The Makers series is our semi-regular look at brands, marketing, design and technology through the eyes of the game changing people on the GPJ team who are focused on transforming our clients’ brands through experience design – online, on devices and in the physical world. In this Makers episode, we’re speaking with Audrey Sayeed, Senior Marketing Strategist in our London office.

So first things first: what do you do?

I have been at George P Johnson for nearly 12 years and have seen the strategy and planning offerings grow remarkably.When I joined in 2002 I was purely dedicated to the IBM account.

Four years later I was fully responsible for developing yearly brand portfolio plans aligning to Cisco Emerging Markets’ business and marketing objectives along with defining and implementing theatre event measurement plans. I also provided strategic event marketing training to help the Cisco Emerging Markets team boost their customer engagement programmes.

And for the past four years I have been working with global B2B and B2C clients to help develop their event marketing plans on time and on budget. My key focus is to translate business and sales goals into a robust event marketing and communication strategy using market research, segmentation, customer insights and competitive analysis. I help them create brand value through the delivery of consistent and engaging customer experiences.

What attracts you to the experiential industry?

I am a passionate marketer who strongly believes in the power of emotion to ignite brands. We all have one thing in common: we are drawn to emotional experiences, and nothing builds brand affinity like a well-deployed experience marketing program that creates an emotional response. That’s why I love what I do.

Brands need to create powerful, positive, physical and emotional experiences that will leave their consumers on a high note. And I am very proud to be working for an industry that enables consumers to “feel” the brand versus simply being exposed to it. Furthermore with the digital revolution, the use of social media and mobile technology, which are all extending the reach of experiential marketing, we can help brands deliver even better business results.

What are some of the newer client expectations for this role?

Having worked for some of the largest global blue chip companies, I used to see the event marketing discipline as a separated activity within the full marketing mix. Now our clients expect that we provide a customer journey across all marketing touch points. Some of my more recent work has been focused on delivering audience generation strategy, developing and creating event websites, email marketing campaigns and messaging, selecting and negotiating advertising platforms, and developing and managing the social media plan in order to extend the life of the event.

We understand our clients’ brands well; we know their customers’ behaviour and help them define their experience marketing strategy so that we deliver a true integrated marketing approach to their event campaign.

How do you stay inspired and on top of experiential and tech trends?

I find Brian Solis, digital analyst and business strategist particularly inspiring. He’s a great source for fascinating presentations, interviews and industry vision. I also love TEDtalks, where you always find amazing speakers delivering stirring insights.

And on a more personal level, I look for inspiration in everything I see and do. My daughter is a great example, Picasso once said “every child is an artist” and it is so true. I am always amazed of how creative she can be at just 4 years old: a true source of inspiration close to home!

Here are some of the sources I follow:; Cream; Design Taxi; The drum; Mashable; Digital Buzz; Co Create; Trendwatching; Campaign; Tech Trends; SocialMedia Examiner

Do you admire any brands in particular? Why?

Apple, the company, which has been shown by MRI brain scans to evoke near-religious zeal in its fans, is definitely one of the top brands I admire. For decades, Apple has spoken to customers in a human voice, creating a brand that connects emotionally. I love the way Apple creates totally integrated campaigns, from TV and print to digital and retail. I admire the way Apple coordinates facets of its marketing to “turn on” at the very moment a new product is launched. And its messages are always as simple and clear as they are human and clever. The latest iPad Air is one of the latest great examples of powerfully communicating Apple’s core brand attributes while connecting to consumers on a pure emotional level.

The world’s largest FMCG group, P&G is also a brand to admire. Their marketers have high standards – they create very inspiring campaigns rooted firmly in consumer insight and brought alive with real emotions. Who can forget the Olympics campaign such as “Thank You Mom” (even more memorable when being a mom myself).

What do you see as a top priority for marketers today?

Traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective. It is no longer simply about brand communication, promotion or sales support. Marketing is now about a two-way communication where there is a need to engage customers on their own terms, based on thorough understanding of their lifestyle preferences and desires. For brands to capitalize on this trend, their products need to seamlessly integrate into consumer lives in ways that meet a direct need.

As consumers get overloaded and begin unplugging and masking their identities online, marketers will need to create more events and situations to give consumers a reason to interact with their brands in the real world. Smart marketers will get in front of this by providing opportunities for co-creation, catching people doing [a brand] good and creating brand advisory boards.

And here is a great example of a brand is facilitating people to tell stories – interview from Seth Combs, CMO and CO-founder of SOL republic.

How do great clients challenge you?

We have talked a lot about delivering emotional customer experience but a great client will ask you to deliver the right customer experience. The one that aligns to their marketing and business objectives, the one that addresses their customers’ needs, the one that uses the right technology and more importantly the one that is measurable and will prove robust ROI. Great insights do not come without good data and great ideas cannot be separate from solid strategy.

Do you see a single trait to successful brands?

Brands with a clear purpose have the ability to drive higher business growth, margin and price than those without. Marketers working on purposeful brands also report back that they are better able to preserve brand consistency as touch points increase and go digital.

People are naturally inspired by those who are making the world a better place, and brands that can show how a product or service can help change or enhance the lives of people in a meaningful way are the winning brands. Brands that deliver a total experience with increased relationship breadth and depth, creating a personalized and social experience across a multitude of touch points throughout consumers’ daily lives are the brands consumers will stick with.

What skills do you think agencies need to develop more of?

Connected brands have strong relationships with their audiences, which means being present when and where their consumers are talking and interacting withthem. Successful agencies help their clients build those close relationships. And agencies themselves need to get focused on understanding these audiences in real time and apply rigorous data to give clients more insight intotheir audiences and drive the development of big ideas that achieve desired results. And if Apple has taught us anything, it’s the huge impactthat new technology has on the way we live – agencies need to also be nimble with technology so they can create the right experience.

What’s the best advice you’ve given to a client recently?

Whether you’re in the airline, banking, telecom or retail business, you need to know your audience and define the experience you want for your customer’s first, and then find the technology you need to make it happen. Simply throwing an assortment of technology into a bowl and then mixing it up will only leave your customers more confused and frustrated than if you didn’t do anything at all. Manage the journey right, however, and you’ll be creating new brand ambassadors every single day.