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June 11, 2009

Laurence Clube:Forget the basics at your peril!

You can spend vast amounts of money on building creative promotions, but if the product’s not on the shelves and the promotion isn’t compliant then you’re throwing good money after bad. Field marketing delivers the operational excellence to ensure that all the mechanics are in place to guarantee that any campaign runs successfully, says REL’s managing director.

With the current economic climate forcing brands to focus their thoughts closer to the point of purchase, field marketing has never been more important for marketers.

It’s a valuable marketing asset that generates short and long-term benefits for marketers, their brands and their businesses, as well as delivering an attractive return on investment (ROI) versus other marketing disciplines. Added to this, it is now more cost-effective to put a group of promotional staff into a store than it is to put an advert on the TV.

With the growing focus on the intelligent use of data and with store-level EPoS figures becoming much more readily available, brand owners have the opportunity to analyse these figures and pinpoint exactly where they are losing sales and by how much.

They can then look for the biggest opportunities and target their spend accordingly. The real insight comes when brands look at where they are losing sales and what the value of those lost sales is. For example, analysing EPoS data can tell them that their brand, which was supposed to be in 450 Tesco stores, is only in 375 and also put a value on ‘sales lost’ due to out of stocks

Missed opportunities
From this they know immediately that they’re missing sales opportunities in 75 stores and know precisely which stores to focus on. With the  level of data now at our disposal, we can guide clients so that targeting their field marketing spend not only becomes much easier, it becomes much more effective.

Rather than trying to go everywhere and cover everything, intelligent use of data allows brands to pinpoint the stores where the biggest opportunities are – quantified in lost sales – and target the highest value things to do in those stores – again, quantified by lost sales.

This means brand owners get the best possible ROI by focusing their activities on the stores where their product is missing or performing badly through non-availability, lower level sales on promotion or distribution failures.

Field marketing can then go in and find out what’s causing the problems and how they can be rectified. By working alongside a field marketing agency, brands can bring in a raft of skills like these that they would never be able never to afford to hold in house.

However, the reality is the discipline often gets glossed over because it lacks the “glamorous” appeal of activities such as experiential. The danger is that this can lead to brands missing sales opportunities, as the point of traditional field marketing is to ensure that the product is on the shelves and that the promotion that they’ve just invested hundred of thousands of pounds in is in place and running correctly.

This is as important and as productive as worrying about whether you put a bit of glitzy activity around something.

Making your investment count
It’s important to stress that I’m not taking anything away from experiential – far from it, it is an extremely powerful technique for engaging consumers with the product, an essential part of the modern marketer's armoury that we recommend our clients use.

But the less glamorous “logistical” side of field marketing is critical to the success of any campaign, and can easily be overlooked. If the product’s not in store or on the shelf, what’s the point? Not having stock available or a particular promotion available when it is supposed to be can have a damage effect on how consumers feel about a brand.

We forget the basics at our peril. That’s not to say that the other bits are not important, or indeed growing in importance, but actually getting execution right is vital to drive sales and performance.

Opportunities missed through incorrectly implemented promotions can be vast. If you don’t have the execution then it doesn’t matter how creative you are. If you spend a million pounds on the telly but then don’t have the basics in place it’s a waste of time.

Field marketing delivers those basics.

Laurence Clube is managing director of field marketing agency REL

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