Techies in Las Vegas, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle had secret messages to decode and musical riddles to solve that helped them unlock the back of an armored vehicle. These masterminds were not marauders. They were invited to participate in a road show that dio, an experiential marketing firm that specializes in unique engagements, created for Gemalto, a digital security company that wanted to connect to its business-to-business audience and share its multi-layered security messaging.
Attendees were given a mission with three challenges:
- Decode a secret message using an encrypted cipher to break a lock combination.
- Inspect the armored security vehicle with a black light.
- Solve a musical riddle with a cryptex to unlock the key to the back door.
“One of the goals during the roadshow was to make people feel differently about Gemalto and its team of representatives. It broke the ice a bit giving people a challenge that reinforced the product messaging, but in the end, it also made them laugh,” explains Emily Fritz, dio marketing manager. “Plus, they could kick back with a drink and chat with one of the representatives on a one-to-one level. It helped humanize the brand and connect people together more deeply. The perception of Gemalto changed from a cybersecurity company they had maybe seen in online conversations to a cybersecurity brand that related to its buyers.”
Gemalto is just one of many companies that are hitting the road to take its message and brand to the masses. Roadshows, an effective sales and marketing tool, bring company representatives, customers, and prospects together for product demonstrations, thought leadership and networking.
What makes roadshows impactful is face-to-face interaction. Salespeople get to interact with customers in person—not behind a phone or computer screen. It’s in-person networking that builds trust and ultimately creates personal relationships that are irreplaceable.
Roadshows that include a challenge are particularly successful. Brightspot Incentives & Events plans one for a client that includes an exclusive culinary experience with a past “Top Chef” contestant. “Every year, without fail, the event turnout includes top decision makers within the client’s customer and prospect database,” explains Phoebe Wright, program manager at Brightspot. “Attendees love it because they get a chance to have fun with their peers working through a culinary challenge, and our client loves it because it promotes a stronger relationship between them and their prospects.”
One of the first steps in planning a successful roadshow is defining why. Research and frank discussions with the C-suite will help you formulate the game plan.
Next, map out the cities that will be included. Gemalto selected markets where their key clients and prospects were based, so the right people were participating in the experience.
Other questions to keep in mind include: What time of year? What do you hope to achieve? It may be extending your brand into new regions or to break into a new demographic. Be sure these objectives are clearly stated as they will serve as the foundation as you build your roadshow strategy.
The content of the roadshow is the message you are hoping to get across. The challenging part is making sure it resonates with each region’s audience while maintaining a unifying message.
Successful roadshows are creative, experiential, and get people engaged.
Your roadshow team is the face of your company, and it should impress. Using the same team of employees and vendors for each one is recommended as they will be trained and ready to be your company’s advocates.
“Engagement stemmed not just from the roadshow and its experience, but from having Gemalto sales representatives on-site to build lasting relationships with their accounts. They were able to personally get to know their clients and follow up later, cementing the bonds that were first initialized during the roadshow,” says Fritz.
Camaraderie was created as participants joined together to “crack the code.” One participant in Atlanta said, “The food, the beer, the music, the armored vehicle break-in, all a ton of fun. Thank you for inviting us. We’re not currently using Gemalto, but we are really interested in the possibilities.”
Gemalto was able to extend the reach of the roadshow via social media. “The experience became marketing content that extended its shelf life beyond the roadshow, itself,” explains Fritz.
Roadshows also offer the opportunity to leverage sponsorships. Women’s Leadership LIVE that sponsored the Women In Business roadshow from February 5 through March 11 in New York, D.C., San Francisco, Chicago, Tampa, Dallas, Irving (TX), and Phoenix that had 60 sponsors is an example. The goal of the roadshow was to promote the Where Women Create WORK Magazine as well as women entrepreneurs. “We targeted the 12 million small business owners in the United States. Our timing was on the mark as International Women’s Day is in March,” explains Debbie Saviano, a founder of Women’s Leadership LIVE.
The support and involvement of the sponsors along with the more than 70 ambassadors enabled the roadshow to reach a much wider audience digitally. The hashtag #WIB2019 was used, and those involved were tagged. Event hashtags are invaluable as they create audience engagement and organic brand exposure in real-time. The results were impressive:
- The Women’s Leadership LIVE Facebook Page and Where Women Create Facebook page had a total reach of 210,000. Overall, Facebook was its most active social media platform.
- On Twitter, there were 29.7 thousand tweets about the events.
- On Instagram, @WomensLeadershipLIVE averaged 50 to 75 impressions per post.
- On LinkedIn, Women’s Leadership LIVE had 29 posts with 12,937 organic impressions, 179 comments, and 89 shares.