Our VP of Client Brand Experience, Kitty Hart, had the opportunity to go on Legacy Leaders Podcast with hosts Stan Miller and Katie Beth Hand. Kitty brings over 28 years of experience in the sales and marketing industry, and her mission is clear: to champion the transformational potential of physical experiences for individuals and businesses alike. As she shares her insights, event planning tips, and experience, Kitty’s passion for what she does shines through.
Kitty’s Journey: From South Dakota to Minneapolis
Kitty’s journey began in South Dakota, but she’s called Minneapolis home for the past 30 years. Her career has been a winding road through business development, branding, design, and experiential marketing. She emphasizes the connection between sales and marketing, highlighting how each experience and role she’s had has contributed to her expertise in the field.
The Heroic Brand Experience
As the VP of Client Brand Experience at Heroic Productions, Kitty explains that the “hero” in the name represents our clients. Our mission is to ensure that clients emerge as the heroes of their own stories when they engage with us. Whether it’s a product launch, a sales kick-off, or employee recognition, Heroic Productions’ role is to make our clients shine.
The Magic of Experiential Marketing
Kitty’s passion for experiential marketing shines through as she discusses its power and creativity. She emphasizes that even in conservative industries, there’s room for creative marketing. The key is understanding your audience and finding unique and surprising ways to engage them. While experiential marketing isn’t new, it constantly evolves to keep up with changing expectations. “The challenge,” Kitty notes, “is to consistently surprise and delight people.”
Examples of Experiential Marketing
Kitty provides two diverse examples to illustrate the versatility of experiential marketing. For a conservative financial services company, Heroic Productions orchestrates multi-day events in large venues, ensuring that every detail is meticulously planned. The goal is to make every client look good to their executives.
On the other hand, for a major beauty brand, we hosted a fashion show with runway models, focusing on creating an engaging and energetic atmosphere. The aim is always to design an experience that leaves a lasting impact and has attendees eager to return.
Kitty’s Expert Event Planning Tips
Pitfalls to Avoid
Kitty doesn’t shy away from discussing the common mistakes she’s seen in event planning. Long lines, underestimating restroom and power needs, and inadequate sound and lighting can all mar an event experience. Her advice? Don’t leave any detail undesigned.
The Importance of Early Planning
For those looking to plan engaging and impactful events, Kitty’s golden nugget of advice is to start as early as possible. Kitty says, “So there’s an interesting trend that has happened over many years and that is that the planning window has continued to shrink.” A longer planning window allows for a better end product, regardless of the event’s size or budget.
The Impact of COVID-19 & Navigating Future Events
Kitty acknowledges the devastating impact of COVID-19 on her industry, with overnight cancellations of major events. Yet, she notes that the industry has bounced back as in-person events have returned. While virtual events gained prominence during the pandemic, they haven’t replaced the value of in-person gatherings. However, many clients still seek a virtual component to include a wider audience, especially, when budget is a factor. However, as Katie states, “It’s a whole different world to engage a virtual audience.”
The Starbucks Analogy
In closing, Kitty draws an analogy between event experiences and Starbucks’ diverse customer base. She describes at least three types of Starbucks customers. The customer that parks their car, comes in, orders, gets their order, and comes out. The person who is going to come through the drive-through. And the person who drives to Starbucks, gets out of the car, goes inside and orders, gets their order, and sits down. Just as Starbucks caters to various customer preferences, event planners must consider different interfaces for in-person and virtual attendees.
Event Marketing Matters More Than Ever
In this illuminating conversation, Kitty Hart leaves us with a final thought: marketing is essential, especially during recessions. Cutting back on marketing can cause a brand to disappear from the public eye. In a world where marketing is gaining the respect it deserves, businesses must recognize its pivotal role in their success.
To learn more about Kitty, or to get in touch with her, visit our website.
To learn more about planning your next hybrid event, download our Event Planning Guide.