Our head of talent, Kath Norris, recently caught up with Stand Out Magazine to talk all things staffing. From future trends to getting the best out of your brand ambassadors, Kath shares her top tips below…

 

How are you finding the events marketplace at the moment? How has the sector changed in the last 12 months?

People are certainly becoming more streamlined with their events.  There is no room for excess and every penny counts.  We have to work  ever harder to ensure that everything that we do has a return.  The last 12 months have seen a steady number of staffing requests, but for much more specific briefs, with very specific requirements.  We don’t see many people putting on events for the sake of it.  While our experiential campaigns, have had this type of requirement for some time, we are now seeing this kind of structured approach in every event that we do.

Have you won any new contracts lately?

We have been very fortunate to win a number of new clients over the last year or so.  H&M, Haywards Pickles and Dorset Cereals were all big wins for us last year.  We are really looking forward to working with all three again this summer.  And we have several exciting new campaigns in the works currently, which we can talk about more freely once they go live. We’ve got loads of exciting activations planned for the summer that we can’t yet talk about, so watch this space!

Playstation EGX- Circle Agency 1

Which events have you recently provided services/solutions to – what was the request? What did you provide? Anything “stand out” about the job?

This month we headed to EGX Rezzed with PlayStation to offer gamers the chance to experience exclusive previews of PlayStation VR and its latest titles.  We transformed one of the striking vaults at Tobacco Dock into a fully immersive area where gamers could experience all the exciting new releases that PlayStation have on offer.

Clearly, Virtual Reality gaming is big news and everyone wants to get hand on with the latest hardware.  Our staff have to be exceptional- very switched on from a technological and gaming point of view, but also able to walk a consumer through a step by step tutorial that requires patience and passion to deliver well.

What requests are you getting from organisers – any trends you are witnessing? What are they asking for?

In terms of staffing, more and more, we are required to adopt a chameleon approach. This means there has been n increase in the need for brand ambassadors that fulfil multiple roles.   In short, a brand ambassador needs to be adaptable in changing environments, and they are asked to do much more dynamic and challenging roles than were prevalent, even a few years ago.  The trick is to recruit well.  Taking your time to find the right calibre of people who se energy and enthusiasm will take them a long way, and a very refined training regime from our team, ensures that we are as adaptable as our clients now need us to be.   We want our clients to build trust in us, and our people, only then, can our field staff really deliver at their best. Equally, if the client/brand trusts the individuals, they are more willing to try new avenues, knowing the support will be there and that the results will follow.

How should organisers tap into that younger market? 

Gone are the days when brands can just share any content on Facebook and that would be the job done.  Youth today are savvy and used to filtering content.  All branded content and touch points need to be considered strategically, however, we know from our own research that content shared from experience- i.e. a person sharing their own experience at an event or experiential activation, is much more likely to be shared and more importantly, much more likely to be regarded by that person’s peer group and regarded as an all important recommendation of the brand.

This demographic moves at a pace, not really seen before.  They have a short attention span.  Organisers have to be willing to let the audience participate their way and influence and co-create the content if they really expect them to share it.  We also need staff who represent this audience and understand how to encourage this behaviour in an authentic way.

HAYWARDS Pickle and Circle Agency

What campaigns are you working on and what techniques are you deploying in order to engage with that younger audience? 

Well as an agency that works a lot in technology, we aim to influence this audience a lot.  We are always striving to find new ways in which we can capture their imagination.  Sometimes this is through association with key influencers they like, other times it is by using amazing technology that wows them, like VR gaming and 360 degree video for example.  Co- creation often grabs their attention, and at a simple level we like to entertain.  If you can appeal to their current sense of humour, or a current culture, fashion, music trend then you automatically have a reason to talk to them and they have a reason to want to share the content you co-create- a win win really.

What’s the secret to engaging with millennials? 

  • They see through the nonsense of hard sells
  • Expect fast engagement otherwise they’ll move on to the next thing before you get a chance to interact
  • Has to be of the moment, there and then
  • No longer engaging in long conversations so capture them quickly, then they will open up to longer dialogues afterwards
  • Has to have the wow factor straight away to capture shorter attention spans, due to age group used to multitasking on multiple gadgets at once

 What future trends do you see within the staffing arena? 

  • Brand ambassadors that specialise in sectors- the best of the best, that like be incredibly good at one type of event or vertical market.
  • Key affiliations and tailored individuals
  • Brand lovers – not forcing people to engage  with a brand but sourcing staff whose passion already lies in the characteristics of the brand
  • Circle Agency has a database of over 2,000 people and knows all their interests so at any point when a new brand comes on board we know exactly who to call upon (as incredible as this may seem, this is still not common practice and people still try and force square pegs into round holes)
  • Staff should not be an extension of the brand, but individuals who share a passion and are willing to share their passion in order to encourage others to join in the experience
  • Staff are NOT a commodity. They can and will make or break a campaign and sometimes- a brand.  Brands need to be able to trust their staffing partner.  And maintain direct content with the people who represent them day to day.
  • Brand Ambassadors/event staff are people- they need to feel valued. Agencies and brands who make their field teams, feel valued, rewarded and nurtured- will reap the benefits.

Your best piece of advice for any organiser re staffing (something that an organiser probably wouldn’t know but should be aware of)

Know your audience.  Who would they like to speak with/engage with- then choose your staff/brand ambassadors accordingly?   Find a team of people who are passionate about what they do generally and the brand that you represent.  Let them in on a brand secret or two (nothing that is going to cause a corporate melt down), just something to make them feel important, privileged, in the loop and ready to do a great job for you.

Then ensure that they stay passionate.  Have fun with your team- keep them engaged.  Some of our clients really go out of their way to nurture their event team.  It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture.  A coffee, muffin and a big old pep talk is sometime all that it takes- however, they are almost always more proactive, dynamic and we see stronger overall results as a result.

 

 

Read the full article on page 49 of May’s Stand Out Magazine here.

We have chosen Sue Ryder as our charity of the year, and will support its Reading hospices through a series of fundraising events and volunteering projects, as part of our ‘Circle of Change’ initiative.

We will be supporting Sue Ryder’s local Berkshire hospices, with all the money raised going towards Duchess of Kent Hospice in Reading, Wokingham Day Hospice and Charles Clore Unit in Newbury.  Through a range of fundraising events, including the Reading Half Marathon, Club to Pub swim and charity bake off’s, we hope to raise money to support Sue Ryder and help make a difference to those who need it most.

As well as fundraising activities, we will also be offering our expertise to help support Sue Ryder, providing our award-winning event organising skills to help with fundraising brainstorms, event support and by volunteering at the local hospices.

Sue Ryder provides incredible hospice and neurological care for people facing a frightening, life changing diagnosis. The charity’s local Berkshire hospices support over 1,200 patients every year, offering a safety net for individuals and their families in times of need.

The money raised by Team Circle will help fund hospice care, patient home visits and enable the charity to continue their brilliant work within the local community.

Claire Stokes, MD and founder of Circle Agency said: “Last year we were so proud to have raised over £1,419.17 for Naomi House, and it was through this charity that we became aware of the brilliant work done by Sue Ryder within the local area. It’s fantastic to be supporting another local charity for the next 12 months, and we’re looking forward to applying our skills and experience to help raise its profile.

“We have lots of fundraising events planned throughout the year and we’re asking everyone in Circle Agency to pledge to do at least one event, hopefully this way we can maximise the amount of sponsorship we achieve for this brilliant cause.”

Benjamin Bar-Lev, corporate partnerships manager for Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent & Nettlebed Hospices commented: “I am absolutely delighted that the Circle Agency has chosen Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice as its Charity Partner for 2016. We have a whole year of exciting challenges as well as some incredible opportunities for the talented team at the Circle Agency to provide the fundraising team with some training. Here is to a successful year!”

We’ve got heaps of fundraising events coming up throughout the year, so stay tuned to hear more!

We teamed up with sports nutrition client, MaxiNutrition, to give a much needed protein boost to athletes at the 2015 AJ Bell London Triathlon, which took place from the 8th-9th August.

Circle Agency (1 of 1)-3 We devised and hosted an array of interactive activations throughout the weekend, including DJ performances to entertain the crowds and free massages for runners to help sooth tired muscles and aid their recovery.

Circle Agency (1 of 1)-2Armed with our engagement mechanic – the digital protein mirror – expert nutritionists were on hand to help educate athletes on the importance of protein in their diets.

Circle Agency (1 of 1)MaxiNutrition’s protein mirror uses a statistical code to generate a personalised protein analysis and show athletes how their bodies react to physical exercise. Participants at this year’s Triathlon were encouraged to use the interactive touch screen to programme in their height, weight, gender and age, then the machine undertook a quick body scan and provided a personalised Statistic Card for each individual athlete.

Circle Agency (1 of 1)-5

Circle-trained brand ambassadors were also on hand to encourage customers to try free samples of MaxiNutrition’s protein shakes and bars to replenish their energy following the event. AJ Bell London Triathlon is the world’s largest triathlon and boasts over 13,000 triathletes and 30,000 spectators.

www.maxinutrition.com

What was the brief?

BlackBerry wanted to raise awareness of its devices and incentivise sales in Orange stores nationwide. As part of Circle’s ongoing relationship with Research in Motion and in particular, our regular provision of in store demonstration staff for them, we were tasked with managing a series of Active Selling Days to support Orange Stores Nationwide.  This particular campaign consisted of five regional teams, with three brand ambassadors in each unit.  The activity took place over 15 key retailing dates on December 2011 and January 2012.

How did we respond?

Having worked with BlackBerry as a partner for eight years, our staffing team have a large number of highly engaged and authentic BlackBerry brand advocates who regularly work for us in this capacity and were the obvious choice to represent our client as team leaders in this activity. Each team leader was then responsible for two further BA’s within their territory.

Although in this case, all but one of the regional reps had previously represented the BlackBerry brand, the team still went through extensive training to ensure both comprehensive product and brand knowledge, but to also familiarise them with the objectives and KPIs specific to this campaign.  The training was held in our new Training Centre and was conducted by a team of both Circle and client side representatives and trainers.

With training complete it was time to hit the stores having been briefed to expect us by Orange and BlackBerry, we followed up with each store manager 48 hours before our visit.  Ensuring that sales support had been delivered and they were expecting our team to be arriving as per our schedule.

Customers were already incentivised (as part of a wider above the line, incentive campaign) to  purchase a BlackBerry device on the Orange network, our role in store was to further educate customers on the benefits of BlackBerry ownership via direct one to one demonstration, and reiterate the offers available at that time.  In a busy and competitive retail landscape personalised sales support and clear communication of sales incentives is often enough to increase purchase intent.  Coupled with I store collateral support and a talented team of enthusiastic ambassadors and results were significant.

To further ensure success, our team and the store staff were in incentivised for each sale in the form of Love to Shop Vouchers.

Results

This simple yet effective campaign was as has been our experience in this environment previously very successful.  Although, we cannot release specific results here, we can share that on average stores saw between a 300 and 500% increase on device sales in store vs. sales in store on a control comparison. For further information please contact us.

 

What We Do

Where We Play

Blog Features

Our Blog

Viewing entries for the service Store Staff Education
18th May2016

Talking Staffing With Stand Out

Our head of talent shares her top tips

Talking Staffing With Stand Out

Our head of talent, Kath Norris, recently caught up with Stand Out Magazine to talk all things staffing. From future trends to getting the best out of your brand ambassadors, Kath shares her top tips below…   How are you finding the events marketplace at the moment? How has the sector changed in the last […]

Read More…

22nd Feb2016

We’re Supporting Sue Ryder!

Raising funds for our charity of the year

We’re Supporting Sue Ryder!

We have chosen Sue Ryder as our charity of the year, and will support its Reading hospices through a series of fundraising events and volunteering projects, as part of our ‘Circle of Change’ initiative. We will be supporting Sue Ryder’s local Berkshire hospices, with all the money raised going towards Duchess of Kent Hospice in […]

Read More…

08th Sep2015

Giving London Tri A Boost With Maxi

Going the extra mile with experiential

Giving London Tri A Boost With Maxi

We teamed up with sports nutrition client, MaxiNutrition, to give a much needed protein boost to athletes at the 2015 AJ Bell London Triathlon, which took place from the 8th-9th August.  We devised and hosted an array of interactive activations throughout the weekend, including DJ performances to entertain the crowds and free massages for runners to […]

Read More…

18th Jan2012

We hit the shops with Blackberry

What was the brief? BlackBerry wanted to raise awareness of its devices and incentivise sales in Orange stores nationwide. As part of Circle’s ongoing relationship with Research in Motion and in particular, our regular provision of in store demonstration staff for them, we were tasked with managing a series of Active Selling Days to support […]

Read More…

Our Team

  • Claire StokesManaging Director
  • Neil HooperCreative Director
  • Kath NorrisHead of Talent
  • Andy MacDonaldProduction Manager
Claire Stokes is the founder and Managing Director here at Circle.  Claire began her career in the experiential agencies of North America, working for some of the world’s largest consumer brands.  With over 17 years experience as an experiential specialist, there are few that share her knowledge or her passion for our industry.

A regular speaker on Experiential in the UK and overseas, she is a Business Leader of the Marketing Society and sits on the steering committee for the Institute of Promotional Marketing’s Experiential Marketing Certificate, acting as a lecturer and course contributor.   Claire has consistently featured in EVENT Magazine’s list of the UK’s 100 most influential people in the Event Industry.

Our Clients

  • Dorset Cereals EA H&M Maxinutrition