Branding Business Featured

Scaling Your Business After a Successful Activation

Image courtesy of Unsplash

The ultimate goal of doing a brand activation is to grow your business. While setting up experiential marketing engagements like pop-up events can be fun and educational, they shouldn’t be done just for themselves. 

Yet, some businesses fail to leverage these efforts to get the largest return on their investment, usually due to poor planning. To learn how to maximize your brand activations to scale up your business, keep reading.

Take a Proactive Approach

People don’t plan to fail — they fail to plan. Successful activations require a proactive approach, so it is vital that you develop a detailed strategic plan even before executing your first customer engagement.

To be effective, your strategic plan should have several parts. The first should outline your budget in as much detail as possible, including funds for every expense the activation will incur. Make sure to research the real prices of each item to generate reliable numbers. In many cases, going over budget is an unforced error.

The activation’s objectives should be the next section. These goals need to be realistic, as well as appropriate for the budget. For any experiential marketing campaign, it’s important to start small — I always recommend crawling before walking and walking before running — since setting the bar too high can mean setting yourself and your team up for failure. Your goals should also be measurable, as gathering data will help refine future efforts.

Staffing and talent come next. Who on your team will be responsible for what, and when? Which brand ambassadors or models will you mobilize and why? Spend time considering the activation’s leadership in particular. Without effective management, even the best-planned events or campaigns can become a waste of time and money. The activation’s leadership should help build and coach the team, as well as make recommendations for revisions in the future.

Finally, don’t forget to think as concretely as possible and consider every single action that needs to be taken in order to set up and successfully maintain the activation through completion. That’s what the next section of the plan should be: process and systems.

Process and Systems

This part of the plan should explain how your activation will deploy your chosen tactics. For example, my favorite method of drawing people toward activations is for the activating brand to offer gift cards to the partner business where they have set up their presence. If you want to draw homeowners toward your booth at a home-improvement store, then offering gift cards to that home-improvement store is likely to do it.

However, that is not the only example of an effective tactic. Games of all kinds can work well, especially if prizes are given out. You might also consider doing a raffle, giving out free samples, or setting up a special environment that begs to be photographed for social media.

In my experience, aggressive sales tactics should be avoided, as these tend to fail. People hate them and will either end these conversations as soon as possible or avoid them completely. These methods also risk creating negative feelings in consumers, which is the opposite outcome of what the activation should do.

On the other hand, people love education and insights. To go in this direction, ask them questions and listen. Give solutions to the problems they mention. 

In your plan, go into detail about the means the activation will use to attract and engage prospective customers. It’s also a good idea to prepare possible scripts that give your representatives specific language to use with any anticipated questions or concerns. Finally, make sure to include a clear step-by-step process that outlines how the activation will be set up and unfold over its entire existence.

Test and Measure

To leverage an activation, it’s necessary to do more than just run a successful campaign. Businesses should look at every event in retrospect and use it to learn. Toward this end, staff should gather data from each activation.

When evaluating the outcomes of any activation, look at engagement with consumers first. Was your presence able to attract people? How much foot traffic was available, and how many conversations actually took place? How long did these conversations usually last, and were they effective? Did prospective customers walk away with an understanding of your brand’s message? Were you able to communicate your value proposition clearly? Did it resonate with customers?

In addition to the number of sales, consider the number of impressions and leads you were able to acquire. Harvesting cell phone numbers or email addresses from prospective customers presents you with a valuable means of connecting with them again later.

Each activation should be viewed as a test. After each one, the results need to be measured so that leaders can derive key insights for future decision-making. In general, the things that worked well should be repeated, while those that didn’t should be abandoned. Test and measure, test and measure — effective marketing professionals always refine the process to create a better outcome. 

That said, there are times when you might repeat something that didn’t work well initially. Perhaps the sample size was too small to generate valid conclusions, or the population you reached was unrepresentative in some way. Just because something didn’t work one time doesn’t mean it will always be unsuccessful, but if you see a continued pattern, it’s probably best to pivot.

The important thing is to exercise oversight. Without it, businesses can spend enormous amounts of money in the wrong ways.

Invest in your future

To be successful, you need to market your business, and brand activations are one of the most powerful ways to raise awareness and grow your brand. Proactive planning that deploys an effective strategy will ensure your activations are not only successful, but also generate the real-world data leadership needs to make advantageous decisions. In this way, your business can leverage marketing campaigns to scale up without wasting time and money.

About the author


Ray Sheehan

Ray Sheehan has a background in strategic planning, marketing, event management, and advertising and has helped the company expand from one city to over twenty states. In 2020, he launched the G.I.F.T Program as part of Old City Media. Ray is recognized as a leader and an innovative thinker in the special events industry.