In today’s retail environment, field marketing is an essential arrow in the quiver of any supplier. Approach it correctly, and you have nothing to worry about and everything to gain. What’s more, the retailer with which you work benefits too. However, fail to use it or executive it inappropriately, and you could both end up paying dearly.
Why is a field marketing strategy so necessary?
If you have spent any time reading our category management blog, you’ll know that we’ve written a few pieces on field marketing. Most of them deal with the basics, why you and other suppliers should embrace it, and how it can drive more sales for your products. You can find them all here.
What you won’t find, though, is a piece on field marketing strategy. And yet, you could quite easily argue that it is your strategy which should underpin everything else.
There is also the fact that your investment (or lack thereof) can have an impact on your relationship with a retailer, which could also impact your reputation.
Here’s an example to illustrate that.
Let’s say that your field marketing team visits a store and while you want to increase the forward share for your products, you haven’t decided how you’re going to achieve that. You also haven’t given them any directions either. But there happens to be a space on the shelf, and so your team quickly fills it with your products without telling the store manager. Problem solved? Not quite.
Since there is no strategy or mutual agreement behind what your field marketer has done, you’re working against the best interests of the category. What could make it worse is if you find afterwards that the extra forward share you have given your products is in contravention of the approved planogram for the category.
Key elements of a successful field marketing strategy
1. Consider what you want to achieve
The first step when developing any strategy, regardless of what it’s for, is the most obvious: you need to decide on what it is you want to achieve.
Now, any talk about what you want to accomplish should automatically lead you to the very reasons why you and other suppliers should invest in field marketing.
Let’s say that you want to understand how shoppers engage with your products in-store. Alternatively, you may want to connect personally with shoppers and find out what they need from your product. You may have already asked them about what they expect, in which case you want to check in with them to hear if you have succeeded. Or, you may simply want to promote your message for a new product line.
While we’ll go into the details of how your field marketers can achieve all of these goals as well as others in the next section, it’s worth pointing out that it all comes down to understanding your strategic intent.
In understanding your intent, you’ll at least know if you’re moving in the right direction because everything else which follows should underpin your strategic intent.
2. Determine how you are going to achieve your goal/s
Once you know what you want to achieve, you need to determine how you’re going to accomplish these goals.
Fortunately, there are many different ways that a field marketer can achieve any of the goals mentioned above. A glance at their responsibilities will tell you that. They’re tasked with, amongst other things, looking after the physical standards of a store and correcting any mistakes to improve the in-store shopping experience.
But how does that allow you, the supplier, to meet your goals?
Let’s say that one of your goals is to promote a new product line. The store may not stock it yet, and you want to test shopper interest. You could thus set up a promotional stand in-store, which will allow your field marketer to engage with shoppers.
If, on the other hand, you want to monitor store compliance, you could send your field marketers to stores with a planogram to check compliance. Upon finding any mistakes, they can quickly correct them.
Of course, you do need to be aware of your circumstances when deciding how you want to achieve these goals. For example, the resources you have available, the size of your field marketing team and how many stores you need to cover will all influence how you approach your field marketing efforts.
3. Equip your field marketing team with the right technology
As much as you have goals and you know how you’re going to achieve them, it doesn’t count for much if you don’t have specialised software to assist you.
Before we continue, it’s important to note that this isn’t about using technology for the sake of it. Instead, it’s about choosing the right technology. So how do you know if you have selected the appropriate technology and that it will guide you in the right direction, and most importantly, allow you to meet your goals?
It all comes down functionality. Below is a range of features that your field marketing software should include:
Firstly, the software must be able to automate the store visit cycles of your sales reps. It’s all good and well if your team is currently small enough for you to manage this without software, but you need to think long-term. What happens if your team grows and you need to schedule and track the store visits for 10 or even 100’s of field marketers? It’ll end up becoming a nightmare for you.
With software to automate this process, that ceases to be a problem. It becomes even less of a concern if the software can also track the locations of your staff throughout the day.
Secondly, you need to have access to a capability that will help your field marketers to review your brands in-store and see how they appear on the shelf alongside your competitors. That means that any software you choose must allow you to design in-depth questionnaires so that you can collect the information you need to execute a better brand and field marketing strategy.
Thirdly, the software you choose should have real-time store compliance reporting. One of the responsibilities of your merchandisers is to correct any in-store mistakes around planogram implementation.
While you may trust them to complete their work, it’s always worth having the ability to check compliance yourself. Once your merchandisers have finished, they can upload the evidence to a centralised dashboard for you to check in real time.
4. Measure your outputs against your initial goals
If you’ve ensured that your goals weren’t too ambitious (they are achievable given your circumstances) and you have implemented specialised software, the final step shouldn’t be daunting.
You could even argue that it is the best part since you can find out if what you’ve done has helped you achieve what you first set out to accomplish.
It all comes down to the software. Let’s look at DotActiv’s field marketing software as an example. Since your field marketers and merchandisers can collect data while they work and feed that into a centralised database, you’ll know what’s going on in-store.
You’ll also know what you need to do to fix any issues that your staff have highlighted. For example, you’ll be able to make stock order suggestions if your sales rep or merchandiser notes that the stock in-store is running low. Also, you can do a stock check audit, checking both stock count on the shelf and in the storeroom of the retailer.
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 free consultation with one of our Account Advisors here or click below to find out more.