Many brands are jumping on the roadshow bandwagon, and rightly so. Conducting a roadshow is a proactive tool that can help set brands apart from the competition. A roadshow creates a great opportunity to interact with your potential customers, answer questions, give valuable product demonstrations and generate new leads for your business.
Brands can accomplish a variety of goals using a roadshow truck which include product launches, mobile showcases, education centres, internal communications, product training and demonstrations.
Whilst brands like Amazon and their Treasure Truck really create an impact with their roadshow don’t for one minute think that conducting a roadshow is something that can be planned and executed in a day or two. An effective roadshow needs planning and thought. In this article we will try and help guide you through the key considerations when planning an effective roadshow.
Why Are You Considering A Roadshow?
This is the fundamental question and the answer drives many of the subsequent choices with regards selecting the best vehicle for the roadshow. There are many different uses for a roadshow vehicle and here are some;
- Product Display – a roadshow vehicle like The Clear Idea truck is a perfect vehicle to showcase a new product. Its transparent nature really gives kudos to the contents on display
- Product Education – taking a product on tour into the community is an ideal way of demonstrating product features and benefits and a great way of capturing new sales leads. Highly personalised, hands-on demonstrations can be delivered by knowledgeable sales assistants to really engage potential customers
- People Education – rather than asking a group of people to come to you, taking a mobile education centre in the form of a roadshow vehicle to your audience is a proactive step that is convenient for your target audience and taking the initiative is also appreciated. A mobile training academy is a great solution for brands looking to provide education to customers and staff alike
- Immersive Experiences – a mobile structure can be the stage for a great immersive experience given the scale of the unit and the possibility of creating a contained and controlled environment. Examples are a mobile cinema for a screening on wheels or a Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality live demo.
Which Country & Which Season Is Your Roadshow?
Knowing exactly where you want to go and when helps guide other choices and helps you focus on the details. If you’re looking to conduct your roadshow in summer then it’s quite likely to be hot so you’ll probably need a roadshow truck with built-in air conditioning or you might want to avoid using a truck which is fully-glazed to minimise the heat inside the vehicle. If the roadshow is more of a product showcase rather than a space for the public then this becomes a less important consideration.
Summer is the busiest time for roadshows so if you’re also planning to hit the streets over the summer season then try and secure your roadshow vehicle before the competition. A campaign planned in advance will also increase the likelihood of being able to secure the venues that are most desirable for your goals.
Brands that plan their roadshows well in advance see the best results. They generally get the choice of inventory and the choice of venues. Time can be spent building contingency plans and foreseeing likely pitfalls in the itinerary.
Securing Your Location
You might have secured the best roadshow vehicle but without somewhere to take it the vehicle becomes irrelevant. There are several ways of securing the perfect venue which include;
- Local Councils – local councils generally have a small team dedicated to providing experiential marketing space for brands looking to activate a promotion. They generally have specific sites on their books which can be reserved for the day. Fees vary according to location and health and safety documentation needs to be provided. There are agencies that can help identify sites and liaise with the council. Ambient Media (www.ambientww.com) and Space And People (www.spaceandpeople.com) are two such agencies.
- Private Land Owners – another option for venues are private land owners for example golf clubs, boating marinas, shopping centres and hotels. Private land owners can be easier to deal with than the council but there is no guarantee of reaching an agreement as they are clearly under no obligation to make an offer
- Transport Hubs – conducting roadshows in high footfall transport hubs is very popular for roadshows. Exterion (part of outdoor media owner Exterion Outdoor) recently set up www.exterion.live which has live inventory opportunities that can be booked through their portal. They can also help walk clients through the Health & Safety elements of a roadshow.
- Roadshow Experts – experienced companies offering roadshow trucks and roadshow planning will have their own database of locations that you can tap in to.
How Many People
Knowing how many people you are looking to entertain at one time helps you determine the size and footprint of the most suitable roadshow truck to accommodate these people. Smaller vehicles are easier to manoeuvre in town centres and there are more parking options than their big brothers, however, their capacity is less due to the smaller footprint. One option for clients wishing to benefit from touring with a smaller vehicle is to use a vehicle that has an expandable side which pops-out once at the roadshow venue. This nearly doubles the size of the entertaining space whist also retaining the benefits of being small whilst in transit.
Where having capacity for many people is an issue clients generally opt for a larger 13m trailer. 13m provides a huge length which when combined with either one or two pop-out sides creates a huge entertaining space as the footprint can be widened by 2 – 4 metres.
How Quickly Do You Want To Be Set Up?
For clients that are travelling light and quickly then set-up time for a roadshow vehicle is a key consideration. If you’ve agreed a one day permit with the council you don’t want to spend the first three hours setting up the truck (not to mention the time required to pack up). Be sure to ask about speed of deployment if you’re considering a particular vehicle.
Electrical Items On Board
For brands that have electrical items on board their roadshow truck then they will need a power supply. The two options are access to mains power or an on-board generator. The first option is more stable and more reliable, however, having access to mains power isn’t always an option. If there is no mains power available clients will have to use a generator to power their electrical items. If this is the case then the amount of items on board and their electrical draw needs to be determined to calculate the size of generator required. It also pays to have access to a back-up generator just in case.
How Intensive Is The Roadshow Schedule?
If you’re on a tight schedule with multiple activations across a few days then it’s really important to plan your roadshow with military precision. One oversight can have knock-on effects which can throw the rest of the schedule into chaos. Due to the very stringent European Driving Regulations it is important to sanity check the itinerary against the driving regulations. If due to heavy traffic a driver is delayed getting to venue it may result in him / her having to take an enforced break. If there is little margin for error in your itinerary clients should definitely investigate the benefits that having a secondary driver with the roadshow. A second driver can keep the show on the road driving to the next destination whilst the first driver takes a break.
Many live events are great experiences but fail in terms of data capture. Several companies place great value in the brand ambassadors which accompany the roadshow and rightly so. That said, brand ambassadors can’t manage large numbers of attendees on their own. A new trend is to use technology as a means to support brand ambassadors. With mobile phone recognition, face recognition and other techniques it is becoming easier to ensure no valuable sales lead slip through the net. With some systems this data can be directed into a client’s CRM system or the information can be cloned and used to recognise customers when they enter the brands traditional retail environments such as a car showroom or store.
10 Pitfalls To Avoid
Conducting a roadshow can be an extremely rewarding activity for brands and their employees. Hopefully the information below will help you avoid the 10 most common roadshow-related pitfalls.
- Too Late – the biggest problem everybody that works in live events have is that things are left too late. Important decisions are left until midnight let alone the 11th hour and the lack of time leaves everybody winging it. If you are hoping for a successful roadshow then start the planning process in plenty of time
- An unrealistic itinerary – we often receive itineraries from clients that are not realistic. Sometime we receive itineraries which would even be illegal. If you have an itinerary get it checked out by a professional. They will advise you of the driver regulations to ensure you are operating within the law. If you are operating on the continent they will be able to highlight rules that govern HGVs travelling on the weekend, bank holidays and even local holidays in towns and cities.
- Power – don’t leave it until the last minute to discover that the venue you are travelling to doesn’t have a power source you can use, or has particular requirements around generators on-site. Find out well in advance what your options are, choose the option that suits you best and then work out your back up plan if that options fails.
- Artwork & Branding – artwork and branding is often an after-thought. People are so involved in getting the roadshow concept together the branding of the vehicle is considered something that can wait. This is a big mistake. Many printers operate a strict queue for their jobs and assuming your job will take precedence over existing jobs in the queue is somewhat presumptuous not to mention a little arrogant. Printers often pull out the stops to help but this should be the exception and not the rule
- Vehicle Loading – at The Clear Idea one of our specialties are car roadshows. One consideration that is often over-looked is how and where the vehicle being showcased is getting placed in the roadshow vehicle. Loading a vehicle is a specialist job and should be under-taken by experts. It isn’t a quick fix and off you go. Once loaded the car needs to be secured in position to ensure it doesn’t move around in transit.
- One Driver or Two – if the roadshow is intense with many stops in a short period of time clients need to be realistic about how many drivers the activation requires. Better to err on the side of caution on two if there isn’t much margin for error.
- Taking Care Of The Driver – without a driver there is no roadshow. Drivers are a client’s biggest weapon in solving problems on the ground. They come with a huge amount of experience when it comes to routes, the vehicle itself and how it works, safe places to stop. As such, the driver needs to be taken care of. Accommodation needs to be booked in advance rather than on the day of the event, there needs to be a fuel card in the cab to keep the fuel tank topped up, rest breaks should be accounted for and one thing often over-looked, the driver should be able to get home with enough hours on his tacograph. Often clients allow the events to overrun which means the driver simply can’t make it back home.
- Test The Tech – technology is becoming more and more prevalent in roadshow vehicles. Whilst we all love a good piece of technology it’s worth checking a week or two prior to departure that everything is working as it should. We had an example of a client who was repeating an LED roadshow truck tour which was exactly the same campaign as the year before using content that was nearly identical as the year before. BUT, the slightly updated content needed an updated version of MS Windows. If we hadn’t tested it the week before we’d have run into big problems.
- Be Finished Before You Begin – many clients, often due to time pressures, want to add the finishing touches to the roadshow truck when it arrives on site, or they want to load the vehicle into the showcase at the final venue. Our advice is strongly anti-this approach. In the factory we have an army of skilled workers who can solve most problems. Leaving the finishing touches to the event day relies on not encountering any last minute problems on site. This is a risky, not to mention, highly stressful scenario. Our advice is to get everything ready before you head off and travel to the event with peace of mind that everything is done and good to go.
- After The Show – once the roadshow is over it doesn’t mean that everything is done. Vehicles have to be stripped down, items like tables and chairs and other props need to be removed and possibly returned to the customers, graphics need to be removed. Quite often the roadshow company will take care of these things but it is the client’s responsibility to arrange collection of the items they need back from the roadshow truck.
About The Clear Idea
We design and create amazing brand experiences which we take on tour for our clients using our fleet of roadshow trucks and structures. Our live communication channel helps brands engage with consumers in the real world helping to create meaningful customer experiences which translate into customer advocacy.