If any sector can shrug off the current economic downturn, it's
field marketing. With clients desperate for reassurance that they're
spending their budgets effectively, field marketers believe their
ability to provide measurable results gives them a clear advantage when
pitching for business.
"In the past three months we have become much busier tactically," Mike
Garnham, the managing director of Headcount, comments. "Companies want
campaigns to be highly measurable, with short deadlines and reporting
afterwards that justifies the spend."
Field marketing, however, is a term that covers a range of activities,
from ensuring retailers honour their obligations to manufacturers to
"live the brand" roadshows.
Return on investment is relatively easy to demonstrate in compliance
work, where the cost of a timely store visit to ensure a promotion is
being implemented is clearly dwarfed by the amount that would otherwise
In the case of auditing and merchandising activities, on the other hand,
Headcount provides a web page to help clients evaluate exactly what it
is doing. "We can give the cost of every case we sell, every display we
mount, and every sample we give out, as well as the value of
merchandising activity," Garnham says.
The level of detail includes the amount of stock available before the
visit, the amount merchandised during it and the situation on
Reports will be backed by the client's Nielsen data that tracks the
uplift in wholesaler sales or, in the case of multiples, shipments from
retail distribution centres.
A relatively new approach is to calculate the likely return for brands
when introduced to new distribution points and merchandising displays.
Knowing what sales each unit is likely to deliver enables the client to
determine more or less how long it will take to achieve a payback.
This is something that Momentum has been trialling for the past 12
months, using its experience of how particular products tend to behave.
The model has proved to be robust and is seen as offering real
competitive advantage, according to the UK managing director, Derek
"When our clients spend a certain amount on field marketing they want to
know what the payback will be and over what period. This system enables
them to understand that," he says.
Most of the big field marketing agencies have been issuing staff with
handheld computers for some time, which means information can quickly be
made available in a digital format. The next stage is to make this
accessible via a secure intranet, where clients can log on to see the
results for the day.
"Gone are the days of weekly paper reports: you can now drill down to
retailer level on a daily basis to find out what is going on, then
manipulate and test the data in different ways," Tom Preece, the
managing director of CPM, says. Preece believes the agency has stolen a
march over rivals here and treats the facility as a unique selling
The information is highlighted automatically and in a graphical form,
which means clients can instantly spot what action is required, without
having to trawl through reams of data. A traffic light system uses
green, amber and red to indicate which stores are up to scratch, those
that need some attention and those where there are problems.
Measurability is also available to a large extent with face-to-face
For instance, Carlson Field Marketing analyses the potential results
from a tactical sampling project on the basis of recent consumer
This might suggest what percentage of those consumers offered a sample
at front of store are likely to buy. If this number, say 120,000, each
buys three items at £2 over a year, the result will be £720,000 worth of sales, at retail level. Subtracting the cost of the
campaign indicates the return on investment.
"Calculations of this sort, based on forecasting, are very challenging,
but they are something we are starting to investigate," Carlson's
managing director, Brona Connolly, comments.
A more common approach is using Epos data to gauge sales uplift on
Evaluation becomes harder in cases where the underlying strategy is to
increase brand perception, something that RPM, the roadshows and events
specialist, is striving to achieve in place of spot tactical
However, the agency has been trialling a new model for evaluating the
impact and value of "experiential" marketing. Called brand experience
rating points tracker (Bert), this measures the total communication
achieved via brand experiences against net financial cost, including
sales uplift and media value.
To calculate "total communication", the model considers the campaign's
reach, degree of sensory stimulation and the perceived quality of a
brand experience, as independently researched. These are then given
"Evaluating experiences isn't just about how many people you reached or
how many samples you handed out," the commercial director, Tim Medcalf,
says. "It's about the quality and depth of an experience and its direct
impact on the people's attitudes and behaviour."
RPM works with the market research giant Taylor Nelson Sofres to develop
impartial third-party measurement after the activity. This involves
measuring the number of new users that have been brought into the brand
and existing data on profit margins and weight of purchase to calculate
the effect of this business.
For its work with Strongbow, the agency was able to measure both the
financial payback and the degree of perception change. It established,
for instance, that a campaign in the holiday hot-spot of Ibiza emerged
as more effective than one carried out in the UK. RPM has also trialled
elements of its measurement model with Unilever and expects that it will
become a routine part of its product.
What drives agencies in their quest for effective evaluation models is
the need to demonstrate that they can bring tangible results. As Medcalf
concludes: "We need to have a much more adult and developed discussion
with clients than field marketers are used to having. A clear indication
of payback helps us achieve that."
TIGER WOODS HELPS LAUNCH AMERICAN EXPRESS' GREEN CARD
To support the relaunch of American Express' green card and yield a
number of quantifiable results, Momentum brought the golf champion Tiger
Woods to London and recreated features from two of his favourite courses
in Hyde Park.
More than 5,000 people gathered to watch Woods demonstrate his
Widespread media coverage led to an overall 26 per cent increase in call
volume and new acquisitions for the card, greatly exceeding
The day of the event produced the highest rate ever, a 253 per cent lift
above normal call volume activity.
More than 110 million web impressions were generated in the UK alone.
News of the event was carried in every UK national print publication and
broadcast station that reports general news. Coverage was secured in
five additional large European markets outside of UK.
Other measures included:
- Increase of prospect brand awareness: 24 per cent (from 59 to 73 per
- Positive brand image shift among prospects: from 18 to 34 per cent
- Increase in web traffic and applications: 25 per cent
- Lift in response rates for American Express direct mail shot: 25 per