Extreme Consumer Immersion: Brand Ambassador PJ Party & Sleep Over

Want to REALLY get to know some of your most valuable community members?  Have them join you for a sleep over!

When I was just starting the Rit Studio, we met the most incredible brand ambassadors in the craft industry and through a colorful conversation at the Craft & Hobby Association trade show we decided they could teach me the most about brand ambassorships and dyeing with Rit if we just had a good old fashioned sleep over!  So, after my CEO first called me crazy, he consented to support my most unique consumer immersion yet, the Rit Studio PJ Party & Sleep Over!

Business Objectives:

  1. Learn best practices from other craft company brand ambassador programs
  2. Gain greater in depth consumer usage understanding with Rit Dye for renovation and innovation ideas
  3. Better understand crafting community members as we refine our definition of a “Ritster”
  4. Team building and bonding

Attendees:

Three brand ambassadors from other craft brands (not direct competitors with Rit) from three different locations in the U.S.  Geographic diversity is important.   Plus Rit’s Brand Ambassador Community Manager (herself a retired Fiskateer – brand ambassador for the awesome Fiskar orange handled scissors), Content Marketing Manager, Creative Director for the Rit Studio, Brand Manager and me (at the time CMO for Phoenix Brands and founder, the Rit Studio).

Two Day Timeline:

  • Brand Ambassadors fly in to meeting
  • Lunch and review of our plans for the next two days
  • PJ Dyeing extravaganza.   Dyeing tshirts and pj bottoms – our sleep wear for the sleep over! Duh.
  • Dinner – round table discussion about what it means to be a brand ambassador for a craft product.
  • Return to hotel – put on newly dyed PJs, meet in hospitality suite and discuss wishes for the perfect Rit Studio community and brand ambassador program.
  • Some sleep
  • Breakfast – review what heard yesterday and get clarity on anything that didn’t make sense from the day before
  • Innovation review – brand ambassadors offered all their ideas for making the product better or new products they would like to see (they had been briefed ahead of time so they had ideas coming in.)
  • Lunch and thank yours to everyone
  • Brand Ambassadors fly home, Brand team divide up notes to summarized and make recommendations for next steps

The Outcome!

  1. Product Renovation/Innovation!  In depth understanding of how different folks can use your product for the exact same outcome.  This gave our team great insights into package design, graphics communication, product application and Rit crafting project oppotunities galore.
  2. Enhanced Target Definition:  Greater vocabulary for describing our community.  Having three ambassadors from three very different perspectives as to why they used Rit helped us appreciate the breadth of values we need to be in tune with as well as sync with in communication outlets, tone, and core content.   So often I have made the mistake of trying to so narrowly define my target, it becomes completely untrue to who is actually consuming the brand or worse, just target all people with skin that breath air.   Not really a target, but more attempting to monopolize the entire population.
  3. Team Building:   It was fun, funny and built more bonds between the team members as well as with our new best friends in the community.  Fun at work must be a priority.  This is a critical key to keeping us engaged and continually thinking of new, better and more ways to keep growing.  The authentic interactions with the brand ambassadors opened up conversations so broad and rich.  This in turn give you a better ability to internalize what your brand/business stands for and helps the team make more efficienct decisions for the business.  It takes some of the guessing out the equation;  “will my community be interested in this?  Will they value this product innovation?  Did I just make that up or is that a real problem?”

Critical to the success of this and any consumer immersion for that matter is to have a proper debriefing/ what’s next meeting to develop an action plan coming out of your “sleep over” or what ever cool immersion you had.

I reccomend scheduling your follow up meeting one week after the immersion with the brand team.   Allocate adequate time to review write ups and develop a straw man action plans for product innovation/renovation, communication opportunities identified and for us after this event we built out our own Rit Brand Ambassador program plans.   Typically you want 2-3 hours set aside.   Discussions in these meetings is where the real business opportunities develop.   Give you and your team ample time to talk with each other.

Assign everyone action items and keep the rolling annual plans fresh with consumer driven insights FOREVER!  I strongly believe the days are over where you huddle for an offsite, make your annual plans and then go execute for the year all at once, only to review what happened at the end of that year.  Rolling quarter plans are probably most realistic with all the dynamic data we have in real time from digital communication to retail and website consumption.

This is just one idea for having a unique and personal consumer immerssion.  Have other ideas you would like to share, please comment below.  Or if you want some help brainstorming on a unique immersion, let me know below as well.  I will get right back to you.  We will figure out something fun and hopefully highly prolific in generating insights.
Cheers. REBF

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