Fake it ’til you make it…as an experiential marketer

Steve FontanotCreative director of Chieftain Communications, Steve Fontanot, tells us how to do his job in a feature that first appeared in Encore

What does an experiential marketer actually do?

An experiential marketer’s job is to create interactions between brands and their consumers, through a positive brand experience. An effective experiential marketer will find a seamless way of deepening that brand experience, intertwining PR, digital and social media. People no longer want to be fed information but are after dialogue with brands. It is often about self discovery. So we are constantly developing new ways to communicate to our clients’ consumers.

What skills do you need to be good at the job?

When you’re organising a brand experience/event for a large crowd, you almost need a heightened sense of awareness. You need to be able to stay cool under pressure and attention to detail is also vital, especially when you’re responsible for people’s safety. You end up becoming an expert at some of the most unusual things like how to build a bus, how to use 360-degree camera technology, obtaining music rights, working with talent, learning taxi legislation across Australia, building karaoke systems in cars, and understanding the risk management involved in throwing a guy off a mountain – to name a few.

Who are the people you work closest with?

Our agency works with some of the best media, PR, digital, and traditional agencies from around the globe.

Is there any lingo we need to know to do the job?

I didn’t think so, but after recently being on holidays with some mates who aren’t in the industry, I had a few puzzled looks when I was talking about our work and ‘activations’. It’s also important to learn the lingo of our clients from technology to pharmaceuticals and FMCG – that’s fast-moving consumer goods. You don’t want to be the clueless one in the room just because of an errant acronym.

What does a typical day on the job entail?

The answer to this is what keeps me in this crazy, wonderful, insane and rewarding career. There really is no such thing as a typical day for our activations team. You might be doing site visits in some part of the world, brainstorming or presenting a social media strategy. Or you could be going on a national tour, developing campaign risk assessments or doing financial and results analysis. The list really is endless.

What’s the best part of the job?

Our clients are some of the biggest brands in the world, and they entrust us to help them develop new and effective ways to communicate with their consumers – it’s a creative’s dream gig. We aren’t restricted to the confines of a 30-second TVC spot or a banner ad. We get to engage with people on their own turf, whether it’s with music, technology, travel or other cool tools. And we’re never restricted by traditional thinking.

What’s the challenge?

Encouraging CMOs/marketing directors to understand the benefits of making experiential part of their communications plans and not just a stand-alone or one-off campaign. We get the best results when we combine experiential with digital and public relations.

How do you become an experiential marketer?

Experiential marketing is sometimes incorrectly referred to as events – it’s so much more than that. It’s one thing to find someone who has events experience or has a marketing background. The difficult part is finding people who have an understanding of consumer behaviour coupled with strategic marketing and communications. To become an experiential marketer you need to be able to keep on top of clients’ communications plans within the digital, PR and broader media landscape.

Encore issue 19This story first appeared in the weekly edition of Encore available for iPad and Android tablets. Visit encore.com.au for a preview of the app or click below to download.


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