Could you increase your brand awareness with field marketing?

Growing Business explains how to use field marketing effectively to benefit your business

Field marketing is the process of using sales and promotional activity, usually outsourced to specialists. There’s a huge amount of marketing activity that falls under the banner of field marketing.

The main aspects of it though are sales, merchandising, auditing, sampling, demonstrations or exhibitions and mystery shopping. It concentrates on face-to-face contact with prospective customers and, as the name suggests, takes place ‘in the field’, in locations such as supermarkets, retail outlets, railway stations and airports, gyms, offices or city streets.

What to use

Some aspects of field marketing will be much more relevant to your business than others. You may even have used marketing tactics, unaware they are part of the field marketing discipline – many new businesses rely heavily on sampling to generate interest in their product, for example. But other aspects of it, such as mystery shopping or auditing (when agencies measure and report on your products, the availability, range, placement, competitor products and so on) may not be useful unless you are a retail business with products stocked in multiples.

When to use it

Due to the huge range of activities that field marketing consists of, there is no one optimum time to use it. Many firms get off the ground through a clever use of sampling; huge corporations such as L’Oreal will use merchandising (which concerns itself with shelf stacking and point of sale placement) and auditing functions extensively. You may decide that a demonstration or exhibition will work well for your business but only do it once, or you could do regular sampling or exhibition activity, using your own employees or promotional staff supplied by an agency.

Pros and Cons

Face-to-face contact with prospective customers is usually thought of as a very effective marketing technique. With consumers being exposed to so many advertising messages, promotional activity can cut through these messages, leading to increased brand awareness. Also, because it is a large area, a field marketing solution is very flexible and can be moulded to get the most out of your budget.

What it costs

Field marketing that relies on one of the large number of specialist agencies will inevitably be expensive. Even sampling or demonstrations will involve costs, obviously dependent on the scale of the activity. Giving out samples of your juice one morning may not make too much of a dent, staging a huge exhibition to raise brand awareness could be much more expensive, but equally good value for money.

Where next

A great place to start is the Direct Marketing Association’s website, www.dma.org.uk, where you can search for suppliers and agencies in your region.

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