Not traditionally viewed as a typical career choice, promotional staffing is varied, exciting, fun and rewarding. Dominique Packham, staffing director at brand experience agency Sense, looks at how attitudes to the work are changing, it’s rise in importance to brands and the many benefits it brings.
In today’s highly competitive consumer environment, with many brands trying to differentiate themselves from their competitors when in reality there is little difference to emphasise, opportunities to connect directly with consumers to really bring out a brand’s personality need to be grasped and maximized. This has heightened the importance of sampling activity and creating brand experiences in busy places like shopping centres. And key to the success of these kinds of live marketing are the promotional staff, whose job it is to get consumers involved in the brand.
Making a difference
There was a time when promotional staff were drifters and commitment-phobes, just out for easy money, but those days are long gone. We now live in a marketing world where promotional staff have become key brand ambassadors and where the best are well trained to reflect the visions and values of the brands they represent. After all, they have the potential to provide the key point of difference all brands are searching for and project the true brand personality better than any advertisement.
Those who take promotional work seriously find it very rewarding in many ways. It can pay well, is varied and gives individuals a lot of responsibility to work autonomously out in the field without constant supervision. You can work your way up the ranks from brand ambassador to team leader, assistant event manager and event manager, all with increased accountabilities.
What’s more, you never have the same day twice. Working with new people in a wide variety of environments for different brands makes promotional marketing an exciting and diverse job. You learn how to deal with different personalities, how to motivate both yourself and, others and how to communicate. You also develop sales skills, gain an understanding of the increasingly important discipline of experiential marketing, while getting experience of working with both clients and agencies.
The best and most respected event managers build strong relationships with staffing departments. They get personally selected for jobs, recommended to clients at pitch stage and have pretty much guaranteed work throughout the year. What’s more, they often get paid more than the head office staffing team.
At Sense, some of our best staff have been selected to work for the client brand directly. Although it means we lose a great team member, it reflects just how well we train our promotional staff – and of course it’s great for the individuals involved. It also shows how seriously brands are taking promotional marketing and the importance of having well-trained and talented staff.
Gone are the days when promotional marketing was an easy option. Although it’s exciting, varied and fun, it’s also hard work. So what do we look for when recruiting our team?
As we’re putting brands in their hands, first we want people who are trustworthy, reliable and responsible. We really value honesty in all areas of the job and great communication back to the agency. As well as representing our clients on the ground, our field staff are, of course, an extension of us, so when they are doing a good job, it reflects well on our agency, which is great.
You also need to be able to be a team player with fellow promotional staff and the head office both upwardly and downwardly managing constantly. You need to be able to multitask and juggle many balls without letting one drop, be polite and courteous, particularly when dealing with the client, as well as presentable, charismatic and – really important – fun!
The career path’s simple – start as a brand ambassador and work your way up. Once you’re in the club, it’s down to you. Perform badly and you will be out, but build positive relationships with everyone you work with and really there is no limit to the offers you could get and where you could take your career.