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Erica Taylor Haskins

Co-Founder & Chief Growth Officer, Event Design and Production

TINSEL Experiential Design

Robin explains how COVID gave her an opportunity to expand her audience two fold, and what that meant for her marketing strategy.

So I'm Erica Taylor Haskins. I'm a co-founding partner, chief growth officer of TINSEL Experiential Design in New York City.My background was in advertising and marketing. I was on the account management and business development side of the business. Started TINSEL with two business partners, Adette and Liz almost 12 years ago. Adette and I are both in advertising and marketing. Liz was actually a science teacher, so a funny trajectory, but we started the company a little bit on a whim. None of us had events experience, but we're smart, resourceful, failed forward in a lot of ways, but did a very smart thing of hiring people that were better at the job than us. So since then we've grown to a really fantastic talented team of eight full-time people, and then an extended staff of about 150 designers, producers, planners, digital marketers, strategists and get to do some really phenomenal events and experiences all around the world for amazing clients.

 

Letting your persona shift with the changing times 

So I would say that TINSEL's persona and our industry has changed a little bit over the years. As we started, we were the cool, trendy new kids on the block, but as the business has grown up, that cool factor has also been layered with doing really smart, strategic work. So we pair the experiences that we create that are known for being really out of the box and really unique and immersive and a lot of surprises and delights, but also making sure that we're hitting all of our client success metrics, understanding their business need and the objective for doing experience, so not just throwing a cool party for the sake of doping a party, not just making a space look nice because it looks nice, but really understanding the brand, the voice, what needs to happen. Particularly in a year and a half like we've had during the pandemic, where it's been such a challenge to have experiences, especially in person, it's been amplified really the need to do experiences and make it right.

So the last year and a half have been a journey. Before COVID, we were doing something like 50 to 60 events over the course of a year. So definitely seasonal where some events we were doing three in a week or four back to back, and then quieter months. COVID hit, we went totally dark and it was frankly a terrifying time and our whole industry came to a standstill, but we came back really hard in November last year, thank God.Thanks to two really big, big national programs, one of them was centered around the election week, if you remember November 2020. But we were in 29different cities activating food trucks to incentivize people to stay in line, to be fed, hydrated, caffeinated, entertained to stay in-line and participate and vote. It was amazing to come back to experiences, to do something that was for a good cause and really mattered, and again, wasn't just a part for the sake of having a party or something sparkly and pretty. It really had a lot of heart and soul behind it.

And then literally the next week after that, we worked with a really fantastic gaming platform, where they had to convert their entire conferences from in-person to the digital platform. But we did these individualized experiences for their top partners in 26 different locations over the course of a weekend. So we literally went from zero to past100 miles an hour, but really came back in a really, really good way. So excited moving forward to do a combination of one off events and experiences similar to what we did pre-pandemic, but absolutely excited to do these really large, complex, strategic programs that we really sunk our teeth into last year.

 

Quantifying success based on attendee experience 

So really, again, our team has found a sweet spot, is that perfect balance of success being driven by the data and the hard numbers, as well as the emotions and understanding, what do people take away from the experiences? What do they go away saying, articulating, amplifying on the internet? So we really look at all of that as we do post event reporting with our clients, understanding from a number's perspective, is this something that's driving revenue for a client? Are we looking at, again, social media engagement numbers? Are we looking at conversions and sales numbers, and really understanding to crystallize, what was the return on investment when they worked with us? But likewise, we also do a lot of data gathering. Would you rate this experience on a scale of one to 10? Would you recommend this experience to someone else? Would you come to us again and would you bring a friend?

So understanding where the heart and brain overlap and that's again, been a really big reason that clients come back to us time and time again, because our team is great to work with and our team is made up of really fantastic, smart, amazing, charming, funny, beautiful, cool people of New York. But again, it's just understanding how everything we do has to overlap and make sense for our client for them to invest the dollars and energy and time, frankly.