FIELD MARKETING: The Appliance of Science - Sophisticated planning and research programmes can enable field marketing campaigns to differentiate certain audiences. Pippa Considine takes a look at the latest in precision targeting

The term "field marketing has an earthy and rather unscientific ring to it. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Faced with clients who increasingly demand more for their money, precision targeting is becoming the norm. And it's not just about the right place to find consumers, but about the right time to be there, the look, feel, even the smell.

"You have to look at each element of the segmented audience and ask if you're selling in the right way, Bruce Ellison, the business unit director of Ellert Marketing, says. The company has worked on the Sky Digital account where different packages and services are sold to different audiences.

"Some groups might welcome a knock on the door while others are more likely to want to touch and feel the product, Ellison adds.

A national roadshow was Ellert's answer to giving people the chance to interact with Sky Digital products. But it's no good taking the roadshow to random supermarkets from Land's End to John O' Groats. "You get a different kind of customer in Tesco in Richmond than in Asda in Harrow," Ellison says. And this knowledge isn't just based on instinct. The market is now saturated with research to help differentiate consumers.

At Ellert Marketing there's an in-house analysis team. It uses data from third parties as well as constantly building its own database on venues up and down the country, looking at customer profile and behaviour and including follow-up on customers' buying behaviour.

Carlson Marketing Group also has its own database and various research facilities. The director of field marketing at Carlson, Brona Connolly, dates the pre-science days of field marketing back to pre-1994 - when BT did some pioneering studies of its various consumers.

Carlson uses its data planning department and has its own software to identify where certain consumers will be. "It could, for example, find the parts of the country with the greatest number of coffee drinkers," Connolly says. "We get a lot of tenders and briefs for distinct audiences, for example, pinpointing 25- to 35-year-olds earning more than £25,000 and owning their own house. We have enough information to give a very good map of the country."

Carlson's own venue database includes all sorts of information about "every venue in the country", Connolly claims. It draws on data from third parties - from national research to stores' own statistics - and internal data gleaned from hands-on experience of each venue and the experience of partners. Without research into venues using this sort of data, clients can make mistakes. "You can incur a lot of wastage," Connolly says. "If you want to reach people who will pay three or four pounds for a cup of coffee, you need to be careful not to go to those who drink instant. Clients like science."

But it's not just about finding the right place to corner your target market. Segmenting the audience isn't just about finding who lives, shops or eats where. "You need to know the mindset of your target audience, Connolly says. It's no use going to a sports centre in the morning if you want to reach professional males who are more likely to be found playing squash after 6pm. And getting the timing and the approach right is more and more essential, or that increasingly savvy target audience won't want to know.

At Headcount Worldwide Field Marketing, the managing director, Mike Garnham, uses the example of the relaunch of a well-known shampoo brand. "Rather than a simple sampling exercise that can generate up to 90 per cent wastage, hair salons were used nationwide to wash 70,000 heads of hair in three days. If you know that your target audience is mature women, then you can hunt them down in salons across the nation.

Garnham also predicts that the use of electronic permission marketing will grow, so that field marketing companies can drive more accurately targeted consumers to venues and events. Although you need to get venues right, it's more important to get the right people to venues. "Too many field marketing buyers still consider the discipline is concerned with concentrating activity around places and not around people, Garnham says.

DOs and DON'Ts
- Do get your head round the mindset of the target audience.
- Don't simply tell cheese lovers about a tasty new Gorgonzola; make
sure they can try it.
- Do make sure that you get the right time of the day for different
sorts of people.
- Don't pitch in the evening for family shoppers or during the day for
young professionals heading for the ready meal fridges.
- Do research traffic flow at venues.
- Don't spend £5,000 getting a rig to a venue to find that only
500 people are going to be there.
- Do use the right props.
- Don't try to flog hi-tech wizardry without a demo model.
- Do use the tricks of the trade. For example, getting premium brands at
eye level and top right on fixtures; category leaders at eye level and
in the middle; aspiring brands next to the leaders; and value brands
bottom left.
- Don't be in such a hurry that you can't allow time to involve
retailers.
- Do experiment: use ideas from abroad and use test markets.
- Don't forget what's appropriate behaviour for the brand.
- Do check out the actual environment: you don't want Fortnum & Mason
leaflets stuck in the mud at a horse trial.
- Don't ignore the independent sector - corner shops, rather than Tesco
stores, could be the answer.
- Do remember to have a sense of humour.
- Don't forget that canny consumers want to be entertained.
- Do use all the information on venues that you can dig up.
- Don't blow your budget on a blanket sales approach to a target that
isn't big enough or rich enough to pay for the campaign.

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