Field Marketing Definition
Field marketing is a branch of marketing in which brands get their products in front of consumers “out in the field” at retail locations, events, college campuses, or in public locations. Field marketing initiatives include promotions, demos, and direct sales.
The objectives of field marketing vary by company and campaign, but some common goals include brand awareness, increased sales at targeted locations, and increased engagement with local buying communities.
Types of Field Marketing Campaigns
Product demonstrations are the most common field marketing activity. For food and beverage brands, these typically take the form of giveaways, where a brand representative offers free samples to shoppers at retail locations or members of the public at events or on the street.
For non-consumable goods, product demos are usually engaging demonstrations in which potential customers are given hands-on experience using the product or seeing it in action.
Direct sales involves brand reps making sales to customers at the point of interaction. Brands often pair direct sales campaigns with product demonstrations, taking advantage of consumers’ interest after trying the product. Other forms of field marketing campaigns focused on direct sales include pop-up shops and promotional tables at events.
Not all field marketing initiatives are customer-facing. Companies also use teams in the field to audit the way their traditional marketing materials are presented in the store. During retail audits, field teams collect data describing the way their products, signage, and promotional materials are displayed on the shelf and throughout retail locations.
The benefit of retail audits are twofold: On one hand, they give marketing managers insight into their effectiveness of different stores in executing marketing agreements - on the other, they give brands the opportunity to correct mistakes and maximize the effectiveness of their point-of-sale marketing efforts.
Pulling its name from a style of warfare infamous for its hit-and-run nature, guerrilla marketing tactics are equally unpredictable. Brands use the term “guerrilla marketing” to refer to creative campaigns that target consumers in ways and locations they might not expect. Guerrilla marketing campaigns are typically low on spend but high on energy and imagination, and brands often rely heavily on their “feet on the street” to pull them off.
What Is a Field Marketing Organization?
To execute field marketing campaigns effectively, businesses often build a dedicated field marketing organization within their company. These groups are tasked with development and execution of all field marketing campaigns.
Field marketing organizations often divide their operating areas into territories, with regional managers overseeing large territories and assigning team leaders for each smaller locale. While territory management is more important for companies that distribute nationwide, even smaller brands often manage their promotion schedules by location.
Depending on the type of field marketing activities a company pursues, it may hire for a number of distinct positions. Here’s an overview of each of those job titles:
Field Marketing Representative:
Field marketing representatives are generalists - they may conduct product demos and retail audits, or sell products directly to customers at shows and events. Their primary objective is to drive brand awareness through on-site, face-to-face interaction with consumers. Field marketers also act as liaisons between buyers and sellers, providing valuable information about products and services to consumers.
Field Marketing Manager:
Field marketing managers are responsible for hiring, training, and directing their field teams, as well as ensuring field marketing campaigns achieve their intended goals. While field marketing managers often work with senior marketing executives to determine what these objectives will be, field marketing managers design specific campaigns and ensure they are executed as effectively and efficiently as possible. Field marketing managers are also responsible for reporting on these initiatives to senior management.
Brand Ambassador/Brand Representative:
Brand ambassadors are people who are paid to promote, endorse, or otherwise represent a brand or product. Large companies often recruit celebrities to serve as the face of their product to their personal following. Companies with smaller checkbooks, on their other hand, spread brand awareness with more grassroots brand ambassador programs.
Street Team Representative:
Street team representatives are a brand’s vocal champions, both during official events and through their own social promotions efforts. During events and guerilla marketing campaigns, brands might tap their street team to serve as their “boots on the ground” - handing out fliers, stickers or products to crowds.
Field Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing
For consumer goods companies, marketing is all about bringing a brand and its customer base closer together. That objective spans from a product’s initial branding to brand awareness campaigns, and eventually to sales-focused promotions. Field marketing on its own is not a comprehensive marketing strategy (brands must at least perform basic market research), but it is an essential part of any marketing campaign that interfaces directly with customers.
Here are a few examples of how companies might use field marketing campaigns alongside more traditional marketing initiatives to maximize results:
- A beverage company follows an awareness-focused advertising campaign with a series of in-store demos. Shoppers will be far more likely to stop and try the beverage they just saw advertised during the last football game, and an in-person demo is a great way to capitalize on shoppers’ interest.
- After investing a large part of its marketing budget in new signage and displays for a large grocery chain, a snack food company isn’t seeing the results it had hoped for. It then sends its field marketing team to audit and adjust those displays as needed. After a finding and fixing a few major errors, the company gains back a significant amount of visibility, and its sales at those locations pick up accordingly.
- An energy drink company sponsors a local music festival. While the concert itself is a major brand awareness event, street team representatives and brand ambassadors at the show help the company capitalize through direct sales of beverages and merchandise at vendor tables.
Field marketing is not only valuable as a companion to traditional marketing initiatives, but it also offers companies something unique: agility. Planning and executing extensive marketing campaigns takes time. But after months of planning, what happens if something goes wrong or there’s an opportunity to improve?
Traditionally, those chances are lost as companies have to wait until a campaign is finished to analyze the results. When executed correctly, field marketing breaks that mold, allowing companies to collect and analyze data about their campaigns far faster, making for more agile and effective marketing.
To get certified as an all-star field marketer, check out our free Field Team Academy. Our free online training connects you with brands like Nantucket Nectars, Health-Ade, and UNREAL Candy, giving you the behind-the-scenes tips you need to take your career to the next level. Sign up and get started here!
Frank Brogie is the Product Marketing Manager at Repsly. When he’s not thinking about how to position and sell Repsly’s products, Frank loves to explore Boston by bike and hunt for vintage cars through a camera lens. On weekends you can count on Frank to organize a pickup basketball game or play disc golf. An avid podcast listener, Frank recommends Philosophize This, 99% Invisible, and Radiolab.