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The Devil Is in The Retail: The power of creating an immersive environment through the exploration of the senses

By Cat Sterry, Art Director at RPM

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From our earliest steps to our last moments, we experience the world through our five senses. Watching a child gummily chewing on a plastic toy in the park the other day, I was struck by how as we grow in life we become less reliant on these senses to explore the world.

While a child will try everything but eat his toy to understand its shape, strength, taste and texture, as adults we become more passive in how we experience the world, often languishing behind a computer or smartphone in favour of the real thing – after all its accessible to anyone at anytime. But is this how we create the most meaningful connections?

As we strive to recreate this sense of childish awe in the consumers we target, more and more brands are moving towards digital solutions within brand experience and trading off the physical experiences – styling, creative set design and sensorial flourishes are often the first things to get the chop when thinning out budgets.

What makes brands memorable to consumers is when brand stories and product truths are brought to life in a way that tickles the imagination – be it digital or physical. Whichever the case, what gets me talking to my friends about a product or brand is when the envelope is pushed and a novel experience is gained – but it’s often a sensorial flourish that gets me chatting, sharing and tweeting.

Johnnie Walker 'Symphony in Blue'

Johnnie Walker took this to sensational heights with Symphony in Blue, and event that transcended the normal nod to the sensorial marketing. To celebrate the flavour notes and premium credentials of Johnnie Walker Blue, they created a journey through each note and manifested this audaciously in different spaces: guests were given the chance to experience ‘smokey’ tones by grabbing a flame thrower and charring a whisky barrel for themselves – or on the flip side could enjoy 10,000 year old glacier ice before heading into a room of spatialised whisky mist, complete with lightening to experience ‘Whisky Weather’. Would guests have recalled the smokiness of Johnnie Walker Blue as well by playing a flamethrower arcade game?

Multi-sensory experience demi-god Sam Bompas of Bompas & Parr, says: “What you’re trying to do is buy time in people’s brains. The more time you have to spend in someone’s brain in a positive way, the more likely they are to buy your product.” And you can’t argue with someone who created the first ever scented firework display.

It’s not just fun, it’s a science thing too – the Immersion Corporation research concluded that viewers were 25% more engaged after viewing material that had added sensorial elements.

More and more brands are starting to see the value of sensorial immersion, and not always the obvious ones. Virgin Holidays recent activation in shopping centres let customers ‘Try on a holiday’ in changing rooms that had sounds and smells of the sea piped in, as well as a warm, sandy floor – they saw a sales uplift of 193%.

Is this a sign of things to come perhaps? A few savvy brands are certainly getting in on the act. While digital experiences are fantastic at amplifying an event beyond its footprint, creating social engagement and help keep brands cutting edge, we should never trade up over a physical experience and rely solely on the virtual world to sell our real world products. If we want customers to buy our products – first we have to buy time in our customer’s brains.

North Pole – The Reality

So I have finally returned to supposed civilisation after what I can only describe as an expedition of a lifetime.

I have been overwhelmed by the support from friends within the industry and thought it would be useful to provide some context to what we have just completed.

The journey started by flying from Heathrow to Oslo (1208km), then Oslo to Svalbard Longyearban (2015km), which lies at 78 degrees and is the easily accessed frontier for the Arctic Circle.

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After a couple of days sorting our expedition pulks (sledges), in which we will drag all of our supplies behind us, fuel and food as well as our tents. We embark upon the final leg of our journey in a Russian Antonov plane bound for Barneo ice camp.

Landing on a ‘drifting’ ice runway which is in existence for three weeks only, with a changing location due to the sea currents, can’t be the easiest of tasks for the Russian Air Force pilots. Unfortunately we were one of the first flights in and, as a result, we firstly had an aborted landing, quickly followed by a managed crash landing, which nearly brought a swift end to our expedition and potentially could have had much more serious consequences.

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After a night camping at Barneo, we had a short helicopter ride courtesy of the Russian Geographical Society to be dropped at 89 degrees.

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Left alone to navigate our way north covering the last degree to 90 degrees; the North Pole. It is difficult to describe the journey; the immense power and savage beauty of the natural world, experiencing cold like never before (-47 at its coldest), the mind-altering 24-hour daylight, the challenges of undertaking everyday tasks in our spatially challenged five-man tent, the sheer hard work and exhaustion of negotiating the ice boulder fields (one such field lasted an entire day), whilst dragging our pulks, dehydrated food and munchies bags, the frost nip on the finger tips, the medivac of one of our team due to severe frostbite, and the camaraderie of a team working together to overcome the challenges to survive in an environment where we are simply not supposed to exist.

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Our final arrival at the Geographic North Pole, nine days later was an emotional moment for many of the team. Hugely relieved to have made it. Exhausted by the journey, but joyed by the achievement of raising funds for The Prince’s Trust and a very welcome cup of tea.

Two things I have learnt: Nature is indeed a wondrous beast which demands respected at all times’ and “Sheer bloody determination and rigorous planning are a potent combination.

Would I ever do it again? There is talk of a trek to the South Pole in 2019, but don’t tell anyone just yet.

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Thank you to all those who have kindly sponsored myself and the team. We have raised over £500,000 for The Princes Trust, which will help 250 young people turn their lives around and fully realise their potential. More details can be found at www.Arcticenterprise.co.uk

Trek to the North Pole

hughRPM founder Hugh Robertson is attempting to walk and ski 100km to the North Pole for the Prince’s Trust . He has endured more than 650 hours of training and treatment and set off on his challenge last week. Here’s his story, so far…

As many of you will know, this challenge has been a long time in the making and marks a significant landmark for me and my resilient old back. After suffering a serious injury playing rugby, three operations and over 30 years of treatment, I am setting out to achieve a huge personal goal.

As we sit here in Longyearban, desperately willing the bad weather to end and the flight ban at Barneo to lift, we have spent our time sorting through our kit, re-sorting and then sorting once more. It is not something most of us ever experience in this mostly cosetted modern world but our safety and lives depend upon knowing where each individual item is stored and how quickly and easily they can be retrieved.

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We will be travelling unsupported on the ice for less than two weeks, in stark contrast to my current roommate Norwegian national treasure Rune Gjeldnes, who succeeded in the first and to date only unsupported crossing of both Poles. In crossing the South Pole, Rune undertook the world’s longest ski trip a distance of over 4,804km, which incredibly he completed in 90 days.

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It is humbling to hear him talk of the physical and mental challenges he had to overcome in order to succeed and his book, Beyond The Poles, is a fascinating read. Which brings us back to the challenge we are about to embark upon, if, no sorry when we eventually reach the North Pole, it is sobering to think we will be members of a very exclusive club who will have achieved such a feat. ln fact, this year alone less than 30 people will complete their unsupported journeys to the North Pole. For many of us this is our first time, we are lucky to be with the unbelievably accomplished Rune, Justin and ‘Hempy’, which for the three of them is simply just another day at the office and what a great office it is.

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The power of brand experience

By John Viccars, Senior Strategist, RPM

One of the most common questions we come across is “why invest in brand experience?” and “what does brand experience do?” Although there’s nothing wrong with being asked these questions it’s the scepticism that still lingers around brand experience vs. traditional media that needs to be addressed.

John Viccars, Senior Strategist

John Viccars, Senior Strategist at RPM

The scepticism was highlighted by the Event Marketing Institutes recent research stating that 22% of senior executives remain sceptical of the impact of event marketing.

I think brand experience is still daunting because many marketers think in terms of immediate reach. Based on my X budget I can ‘push’ a message to Y amount of people.

Brand experience harnesses the power of consumer influence. Important when you consider that word of mouth is the most powerful ad medium. 70% of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends, but only 10% trust advertising.

Consumer influence generated by brand experience creates ‘pull’ which brings people into the brand through advocacy. Digital has amplified and accelerated its reach.

More than 50% of people said friends and family are the #1 influence on consumer awareness and purchase and 75% of consumers only advocate brands they have great personal experiences with.

According to studies by McKinsey, experiential brand experience is the most powerful form of word of mouth driving activity accounting for 50 to 80 percent in any given product category. Brand experience is inherently social, it’s built on ideas that people want to spend time with and that people want to share.

At RPM our E.ON Open House concept proves the power of brand experience by delivering positive brand advocacy when traditional methods had previously failed the brand; Net Promoter Scores of +88% vs. E.ON Customers control (no engagement) of -17.7%.

How does brand experience compare against traditional “ads”? The Keller Fay Group research shows that good brand experiences are three times more likely to spark conversations than an Ad and over 50% of conversations triggered by an in-person experience spark pass along and purchase.

The question is; can you afford not to invest in brand experience?

Sources: Event Marketing Institutes Event Track Report, Forrester research, Jack Morton global research, McKinsey global research, Keller Fay Group global research

Operating overseas and the value of local knowledge from an event delivery perspective

By Robert Price, Group Production Director, RPM

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For a sustained period RPM has enjoyed significant growth in its global operations offering and we have consulted on and/or delivered a broad range of activations outside the UK from the US to Russia and more recently across a range of African markets, each market of course presenting it’s own fresh challenges.

An industry conference I attended recently held an open forum to discus the topic of ‘the Challenges of operating overseas’. The session started well, all 3 panellists laying down their CSR cards early on and emphasising the importance of doing their bit for the local economy. After some light interrogation from the audience however, it seems that truth behind their overseas operations was quite different and summed up perfectly by one panellists closing statement ’Suppliers in local markets tend not be that reliable, so we ship everything in when we operate overseas, from senior management staff and operating procedures, to crew and physical assets. Basically, be as self contained as possible’.

Agencies should not muscle their way into a new market place with their tried and trusted best practices and assume the same game rules will apply as in the UK. Delivering an overseas event independently without the support and consultancy of a local agent/agency is a needless risk and can leave you exposed, particularly in frontier markets. Partnering with a local agency or integrating an experienced local fixer into your project team from the outset will allow you to identify the challenges and hurdles that lie ahead and will enable you to prepare for them. A local partner agency/fixer will help open doors to a whole new network of local suppliers, contractors and event services.

It’s not imperative to be part of a global business network to connect with and recruit a suitable partner agency/fixer. When taking on a project in an unfamiliar market place try and pay a visit at the earliest opportunity and arrange to meet with as many potential partners/fixers as possible, ideally at their work place. It will give you an idea of the scale of their operation and how well established they are. There’s nothing more encouraging than seeing first hand a work place buzzing with action, employees behind desks, items being manufactured etc. Don’t base your decisions to partner with anyone on creds alone.

With the right agency/fixer on board, there’s no reason why you can’t then start tapping into their own network of suppliers. Use the contacts introduced to you by your agency/fixer as a platform to sound out the capabilities and quality, find out who their competitors are and engage with them simultaneously to establish who really is best in class and fills you with the most confidence.

RPM have recently conceived a project for a global sports brand which will involve a 3hr live broadcast from a venue in Berlin that will also host 3000 live spectators. Confident in our approach to operating overseas and the partnerships we had forged locally, we will deliver the event with a skeleton management team operating from our London based HQ who’ll collaborate with local partners and suppliers to help facilitate our requirements on the ground. Our only imports will be our laptops and a small box of Yorkshire Tea.

Other Tips and Watch Outs when operating over sees and in frontier markets:

  • Depending on your campaign duration, consider locking down a currency exchange rate with your client and suppliers from the outset, particularly if you’re paid in £’s yet spending in a 3rd currency. Fluctuations in currency valuations need to be factored into all budgets.
  • Due diligence around local laws and regulations is essential – never assume that the rules in a foreign territory will be the same as within the UK or indeed even foreseeable or reasonable by UK standards.
  • Be aware that many insurance policies providing international operators with ‘worldwide’ cover have exceptions for certain countries.
  • Local H&S standards may be lower than in the UK – don’t jeopardise the reputation of your agency or your client by falling below the standard expected in the UK. The local social and physical environment may require special attention beyond official regulations.
  • Taxation regulations can vary even between regions/states within the same country, and all tax implications must be understood in order to avoid unexpected liabilities that could impact budgets, or in the worst case even lead to the risk of prosecution for violation.
  • In some cases it is worth exploring whether it is beneficial (and feasible) to operate out of a locally registered company.
  • Timings – we tend to work at a more intense pace in the UK than most other markets. Your project timing plan should compensate for slower response times, especially for the red tape items.
  • Security – Contract a specialist to carry out a comprehensive assessment of all risks associated to your company’s operations in each market. This should not be limited to a security review for your event itself, but should cover you and your teams operations while on the ground for the duration of campaign planning in each specific market, and your operational procedures as a whole.

Is Real World ‘Sociability’ the Key to Social Media Success?

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By James Poletti, Head of Digital Strategy @ RPM

There is much talk at the moment about integrating offline ‘real world’ events with the online digital world. Partly because it’s such an effective way to amplify an event beyond the physical limitations of a venue’s space. But also because we know from experience how technology slowly but seamlessly merges with our everyday behaviours, with much of our ‘real world’ time now conducted with half an eye on the glowing screen sitting in the palm of our hands.

It’s no surprise that RPM, whose core beliefs are embedded around the notion that brand behaviour is one of the strongest ways to change human behaviour, views social media with the emphasis on the ‘social’. Ask yourself, what is the trigger for your social media interactions? Our Facebook and Instagram feeds are awash with last night’s dinner, that beautiful sunset, a band in full flow, a child’s first steps. But how often are we photographing the screen of our laptop? Communication agencies deal in human responses, so whilst social media channels provide us with a communication platform, often the true potential of the medium can only be realised when knitted into the deep power of physical touch points and real world experience.

Creative and effective event marketing not only asks the audience to spend time with us but increasingly asks them to ‘participate’, to make and share their own content from the experiences that we create. We have the opportunity to turn audiences into ‘brand evangelists’ who will share the message of that great experience with their networks. How effective this communication is comes down to the experience, the power of content and our understanding of not just the ‘consumer’, but their network and its sharing currencies.

Too many executions from our industry, however, rely on simple image capture and share (with branding), often delivered by a white label tech partner whose pitch involves improbable multiplications of reach and impressions. Even when a participant cares enough to share this kind of formatted content, the creative fails to ignite the subsequent network interactions that really drive messages through social.

Smart ideas are built from insights into the sharing behaviour of networks and allow audiences the space to express themselves through personalisation, retaining enough mystery or humour to prompt friends to comment, share, like and drive more republishing.

Incredibly, it’s still hard to find seamless technical solutions that allow audiences to share from live event but exciting developments are on the horizon, not least of which is Apple’s iBeacons, which is set to enhance the connected environment with a whole new dimension.

We’ll be addressing all these issues on Wednesday 25th September, when – along with our friends from Specialmoves, The Rumpus Room and Swarm – we’re asking “Is real world ‘sociability’ the key to social media success?”. The panel takes place at the Soho Hotel (10am to 11am) as part of London’s fourth annual Social Media Week. So if you’d like to know more about how to digitally exploit the inherent sociability of branded events, you’re welcome to join us.

The values needed for our ‘new world order’

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In today’s fast paced, attention seeking, disruptive yet wholly engaged world, as marketers and consumers navigate their way through, it appears that the old adage stands true: in order to create great work, you need the perfect alchemy.

The perfect balance of the right client, right agency, right timing, right project and right budget, all overlaid with some team chemistry and a touch of magic, should arguably ensure the creation of a much-lauded and commercially successful campaign.

Whilst I whole-heartedly agree with this statement, it hides the current pressures that we, as the industry of ‘live’ marketing, now face. Each element of this idealized scenario is being challenged in today’s ‘new world order’:

Right Client:
Clients’ outlooks vary wildly. The ideal client is brave, consistent and honest. Someone who values equality and partnership. Someone who can operate at speed, unencumbered by uncertainty and procrastination. Of course these clients exist. And it’s reassuring to remember that most clients want to create great work. But in an uncertain economic climate, it’s easy for their ultimate goals to be blurred by the demands of procurement.

Right Agency:
There’s much debate in our industry about agency structure. But I think it should be less about structure and more about how agencies pool specialist skills and expertise to create unique campaigns. I’m putting my neck on the line here, but I’m guessing most of us have lost pitches due to pricing. This underlines the importance of an agency’s value add and culture. Are clients comparing like with like? Do they see or even know about the value add? Do they fully appreciate what agency culture, attitude and commercials can bring to the table? It’s up to use to educate in this respect.

Right Timing:
Perhaps it’s the unintended consequence of technological advance, but pretty much every sector now has to face-up to increased expectations. All businesses are now expected to be more efficient in their outputs. In a creative sector, that means less time for crafting and honing ideas. To address this conundrum, we need to be more agile in our models and more elastic in our executions. Fortunately, greater agility can create a real competitive advantage, with nimble agencies and brands quickly and efficiently captialising on time-sensitive tactical opportunities, whilst maintaining a consistent tone of voice.

Right Project:
How can we ensure our clients engage the right agency for the right project? In such a competitive and diverging agency landscape, too many times we are seeing activities fall down due to inexperience, over-promising and under-delivering. Clients need to be able to identify the agency that’s best suited to their needs… and we must help them by being straightforward and transparent.

Right Budget:
Budgets are now expected to accommodate all the relevant consumer touchpoints. The key to securing the right budget is to ensure there’s a mutual respect between agency and client, and a thorough appreciation of how the two partners work together. Under greater scrutiny than ever, it’s imperative that budgets are utterly transparent.

Magic:
This is the intangible element that’s almost impossible to put into words. But we all know it when we see, feel and experience it. Every agency should be aiming for magic, every time they deliver.

By having a flexible structure and being dynamic, responsive and efficient, we can champion the new and exciting evolutions that are being born in the discipline of live marketing. In this ‘new world order’, it’s us experienced but project-based and agile operators that are uniquely placed to seize these new opportunities. In doing so, we will achieve our ultimate goal: helping brands to succeed time and time again. And the end result for the live marketing sector? We will be rewarded with long-term growth, progressive credentials and commercial recognition.

Glasgow 2014 and the Art of Motivating Large Communities

By Simon Couch, Director of RPM Promotional People 

Simon Couch

The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games are now recruiting for an army of 15,000 volunteers in a move that is no doubt designed to emulate the outstanding success of last year’s 70,000 Olympic Games Makers. But just how can you go about motivating a group of volunteers on such a massive scale?

Last year’s legions of Games Makers at the London Olympics created an open welcome that touched millions globally. And they’ve, rightly, been named by top brass as the real heroes behind the games. But how on earth can each individual Games Maker be trusted to consistently deliver the organisers’ central message of warmth and enthusiasm? As the person responsible for recruiting passionate promotional people at RPM, I thought it would be helpful to analyse how LOCOG did it:

Search: LOCOG whittled down 70,000 Games Makers from a staggering 250,000 applicants. They took the time to meet everyone individually for 15 minutes at a relaxed and informal ‘meet and tell’. That equates to 62,500 hours (aka 2,604 days or 7.4 years) worth of round-the-clock meetings. Safe to say, finding the right people takes time. Questions such as: ‘how do you go beyond your personal best?’ immediately showed applicants’ personality and desire for the role, regardless of their age or status. The scores of all meetings were immediately uploaded onto a central database which enabled both a slick and fair judging process.

Inspire: Once you’ve found the right people, you need to inspire them with a common purpose and a sense of pride. Of course, offering up the chance to be a face of Great Britain helped. LOCOG delivered two training days for all Games Makers. These were run throughout the country in inspiring venues, delivered by inspiring people. Each session started with a video of Lord Coe talking about the ethos and culture of London 2012 and was followed by a slightly more comedic take on the games by marathon man Eddie Izzard. Closer to the events, the Games Makers were trained in practical skills at their designated Olympic location, giving them a chance to meet and bond with their new colleagues and also offering sneak-peaks of Olympic sites.

Respect: Be it volunteer or paid worker, efforts must be acknowledged. Before the opening ceremony Lord Coe and Danny Boyle were on site mingling with the volunteers, referring to them by first name (all Games Makers wore name badges on the first day). The same attitude ran from top to bottom, with leaders instilling the same approach throughout their teams. And this last point is crucial: instilling a ‘one team’ mentality is the key to motivating on a mass scale.

Reward: Rewards don’t always come in financial packages. Games Makers were rewarded with a sense of pride and privilege, as instilled by LOCOG themselves. Of course, added initiatives helped too. Volunteers were given complimentary breakfasts, daily pin badges of honour, signed letters from Lord Coe and Jacques Rogge, snazzy adidas kit and an inscribed relay baton on completion of the job. Sometimes it’s the small gestures that count. LOCOG’s gratitude of a job well done was reward enough in itself. And getting thanked by a global audience and receiving a standing ovation at both closing ceremonies gave them a share of Games legacy.

So what lessons can we, the events industry, draw from LOCOG’s success? To motivate people on this immense scale, volunteers cannot be viewed as a commodity, but rather a critical part of the event-goers’ experience. After all, it’s human contact that often leaves the longest lasting impression. These principles, of course, equally apply to the motivation of paid event staff, whatever the scale. Although money is a motivation, it’s these extras that create genuinely passionate brand ambassadors.

The size of LOCOG’s task was huge, yet they executed it fantastically well. A collection of basic man management principles, coupled with a rigorous organisational structure and some considerate touches, resulted in a successful outcome. If Glasgow’s volunteer recruiters can follow this precedent, we may well be lucky enough to experience another feel good summer of national pride.

Featherweight to Heavyweight: 20 Years of Brand Behaviour Marketing

In an era when consumers are calling the shots, positive brand experiences have never been more important. Two of last year’s most defining marketing moments were event-led campaigns: London 2012 and Red Bull’s Stratos Space Jump. This is a ringing endorsement for the power of branded events to connect with consumers in tangible ways and is indicative of how the industry has evolved from purveyors of trailers and roadshows into masters of intelligent marketing strategy.

I got to thinking about how brand behaviour marketing has blossomed because this month marks a personal milestone. The agency I founded, RPM, has just turned 20. And in these two decades, I’ve seen our discipline mature from naive adolescent to erudite adult. Long gone are the days when brands would come to us with a brief to offload a surplus of FMCG samples. Instead, brands now present us with complex challenges that involve longterm strategic thinking and part of our remit now involves finding ways to amplify events well beyond the parameters of their venues.

It’s not only RPM that has had a big birthday this month. January also saw the internet celebrate its 30th birthday. The advent of the internet has been the primary driving force behind the increased marketing potential of brand events. Digital media, social platforms and technology are enabling more meaningful and targeted strategies.

When I started out in 1993, the online world was still embryonic. To understand how far we’ve come, you only have to glance at what can now be done with smartphones, QR codes, AR and RFID: enabling instant event amplification across social media channels. The internet is a hungry beast and its appetite for content has never been greater. Camera phone filmed video clips of events are a prolific source of user generated content that have turned consumers into broadcasters, sharing their experiences with the wider world via the world wide web.

Digital channels have also been responsible for a shift in consumer power. Social media has given consumers more voice and more choice. So brand transparency and authenticity has become more important than ever. Branded events, with their face-to-face mechanics, are a powerful form of marketing. Directly engaging with consumers via positive brand behaviour ensures supportive public sentiment in today’s digitally exposed world.

Brand behaviour marketing’s soaring success, however, cannot solely be attributed to digital. There are other factors at play too; like cultural shifts. When we started in the early 90s, we were following a kickback against the material desires and needs of the Thatcherite 80s. We now live in a society that prides itself more on what’ve done, than what we’ve got. Contemporary social currency is fuelled by what people have experienced… a golden opportunity for brands to play a part in these conversations.

If you need proof that brand behaviour marketing is all grown-up, just think about how the practice can now be validated by sophisticated metrics. Independent research can now evaluate brand behaviour campaigns by the same measures as other channels: brand awareness, advocacy, perception, sales increase and propensity to purchase.

Although much education still needs to be done, brands are increasingly realising that, whilst event-led campaigns may carry a higher ‘cost per contact’, they offer far superior quality of contact and measure-up favourably when compared to traditional advertising’s ‘cost per acquisition’.

These innovations and shifts have put brand behaviour marketing firmly on the map. Ours is a branch of marketing that is fast becoming a central pillar of brand communication strategy across multiple sectors. Observing this transition from featherweight to heavyweight has been like proudly watching your child grow into adulthood. It makes me optimistic about how the next 20 years might unfold…

Retaining Talent

Dom Robertson, RPM’s Managing Director, believes that keeping employees engaged, passionate and motivated is key to staff retention. His comments, recently featured in the FT, are below.

Research proves that employees who are kept motivated, engaged and feel appreciated, work harder and stay with organisations for longer. In the past, one of the most common forms of employee engagement has traditionally been monetary rewards, such as performance related bonuses, incentive trips and pay rises. The current economic climate has limited this dramatically, meaning that companies have had to find new, more cost effective, ways to ensure employees stay motivated, engaged and loyal.

RPM is very focused on staff retention, (we have remained in the top 100 of The Sunday Times Best 100 Small Companies to Work For, for the last six years) and we devote a lot of time to ensuring our staff remain passionate and engaged with their work. This is managed through quarterly reviews by the HR department and the enlistment of a devoted social team, ‘The Social Monkeys’, who seek out opportunities for team bonding outings or other social occasions. Our Production Manager, Rory Sloan, began at RPM as a graduate 15 years ago. Similarly our Head of Strategy and Creative, Rob Wilson, has remained at RPM for 12 years, beginning as an intern.

In order to retain staff, RPM co-ordinate several initiatives including an annual company away day that shares with staff the direction in which the business is heading, delivers new and improved ways of working, and reinstates the company mission and values, usually delivered by the CEO, Financial Director and myself. The day is not only based around an open and honest showcase of the business, but also rewards the hard work achieved to date. The day includes Q&As and engaging team exercises to keep staff up to date with current client projects, ensuring that staff remain inspired, passionate and interested in the business. Special extras on the day have included entertainment from The Cuban Brothers, engaging industry speakers, and the creation of an RPM ‘all office’ music video.

At RPM we believe experiences are everything, and offer up to £1000 toward any staff member who wants to pursue an experience that will contribute to their current role or aid personal development. Each month, a fund is available and may be granted to help them fulfil an ambition. Experiences so far have included a photography trip to Tanzania, a wine tasting tour to the Rioja wine region, a trek to basecamp at Mount Everest and a typography course.We also recently launched the RPM Training Academy which seeks to utilise our in-house talent to educate fellow staff members on a variety of topics and skills. We pride ourselves on the talent within the agency and try to share it with others as much as possible. The training academy offers anything from photography courses to polishing up presentation skills and how to manage a creative brief.

I also believe it is important to recognise and reward hard work. Each week, our PR Manager co-ordinates a weekly newsletter that is circulated throughout the agency that specifically credits good work and initiative from staff members. There is also the opportunity for team heads to thank their teams for positive contributions they have had to projects