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Experiential Marketing with Kitty Hart

George Grombacher October 25, 2023

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Experiential Marketing with Kitty Hart

LifeBlood: We talked about experiential marketing, how people still want to attend in-person events, the fundamental components of a successful event, incorporating all our senses, and how to get started, with Kitty Hart, VP of Brand Experience with Heroic Productions.       

Listen to learn what size companies should be considering experiential marketing!

You can learn more about Kitty at, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Kitty Hart

Episode Transcript

To the heart is the VP of brand experience with heroic productions, they are working on the strategy and design of in person virtual and hybrid events to bring the best experience possible. Welcome, Kitty.

Kitty Hart 0:16
Thank you. Good morning,

george grombacher 0:18
good morning, excited to have you on. Tell us a little about your personal lives more about your work, why you do what you do.

Kitty Hart 0:25
Oh, thank you, I love talking about

I love talking about marketing in general, I feel so fortunate to sit here today. And really, I’m making a living doing what I love doing, there aren’t a lot of people in the world who can say that, that is the case for them.

And it’s kind of just dumb luck, I was actually thinking about this, just over the last few days, you know, think about all of the different choices that you make in your life, the different twists and turns the different ways that you could have gone. And I realized that I am, I ended up going down this marketing track because of a very random job that I had early on. And I’m so grateful for it. So you know, marketing is, marketing is such a big, massive umbrella. And there’s so many disciplines that fall underneath it. What I love to talk about and really what is at the center of what we do at heroic is experiential marketing, it’s designing experiences, we do event marketing. And this form of marketing has never been more important today. Because we live in such a digital age, everything is you know, everything is electronic. But the thing is people still want to have a physical experience with a brand and with their company. And so I think that’s why this segment of marketing continues to grow and continues to be more and more important.

george grombacher 2:04
So it hasn’t happened yet. We haven’t just crossed that divide of I no longer want to interact with other human beings in person, I just want to be on on on on a screen.

Kitty Hart 2:14
You know, I think there are some of those people out there. But yeah, in general. And I think that’s one of the things that the pandemic showed us, you know, really reminded us loud and clear. We are human beings, and we want to be together. It’s why immediately, we figured out how to do this really well, because we couldn’t just do nothing. So at least we were able to interact. And not just by picking up the phone and talking to each other. We wanted to see each other’s faces. Right. I think it’s one of the reasons to why so many podcasts now have gone from just being audio to being audio and video we want to see, we want to have that sense attached to it as well. But yeah, people want to be together. And once all of the many of the restrictions were lifted. Our clients we’re back 100% We’re doing in person again, when can we get this next event scheduled? So are you know, there were so many industries that were decimated by the pandemic? We are not, you know, we’re not going to shy away from it. Our business was damaged severely all event production companies were. We made it through. And then boy, now we’re back in a big way.

george grombacher 3:45
I appreciate that. I think it’s it’s impossible to suss out what everybody thinks anyway. But when you read about percentages people want to do in person people don’t want to do in person, just from your experience the companies wanted to bring back in person events. Did the the participants also people just flock to these?

Kitty Hart 4:08
Mostly Yeah, I think it’s, I would guess, and this is not based on anything, but just my impression, my sense of talking with people. I would say that it’s probably less than 20% of people that just don’t want to engage at all. You know, your company is putting on a big sales kickoff, and it’s going to be in Phoenix. And you as an employee, look at that and you’re like I’m not getting on a plane. I’m not gonna go do that. It’s a very, very small number.

george grombacher 4:45
Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me. All right. So what is experiential marketing?

Kitty Hart 4:51
Experiential. I think the easiest way that I can describe it is design A physical experience with a brand shows up in a room in a space and interacts with a person. And so obviously, that can take so many different forms. I speak on this topic quite a bit. And I always want to remind people that experiential isn’t new. It’s actually quite old dates all the way back to the 1800s. And there were brands that that that launched private Wrigley’s was one of the brands that launched their chewing gum by being at the World’s Fair in Chicago, and they would hand pieces of gum to people. That’s a sampling is a form of experiential, you’re tapping into the senses. You’re putting the product or the brand in someone’s hand, and you’re asking them to do something with it. So as you can imagine, it takes all sorts of different forms. And it can be quite elaborate, you know, there are Red Bull is a big, bold brand that uses experiential. Uber has used it beautifully. There are just so many it’s super, super creative. And as you can imagine, it’s, there can be a lot of logistics with it. But that’s basically what experiential is. It’s creating an experience. What a great

george grombacher 6:19
what a great example of Wrigley’s gum at the World’s Fair.

Kitty Hart 6:23
Yeah. Yeah, it wasn’t the only one too. It was Aunt Jemima was there as well. So they were showing this amazing new pancake mix. They were, you know, making pancakes and handing those out. Oh, there were others. I’m gonna draw a blank now. But yeah, really? Cracker Jacks, Cracker Jacks was another one.

george grombacher 6:47
Nice. All right. So what makes what are what are some of the components that have to go into making a experiential marketing campaign or event a success? What has to be their

Kitty Hart 7:06
creativity, something unique, I’ve find that it’s, it’s hard to surprise and delight people today. We’re kind of funny that way, we’ve kind of, we feel like we’ve seen that done it all. So it has to be has to be meaningful, can’t just be a get a gimmicky sort of thing has to be authentic to the brand. There are a lot of brands that you know, will try something that you’re just like, wow, I can’t put that experience on that brand together. So it needs it needs to be authentic. And I think the best experiential marketing campaigns are shareable. So again, this is another thing that’s just inherent in us right now. And it’s, again, thanks to the technology that we have and the rise of social media. But when we experience something, we usually want to share it. And whether it’s a good experience or a bad experience, we want to share it. And so that I think the best experiential marketing campaigns include, how will this show up on social media? How do we want people to talk about it? Let’s give this some hashtags. You know, let’s really make this easy for it to spread. Because that just that creates longevity in the campaign. In general. It’s not just going to be a one off. It’s not just oh, yeah, remember that thing, that number, the thing that Uber did a couple of weeks ago, now that thing is living on because of all the things that people are saying about it. So that’s really important that the marketers are thinking about that.

george grombacher 8:53
It’s interesting, what popped into my head, I remembered back when Coca Cola was putting the names on the cans of the bottles. And it was cool when he saw you know, George or whatever. And then I thought about Bud Light putting Dylan Mulvaney on there, Ken, and that kind of had the opposite effect. So it made me think, if you’re not aligned with Not that that’s aligned, or it’s not, but it didn’t work.

Kitty Hart 9:17
No, it did not end today. That’s been a fascinating and difficult story to follow. Definitely.

george grombacher 9:27
Yeah, the fascinating talk about virality doing really positive things for your company or brand or potentially destroying it. It’s, it’s it’s pretty amazing. So being thoughtful and, and it’s challenging, because yes, we have seen it all and we are maybe jaded or worn down. So to really surprise and delight somebody does require smart people like you,

Kitty Hart 9:50
kitty. Yeah, yeah. And something you know, coming up with something new and different every time. One of the elders Just let me add one more thing to what makes a great experiential campaign or experience. The, again pointing back to the fact that we’re human beings, this applies whether we’re talking a b2b brand, or b2c Doesn’t matter. I always say it’s people to people. Because even even if we are making a decision, we’re making a purchasing decision for our business, we’re still going to go through the same thought process, buying process as we would buying a consumer product. Because we’re human beings, we’re gonna go through some research, we’re going to talk to people get a recommendation, you know, we’re gonna gather information and we’re gonna make a purchase. But one of the things that is really central to experiential marketing is tapping into the senses that we have as human beings. And when you can tap into as many of the senses as possible, within one experience, you have the greatest opportunity to make an impression on someone to create a memory in that person. And it’s the memories that bond people to brands. It’s those experiences that bond people to brands, it’s why it’s why a scent is so important. It’s why you can be walking anywhere and all of a sudden you smell something and you are taken right back to your elementary school. Lunch cafeteria. That’s how strong memories are attached to scent, and music. Taste as well. I was talking about this with with someone else recently. And there’s a reason why they pump scent into environments. They want you to feel something from that that’s different scents evoke different feelings. There are major league ballparks that pump in a scent. And what do you think that sent is? Oh, wow, what would have made what what would a major league team whether

george grombacher 12:17
dark I’m probably not

Kitty Hart 12:22
one of the things one of the big moneymakers for, you know baseball games, football games, whatever the sport is, is concessions. They want people to eat. They want people to eat. So a lot of the common answers are popcorn, hot dogs, something like that. It’s actually cotton candy. No kidding, Candy will will make you salivate. It will make you Hunger Free, is going to make you go stand in line at the EPA concession stand.

george grombacher 12:53
My six year old makes me do that today.

Kitty Hart 12:58
Yeah, it’s because it’s just part of the experience. It’s part of the experience. And you know, so why cotton candy, I don’t know it, that might be something that takes you back to your childhood, you know, that takes us back to our childhood. It’s such an iconic scent. But that’s a that’s a really important component that needs to be thought of within experiential, and you can’t tap them all. There are very few experiences where you can tap every one of the senses. But if you’re pulling on a couple of them, you’re going to be in good shape. It’s definitely helpful. Yeah, that makes

george grombacher 13:37
a ton of sense. And I was thinking about how, whether they do it or not anymore, when a realtor would have an open house, they would bake cookies. And so that smelly and would kind of hit you. And so that’s an example.

Kitty Hart 13:51
Yes, that’s a perfect example. Beautiful example. And I think they do. I think it’s one of those tips that they say, Hey, if you’ve got people come in through an open house, bake some cookies right before you leave, and people come in. Yeah, yeah.

george grombacher 14:07
Then I can also see people trying to try to do a little bit too much and either missing on all of it or are doing an overload. So just finding that that that just right, that we’re all searching for.

Kitty Hart 14:21
Yes, exactly. Yeah, I’d have discipline on knowing when to stop.

george grombacher 14:27
Yeah. And so I sort of answered my next question that certainly anybody can do this, whether I am a realtor who’s showing homes or I am, you know, Sofi stadium, and 100,000 people coming through. There’s so many different opportunities at really every level to incorporate this. Yes,

Kitty Hart 14:45
yes. Thank you for saying that. Because that’s true. I never want people to listen to the conversations like this and say, Well, yeah, we don’t have a million dollar budget for a campaign. You’re absolutely right. And at any size brand, any size company can tap into experiential marketing. Absolutely.

george grombacher 15:10
So, and that could just be me as a small organization research and being thoughtful, putting my creative head on and thinking, Okay, I’ve got, you know, I’m doing a happy hour for a client appreciation event or something, whatever it is, how can I how can I be more thoughtful in incorporating these elements? What what size organizations do do you work with? Traditionally,

Kitty Hart 15:35
we’re working with mid and large size companies. You know, I would say typically, our clients are over well, on the smaller size over, you know, 20 million, and then on up to global, global corporations. And, again, to just give a better sense of what we do. So the space that we are in is in corporate event marketing. And so this would be you know, so XYZ company is, every year, they do a big sales kickoff, where they bring all of their employees together, because their employees are scattered all over the country, bring everybody together in a beautiful location. And they’ve got three days of education, and networking and entertainment. And it is it is set, basically like a stage production. It’s no different than going and sitting down in a seat and the curtain goes up and you’re watching a play or a musical. It is a produced event, or we’re thinking about from beginning to end, what is that stage going to look like? For the 500 or 5000? People that are in the room? How are they going to see the stage? How are they going to see the content? Are there going to be big, you know, big screens, we’re going to use LED or we’re going to use projection? So we’re looking at how does that room look for them. And then our client usually takes the lead on what the content is, but we make sure that that content, then is front and center, I always say we make sure that our clients messages are seen heard and felt felt part of it is is very, very important. And we make sure that the executives that that stand on the stage and deliver those messages are comfortable. And and they’ve got a teleprompter or not depending on their comfort. So it’s a full blown production for anywhere from one day to you know, three, four or five days. It is that’s specifically what we do.

george grombacher 17:48
Yeah, I love it. And I can imagine that it’s fun to to work with an organization and go through that process of putting in an event like that together, because I’ve certainly sat through a lot of them, but never given a lot of thought to all the thought that goes into all the different elements or lack thereof, because we’ve been to a lot of crappy ones too. Probably.

Kitty Hart 18:10
Exactly. I know. Yeah, we we we’ve all been to some bad ones. Where the audio is cutting out or you know, the graphics don’t work or you can’t hear the speaker very well, just things that are things that you can tell just sort of got glossed over. Yeah, that’s that’s not going to happen that are heroic event.

george grombacher 18:34
I appreciate that. I am a person who does. I guess I’m detail oriented. So I do notice. And I imagine I’m not alone there. Probably people do notice the little things. And that’s unfortunate, probably what they take away. Because

Kitty Hart 18:51
you’re right, those little things that can just drop through the cracks, they can take away all the good that had already been delivered that day on the stage. So yeah, there are a lot of details to manage. There are a lot of people that go into planning and execution of these events. And everybody’s everybody knows their lane. And you know, one piece of advice that I always give to people on this topic is make sure that you are thinking about every single moment. Because when you aren’t thinking about transitions, and when you aren’t when when you’re just saying oh yeah, that little piece of it’s not important. You’re you’re exposing yourself to some potential danger, something going wrong there. So, yeah, you need it’s important to work with a production partner that has that same level of detail and puts importance on that level of detail.

george grombacher 19:58
Yeah, that makes sense. Well, Katie, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? And how can they engage with Heroku events? Production?

Kitty Hart 20:06
still fun to talk with you? Appreciate being on today. You can find me on LinkedIn. Katie Hart, I don’t think there are very many of us. I don’t think so. I haven’t checked lately. You can email me at K heart at heroic hyphen And our website is heroic hyphen, And we’re right here in Minneapolis. But we work all over the country. So yeah, I would love to visit with anyone on any of these topics we’ve talked about today.

george grombacher 20:42
If you enjoyed as much as I did, so kill your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to heroic H E. R. Oh, I see hyphen and check out all the great resources find kitty on LinkedIn, Kitty Hart H AR T and shoot her an email and find out if they are if you are a good fit for one another for your next event to make it a success. Thanks again kitty.

Kitty Hart 21:09
Wonderful, thank you so much.

george grombacher 21:11
Till next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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