Field and experiential marketing can be costly but if a brand gets it right, it can reap the rewards.
Marketers often speak of starting ‘conversations’ with customers and prospects but, in reality, very few campaigns ever lead to a face to face chat.
Yet, despite the digital age, the saying that people buy from people still stands – and they are more likely to do so if they have an opportunity to try before they buy. In fact, TGI figures suggest that 41 per cent of shoppers who see a demonstration of a product go on to buy it from the store.
That is why experiential marketing and in-store demonstrating are growing industries in the UK. They now form a major part of field marketing which, in total is estimated to be worth £230m a year by the Institute of Promotional Marketing.
The latest branch of field marketing is a world away from brands having people dress up in outfits and hand out flyers at busy spots. A whole new industry has sprung up to line up prime in-store locations, train brand ambassadors and provide the latest technology so immersive experiences can be shared through social media.
For longer established brands, awareness and advocacy are still important goals of in-store demonstrations but, in most cases, sales will be higher up the list of priorities.
That is certainly the case for Gekko Client, Epson. Like other brands which regularly commit to using brand ambassadors, the company has a detailed message it needs to get over which is best conveyed face to face where a trained representative can show the benefits of its ‘premium ink’ packages.
Hence its sales manager Tim Bedward believes the key to its annual in-store demonstration programmes, across the peak Christmas and January shopping months, is in the training its brand ambassadors receive through in-store marketing agency Gekko.
“Everyone on the programme spends a day at Epson being trained on the products and shown how we’re all about ink quality,” he explains.
“The crucial part is we not only get this message across but we can also spot if we don’t think somebody is going to work out as a brand ambassador. It’s not common but we do fail people. We also finish off the training by showing people how to ‘close’.
“It’s key for our brand that shoppers don’t feel pressured and so it’s fine if we don’t sell a printer or ink so long as we leave the customer with a good experience.”
Field marketing: The big threee challenges
Budget and time
Very few brands carry out their own experiential marketing efforts because of the sheer time and effort required to coordinate booking the right positions in the best venues, training up temporary staff and putting together the equipment and technology required for an effective campaign.
For this reason the biggest challenge is finding the budget and coordinating at least one or two agencies, sometimes three, to ensure a campaign delivers on its objectives.
The right people
Once a marketing team has decided to run an in-store demonstration or experiential campaign, the most important aspect is to find the right people to represent a brand effectively.
Brand ambassadors must know the companies and brands they are representing and understands their key values. Only then can the required product knowledge, where applicable, be learned.
Top priority is to never be pushy but rather always give an enjoyable experience that may lead to an immediate or future sale.
Brand ambassadors need to work well with permanent in-store staff, and realise they are there to convey a brand’s messages and showcase products, without denigrating rivals, and then pass on a sale to a permanent member of store staff to process at a till.
Get this right and the brand will not only be welcomed back by the retailer but the positive impact should remain with the permanent staff too.