There are more than enough articles about how retailers can drive retail sales. We've written a handful of them ourselves. But what if you’re a supplier? And you’re asking what you can do to boost your business. While you might have fewer opportunities than a retailer, you still have options. Of those available to you, the best is to use field marketing.
What is the purpose of field marketing [and is it really necessary?]
As soon as you dig into the topic that is field marketing, you’ll find that it is the perfect opportunity for you to boost the sales of your supply business.
Its definition all but confirms that.
Field Marketing, also referred to as field selling, involves working in-store or ‘in the field’ and allows suppliers to connect personally with shoppers. It includes distributing, merchandising, selling, auditing, sampling and running promotions at a store-level.
That, in itself, allows you to make a strong case for why you should invest in it. It helps you get ahead of your competition.
There is also the point that unlike other forms of marketing, this takes place on a personal level - the field marketers you employ to carry out this work get to interact with shoppers. If you’ve chosen the right people to conduct the job, you can be confident your message reaches the public.
That gives you direct access to your customer’s thoughts and opinions. They can tell you what they like or dislike about a brand, and you get to ask them follow-up questions. What’s not to like?
A word of warning though. Since it is marketing at its core, you need to be mindful of how you approach it. There are two ways; outbound or inbound. Between the two, inbound - helping first, selling second - is the way to go.
Of course, the idea of not focusing primarily on selling shouldn’t scare you off. There is no question that you should invest in it. Just consider the consequences if you chose not to. It’s not only that you’ll lose out on sales in the short term. By not investing in it or approaching it correctly, there is every possibility that you’ll lose touch with your target market.
How can field marketing drive more retail sales?
As noted above, when approached purposefully, field marketing is the perfect opportunity for you to sell more products. It also sets up moments for you to interact with your customers and understand who they are and what makes them tick.
But how can you use field marketing to drive more sales? After all, it’s one thing to draw shoppers in; it’s another to get them to purchase.
1. By fixing any in-store problems
The average field marketer has many different duties to perform. You can read all about them in this piece. But ultimately, they are responsible for improving the standards within a store. In other words, fix any in-store problems that they find.
By problems, we’re referring specifically to the improper placement of products on the shelf, incorrect merchandising, and out of stocks. Correcting them all can lead to you (and the retailer) making more sales.
Let’s start with the improper placement of products.
Your field marketers should have done some form of training around planograms. That means they’re perfectly positioned to check if stores have set up their shelves correctly. While checking store and planogram compliance might sound like you don’t trust the retailer, mistakes can happen. It is, therefore, a good idea to have multiple people checking that a store has implemented the product layout that was agreed on at Head Office.
And you’ll soon notice the results. By checking and correcting product placement, you’re ensuring that shoppers can find and identify your products quickly, thereby providing a pleasant shopping experience, which results in bigger baskets as they spend more time in a store. That experience will also drive them to keep returning.
That said, fixing any product placement errors won’t drive sales alone. Your products also need to be merchandised correctly. Again, field marketers can correct any merchandising errors they find. For example, if they see that a high selling product doesn't have enough space for it to grow, they can correct it.
2. By introducing product sampling and in-store demonstrations
There is very little that drives retail sales more for a product than having first-hand experience with it.
For one, it’s a perfect opportunity for shoppers to test out your product risk-free. By offering shoppers free samples, and letting them get hands-on with your product, you’re breaking down any potential barriers that they have put up. They might not have been interested in your product, but after they test it, and realise that it’s not a waste of money, they will be more inclined to purchase it in the future.
By tasking your field marketers to conduct in-store demonstrations, you’re also creating a moment where you can connect with shoppers. As the saying goes, people buy from people who they like, and a personal connection can live long after that one interaction.
That said, if you want to be successful in your field marketing efforts, you must be aware of your target market. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to sample a product aimed at a high LSM in a store that caters primarily to a low LSM market. It won’t matter how persuasive they are; you won’t see the results you want.
At this point, it’s worth reinforcing the fact that you need to follow an inbound approach. You’ll sell more products if it relieves shopper pain points.
Also, when it comes to promoting edible groceries, your field marketers need to be conscious of hygiene. The stand would need to be clean at all times while your staff must wear gloves and other protective clothing. Finally, they need to know all the features and benefits so that they can answer any shopper questions.
3. By placing and monitoring in-store promotions
As much as it’s worth hosting in-store demonstrations at stores, the reality is that you can’t implement them everywhere. Fortunately, in these cases, there are in-store promotions that your field marketers can place.
These promotions can take many forms. They could be banners placed in a specific area drawing attention to a stand or new product. They could also be flyers or informative pamphlets put at the checkout counter or call-outs attached to shelves. A shelf-talker could work just as well here.
Either way, they all can work as ‘silent salespeople’, providing shoppers with much-needed information about your products.
That said, if you want to stand a chance of increasing your retail sales this way, you do need to be strategic in how to approach it. One way of doing that could be to cross-merchandise your in-store promotions. That includes placing a banner or stand near the category that’s linked to the product and then at the till point.
The promotion should also ideally be in a high traffic area. If you do plan on placing a promotion stand or in-store advertising in such an area of the store, you do need to monitor it. That’s to ensure that it doesn’t get in the way of shoppers. If shoppers view your promotion as an inconvenience, they are less inclined to learn about your product or purchase it.
If you’re looking to improve your in-store promotional efforts and need a few tips, it’s worth giving this piece a read.
4. By collecting data and turning it into actionable insight
We’ve mentioned countless times before that retail data is the lifeblood for retailers. In this instance, we’d like to extend that to suppliers too. Data is just as crucial to your supply business if you want to improve your sales.
The fact that your field marketers visit stores, audit store compliance and fix any problems puts them in the perfect position to collect this data. But it is not only about having these opportunities to collect data. It’s what you can do with the data that your field marketers collect.
With this information, you’re able to better understand your target market and what they demand from a product such as yours. If, for example, the information your field marketers have collected tells you that shoppers expect X and your product is not delivering on that, you could factor that into your future product developments and marketing strategies.
On the other side, you could also use this data to monitor the effectiveness of any in-store promotion that your field marketers have put up. Once you’ve collected data around these promotions, you can see if they are performing as expected. If not, you could tweak what’s in-store while also using this data to inform any future promotions that you have planned.
More than that, you can use this data as a sales tool to persuade a retailer to allocate more space for your products, so that you can grow your market share.
Looking to get more shelf space for your products in-store? Or, need advice on how to negotiate with and persuade a retailer to take on your promotions? Book a custom exploratory consultation here or visit our online store here.