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Today we are joined by Kitty H and Justin D at STAR.
Tell us about STAR and your career…
Kitty: We are an experiential marketing agency. Brands we work with come to us because they are looking for new and impactful ways for their brand to be face to face with people. We live in an uber digital world where people are on their devices and we are streaming our content, the whole advertising industry has been turned upside down, so it’s all about events and experiences. People want to have a physical experience with the brand. Our work shows up in all different types of environments, in retail, corporate interior, trade show floor and more.
I have been at STAR for a little more than a year and half. My career was in business development. Everything I know is from selling and sitting in meetings with clients and asking them how they are going to sell to people and market their product. I worked at a variety of different agencies. The last one I was working at focused on brand design. I became increasingly interested in the discipline of experience design. I walked into STAR one day for a random reason, and I was like this isn’t exhibits, this is experience design. I knew that’s where I wanted to be.
Justin: I started 22 years ago with STAR as an intern. I have seen a lot of change and growth, it has been super fun and exciting. We are getting into all sorts of cool and unique projects.
How do you still give the digital what it needs while providing a physical experience for their audience?
Justin: We do one touch point. There are a lot of ways to interact with the brand, digital, socially, we are the more physical space. What are your objectives and how do we help you get there? What are the results you are looking to receive?
What are common outcomes?
Justin: Startups may be brand awareness, giving exposure to your product.
Kitty: Right down to impressions, they are incredibly valuable. Sometimes it’s not always easy to put an ROI on things but we know that the more impressions out there the more people are sharing, word of mouth is incredibly powerful.
Let’s say I’m a planner in a company and really want to redo our brand experience, what kind of money are we talking?
Justin: There isn’t a starting point, it depends what are you trying to do, what are your needs and we will help find a solution for your budget.
How do you start the conversation with brands?
Kitty: We typically love to get people into our space. It’s important to get outside of your environment and into a creative space. We bring creative people to the table and really experienced project managers. We talk about what are the goals? What needs to happen? The fun part of the project is to sit and brainstorm and go far. You have to be able to dream really big for us to land where the client will be able to go.
Tell me the difference between being a vendor and a partner.
Kitty: You hear a lot of companies talk about this because everyone wants to be a partner but following through and being that is another thing. Trust is a big part of it. When you have established a level of trust where they know you will always come through, you become a partner. Partnerships will not be the cheapest.
Causes we love: Minnesota Zoo, Feed My Starving Children, Mentoring: EPA
When should you start the planning process?
You have to figure out how big your audience is, if it’s small you don’t need as much lead time. We are talking to someone who is 30-40 thousand people and they plan three years in advance.
Usually it’s date and location that are the biggest frustration and you need to figures those out first. We had a guest who talked about selling yourself to the venue. Do not think because you have a budget and audience that you will be attractive to the city, you may be competing with some really big names. Some events have ten year contracts because they are so big and need to lock in a venue.
When do you loop in your partners?
It depends on size and scale of your event. When your organization works with a third party to work with vendors it adds a layer of complexity, but loop that person in immediately. As soon as possible loop in production and decor. You might get a higher rate if you wait too long, or not get the a-squad! The earlier you book the better everything you get. You should book your production as you choose a venue, they can help you save money through site visits. The production partner can see things that you may not notice.