engagement activities on a consumer program.
Based on this revenue disparity, how much attention is b2b program going to get at the large agency? Are you going to get their best team?
At the small shop however, you are an opportunity, receiving the agencies entire focus and attention. You went from being the low revenue client to a whale. Best account team? If you are fortune 500 you will likely see the CEO at your events insuring things go well.
The quality issue carries over to staff as well. Larger agencies boast a huge data bank and extensive vetting process that sounds magical and very assuring.
The realities are that very few agencies hire permanent employees to run experiential tours. Mostly it’s contract work or temporary employees. There is a pool of personnel out there that excel at this type of work, and everyone, large or small, is picking from that pool.
As for the vetting process, small agencies may actually be better because small shops don’t only vet through a resume and phone calls. Small shop personnel are in the field, at events, and that is where they spot talent. Many also have a background of fieldwork where they have likely worked next to the people hired for your project. Look for a shop that reuses the same people time and time again.
So what makes a reputable small shop?
Small agencies pop up and disappear all the time. Look for a shop that has been around for at least 3-5 years at least and has a couple of Fortune 500 clients. Then look to see how many times those clients have worked with the agency. Was it a one off scenario or did that Fortune 500 company find a hidden gem and keep returning for all their future experiential marketing needs?
Small shops may have the experience you are looking for, have the knowledge need, and give you the attention you deserve and they do it for significantly less.