Field Marketing can be described as product sampling, demonstrations or assisted sales at retail or otherwise by brand ambassadors. While this tactic does indeed have value for some brands and retailers, it is important to understand the role of Field Marketing when considering investment. To this end, here are a few guiding thoughts and principles to consider.
Field Marketing will not pay for itself.
Field Marketing is an expensive tactic as it relates to ROI. Unless you are promoting a product which has a respectable price point, an unusually high margin, or a significant volume of sales, ROI will not meet expectations at the transaction level. There are several factors which influence this. These include whether or not a program is managed internally, through a staffing agency, or a shopper marketing / field marketing agency. The significant cost of labor, management, materials, and training, coupled with multiple levels of agency markup will negatively impact ROI.
Field Marketing builds awareness and consideration.
While impressions are typically measured in a range from thousands to millions, typical impressions are but fleeting glimpses of branded content by consumers. The advantage of a Field Marketing program, is consumers have an opportunity to look a brand in the eye, physically engage in a branded conversation, and have a deep interaction with the product. True, the number of impressions in a typical retail or pop-up environment is lower than general advertising, the quality of these impressions is exponentially higher, often resulting in an immediate improvement in consideration, or purchase. This can be especially effective for a new product launch with a need to disrupt a category. This approach works well in many categories, including home improvement, consumer electronics, grocery, liquor, etc. As is the case in any measured media program, reach and frequency is critical. Higher frequency and length of store visits improves volume of engagements and ultimately product awareness, consideration and transaction.
Field Marketing increases market share.
For continuity programs, brands who deploy Field Marketing programs vs. competitors who do not, typically capture far more market share over time. This is not only true for growing categories, but in declining markets as well. If your category is shrinking or dying, Field Marketing can help ensure your business grows despite marketplace dynamics. One major consideration here is in categories where there are multiple brands competing for attention using the same Field Marketing tactics. Unfortunately, this drives commoditization, causes consumer confusion, and may drive consumers to leave the retailer or channel to pursue alternative products on their own terms.
Field Marketing improves loyalty and promotes advocacy.
Reach and frequency of store visits are also important for keeping customers. Brand Ambassadors in continuity programs often build relationships with the shoppers who frequent the retailer and keeps competitors at bay. This is especially true for those products which require frequent, repeat purchase (think grocery, liquor, pet, etc.). Customers feel validated in their previous purchase and may later increase share of basket via complementary products, accessories, etc. Regardless of category, Brand Ambassadors can also have a positive ripple effect on store associates through regular engagement, training and incentive programs. This amplification often results in increased sales outside of normal store visits as associate advocacy programs take effect.
Field Marketing needs help.
Integration with pricing and promotional strategies is critical to the success of any Field Marketing program. Additionally, Field Marketing needs air support from advertising, and should be integrated with digital, social and direct campaigns to ensure success. These tactics lift the performance of Field Marketing, helping bolster the ROI of the entire marketing mix.
Before investing in any Field Marketing program, first understand objectives, then ensure it is the right tool for the job. Also, ensure measurement is not based on transaction alone, or at the very least, set realistic expectations on program performance against sales objectives. From here, determine if your plans are best suited by a pulse or continuity program, and make sure the way (internal, staffing agency, shopper marketing / field marketing agency) in which you deploy the program matches cost vs. quality considerations.