Full transcript of Talk Experiential episode #11 is available now. Read the full transcript of episode #11 Experiences & The “People Aspect” in Marketing.
#11 Experiences & The “People Aspect” in Marketing
JOEY: All right guys, welcome back to another Talk Experiential podcast, episode number 11. Our next guest is Christian Jurinka, founder and CEO of Attack! Marketing. Christian is a big player in the experiential world, and his company Attack! Marketing is a leader in the experiential space. His company does everything from experience, infrastructure, imagination, because they know that the effective experiential marketing program means we immerse sensory and unforgettable in all the right ways. I really hope you guys enjoy this episode, I know I will. If you do like this episode, please make sure you five star and share on social media and to your friends. Enjoy.
All right, thanks for joining us for another podcast with Talk Experiential. Very lucky to have this guest, founder and CEO of Attack! Marketing, Christian Jurinka. Thanks for joining us.
CHRISTIAN: Thanks for having me, Joey. It’s a real pleasure to be here.
JOEY: Awesome. Well, we appreciate it. Why don’t we just jump into it? Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background and history and how Attack! Marketing began?
CHRISTIAN: That’s a fabled story. It’s a great place to start. You know, probably like a lot of people took not necessarily a straight line into the profession that I’m in now. I actually — I’m from the management consulting world and had a pretty long career actually working in technical project management for Accenture. I worked and lived overseas, and then was also a factor of the dot-com bubble bursting and was given my wings to try something new. I always knew that I was not necessarily — I was a little too — I think I enjoyed life a little too much to be long-term corporate. And as it happens, back in 2001, I met my other partners and we looked at the marketing industry and saw an opportunity. We saw that people were spending lots and lots of money in creating amazing field marketing experiences and simply not putting any mind and thought behind the people who would actually represent those brands and carry out those initiatives out in the field, and we saw it as an opportunity. And it has been out focus the beginning to today, that people are the focus of our organization. We draw lines out from the center of people and we provide our clients with everything from that ideal person for that particular brand and that particular moment and that particular event, and then we assist them further out from that with logistics and fabrication and scheduling and training and reporting and so on and so forth. All of these things, but they all come back and start with people. And I think that’s the shortest message I can give you on exactly how things started.
JOEY: Got you, very cool. And I think too, what you said with the people aspect, I believe it’s one of the most important pieces of it just because you have consumers out there where brands want to be but a billboard can only do so much, and experience can do so much but you actually need that people to interact with them and understand — really believe in that brand and feel like they’re that extension of that brand. So it sounds like you’ve really figured that out over the past few years. Multiple years.
CHRISTIAN: Well, we try. It’s a point of differentiation. It certainly was almost 15 years ago when we started doing this. I think, back then there were fewer players in this marketplace. There are certainly a lot more choices when you’re out there looking to find a partner for your field marketing these days. But, that is a cornerstone element and both finding and securing those individuals out there in the field are super important and just the cautionary take on that side is that the reason why what you and I do is so important and also labor intensive, is that people are not products and they do not respond in ways that you necessarily can always predict.
JOEY: Absolutely. Amen. I know we were talking about it a little bit before, just our staffing world and the issues and things that happen, but I guess let’s move towards — This is a changing industry, experiential marketing, it’s the sexy buzz word out there that brands want to jump on. They’re like, “Oh, experiential marketing. What is it?” I guess just in your words, what do you see, what is it, and where it’s going?
CHRISTIAN: That’s a great question. The, “What is it?” I don’t think there’s necessarily one definition there, but the easiest way I describe it is that you are creating an experience that ideally is brought to the target consumer, in a place where they are comfortable to interact, they are unencumbered by schedules and offices and so on and so forth, so you are bringing an experience to them when they are in a place and mindset to absorb that experience. And that creates brand loyalty, brand awareness, it creates also the ability for amplification of that brand, if done right. And ultimately, a lot of brands also try and take that experience and make it transactional. But in the end, you walk away — the consumer walks away — having experienced something, having actually gone through some sort of — It could be that it’s a photo op thing or a game or a trivia. They don’t necessarily have to be super complex or million dollar ideas or things of that nature, they are just simply something that engages your consumer, but does it in a way that puts the brand up front and center, so that when the go back into their normal lives, they have a positive thought about that experience and hopefully will then become a loyal consumer in the future.
JOEY: Absolutely. Well and I think the other thing too, to mention is experiential marketing — There isn’t just a cookie cutter that you can just give to brand to brand to brand, it’s really different depending on what their goals and what they’re looking for. But I guess — With your experience over the years, does any programs pop out that you really think was really successful that really got in front of their target market to create an experience?
CHRISTIAN: You know, I’m reminded of a program and we weren’t directly related to this program but it actually was a program for Nokia. They really wanted to bring the phone into focus and they wanted to do it in a fun way that was focused on younger people. And what they did was they went to music festivals and they created — It was basically like phone booth karaoke. You used the Nokia phone, you went into a sound booth, you had a karaoke experience — They did these events all over the country. Those karaoke experiences then became part of essentially a competition.
So, they took those experiences — those physical experiences — they made them a digital experience, brought everybody online to listen to and vote on those submissions, and then there was a finals, where they brought all the finalists back together again in the physical sense, and did finals, and then they were awarded a champion or several champions, and I believe that there was some additional music element. Maybe they got to go VIP to some music tour. I can’t remember what that aspect of it was. But they brought — What I really found excellent about them was that it was the fusing of the physical and the digital and what made that really special was that it was able to amplify. Because one of the challenges of doing live events is that you’re restricted by whomever happens to be at the event that day, that time. So, the amplification and recording of those karaoke experiences, gave the live event the ability to be exposed to the whole internet, which opened it up much larger and created an indelible mark with the brand with the consumers out there.
JOEY: That’s a great example, too. Because it sounds like bringing that technology piece, even just taking an activation offline to online, can be very simple as doing that. And doing a broader roach. Because, a lot of our clients, I always try to say, “Hey, we can do something onsite.” Because, I have an example within D.C. We hired like 30 brand ambassadors for this Adidas event and I think some rapper was there. Some big time guy. And I think there was 50 people that showed up the whole time. We had more people that were staffing at it. It’s interesting, the client didn’t care about as much onsite. It looked like a cool experience that we could bring into an online side. So, I think it’s always important to have brands do that. Keep your better ROI at the end of the day.
CHRISTIAN: Yeah, and also from an experiential perspective, I think it’s imperative for us as operators to think that way, because some people, especially those who are uninitiated within experiential, they might look at, let’s say ROI, and they might say, “Oh, my response rate is much — my cost per acquisition, my cost per conversion, cost per click,” whatever it is, “is much higher in digital and banner ads than experiential.” And you’re like, “Mmm, okay,” and you have to take them on that journey because they go, “Well hey, how many people are going to be at that event? Okay, so there’s going to be 1000 people at the event, and I’m going to spend $100,000, and so that’s — what is that — it’s $1000 per person that I’m spending,” and so you go down that road and you’re like, “Well, okay. So, I get it.” And look, whoever is hiring us, they need to keep their job. So, if we don’t have a digital experience, some sort of amplification element to what we’re doing, we’re not making it easy for the people who hired us to keep giving us more money and doing more things, because at the end of the day, it’s going to go under some microscope and be compared to some other medium and it’s going to be said that it’s way too expensive.
JOEY: Right. And that’s a good topic to go dive on, just the data and the analytics of what is the ROI at the end of the day of a program, because frankly, experiential marketing is very expensive, and there’s so many moving parts. A lot of our clients like to do last minute things which is pretty normal in this industry. Going down that line, you just kind of touched on we’ve got to put a digital piece into it, I guess how do you take a client and show them that ROI at the end of the day?
CHRISTIAN: Yeah, honestly it’s one of the very first questions that comes out of my mouth when I talk to people. “What are your goals? Why are you doing this?” and from that answer, that helps us define how we are going to amplify and get that ROI that people are looking for. So, it really depends. A lot of our clients are very transactional. They want to see an immediate impact on sales, for example. So, we might have a transactional capability where people can actually buy things right there at the event. Or, they want to see some sort of coupon redemption or they want to have awareness, but awareness — You can’t really track awareness, so how do we do that? Is it generating leads? Is it number of things that have been tagged on Instagram for that particular event?
So, whatever that may be — The analytics of the event and somehow looking at that event and saying, “Okay, what is the goal here? What are we tracking? What is going to be considered success for that event?” but then it’s also saying, “Now, what are we doing there that will take the experience there and put it out to a broader audience?” which, going back to that [00:15:26] example, is a great one. So, photo marketing is nothing new. It’s been around since the Stone Age and that’s come to a place where, again, that gives you that amplification and it gives you that ability to share. That’s one example. It’s probably the most inane examples of how to amplify and to track measurement. So the fact is that you just need to think about that because I’d say ever since the Great Recession, marketing for the sake of marketing or awareness has almost gone out the window entirely and now we need to have concrete data to demonstrate what we’re doing and the effectiveness of it. Because the tenure — Last I heard, the tenure for a CMO is about 15-18 months, so they really only have maybe one maybe two chances to do something really impressive for their brands or they’re out on the street again.
JOEY: Right. That’s an interesting number. It’s a tight race, too.
JOEY: Well and especially how crowded this industry — not just this industry, just marketing all together, but then you tie in technology and then you deal with the Millennials and then the one that’s younger than that. They have this attention span that’s very small. I guess kind of like your thoughts, how can a brand get in front of these people that don’t have that attention span? What do they need to be thinking about when there’s already — all their competitors are doing the same thing in the same space — How do you stand in front?
CHRISTIAN: You know, I have a great example for that. I work with this brand that is actually a pet food brand. That’s a crowded space, much like, let’s say snacks, energy bars, things like that. Those are all very crowded spaces. They’re spaces that actually, you and I do well in because people are forced to differentiate themselves. So, this particular brand, instead of just, “Oh, we’re just going to go to the dog show or go to the dog park or do this, that or the other,” they said, “Well, you know, let’s think a little bit more about who — What are the elements, the attributes of the brand itself? And then let’s profile the owners of those dogs — or dogs and cats.” And in their case, their brand talks about how most pet foods are the equivalent of humans eating junk foot. They’re super high in sugar or carbs and so on and so forth, and they’ve developed a line that’s much more focused on protein and probiotics and so on and so forth. They said to themselves, “Well okay, who’s going to care about this?” Well, not everybody but one group in specific is definitely going to care about this. That’s like people who are also health conscious. So, their marketing is actually focused on healthy people because their belief is that by connecting with healthy people, those healthy people that are dog owners, are going to pick their product. And that brand is going like crazy. So, that’s just an example of how to get inside the head of your brand and then go to them in places where others are not. And as it is, the events that they go to, guess what? They’re the only dog and cat foot at any of the events that they’re at. And that’s a good place to be.
JOEY: That’s a great point. It’s almost like reversing the whole thought process. It’s not really about your brand, let’s start focusing on the people that are going to be buying this. What do they care about, and start hitting those things. And it could be for anything. It doesn’t have to be just pet food. How can you change and evoke an emotion from someone to purchase your brand, I guess that’s always the goal of it. That’s very interesting. And I think that’s the neat thing about experiential marketing. It’s, “How do you change someone’s mindset with an experience,” depending on what it is or what brand they’re trying to sell.
CHRISTIAN: And you know what? And to that point, and you and I were talking before this about, “We must be crazy to actually be in this industry,” and, “Why do we do it?” I think one of the reasons — I’ll speak for myself — is that I am inspired by connect — I believe in marketing and believe that if — and here’s the big caveat — if you have a good product. So, if you have a good product and you know who your target audience is, that you’ll have great success and so, I get excited about that. If my super power is helping people understand their brand, understand their core consumer, and the position them in places and opportunities where they can connect, it’s almost like I’m a match maker and then those programs are successful and I get a great deal of feeling of worth and satisfaction from doing that. And that can carry me through situations where yet again, somebody’s grandmother has passed away and couldn’t make it to work.
JOEY: Well —
CHRISTIAN: Somebody once said to me in a meeting, “I don’t know what it is about this industry, but everyone’s grandmother seems to die all the time.”
JOEY: I’ve almost got my team to write down every single excuse that people didn’t show up. It’s funny, too. Especially, we go through [00:21:57] an internal team but we hire some people that are industry, some people outside of the industry, and they’re just — One, they think it’s amazing that we can employ a bunch of people all over the country, but then they start realizing, “Man, every city, state, is so different from the other and you have to talk to them differently,” and it’s — Yeah, it’s very interesting. You learn a lot.
JOEY: So, kind of shifting gears too, we’ve talked a little bit about brands and how they can get to their target market, but I guess — It is an ever changing industry, I guess. Where do you see experiential marketing going?
CHRISTIAN: The optimist in me says that it’s certainly never going to run its course, that there is always going to be a place for it. This is sort of a tangent, but I was reading somewhere yesterday and somebody was talking about a trend in being a minimalist and that collecting and buying things certainly gives you that initial endorphin run, but then it wears off and that being a minimalist means you aren’t collecting things, but you focus more on experiences with friends, with family, and places, and so on and so forth. And I think that there’s actually a lot to that idea. Where do I spend the most money? I probably spend the most money, quite frankly, at the grocery store. I’m one of those few people in the world that likes to go to the grocery store. I love looking at all the products, trying different things — I’m generally not in a hurry and my grocery store is like three blocks away. I can walk there, it’s pretty easy. But, I guess back to the point, is that I think people are moving more and more in directions of experiences. You can see the huge rise of obstacle course races and mud runs and things like that. They want to break the malaise of the work and they want to go out and do fun things and experience things. And people are trained in those moments to absorb what’s around them. So, experiential marketing, the future of it, I question and you and I talked about this, whether or not big gigantic spectaculars — How many people have the ability to do those types of things. You’re always going to have your Coca-Cola and your Pepsis and things like that, that do really cool experiential things and you see the video and you want to pass it around, and they can still invest in brand awareness. But for everybody else, I feel like it’s much more about being in many places and spreading your dollars around many, many places.
So, to that extent, I would think that mobile marketing tours are still very strong — still going very strong. Whether or not those companies, those brands are investing in the giant 18-wheelers that turn into some amazing stand or so on and so forth, or they’re just simply sending a 10 by 10 to round the country with some premiums, that remains to be seen because I think people have to make their money go pretty far. But, you want to get more out of each one of those experiences and in that perspective, I think that experiential marketing is definitely here to stay, because people are yearning for experiences rather than filling up their closet, so to speak.
JOEY: Right. That’s a good point. It’s funny, when you said going to the grocery store, on Fourth of July, we just got Amazon Prime two hour delivery here in Denver and I think for 48 hours, I didn’t leave my house. It was phenomenal. I think two, I’m skewed as well. I deal with humans, I sell humans — I want to stay away from humans when I’m on vacation. And I had — I think I ordered five different times. I ordered a grill, charcoal, meat, corn, and it was — It is a thought though, too. Because when I did it, I think I’m like, “This is the future of life, of getting things at your fingertips.” Now, did I have that experience at a store? No.
I think one of the reasons why I’m okay with it at this moment — because I have a three year old and another girl that just turned one, so there’s a lot going on in my life. But, if I didn’t have anything, I’d rather be able to walk a couple blocks to go to a store, experience it, touch it — But I’m interested, too, just with kind of the Ubers or Lyfts or that type of mentality, we want things quick. I got everything in within under an hour and a half, everything I wanted. Just going on — and I can actually set it up on weekly basis and doing it. But then even an Uber, an Uber is five minutes. That’s too long. I guess, going down that route, too — And then you’ve got, I think I mentioned earlier, the edible content, the 10-15 seconds. This world is moving into a pace where technology is going to be very integrated into our world. My thought — I’d love to hear your thoughts on it — is I still think that experience piece still has to be there. People still want something that can evoke their mind. Even Airbnb, every time I travel with my family, they have these new experiences on it. But, to that point, I think that’s kind of the new thing. People don’t want — You almost don’t need to own anything these days, you can rent everything. It’s almost easier. I guess kind of going down that mentality, I guess where do you see it going? Is it maybe finding a new place to actually have an experience or maybe tying in a brand to that experience? Where do you —
CHRISTIAN: Yeah, like you said, there’s no one answer. I think one of the great things that I heard years ago is what you want to be as a brand, is you want to show how you can enhance and improve the life of your consumer. Now, that’s an extremely lofty thing to try to achieve, but I’ve seen lots of good experiential campaigns that think about that. So, it’s like — I’m not coming up with an example right now but it’s like, “Okay, I’m going to provide free parking for you, so I’m going to do a valet service at your office and I’m an insurance company. Okay? So, I’m making life easy for you,” or, “I’m going to give you a free tank of gas and I’m a credit card company and that makes life easy for you,” or all of these different things where people go, “Oh, man. You just took out a pain point.” And even if you’re taking out that pain point for a moment. A great example, PayPal — There’s a music festival in San Francisco called Outside Lands — great festival, takes over Golden Gate Park. And PayPal said, “You know what? Everyone who comes to the festival, they’ve got stuff, right? And they don’t want to carry all that stuff around. So, I’m going to do something that makes their life easier and then makes them think of PayPal.” And so, they came up and they — I think it’s now just bedrock is part of Outside Lands, PayPal has this massive free locker structure that everyone can drop off their bags, and then everyone is walking around with some PayPal branded keychains and things like that, that has to do with getting their stuff. So they made life a little bit easier, they extend a brand a bit — Again, it goes back to the experience.
We talk about purchasing and buying things and there’s an endorphin element to that, and experience newness — I mean, quite honestly, carving new neuropathways in your brain, that releases endorphins. And I’m sure that releases serotonin and so on and so forth, so by creating those things, you create happiness and you equate happiness to that particular brand. So, I can’t see that really going away. Banner ads don’t do that. Viral videos might do that, but do you remember the video and not the brand? So, you kind of have to take it with a grain of thought.
JOEY: Right. No, that’s a good example. That’s funny. The Outside Lands with PayPal, yeah, we’ve done a few things with them back in the day. That’s a neat experience, for sure.
JOEY: That’s awesome. Well, I really appreciate your time here. I know we’re kind of running down some time, but just with your experience, I’d love to have you on another podcast again. We’re going to be doing some more round tables, bringing some folks in. We’d love to have you on again.
CHRISTIAN: I’d love to do that, Joey. It was a pleasure chatting with you today.
CHRISTIAN: Thank you for the opportunity.
JOEY: Thank you. Have a great day.
CHRISTIAN: You, too.
Listen to the full episode here.