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Experiential location finding - why common sense, makes no sense

Sally Durcan, Director of Hotcow Experiential Agency blog
By Sally Durcan  //  Thu 31st January 2013
It’s 3pm. The concept has been finalised and thankfully, the client has bought into your ideas & overall strategy.

All that is left are the details and, as many would remind us - this is where the devil himself resides.

If a brand experience is going to work, you had better be in the right place at the right time. No point having a great production if your target audience is somewhere else entirely.

So, how do you decide on the right location?

Typically, we know that clients frequently request the ‘busiest’ locations.

But, is this the best strategy? Are you measuring the success of your campaign on awareness or engagement

If your activation is situated in an area of exceptionally high footfall - can you genuinely achieve high levels of quality customer engagement? Can you really interact with the audience in a compelling memorable way?

The answer on both counts is maybe not. If 100’000 people walk past your stand, will your team have 100’000 conversations? even if you had 1000 brand ambassadors on the day (which wouldn’t happen) every brand ambassador would need to have 100 conversations. If the flow of traffic is really heavy, getting people to stop at all is a challenge enough.

So - what is busy?

From our experience, footfall is normally calculated by taking the total number of annual visitors and divided by 52.

So, 26 million visitors will give you 500’000 visitors per week. Not a very complicated calculation and certainly not the most accurate representation of what is actually going on each week.

Crucial information is strangely absent - e.g. time of day, week, month, year. Not to mention that these figures are often more than 2 years old and frankly out of date.

You may also be offered a plethora of ‘opportunities’ to take any number of exciting locations at a venue - opportunities that conveniently, don’t tell you exactly how many people walk past that particular spot.

Many venues, particularly retail destinations, are quieter Mon - Fri with weekends taking the lions share. Many town centre locations however are used as a cut through during the week and are therefore busier during weekdays. The issue, is that the declared footfall figures could simply be the public using a convenient short cut to get from A-B and often less interested in stopping to look & listen.

Venues themselves don’t tend to work much at ground level either, so, opinions of site space values will be biased and influenced by sales targets and a spreadsheet.

All of a sudden - ‘busy’ isn’t quite so straightforward. Brands & agencies are expected to make critical decisions for many thousands of pounds worth of investment, based upon vague, inaccurate & (often) out of date information. Mmmmm.

Finally - the target audience.

Yes, yes, we know you might have read some market research that says 72.3% of shoppers are female ABC1’s etc - but where does this data come from? A small cross section of customer interviews on a given day and some general figures based on local populace.

One of the issues with many brand experiences are that they focus heavily on perception of a venue or location - What is ‘cool’ or ‘popular’ at that moment. Value of audience is often mis-weighted against certain cities or, where a brand feels that they should be. If we really want to see emphatic results, ego’s and gut feelings should be left at the door.

Tourist hotspots may be brilliant for massive footfall - but quality engagement may be a impossible with such fast flowing traffic, language barriers or a less than receptive, holiday mindset. A local venue might not be as ‘sexy’ as other venues, but may offer your clients an opportunity to really speak with the right audience and create real conversations around the brand. After all, whatever we are doing in the live arena - we want to get people talking, right?

At Hotcow - our internal tools ensure we match your objectives with the right venues. We don’t just rely on information given to us. Instead, we rely on our own insights, experience and mapping tools. That way, we ensure your brand message reaches the right audience.

We’ve been there and done it countless times - we’ve made mistakes along the way and learnt from them. This means our clients campaigns benefit from all of the knowledge we have and minimise those less than desirable ‘risky’ elements.

As with any campaign, there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy. Our Slam-it database contains over 10’000 locations across 250 towns & cities. Not only do we know which locations yield the best results, we tell you exactly what you should be doing with them.
 Experiential location finding - why common sense, makes no sense Sally Ducan Getmemecdia.com
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