This is the third installment in the epic “Street Team 101” series
In this post, we’ll discuss incentives for street teams, and how to leverage them to make the most of your marketing team.
This part is obvious enough – you have to have an answer when your team members ask: “What’s in it for me?”
It’s the grease that makes the wheels turn smoothly. The good news is, chances are you’re working on something cool that people want to be involved in. Especially if you’re a concert promoter, band, venue, or a cool brand, some number of your fans will be excited and enthusiastic to help spread the word.
Think about this – when someone really falls in love with a brand (this bond is especially strong with music/arts), they’re doing more than just appreciating it or getting pleasure from it. In many ways, when someone truly subscribes to your brand, they’re aligning part of their identity with it.
I’m guilty of this. The band that I first started street teaming for back in the day was The Disco Biscuits. Over the course of 7 years, I saw them literally over a hundred times. If that sounds obsessive, it sure was. But more than just loving the shows and loving the music, which I did (and do), being a Disco Biscuits fan was part of who I was. I aligned myself with a wild community of friends from shows, tours, and festivals. And I helped spread the word.
To handle their street team management, The Disco Biscuits hired FanManager – a full service street and digital marketing agency out of LA. It was through street teaming with tDB that I first connected with FanManager’s founder Erik, and eventually worked my way up to managing street team campaigns with FanManager as a Marketing Coordinator.
Managing street teams with Erik and FanManager showed me how powerful a team’s passion can be. Leverage that passion and combine it with a clear, compelling incentive structure for your team to work towards, and you’ll create a powerful win-win for everyone.
So, now what?
Here are some specific ideas that we’ve used to motivate our fans to action. Think about these and see what fits for you. Get creative. And if you have any ideas that we haven’t covered, leave them in the comments!
Free tickets are easy enough to offer your team members. Set a clear benchmark of what’s expected in order to get free tickets, and communicate them clearly (like in your welcome pack). Pro-tip: after a while, free tickets can get old. What never gets old is an extra +1. Give your team members the gift of bringing a friend along. Everything is better with friends.
T-shirts, coozies, etc… If you’re an artist or venue this is especially cool. Signed posters work really well. If you’re a product/consumer brand, this might not be as applicable. In that case, actual product for your team members could be huge. When I was a Regional Brand Manager at Red Bull we had access to unlimited cases of Red Bull. In college, this was a powerful currency. Things that will go a long way in making your team extra enthusiastic.
This is another low-cost way to do something extra-special for your team. If you’re a venue or artist, arrange pre-show meet-and-greets with your team members. We’ve run this for teams several times and it always been special. Invite them early for a sound check too, and maybe take a request or two from the team.
STS9 used to sell these pre-show meet & greet/soundcheck packages, which is a great idea, but providing these events for your community of team members can be even more special.
Alternatively, phone calls with people in the band or your organization work really well too. I remember hustling to get some work done on a Crystal Method promo team years ago that ended with a signed poster and phone call with the band. I had the chance to speak with Scott Kirkland for 15 minutes and their agent before the call. Something I never forgot.
(This will even work if you’re not an artist/concert venue/etc… if you’re a business with a street team, scheduling a 15-20 minute meeting with the CEO or one of the business founders can be a very special opportunity for your team).
We did this all the time – it’s easy to offer college credit for this type of work, usually as a marketing internship credit. It takes just a little bit of paperwork, and you can help your team work towards graduation.
Structured internships can be a great way to make sure your team members are getting the most out of the opportunity, and usually include some time for goal setting and recaps/reflection. This is usually a good opportunity to “promote” a team member to manager. If you can help set up a team member to manage your street team operations, you’ll benefit from having a more self-sustaining operation, and they’ll benefit from the experience.
This is sort of an expansion of the internship point – but you can certainly offer team members the chance for professional development. I credit my experiences managing street team efforts as being a key building block in my own development as a marketer. You can offer your team this same opportunity with great results.
If you do something along these lines, you’ll want to be sure to maintain great communication with the standout team members who are looking to take advantage of this opportunity for professional development. Again, work with them to set goals, keep tabs on their progress, and review their performance regularly.
Pro tip: Interns and other ambitious folks looking for professional development are terrific candidates for managing the entire team. You can have them handle the recruiting, the creation of the welcome packs, the planning and running of street team meetings, and more. Just send them links to these guides and have them run with it.
Building community is so important to your overall brand strategy that we’ll cover it in an post of it’s own. Just keep in mind that if you can build a community around your venue, band, or brand, you’ll have an endless source of motivation for your team. It’ll keep it fun, and just like when you work out with a friend, you’ll go the extra mile.
We usually recommended against offering money as an incentive for street teaming. The biggest reason not to pay team members is that if promoting is something people are doing for love, money will trivialize that and then can, ironically, kill the passion. If people are working for non-monetary incentives, the passion will be fostered and they’ll enjoy it.
Second – it’s just not a good use of money. If you took the same amount of money that you’d be spending monthly on paying team members and instead hosted a bi-weekly or monthly party with food and drinks, you’d build community and show appreciation in a way that your team members will really appreciate.
As soon as you pay team members a dollar, it can confuse the incentives and makes things messy. So we always avoided paying for street team work, but that was just our experience. Your mileage may vary – if you’ve found success with paid teams, then by all means, go for it 🙂
Think about it
These were just a handful ideas that I’ve experimented with in the past. Use them to your benefit and give your team members something special to work towards, and they’ll crush it for you.
Whatever you decide to do, communicate the incentives clearly up front so there’s no ambiguity as to what they can expect. As we discussed in the last section, the welcome pack is a great place to lay these ground rules.
In the next section, we’ll cover how to support your team in order to help them do their job successfully.