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Allison RandPMK BNC

Summer concert season may have wound down, but for Allison Rand, launching marketing campaigns at some of the largest music festivals is a year-round job. Her employer, American Express, sponsors annual shows like Panorama, Coachella and the upcoming Austin City Limits, as well as sporting events like the U.S. Open golf and tennis tournaments. As senior manager of global experiential marketing at the company, the 27-year-old creates interactive brand experiences for card members who attend these annual, multiday music fests.  

At this year’s Coachella in April, her team designed and constructed a Secret Garden-themed lounge exclusive to cardholders. The enchanted lounge was lush with greenery and cold cocktails, right smack in the middle of the desert. At the more recent Panorama Festival in July, Amex constructed a makeshift clubhouse on Randalls Island in New York City complete with parlor games, giveaways and a bar overlooking the main stage, all tied together by a tropical island vibe. These thought-out spaces provide a break from the crowds and heat, as well as visual backdrops that entice attendees to share more of their experiences on social media.

Rand at Panorama 2018

Rand at Panorama 2018Allison Rand

After wrapping up Panorama 2018 in New York City, Rand has shifted her attention to Austin City Limits, which takes place this October in Texas. The three-day event boasts a lineup ranging from legends like Paul McCartney and Metallica to trending artists like Travis Scott and Childish Gambino. After five years on the job, Rand says, each concert brings an array of lessons in how to execute a marketing campaign at a live event—and more importantly, how to troubleshoot if one element (i.e., the weather) goes awry. Whether you’re a corporation working on a major festival that draws thousands or a local business setting up at a small market, Rand shares event marketing tips that anyone can use regardless of budget. She also says you don’t need to wait to reach the senior or executive level to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion within your company. In fact, she took action at the entry and mid-level.

 

Tanya Klich:

What’s the secret to planning and executing a hit experiential marketing campaign?  

Allison Rand: The first thing we do is ask our team to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and try to design a seamless experience from beginning to end. Many make the mistake of thinking the customer experience starts when customers enter the actual event. Marketers must instead zoom out and track the customer journey starting with when they learn about the event, to when they purchase tickets, attend the event and the post-event when they continue to share their experience on social media. We analyze how we could make our brand relevant throughout that whole process.

"Design an unforgettable theme around an event, and know exactly when to scale back."

Klich:

Could you give examples of how detail-oriented you have to be to deliver a memorable brand experience?  

Rand: Panorama is always in July in NYC, when the weather is humid, hot and unpredictable. Unfortunately, this year, it poured the first night and we had to cancel the evening acts, but we were prepared with some services for our card members. It’s a given to provide best-in-class customer service, but you have to get more specific. One guide we follow is to drive customer loyalty by giving card members the opportunity to “be the hero” to friends and family at these special events. In this case, they’re getting their guests into these exclusive lounges to protect them from the harsh weather.

Besides the indoor clubhouse, we distributed branded beach mats and towels to give card members a place to sit or shield themselves from the sun or rain. We also gave out branded portable chargers to keep their phones connected to social media updates, public transportation schedules and rideshare apps the whole weekend.

 

Klich: But not every company has the budget for swag. What other rules guide your experiential marketing strategy that any company, startup or small business can use? 

Rand: Anyone can excel in event marketing, regardless of scale. When I started this job five years ago, I learned to treat the budget as if it’s my own money. But that doesn’t mean to be cheap, because we still have to execute a premier experience. The best way to do this without breaking the bank is to get creative. Design an unforgettable theme around an event, and know exactly when to scale back.

 

Klich:

Give an example of how you struck this balance between staying within budget while still delivering an immersive experience. 

Rand: A lot goes into the design of the spaces. There’s always the question of what materials should go into the physical structure and what looks best on social media. At this year’s Coachella, I wanted to create the lushest garden made of real flowers and have this oasis in the middle of the desert. But purchasing and installing real flowers to last days in the desert would have cost us. We settled for a mix of real and faux plants to make it look premium but not bust our budget.  

There’s also no better time to get feedback from customers than while they’re actually at the event. Our events staff, as well as agencies working on the ground, are all frontline workers tasked with gathering feedback so that we can continually improve.

 

Allison Rand, American Express

Allison Rand, American ExpressPMK BNC

Klich:

What career advice would you give to women who want to climb the corporate ladder?

Rand: Don’t be quiet. Speak up about what you want and what you need. If you’re assertive in a respectful way, people will listen. A closed mouth does not get fed. You won’t get promoted unless you ask for it and seek it out.

 

"As an African-American woman in a big corporation, I wanted to be part of a movement within my organization."

Klich:

What is something you spoke up about or took the initiative in that has helped you thrive professionally? 

Rand: As an African-American woman in a big corporation, I wanted to be part of a movement within my organization. American Express is integrated in the music industry. It’s a field where the artists may be diverse but the executives behind the scenes making decisions are mostly white males. So when our vice president, Deb Curtis, announced the launch of the Women in Music Leadership Academy in 2017, I raised my hand to join the committee. 

I personally reviewed every applicant and worked with the Center for Creative Leadership to craft a meaningful curriculum. We drew applicants from companies like Live Nation, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Bros. Records and AEG Music. The three-day conference kicked off in April and provided executive coaching and workshops on communication skills, management and networking. It provided one-on-ones and live chats with women like Neha Gandhi (editor-in-chief at Girlboss), Danielle Lee (VP at Spotify) and Julie Greenwald (chairman and COO at Atlantic Records). I myself learned a lot by attending and hosting this event.

 

Allison Rand at the Women in Music Leadership Academy

Allison Rand at the Women in Music Leadership AcademyJenna Bascom Photography LLC 2018

Klich:

How are you supporting diversity and inclusion within your own company? 

Rand: I was the project lead for Amex’s first-ever Black Employee Network Forum where more than 200 mid-level African-American leaders gathered for a daylong conference to receive professional development tools. They got face time with C-suite leaders, including our CEO and CMO. The day is designed for mid-level colleagues who are facing a unique time in their careers where they’re looking to grow to the next level, but without proper training, they can easily get stuck. It’s up to corporate leaders to commit to diversity by engaging and retaining these groups at this critical point of their careers. 

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Allison Rand

Allison RandPMK BNC

Summer concert season may have wound down, but for Allison Rand, launching marketing campaigns at some of the largest music festivals is a year-round job. Her employer, American Express, sponsors annual shows like Panorama, Coachella and the upcoming Austin City Limits, as well as sporting events like the U.S. Open golf and tennis tournaments. As senior manager of global experiential marketing at the company, the 27-year-old creates interactive brand experiences for card members who attend these annual, multiday music fests.  

At this year’s Coachella in April, her team designed and constructed a Secret Garden-themed lounge exclusive to cardholders. The enchanted lounge was lush with greenery and cold cocktails, right smack in the middle of the desert. At the more recent Panorama Festival in July, Amex constructed a makeshift clubhouse on Randalls Island in New York City complete with parlor games, giveaways and a bar overlooking the main stage, all tied together by a tropical island vibe. These thought-out spaces provide a break from the crowds and heat, as well as visual backdrops that entice attendees to share more of their experiences on social media.

Rand at Panorama 2018

Rand at Panorama 2018Allison Rand

After wrapping up Panorama 2018 in New York City, Rand has shifted her attention to Austin City Limits, which takes place this October in Texas. The three-day event boasts a lineup ranging from legends like Paul McCartney and Metallica to trending artists like Travis Scott and Childish Gambino. After five years on the job, Rand says, each concert brings an array of lessons in how to execute a marketing campaign at a live event—and more importantly, how to troubleshoot if one element (i.e., the weather) goes awry. Whether you’re a corporation working on a major festival that draws thousands or a local business setting up at a small market, Rand shares event marketing tips that anyone can use regardless of budget. She also says you don’t need to wait to reach the senior or executive level to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion within your company. In fact, she took action at the entry and mid-level.

 

Tanya Klich:

What’s the secret to planning and executing a hit experiential marketing campaign?  

Allison Rand: The first thing we do is ask our team to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and try to design a seamless experience from beginning to end. Many make the mistake of thinking the customer experience starts when customers enter the actual event. Marketers must instead zoom out and track the customer journey starting with when they learn about the event, to when they purchase tickets, attend the event and the post-event when they continue to share their experience on social media. We analyze how we could make our brand relevant throughout that whole process.

"Design an unforgettable theme around an event, and know exactly when to scale back."

Klich:

Could you give examples of how detail-oriented you have to be to deliver a memorable brand experience?  

Rand: Panorama is always in July in NYC, when the weather is humid, hot and unpredictable. Unfortunately, this year, it poured the first night and we had to cancel the evening acts, but we were prepared with some services for our card members. It’s a given to provide best-in-class customer service, but you have to get more specific. One guide we follow is to drive customer loyalty by giving card members the opportunity to “be the hero” to friends and family at these special events. In this case, they’re getting their guests into these exclusive lounges to protect them from the harsh weather.

Besides the indoor clubhouse, we distributed branded beach mats and towels to give card members a place to sit or shield themselves from the sun or rain. We also gave out branded portable chargers to keep their phones connected to social media updates, public transportation schedules and rideshare apps the whole weekend.

 

Klich: But not every company has the budget for swag. What other rules guide your experiential marketing strategy that any company, startup or small business can use? 

Rand: Anyone can excel in event marketing, regardless of scale. When I started this job five years ago, I learned to treat the budget as if it’s my own money. But that doesn’t mean to be cheap, because we still have to execute a premier experience. The best way to do this without breaking the bank is to get creative. Design an unforgettable theme around an event, and know exactly when to scale back.

 

Klich:

Give an example of how you struck this balance between staying within budget while still delivering an immersive experience. 

Rand: A lot goes into the design of the spaces. There’s always the question of what materials should go into the physical structure and what looks best on social media. At this year’s Coachella, I wanted to create the lushest garden made of real flowers and have this oasis in the middle of the desert. But purchasing and installing real flowers to last days in the desert would have cost us. We settled for a mix of real and faux plants to make it look premium but not bust our budget.  

There’s also no better time to get feedback from customers than while they’re actually at the event. Our events staff, as well as agencies working on the ground, are all frontline workers tasked with gathering feedback so that we can continually improve.

 

Allison Rand, American Express

Allison Rand, American ExpressPMK BNC

Klich:

What career advice would you give to women who want to climb the corporate ladder?

Rand: Don’t be quiet. Speak up about what you want and what you need. If you’re assertive in a respectful way, people will listen. A closed mouth does not get fed. You won’t get promoted unless you ask for it and seek it out.

 

"As an African-American woman in a big corporation, I wanted to be part of a movement within my organization."

Klich:

What is something you spoke up about or took the initiative in that has helped you thrive professionally? 

Rand: As an African-American woman in a big corporation, I wanted to be part of a movement within my organization. American Express is integrated in the music industry. It’s a field where the artists may be diverse but the executives behind the scenes making decisions are mostly white males. So when our vice president, Deb Curtis, announced the launch of the Women in Music Leadership Academy in 2017, I raised my hand to join the committee. 

I personally reviewed every applicant and worked with the Center for Creative Leadership to craft a meaningful curriculum. We drew applicants from companies like Live Nation, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Bros. Records and AEG Music. The three-day conference kicked off in April and provided executive coaching and workshops on communication skills, management and networking. It provided one-on-ones and live chats with women like Neha Gandhi (editor-in-chief at Girlboss), Danielle Lee (VP at Spotify) and Julie Greenwald (chairman and COO at Atlantic Records). I myself learned a lot by attending and hosting this event.

 

Allison Rand at the Women in Music Leadership Academy

Allison Rand at the Women in Music Leadership AcademyJenna Bascom Photography LLC 2018

Klich:

How are you supporting diversity and inclusion within your own company? 

Rand: I was the project lead for Amex’s first-ever Black Employee Network Forum where more than 200 mid-level African-American leaders gathered for a daylong conference to receive professional development tools. They got face time with C-suite leaders, including our CEO and CMO. The day is designed for mid-level colleagues who are facing a unique time in their careers where they’re looking to grow to the next level, but without proper training, they can easily get stuck. It’s up to corporate leaders to commit to diversity by engaging and retaining these groups at this critical point of their careers. 

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/tanyaklich/2018/09/13/how-this-millennial-executes-experiential-marketing-campaigns-at-panorama-coachella-and-austin-city-limits/

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