Sharon Ricketts

Sharon Ricketts, Director of Strategy and Planning

Sharon is an award-winning integrated marketing strategist with emphasis in experiential, digital, brand entertainment, public relations, content and sponsorships.

“Tell Me I will forget

Show me, I may remember.

Involve me and I will understand.”4

Do we humans really have the attention span of a goldfish?1 As consumers ad block, swipe left and get The Skimm for news, live events have exploded. More than 11 Million Americans attended an auto show last year,2 while super tech conferences like SXSW and CES drew hundreds of thousands across multiple days of programming. With over 62% of marketers increasing event budgets this year3, how do brands breakthrough and drive meaningful interactions?


A live experience has to be completely visceral which means planning starts in the heart and minds of the audience. It is essential to analyze the mindsets, motivations and behaviors of these consumers, then ultimately align the brand with their needs and expectations. At GPJ, this is accomplished through our proprietary Strategic Experience Mapping® process.


1. The Hook. Make Me Care.
Like any great movie or novel, an experience must captivate the audience and draw them further into the brand story. Use an attention-grabber such as this dramatic cube of artwork designed for LifeWTR at an activation during Art Prize.


2. It’s Personal. This Brand Gets Me.
Brands should prepare tailored content and can level up with facial recognition, opt-in data and AI technologies for a custom, intuitive experience.


3. Interactive. Empower Me.
Encourage consumers to explore the brand according to their interest level and communication preferences. Optimize with a corresponding digital experience or takeaway that they can keep, share or revisit.


4. Contextually Relevant. This Brand Enhanced My Experience.
Amplifying the event that a consumer chooses to attend provides an immediate benefit. Integrate the event nuances and your brand will have stronger relevance and connection to attendees.


5. Reinforce and Reward. This Brand Appreciates Me.
As consumers engage, reinforce and encourage additional activity. Consumers want to feel valued. If the brand engagement was positive, consumers are likely to return for the experience again.


6. Share and Compare. This Brand Fits Me and My Tribe.
Brands that deliver an “Instagram-able” moment like the campground activities at the Dreamforce conference garner added visibility and advocacy. Since recommendations drive 20-50% of all purchase decisions and experiential accounts for 50-80% of those recommendations,5 this is a must for any brand focused on growth.


To maximize results and supercharge your event engagement strategy, it is critical to stay consumer-centric at every step of your planning. As you design your brand activation, consider how the concept might embody these six elements for ultimate impact.

Supercharge Your Strategy and Planning


4. Xunzi, a collection of Confucian philosophical writings, 3rd Century BCE