Podcast speakers: Savannah McIntosh (Purplepass Marketing Director) and Brigette Young (MMCO Founder & CEO). Jump to the show notes below.
The EventBuzz podcast: The Modern Muse Company
presented by Purplepass
03:35 - Example of a virtual artist showcase (RAW Artists)
07:06 - Marketing virtual vs. in-person experiences
10:00 - Using mini pop-up events for brand exposure
15:40 - Forming partnerships with other brands
17:44 - Should you work with influencers?
23:32 - Shifting your marketing strategies in 2021
"It's really about coming together and how do we do something that at the end of the day, the consumer will love. Because that's all that matters, you know? Is it gonna make sense? Is it going to be fun? Is it going to be memorable? Is it going to be useful?"
"What it always comes down to for me is set yourself up correctly, have everything be the most seamless user experience you possibly can give people. Give them a reason to want to come and join you whether it's virtually or whether it's in person. Do something that's exciting enough that you would want to join. Give them a great experience, you know, and create opportunities for engagement because while you have their ear that's the best time to let them get to know your event or your brand or whatever it is. So if you do everything with the consumer and their experience in mind you probably can't go wrong."
"I personally don't typically advise an influencer first strategy, not because I think there's anything wrong with it. But I think you have to be selective...I think, you know, when you're a small company, and you're just getting started, you're going to benefit more by making sure that you have a fully optimized website, social channels, digital advertising and marketing strategy and making sure that those pieces are in place, and you've done a good job."
Podcast Transcript: Purplepass + The Modern Muse Company
Welcome back to the podcast for event planners, EventBuzz by Purplepass. I'm your host Savannah McIntosh and today we are talking with an industry expert who has spent the last 20 years of her life creating campaigns for a variety of industries, including live events, entertainment and consumer products.
She has worked with clients such as Live Nation, Cirque du Soleil, Pocket Watch, and other small businesses and startups. She is also the founder and CEO of the Modern Muse Company, a California based full service marketing agency that specializes in increasing revenue and brand awareness. I'm so excited to welcome to the show and this week's episode, Brigette Young.
Okay, so welcome to the show. Hi, Brigette. How are you doing today, and thanks again, for sitting down and taking the time to talk with me.
I'm great. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.
So I already did a brief introduction so the listeners know a little bit about you and what you do and how awesome you are. But why don't you tell us more about The Modern Muse Company?
Sure. So I started The Modern Muse Company about five years ago, my marketing career has spanned about, gosh, 20 years at this point, which is crazy to say out loud. But I really felt like there was an opportunity to have an agency that was more holistic in nature than a lot of the companies that were already out there.
I've worked for a lot of different companies over the years, and each specialize in a different arena of sorts. But starting my own company allowed me to put a focus on things like brand partnerships and live events. And again, just the the holistic strategy of bringing together different types of marketing into one place that could most benefit each client.
So we've worked with a lot of different industries over the years, everything from, you know, consumer goods and family products to as I said, live events, media, technology, a little bit of everything, which I absolutely love, because I am somebody who gets bored very easily. So the more interesting and the more forward thinking the better as far as I'm concerned.
Yeah. And like he said, it's more holistic, because, and that's how we are too because you learn that everyone doesn't fit into one box, you know. Especially with marketing, it doesn't work that way, you got to do a little bit of everything and what works for them and their needs.
Yeah, and I don't know how it's been with COVID. But I know your company specializes in creating consumer campaigns that include mini pop up events, is that correct?
And we haven't done it. Yeah, I was gonna ask if you're able to still do them, or if you've pivoted to like online campaigns for the moment or just paused?
Well, the funny thing is, I haven't hosted a significant event since my own wedding, which was February of 2020. Believe it or not.
Lucky, so lucky.
Snuck that one in right before the buzzer.
Oh, my gosh, yeah.
So what's interesting, though, is, is while I haven't, I feel that those are all coming back, and I'm getting a lot of inquiries about doing things like that, especially in the spring, I feel like it's really picked up again. But between February 2020, and roughly now, everything I've done has been online with one really unique exception.
And I'm really excited that you asked about this, because I think this was one of the most creative ways I saw a company get around lockdown. Last year, there's a company called Raw Artists based out of Los Angeles, and they're, you know, artists showcases, they get people together from all persuasions of the arts, and host these beautiful showcases. They do it internationally, actually, they're just based in LA. But last year, you know, watching all their artists suffer because they really couldn't, you know, they weren't earning the revenue, they were use to, they weren't able to showcase.
The owner of raw a woman named Heidi Luerra came up with the idea to do what was called the National Arts Drive. And in June of last year, she created this hybrid, virtual and in person event, which was in my mind just just so interesting, and such a creative take on things. And basically, it encouraged artists of all kinds to create these artistic displays outside of their homes, or places of work, or it could have been a shop in their downtown location or possibly a city resource.
And then the virtual component was that people could actually drive by and go check out the art from their cars so safely and at a distance but there it was all mapped out. That was the virtual component. And you could figure out where these displays were in your community. And to me that was it was a massive under taking, over 3000 artists from six different countries ended up participating. And that was worldwide, even though the intention was to have it in the US, but that was a really creative example that I was part of. Luckily, I got to help a little bit with the marketing and PR and stuff like that. But that was one of the most unique and interesting and creative ways I saw a company leverage the fact that, you know, you couldn't truly do things in person, but you could kind of get creative with how.
So that's, that's the one that really stands out in my mind. And that's really been the only event with a live component that I've participated in in about a year.
Wow. Well, first, just like hearing you talk about that, I can't even imagine the planning that had to go into that, to make it all, that kind of stresses me out.
They are geniuses. They are logistical genius.
Yeah. But yes, that's amazing. And that's, that's a cool part. I mean, I don't want to say a cool part and COVID in the same sentence, but that's the cool part about the pandemic, because people have had to become super creative and kind of go beyond what they ever thought was possible.
And, and it's working. Like I have some people that in the beginning, who just really did not want to do anything like virtual or go online or stream events at all, because they were super traditional. And I totally get that. But they had to either, you know, evolve with what's happening or nothing at all. And now they're like, I think when we go back to in person, we'll probably still do like hybrid, because we've reached so many more people and, and, you know, kind of like doing things that you might think you're crazy in the beginning and and seeing it work. It's cool to kind of, you know, see some sort of like a positive thing come out of this, but good for them.
It forced innovation, you know, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. And I think you're right, I think virtual is, is here to stay we figured out how to leverage it in a much more effective way over the past year.
Yeah, exactly. And before I move on, since you brought up that, that event that you that you guys worked with, what are some things you had to do when it came to like the marketing side? Because it's different now marketing, a virtual event versus, you know, in person experiences?
Yeah, you know, we did a lot of outreach to arts centric organizations of every size, shape and color you can possibly think of, and I think, you know, people were so hungry for some sort of experience and some way to express themselves. This was also on the heels of, you know, a large social justice movement. So people were feeling a lot.
And I think the idea was that, you know, they were, they really needed something to grab on to and and look forward to, and both from the artist side and the consumer side of things. There was a lot of interest.
So we saw a lot of support from from what we were referring to as partner organizations, organizations that support the arts, but even community like very, very community driven publications, lots of social support, you know, artists influencers were getting on board with it. So it was it was a bit unique, I would say it was much more grassroots in a lot of ways. We hoped to get a lot of major media exposure, again, with just what was going on with COVID and the social justice issues in the country at the time. That didn't go as planned. So we ended up just going smaller and more targeted.
And I think, you know, considering that for an inaugural year in a pandemic, or over 3000 participants, I, you know, I feel like that was an incredible success. So it was it was a lot of partner outreach, and just, you know, asking the favor and just just talking to people about what it was and people got excited. They understood it, and they got excited for us. So it was it was pretty awesome.
I know. Yeah. Like you said, people are hungry. We're all hungry for those something, if it has the word events in it, okay, cool. Yes, let's do it, or here. But that's amazing. I'm glad you guys were able to help out and be a part of such an awesome, intricate event that brought the arts together. Because honestly, I've seen a lot of different industries, but the arts are one that just really hurt my heart because it's, it's they can't do what they love.
They can but it's not the same, especially theater really hurts my heart because they're doing virtual events. And that's amazing, but I can't wait for the day where I can actually go and experience theater in person again, because it's just a different experience.
It's so powerful, you know, both for the artists themselves and the performers, it's powerful watching you know, it's just it's catharsis. So yeah, we all missed it very greatly. I love that things are starting to change.
Yeah, and my other point when you said you though, with the pop up so many pop ups that slowly I think since things are starting to change, and everyone's getting vaccinated, and we're starting to go back in person. I still wanted to ask you guys about these mini pop events that you specialize in.
Because you are the experts. And when we do go back to in person more of like experiential marketing, I wanted to talk about, yeah, what are these mini pop events that you do? And how, how can brands use them for exposure?
I think you know, I've, I've seen a lot of these mini pop ups pop back up. And so I do you think everything is starting to proliferate again. And in the past I the example that I love to use just because I think it's such a fun one. We've done over the past handful of years, we've worked a lot with Cirque du Soleil, and in Southern California. And helping them promote their touring shows, through partnerships through brand partnerships.
And one of those that we've done consistently over the years has been with the IKEA stores in Southern California. And I think for me that the overarching joy in that is that, you know, you're kinda if you're anything like me, you kind of have to work yourself up to go to an IKEA and it's not because like, it's not wonderful it is. But you know, you know, it's going to be crowded, you know, it's going to be, you know, really a, an endeavor.
And so we were doing these in store takeovers to celebrate these shows. And we would you know, do everything from redecorate the entry areas with using IKEA product, but things that the fit the theme of the shows, we would have these life size cardboard cutouts of characters from the show throughout the store. Some of them were, you know, photo ops as well. So they were very shareable. And that way, we would play music from the show, we would have B roll on the IKEA TVs, we'd have costume characters roaming the stores, interacting, taking pictures of customers, handing out flyers that had, you know, a custom discount code. We'd have games that families could participate in, and they'd win branded prizes. We'd have activities like face painting, and craft making for kids, again, all thematically tied back to the show. We did like live ticket giveaways, you know, we did all kinds of things.
But the best part of all of that was, you know, standing near the front of the show and watching people come in, and just the surprise on their faces. And then that, you know, kind of like what is this? And then smiling because they weren't expecting it.
And I'm just a huge fan of the old surprise and delight and just giving somebody something they weren't expecting. And you know, putting a smile on their face, giving them a really great experience. You know, IKEA does that intrinsically as a company. Their employees are, I mean, having worked with these people, they are incredible. They're really, they really are, you know, from top to bottom about a customer experience. So I think it really fit with kind of their their ethos as a company too. But just watching people come in and you know, see and be immersed in this experience that they weren't expecting, but really ended up joining. It really was great. And I think it created a lot of awareness. It created a lot of, you know, brand loyalty and interest. And it was just really a win win for everybody.
Yeah, okay, first of all, I love IKEA. So it's already so exciting to come in. So I would be really excited. Here we go. I spent time in there. And that makes IKEA is a brilliant partner. Because like I said, you spend so much time in there. So you're walking through and that's a lot of exposure for you guys. So that's really smart. And yeah, I was going to ask so you guys get the exposure. But what for IKEA, what would they really be benefiting from from this partnership?
Well, there's so many levels of it. And this is again, why I love doing these kinds of things. But it was everything from you know, the employees got behind it, they'd be excited about it. And you know, they'd they'd have a field day with this, you know, they take pictures with the characters they'd, you know, really, you know, want to know what we were promoting so that they could talk about it, they really would get behind it.
But I think it's the idea that you know, you're coming to an IKEA store and you already have an expectation of the experience you'll have. But now you're having fun. You're legitimately having fun. I mean, maybe you're having fun before if you're anything like me love the organizing section. I am a Marie Kondo disciple you know, I love that kind of stuff. But, you know, maybe you know, you see those husbands in tow that are like, fine, I'll be here but like, you know, just giving people something that really brightens their day. And you know, this all comes from a place of IKEA, allowing it, IKEA encouraging it.
So they're a brand that likes to have fun and be playful and give their customers they do a lot to give back to their customers way above and beyond the scope of this and the other thing we did with them, which was sort of a satellite event was we actually brought IKEA on site to a couple of the dates where Cirque du Soleil was set up. And had them doing, you know, giveaways where they were signing people up for IKEA family and IKEA family members, whether they were new or existing, could get like a free bag of goodies on site.
So they would come to the show that day, not really realizing, oh, I'm gonna get you know, a goodie bag just because he is here today. So, you know, it was a very mutual experience in terms of, you know, creating brand loyalty for both brands, but also aligning to really fun, really creative, really consumer centric brands.
Yeah. And so what would you say for, let's say, I'm having an event coming up, and I wanted to do some sort of partnership, it's hard to know where to start? Or how like how to reach even reach out to someone? What would you say like, where to start? Or would they need someone maybe like you guys to help them form those connections and relationships?
You know, I think for bigger brands, it's easier to have somebody that does that for you. Because the the partnership aspect can be you know, and certainly event planning can be overwhelming. But if you're a little company, and you're just trying to leverage the audience of another, you know, brands or you know, get word out about your event, I think a great place to start is with your values and your voice. You know, where you know what brands kind of iconically fit what you're trying to do, and who speaks about things in a way that you know, has the same values as you?
Are they speaking about things in a way that you agree with, and it resonates with your audience too, and, you know, also understand that you need to be targeting partners that are the right size. So you know, if you're an event and you're just going out there for the first time, and nobody's heard of you, you're probably not going to get an IKEA unless you have, you know, something that hooks into their existing initiatives.
But that's not to say that there couldn't be a local store, you know, or restaurant or, you know, shop or any number of things that that makes sense for you. So, you know, be realistic about the scale. But more importantly, make sure that, you know, your consumers match that there's sort of a venn diagram of, you know, who your audiences who their audiences and that overlap makes intuitive sense, and is going to make sense to each of your audiences.
Yeah, and I think that advice can also go hand in hand, if someone is choosing to work with influencers or bloggers online. You know, like you said, you got to make sure they're, it's your the same, it's gonna go kind of be cohesive with your brand and work. You don't want someone random. But also, you know, it's a good relationship and a good partnership. Do you guys, I often encourage working with influencers?
You know, it's funny, I get asked that all the time.
Yeah. It's like, so popular now!
It is. And I think, you know, my answer is that it depends. I personally don't typically advise an influencer first strategy, not because I think there's anything wrong with it. But I think you have to be selective. And I think you just touched on that. I think, you know, when you're a small company, and you're just getting started, you're going to benefit more by making sure that you have a fully optimized website, you know, social channels, digital advertising and marketing strategy and making sure that those pieces are in place, and you've done a good job.
Because all the influencers in the world, generally speaking on their own will not make or break something for you. So, you know, I think it's really important to understand that you have to have the right pieces in place before you do anything like that. And if you do, or if you're a bigger company, and that's all established, and you've done it well, you know, as you said, I think influencers can make sense, assuming that they are the right fit.
I personally happen to really like micro influencers, I think, if you're going to use them, you know, find the people that it just makes sense, you know, for their audience, for your audience, and that they integrate in a way that feels very natural. When it feels for when it feels forced, I think most of us get that on a gut level and we tune out and we get that and we don't care.
So I actually have a great example that I have no affiliation with this person but on Instagram, splendid rags at splendid_rags, I think she does a fabulous job and I follow her only because I love her work. She's a visual artist, she integrates brands, in a way that I feel is is incredibly authentic to her own brand. And it's playful and it's fun. And in my mind, you know, that's if I were to do influencer campaigns more regularly, that's what it would look like. It's just a very natural integration where you know, the influencer has a say it's not just let me just repeat what the brand told me to say.
It's really it's really a coming together of how do we do something that at the end of the day, the consumer will love. Because that's all that matters, you know? Is it gonna make sense? Is it going to be fun? Is it going to be memorable? Is it going to be useful?
Mm hmm. Yeah, that's interesting. I just actually talked to another industry expert, and she is a social media marketer, and we're just talking about how social media has changed and evolved so much with the trends and right now it's about being authentic and, and truthful. And how during the pandemic, like in the beginning, that people that were still influencers are still out there traveling and doing things that were just like, no, they weren't in tune to what was going on. So yeah, I'll have to check out her account, because I like looking at that stuff, too. Because it can be tricky as an influencer, when you're working with a brand, they're like, promote this or work with this unless they're passionate about it. And, and, and what they are working with.
But that's a good point. And before we move on, for people that don't really know or aren't familiar, could you just describe a micro influencer versus like a regular influencer?
Sure. And I won't get into the specific numbers. But yeah, talking about instead of a million followers, you're talking about, you know, closer to like, maybe 2000, or 10,000. It could, you know, could even be less, it's really, again, in my mind, yeah, you want some reach. But the more important part is that these people are, again, aligned with your brand, that they do a good job of engaging, that's really important. People that you know, really talk back to their audience and get their audience psyched, so that when you have an offer, or something to share, their audience actually cares.
Yeah. And that's the other thing that my this is the last episode, by the way, if anyone wants to listen to the last person I talked to her name is Jordan Crump. She's a social media marketer, she's really cool. And she was saying that a lot of people focus on their like follower count. And it really should be the engagement.
How many people are engaging with your posts, you can have 500 followers, but if you're getting multiple comments, and and replies and shares and likes, that's really where the value is.
It is yeah, absolutely.
I think we get lost in the numbers game of, you know, oh, we have this amount of followers.
I think that's going away a little bit. I noticed some of it. And sometimes it still makes sense. But I do think we're moving to a place of authenticity across, you know, the spectrum of marketing, I think volume is still a factor. But I think the right audiences in the right ways is going to become you know, it's gonna be more focused going.
Exactly, yeah, good point. I just wanted to ask on that just because yeah, influencer movement, I don't really know how beneficial it would be for people like promoting events and stuff, but influencers are getting huge, which is crazy. I know a lot of people that have switched to just doing that for their job, which is great, great for them.
But bless their hearts. It's a lot of work.
I was just gonna say like, You got it, do you but no thank you. Social media stresses me out.
It's a job, it really is a job. And people I think, I think they see the glamour of it, but they don't realize how much hard work goes into, you know, building those followings and you know, putting everything together, it's a lot of work.
And, and getting that that content together how you want to it's not just like, let me take a selfie no no, there's a lot of behind the scenes. But yeah, good for them. And while we're on this topic of like, influencers and being more authentic and real, I did want to kind of pick your brain. Since this time of the pandemic, have you seen a shift in marketing for events? Or I guess, brands in general, in response to COVID? Have you seen a shift in marketing strategies that we should kind of focus on?
Definitely, I know, a lot of that is because of the shift in virtual right. So there's, I think, the shift, you know, first of all, it was okay, now everything has to be virtual, and what does that look like? And, to an extent, I think, in the beginning, there was a lot of just, you know, beat you over the head with it type marketing, which has its place, but then with the proliferation of how many virtual events that were, I mean, I can remember weeks where I would get invited to five to 5-10 very good events, you know, within a week. But the reality is who's going to be able to attend all those with all of our lives are now virtual.
So I think in terms of virtual there, there had to be a subtle shift over time where the marketing got better and it wasn't just, you know, put any old thing you could together and market it because we can't do things in person.
I think the shift became that, you know, you had to be a little bit savvyer, in terms of how you're reaching out to people. And, you know, from personal experience, I feel that people learn quickly that even with the virtual event, there had to be an engagement component there had to be, it couldn't just be, you know, lecture. You know, there's of course exceptions. But if you're just talking at people, it gets boring. If there's an engagement, whether it's some sort of networking component or a Q&A, or, you know, some sort of interactive event that is still virtual, I think those were some of the ones that were most successful.
And, you know, I think it's great for marketers to keep that in mind, even as we continue to have virtual events going forward.
An example I can think of is that I belong to the USC, Alumni Entrepreneurs Network. And we just partnered just a few weeks ago with the USC, Young Alumni and in Good Taste wines to do a virtual wine tasting. And it was a really fun event, because we really didn't talk about networking, or work or anything like that, we just got a bunch of people together and, you know, the host talked us through all these wines that we tasted together and commented and laughed together. And it was just a really great way to bring these groups together and have a good time, even though it was entirely virtual.
So I think, you know, the engagement and the community, part of it is still going to be very critical as we go forward. And that needs to be emphasized. And I think in terms of, you know, in person events, as they come back more and more, you know, the micro events and whatnot, I think it's great, it's just, you know, we need to be safe. We need to be wearing masks, we need to be outdoors, the weather's getting better, you know, we still have to just take precautions, because nobody wants to be on the hook for the person who got everybody's sick, you know. We still need to just be smart and responsible and do the, you know, the most good for the most people.
But you know, that being said, I think people again, are so hungry for these interactions that, you know, you could have a very simplistic, small pop up event with just music. I mean, live music would be great, but it could just be music, DJs whatever, little giveaways, you know, maybe some sort of pre-packaged or pre portioned snack or drink as long as you're, you know, providing it safely. At the end of the day, the surprise and delight never gets old. People appreciate that unexpected extra or that way of, you know, coming together. So yeah, as long as you've always got the consumer and minds, I really think, you know, you kind of can't go wrong.
Yeah, and it's, it's gonna have a big impact, because we're so isolated right now, even. We might be talking to people all day, but we're talking to people through our computers through our phones. So just something you know, in person, or some sort of thing that resembles a small event is really going to catch someone's attention and make them stop.
And like you said, with virtual events, it's hard to make it not feel like work now or make it not feel like I have another meeting, you know, because it's online. It resembles a Zoom call. We don't we don't want to do that. So wine tasting sounds great.
It was. You know, I was I just think you have to give something like, you know, my barometer is always what i what i do this what I sign up for, that's what I mean by this. And, you know, maybe I'm not the perfect example. But nonetheless, it gives you an idea because you can't ask people to sit through another Zoom call, you got to give them more than that.
And they got to be doing something. They can't just be sitting there watching you. So yeah, it's all about creativity and thinking like you said, what would you want? How would you would you want to jump on another zoom call? Or would you want something else? Maybe something delivered to your door that can go along with the event?
Yeah. And there's, there's a lot of good ideas now. I mean, type it up, you can find something. Everyone's suggesting different ways. So if you're, if you're short of ideas, there's always something.
Okay, I think that's it. But thank you, for all the advice you've given me, before we go, is there any last minute like tips or insights you would want to put out to the listeners? Maybe people looking forward to or not looking forward, but maybe people planning events that are coming up or doing virtual events or brands online? really anything? That's so broad, anything you want to put into the world, though.
Whatever, whatever form it'll take, because we're all still it's still an evolution as we know. You know, I think what it always comes down to for me is, you know, set yourself up correctly, have your, you know, have everything be the most seamless user experience you possibly can give people. You know, give them a reason to want to come and join you whether it's virtually or whether it's in person. You know, do something that's exciting enough that you would want to join. Give them a great experience, you know, and create opportunities for engagement because while you have their ear like that's, you know, that's the best time to let them get to know your event or your brand or whatever it is. So, you know, just if you do everything with the consumer and their experience in mind you probably can't go wrong.